How do I make my event more accessible?

It’s not only right and fair to make your event inclusive and accessible, but it also increases the value! Quite simply, more people can take part.

Accessibility tools
💚 Induction loops (in-room)
💚Bluetooth for hearing aids
💚BSL / ASL
💚Captions

It seems obvious to say, but the best option is all of the above. That way, people in the audience can chose and even change throughout the day (reducing fatigue). Captions for example are now so popular that 80% of Netflix shows include them. So should we have them on all our events?

And did you know our captioners are often working from home, so there is less travel and environmental impact, as well as a smaller space requirement.


ISO20121 – we’re getting there

We are thrilled to share an important milestone in our commitment to sustainability and excellence. Present is actively pursuing ISO 20121 certification, a testament to our dedication to environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and innovative event management.

Our journey:

Preparation: We’ve conducted a comprehensive audit to align our operations with the certification standards, identifying areas for improvement and innovation.

Action Plan: Implementing targeted strategies to elevate our sustainability practices, from reducing waste to optimizing resource use.

Engagement: Your support and collaboration are vital. We welcome any insights or suggestions that can enhance our path to certification.

Future Steps: Achieving certification is just the beginning. We are committed to continuous improvement, setting new benchmarks in sustainable event management.

StayTuned: We’ll keep you updated on our progress, sharing milestones and opportunities for us to collaborate on this exciting journey. Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership.

Together, we are making a difference.


Audio production and AI…

The old truth has always and will always be true (probably) and that is, if you want great audio, get the microphone as close to the source as possible. Not only that, but always record in a space that has as little noise as possible. In this particularly post, I’m talking about recording the voice in particular.

Noise is a distraction, it’s annoying. And it actually makes speech less intelligible.

Over the last few years, especially since lockdown we’ve seen the rise in automated audio processing in platforms like Teams, Zoom and Webex and they all work a little differently.

First, lets talk about compression. This is the process whereby the loudest audio is made quieter. That means that all ‘speech’ is similar in level, there is less dynamic range. If that audio is then normalised, that is that it’s increased to the ‘standard’ level, then all speech is similar in volume and as loud as all over speech.

But what happens if there isn’t only speech in the audio, what happens if there is noise? If the level of the speech is increased, then so is the noise, and we end up with noisey audio.

Introducing, the noise gate. This kind of does what it says on the tin. The noise gate is set to the threshold so that noise that is quieter than the threshold is muted, and voice that is louder is unmuted.

Problem solved….

But how do we know what the threshold should be. Automated systems will look for a constant level, the ‘noise floor’ and will set the threshold around there. Now… we play in music which is so heavily compressed that the platform thinks it’s noise (it often is). And now the processor mutes EVERYTHING.

Where are we going with this? AI.

New AI technology actually listens to the audio, detects the voices. More than that, it listens to the words so it knows what is speech and what isn’t. That way, it can actually eliminate real noise but keep speech, even where they’re at a similar level. In fact, it can then isolate the speech and manipulate it to make it even more intelligible.

We could take it one step further and change the voice, from male to female or vice versa for example. But lets leave that one for another post…


Remote MCR – what is it and why?

Every time something is broadcast live or a live environment or situation is being filmed, there is an MCR or a gallery. The director will stand in the gallery, call the shots, give instructions to the camera operators etc. But what if the director didn’t have to be on site? What if they could call the shots from another location, another country? What if they could call the shots in London in the morning and Washington DC in the afternoon?

But there’s more. Imagine being able to do social edits for an event in real time, without going to the event. Instead, having all the camera feeds broadcast back to the ‘MCR’ and edited there. Or being able to broadcast one session to YouTube, another to Zoom, another to ON24 with it all being managed off site.

And MCR might be used to direct, mix and broadcast a series of roadshow events, without ever having to move the equipment.

And it’s not just about broadcast, it could be remote control. Over Covid, we managed the trackside LED screens for Nascar…. from Ipswich!!

By having all the camera feeds in one place, regardless of the event or filming location, flexibility and opportunity to be creative actually increases and the possibilities are endless.

And as if that isn’t enough, it’s cheaper and has a far lesser impact on the environment due to reduced travel, transport and logistics.

Win win!

Remote MCR gallery studio
Remote MCR gallery studio

Exploring the World of Microphones

In the realm of audio technology, microphones play a pivotal role in capturing, transmitting, and amplifying sound. It’s a huge and diverse field, with nuanced differences and very specific applications. So let’s go over what we use, and why we use it.

Lapel microphones, also known as lavalier microphones, are designed to be clipped onto clothing, making them inconspicuous and perfect for situations where visibility and mobility matters. Typically an Omnidirectional Condenser, they are sensitive, detailed and consistent. Perfect for presentations and interviews, our Sennheiser Wireless Lapel mics are a permanent feature in our productions.

Handheld microphones are perhaps the most recognizable type of microphone. Their ergonomic and familiar design allows speakers, presenters, and performers to have control over their audio as they move around the stage or set. Typically a Hyper-Cardioid Dynamic microphone, they provide a very focused and powerful sound, minimising bleed from the environment and providing a clear signal on the busiest of stages. Our Sennheiser Handheld microphones are also wireless, providing maximum mobility and comfort; meaning they’re also an extremely popular and useful tool.

Lectern microphones are designed for use on podiums or lecterns, offering a convenient solution for speakers addressing an audience. These microphones are engineered to minimize feedback and capture the speaker’s voice clearly, even when they’re positioned a bit further away from the microphone. They provide a stable and consistent solution for talks and conferences with multiple speakers addressing the audience in turn, and keeping the speaker physically free from any microphones can benefit their presentation.

