Resolutions under strain

Happy New Year everyone. Can we still express that sentiment?  Oh, I just did.

So, we’ve entered the third week of January and I’m guessing all switchers and projectors are contentedly purring away in the background and all staff are back in place, except for those of you taking extra-long breaks! You know who you are.

(As for me, I’m just behind the fir trees having a cuppa).

Well it’s 2018 and I guess resolutions are already coming under strain (the fitter members are still peddling in the Alps).

Here at AVCF World Domination Inc (TM) we move forward with renewed purpose (no sniggering at the back).

Our goals this year are simple:

  • Expand membership
  • Create interesting events including our second year in collaboration with RIBA/AV for the flagship IAV18 day.
  • Grow regionally and get our message outside the South East. Expand membership

Expand membership

The first goal you can all help with in a very practical way. AVCF is free at present so no subscriptions, and as a platform to further the exchange of knowledge in all areas of our community having a larger membership base is very good. I often receive emails from members asking who best to speak to in the Forum for an honest impartial view or perhaps to visit a fellow member’s venue. That’s literally how all this began!  We all work with teams, colleagues and support tech staff. Be an advocate for AVCF this year.

Our base would double even triple very quickly by having them sign up. I reassured a senior manager only last week that there is no danger of being overwhelmed with plugs for this and that. If you know me, you know that ain’t gonna happen

More members, more influence, more events. Just…more of everything. Ha ha.

Create interesting events including our second year in collaboration with RIBA/AV for our flagship IAV day

Things here are bubbling with plans for behind the scenes outings. Including visits to specialised screening venues, a recording studio, various museums and galleries and flagship venues.

Did I hear a faint echo concerning Bloomberg HQ on the ether? I think you did.

IAV18 which will take place on July 26th at RIBA (date for your diaries) will have some great keynote talks to inspire you, panel discussions and a great selection of manufacturers adopting a more laid back approach as they display and chat about their companies, direction of travel etc. Without any hard sell J

At present my rough notes on content for IAV day reads something like this:

Pepper’s ghost principles and staging/leadership/installation/eco-friendly/business models/artistic interpretation/4k DCI/analogue recording/Vinyl mastering/digital world/what does AI Really mean for us?

The list goes on. Our aim is to be eclectic so members can be exposed to insights which inspire thought, spark new ideas and approaches within the AV arena.

Grow regionally and get our message further the South East

We have some outliers already. Including some inroads in the US and Europe. But one of our UK members, namely Jon Harris of Birmingham Museums Trust, has agreed to help us raising our profile. I’m very excited to get a group of you together to see Jon’s empire in Birmingham.

Our member Steve Barrett-White has also mentioned the possibility of visiting the new RIBA North building in Liverpool, opened toward the end of 2017 and I am working away to enable a visit to Barco HQ in Belgium. Fingers crossed.

Mmm, what else? We’d like to congratulate our member Jo Saull on her new role at the Science Museum as Head of Gallery Services where I’m sure she’ll bring all her experience in project managing interactive AV and exhibition installation.

I can announce that I was invited as Chairman of the Forum to be a Judge for the inaugural AV Technology Europe Magazine Awards at ISE (where I hope I’ll see many of you). I’ve just completed all my tasks on that (phew) all I will say is the entries that made up the shortlist were very strong.

A big thanks to AVCF platinum sponsor, JacobsMassey, they are also sponsoring the AVTE Awards for the categories Personal & Team Excellence. Recognising the very people who drive our industry – people not boxes my friends.

This is a great endorsement for the growing profile of AVCF.

And while we’re all here we’d like to congratulate our member Jo Saull on her new role at the Science Museum as Head of Gallery Services where I’m sure she’ll bring all her experience in project managing interactive AV and exhibition installation.

On the subject of aims going forward a personal goal of mine is to create further opportunities for sponsorship, because folks, I rather like the idea of doing more.  Just more.

I think we should take it up to 11. Rock on!

Well, I suppose I have to mention ISE..

You probably weren’t aware?


I just love the overwhelming size of the thing really. I used to attend the San Diego ComicCon (geek me) which is massive but I think that ISE might possibly be even larger.

