1. I’ve heard of signal flow but don’t know what it is. Do I really need to know about this to do my job well?
If content is king, then yes you do…at least in its simplest form. Signal flow refers to the path of information in and information out. This is usually referenced from the perspective of the switcher, which takes all of the different inputs and allows you to determine which inputs will display on which screens. Knowing how many inputs are available in a given switcher, will help you determine how many different computers you can add to your tech table, or if running another line to the podium could really be that big of a deal. As you’d expect, the more advanced the switcher, the more flexibility you have in total number of sources in and out, providing many options in signal flow. Granted, with more options comes more complexity in design…and ultimately more cost. So why does this matter? If you know you have two computers and a media server as sources and you want the ability for any of those graphics/videos to display on any of the three screens you have in your stage design, these are critical signal flow details to share with your AV team. A great AV partner will certainly walk you through your options at the right time, but it will also be clear you know what you’re talking about by mentioning your desire to be sensitive about signal flow options, etc.
Signal flow can be as simple as:
Here’s the most important fact you need to know about dealing with in-house charges. You have the most leverage against in-house AV charges at the time of contracting with the venue. Once that contract is signed, your leverage decreases dramatically. Sure, you can still call the venue Director of Sales or write an email to the property GM to express your “extreme concern,” but your greatest opportunity to get what you want comes at the time of contract. For example, when your Senior Sales Manager at a large, Midwestern, union hotel asks, “What can I do right now that will get you to sign this contract today?” you can answer definitively. “Put a total max spend for power charges into the contract, offer me complimentary internet in the meeting space, and I’d like a rebate to offset the union labor charges that are sure to destroy my budget.” I know, you’ll likely have more than just AV you’d like to see flexibly accommodated in the contract, but you see my point. You have options. You just need to know you do.
BJ Strote is a Chicago area native and works as a National Account Manager for IMS Technology Services. He prides himself on being a husband, a father, and a strategic event staging partner to event planners.
Want to know more about these answers or have more questions, feel free to continue the dialogue with BJ via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/bjstrote.