Finally, Boundary microphones, or “boundary mics,” use the principle of phase cancellation to capture sound waves reflected off surfaces, resulting in a natural and ambient audio capture. These microphones are often placed on large surfaces like conference tables or theatre stages, making them ideal for recording meetings, conferences and theatrical performances. They’re a useful tool due to the ease of use and minimal technical footprint, making them a great choice for more simple setups where a wide area needs to be covered effectively.

The world of microphones is diverse and adaptable, catering to a wide range of commercial applications. Whether you’re capturing the ambiance of a conference, recording a podcast, addressing a large audience, or amplifying a musical performance, there’s a microphone type that’s perfectly suited for the task.


Lets talk about connectivity…

What do you do if you internet isn’t great and you need to stream. Perhaps the wifi is slow, or you’re in a rural area. We can connect multiple internet connection together using a process called ‘bonding’.

We use a device that connects multiple internet connections together from a company call Peplink. It allows us to provide stronger, more resilient internet on site for streaming, in the homes of remote contributors and even in remote location. We can connect 3G, 4G, KASAT and starlink, fibre and wifi. Talk to us if you want to know more.

If you want to know more about how we use this technology, or how to get better internet in hard to reach places, drop us a line – kieron@presentcommunications.com


Building out a content pipeline…

With larger events now fully back in the calendar but smaller meetings and training replaced by virtual ones, consistent engagement throughout the year is more important than ever. Much of this is done online and content creation is now a key engagement activity, where networking and workshops used to be.

Many organisations’ major events calendar has been reduced to a single ‘big day’. Make sure you take full advantage of all your potential content and increase the longevity of your event by capturing as much as possible.

You have your ideal audience, speakers and experts in one place. This is the perfect opportunity to capture as much content as possible, an opportunity not to be missed. We build simple, cost-effective studios in events, exhibitions, seminars, congresses, just like yours.

Create a space for presenters to POP in, delegates to POP by.


We made a mistake…

Since the lockdowns began around March 2020, our businesses have changed. Live events has been mostly non-existent. In order for businesses in our industry to survive, we’ve had to adapt, try new things and learn new skills. Not only that, but budgets are different (smaller).

I’m very pleased with the way that we’ve adapted in the last year. We’ve been able to offer our clients excellent quality live streaming and virtual events at the right price. I’m also happy to say we’re dong it the right way, with highly skilled staff, on some of the best and most reliable equipment currently in the industry.

But it’s been a journey to get here. A few months ago, we were asked to do something new. We were asked to record 20 people in HD from a Zoom meeting. We thought we could do it. In the ‘old world’ it would have been easy. We would have been on site, brought in 20 video feeds from anywhere around the world and rented in a rack of video recorders. The quality would have been excellent and the budget doubled. This time around, we wanted to do it from our studio and we wanted to keep it cheap and keep the client. We did some testing, all appeared to work. We looked over our test recordings, they seemed ok. We confirmed with the client and won the job to work on one of their most high profile projects that year.

We started the job, pressed all the buttons, everything looked good and the ‘event’ took place. After the event, we confirmed we had files, nothing had crashed and we would send everything to the client. Everyone left (virtually) feeling happy. 

It was only went we went back over the recordings that we found the quality was poor, to say the least. Very poor. They were certainly not something I was happy delivering to the client. We worked through the night to fix the issues in post (video joke) and by the morning, we were able to deliver something. I say ‘something’ because it still wasn’t good enough, but it was something.

Now there were only a few things left for us to do.

  1. Apologise to the client profusely. Obviously we didn’t send a bill despite the fact we know the end client did pay for the eventual product. From my point of view though, as a business owner, I was not happy AT ALL with the work we had done and was not prepared to let the client pay for that quality of work.
  2. Research, read and learn everything we can about how we had made a mistake.

Now we’re in a unique position that we’ve made the mistake and we’ve learnt from it. And so what’s the outcome / silver lining? We know how technically challenging it is to deliver something like this. We made the mistake and we’ve learnt a lot. As a result, we rebuilt our entire network (more money than we’ve ever spent before one a single item) and changed our workflow for this kind of project. Now we know exactly how to deliver this project, should we ever get asked again! And next time, we’ll get it perfect. Even better than that, as a result of the new things we’ve learned and the improved infrastructure, our workflows for all kinds of projects have changed and improved. Everything we do is now to a far higher standard.


Bringing in multiple presenters from home…

With the current lockdown situation, everyone is working from home. This has presented the events world with a new challenge (and we love challenges); How can we broadcast an interactive conversation online in a professional way with high production values.

We were approached by Streaming Tank and High Snobiety to live stream a DJ set. So far, so good. With 12 DJs…. From around the world. And they have to be able to chat and drink and party together.

The technology that we put together allows presenters to interact but the audience to see a slick broadcast. This can be used in a plethora of scenarios whether it’s a AGM (we have used this tech for End of Year Reporting) or a product launch. 

Check out this video…


How can Video Conferencing and Webcasting help with your event?

Present Communications have specialised in Video Conferencing and Webcasting for almost 10 years.

Now is a great time to learn more about the benefits of these technologies for your business, especially when it comes to your live events.

If an important presenter can’t make it, we can video link them in to the room for fully interactive 2 way conversations.

If multiple delegates can’t make it to your conference, we are able to live stream to anywhere in the world, to up to 10,000 people.

We’re able to integrate with your own video conferencing systems, whether they’re H.323, SIP, or something like Teams, Webex, GotoMeeting or Zoom. We can also stream to other platforms like Elite and Talkpoint.

Makes it even easier by using a venue with everything already built in such as #15Hatfields.