With ISE, unless I have a specific target of interest, I just wander around with my jaw dropped at the ever growing screen sizes and resolution specs of large scale displays. Same goes for the projector tech on show. But I do miss Extron at the front of the show.

Black box central.

ISE does afford me the chance to catch up with people I only see once a year and I like the vibe. Mind you I’ve only ever gone for one full day. Does anyone ever penetrate deeper into the vastness?

I bet you have, more credit you.

Finally our friend Artificial Intelligence

AI and all that.

Well the world at large drives trends and developments for all of us and all I know is my niece is already coding and is embracing the digital era and she’s only 8. However, I had the pleasure of being invited to this exhibition. So, if you’re in London before 23rd February you can see this fascinating, and free, exhibition at ARUP HQ at 8 Fitzroy Street. Small but beautifully formed.

Cheers all







Tis the season…

Hi Everyone.

It’s been a great year here at AVCF. With our membership increasing and some really interesting projects underway. During the last three months I visited Rose Bruford College, who specialise in performing arts, to engage some of the media/tech related departments and we’re hoping for a visit where we can interact with the lighting and sound students there. This with a view to get a new demographic involved with our IAV18 event in July next year.

IAV18 is also shaping up to nicely to build on the success of last year. We now have more interest from big players in the market and as usual we’ll have our own eclectic spin on keynote speakers and discussion sessions.

Our visit to White Light was a standout towards the end of the year and we hit our target of getting twenty members together for this one. Thank you again gang. We also welcomed a new member on this visit, Jon Harris, from Birmingham Museums Trust. Who is going to help us permeate into new areas from the midlands to the North and also Scotland. A very nice guy who knows an awful lot of interesting people. Welcome Jon.

The visit itself was a real eyeopener and staggering in its scale. White Light have become a real visualisation company building on their original experience in theatrical lighting to now being able to deliver projection mapping, VR, AR and audio solutions on a much larger platform. All driven by an holistic approach to create the ‘effect’ clients are looking for.

Many thanks to Richard Wilson and his magnificent team for organising.

Just as the year closed I was invited to attend AV Magazine’s round table event hosted by Clive Couldwell. Taking place at the Grosvenor Hotel. I suggested that the people who run RIBA/AV, Steve Barrett-White and Gabriel Thorp, would be much better placed to talk about the end user experience. Which they did and we all ended up contributing during the debate. A very interesting discussion ensued and one of the big talking points was ‘why don’t architects take more care when designing spaces where audio is to be used’? A real can of worms was opened! This subject will be a part of our IAV18 gig.

So, a little catch up on stuff just before you all start winding down. Hope you all have a great break this Christmas and New Year. I think 2018 is going to be good for us 🙂

Best wishes


Finding the niche…

As promised, some reflections on our day in partnership with RIBA AV, Intelligent AV 2017.

I looked on this outing as our first grand adventure. More people, bigger scope. We hadn’t tried something as big before, but thanks to Steve Barrett-White and Gabriel Thorp at RIBA, opportunity came knocking. We have mostly aimed at smaller events, as a lot of our members run small teams or work on their own, and as we all know last minute demands often mean changing your plans. So we’ve often run what I cal ‘pop up’ style happenings. With IAV 17 we had a slightly longer run in.

We learn’t a lot of things from your feedback (named badges, more Q&A, less time sitting in the theatre and more networking) it’s all tip of the iceberg stuff, but with your help we’d like to build on it. Considering the time demands we all had, it went from a concept to reality within five months. RIBA itself was happy with the outcome and they are open to us repeating the day next year. So, now we have time to plan properly and with Steve, Gabriel’s and your support I expect cool things for IAV 2018.


We had around 60-80 people through the day on average. Some came early on some arrived later. On checking figures a total of 130 attendees came through the door during the day.

Going forward, one of the things I think we should be aiming for is to tie in more people from the education sector so we can expose a younger demographic into all the areas that pro AV has to offer by way of career choices and roles. As was mentioned in our last session there will be a huge demand in the coming years for new blood to be filling roles in many areas; AV delivery, integration, Installation and the tricky issue of a new type of AV/IT hybrid technician. This was reinforced by our panel and audience members during the Q&A session.

We need to be ahead of the curve on this issue is what I took away from this discussion.

And, as I mentioned before, our experts with their wares on display found they had a more rewarding experience, they were allowed the time to have real discussions with us in a less pressurised arena. A thing they found refreshingly different to the ‘big dog’ fairs they usually attend. Relationships were built.

I think we at AVCF are starting carve our niche and people are beginning to take notice.

And that’s all due you good folk in our community.

One last time, a big thank you to everyone who took part in the panel Q&A at the end; Chris Lavelle from InfocommGraeme Massey from JacobsMassey, Marcus Saunders from UAL London College of FashionAlex Myers from The British Museum and last, but not least, Dan Crompton from TATE. An Influential and extremely knowledgable bunch.

Also, to all of our contributors from the supply side who showcased their wares and spoke to us.

White Light, Panasonic, Allen and Heath, Audio Technica, Artnovian, Sontronics, Shure, One Lan, Microsoft, 360 VR Photography, Wise, JacobsMassey, Martin Lighting, Apart, Black Magic Design and Quadra.

Any more feedback from you would be very helpful, just drop me a line,

Here’s to IAV 18.

And so..

I have taken a small break to both Las Vegas and LA for a couple of weeks, but while there I’m sure I will find things of interest, as AV touches all. I am promised a backstage tour of a new Vegas spectacular show ‘Circus 1903’, exciting. I’m always intrigued by the talents of technicians working in the theatre. This show also enlists the talents of the puppeteers behind Warhorse to recreate circus elephants, below is the original trailer and (real elephant) and below that a look at the elephants created for the live show.

Finally, below is a reminder of the superlative engineering that defines Rolls Royce and is getting me to the States. I hear they’re making their own line of switchers soon. They’ll be quite big apparently.






Thank you all..

I feel like a hurdle has been jumped with the delivery of Intelligent AV Day on Friday 28th August. I’ll be doing a more in depth look at the day in my next post. But, first up I wanted to thank everyone for making it such a fun day. The feedback I got from attendees, both speakers, suppliers and members (and folks who just dropped in via invites) was very positive. Much comment was made as to the laid back atmosphere and the time they got to spend networking and just catching up with colleagues.

However, a mention must go out to some very special people, without whom…

To our genial and hardworking hosts at RIBA, Steve Barrett-White the man whose work their has driven the direction of a seamless AV service (and who seems to know everyone in the AV business). Also, his partner in crime Gabriel Thorp, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes delivering the tech, design and in being the lanyard maestro. All the staff at RIBA Venues who made us feel welcome and delivered our catering perfectly.

Also a big thanks to everyone who took part in the panel Q&A at the end; Chris Lavelle from Infocomm, Graeme Massey from JacobsMassey, Marcus Saunders from UAL London College of Fashion, Alex Myers from The British Museum and last, but not least, Dan Crompton from TATE. An Influential and extremely knowledgable bunch.

And, all of our contributors from the supply side who showcased their wares.

White Light, Panasonic, Allen and Heath, Audio Technica, Artnovian, Sontronics, Shure, One Lan, Microsoft, 360 VR Photography, Wise, JacobsMassey, Martin Lighting and Black Magic Design.

Finally, to you, good folk of the Forum.

Thank you one and all.


Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming..

I attended an interesting talk the other night at the Royal Society of Medicine. Facilitated by our multi award winning member, Kevin Mcloughlin and his team (also award winners.. can’t get past the trophies 🙂 It was part of a running programme called Event Tech Talks and is hosted by Adam Parry. The subject, ‘Q&A – how to get engagement from you attendees’ their approach covers a wider remit and the audiences are made up of event organisers and companies that supply technology for events of all sizes (voting systems, live polling, systems that use analytics to gather info from events). Check out their site. They have the talks in this series archived and yesterday’s talk will be up soon.

The jury was out on what a successful approach was and came down to a ‘horses for courses’ mindset, an interesting discussion though. But, as our big day is on Friday, and there will be a Q&A session I reckoned there would be no harm seeing if there were things I might pick up. Gather your knowledge from a wide source is what I say. Being prepared and knowing your speakers and panelists seems to be a core thing from the session I attended. Communicating with people is key ”people not boxes again. We’ll see how I get on (be kind).

But it also allowed the muse to whisper in my ear me a title, the headline of this blog, for the Q@A session and in fact all that we do. It is credited the late, great, David Bowie in fact. Rock and roll!

So, who will take part on the panel. Some of the people who’ve agreed to help out (last minute demands allowing, that’s AV world for ya!) are: Dan Crompton AV guru at Tate, Alex Myers who runs AV at British Museum, Marcus Saunders or one of his crack team who deliver AV for University of the Arts London and Graeme Massey from Jacobs Massey Recruitment, a great supporter and sponsor of our cause here at the forum. Oh yes, and yours truly trying to coral all the excitement and creative chaos!

(I’m sure on the day I’ll wrangle some other bods)

Well, only a couple of days to go. Most of you will have received an email from Gabriel Thorp, Senior AV Technician, at RIBA also welcoming you to the day. I’ve been getting loads of last minute requests and if you have any last minute colleagues or interested parties, just rock up. We’re a broad church.

I think it’s going to be a fun day. Yes, AV in its myriad of guises can be fun. It will be on Friday.


Just two weeks to go.. Intelligent AV Day, 28th July

Well things have certainly grown since I first took up my role here at AVCF last Sept.

Membership is growing, responses have been positive and our events and visits have been equally well received. All systems go!

As most of you know, via my emails reaching out to you guys. Our Intelligent AV Day is taking place on the 28th of July. Most of you have been sent the invite already. The agenda is now on this site. The is the day we are putting on is in partnership with RIBA and their excellent AV team, Steve Barrett White (who seems to know everyone in the AV world!) and Gabriel Thorpe. It’s the biggest venture we’ve taken on, very exciting.

The thrust of the day is to introduce you to handpicked people involved in various areas of interest to us all. They will be experts in their respective fields and the day is about disseminating information (and inspiration) to attendees. They will be with us all day so people can chat, go to breakout sessions, and basically steer towards their own particular aims and interests. Whether it’s to explore an area you only know a little about, and want to know more, or delve into the high end detail as an expert yourself. I think you’ll see from the agenda we have some very interesting subjects to cover. Just look at our agenda below!


9am Coffee/Registration
9.30am Introduction – AVCF and RIBA AV
10am White Light – Event planning, installation and operation
10.30am Panasonic – Future of projection
11am Allen and Heath – Live event sound operation
11.30am Artnovion – Room acoustics
12 noon Apart – Line signal
12.30pm Breakouts Council Chamber – Push talk mics demo
Nash rooms 1-5 – Artnovion – Magnetic acoustic demo
Lasdun/Unwin – Allen & Heath demo
1pm Lunch
2pm Sontronics – Microphones and design
2.30pm Shure – wireless workbench/ new Axient digital.
3pm OneLan – Digital signage
3.30pm Microsoft – new technologies
4pm 360 VR photography – 3D Modelling Spaces
4:30pm Panel – Q&A
5pm Drinks reception in Florence Hall
Exhibits in the Jarvis Foyer and Florence Hall include:
Apart  • Artnovion  • Jacobs Massey • Black Magic design • Quadra • SY  • Wise
Shure • Microsoft  • 360 VR  • Allen & Heath • Panasonic


We’re really looking forward to seeing you on the day. You won’t be surprised that we’re adopting an informal approach so don’t feel you’re obliged to stick to the main theatre. There will be plenty of networking opportunities and breakout spaces to go to depending on your interests. And you will be in, what to my mind, is an art deco masterpiece! That little picture at the top is a view from the bottom of the main stairs leading to the Florence Hall where we’ll have lunch and see some cool displays. Drinks are provided, courtesy of Graeme Massey at Jacobs Massey, at the end of the day, and in true AVCF fashion there is rumour of a local hostelry where we can sample a beer or two after that.

What’s not to like.


Busy, busy…

First off just a reminder about our event next week on April 5th.

This will take place at the London College of Fashion on 20 John Prince’s Street,
London W1G 0BJ. We’ll hosted by the tech team, Led by Marcus Saunders and his colleagues Tamon and Oliver (upper right of picture, right to left) and various people from teams on the UAL campus plus guests. We’ll be gathering at the main entrance (pictured below) and at the end of the whole thing we will adjourn to the Phoenix Pub just on the corner of Prince St and Cavendish Sq (also pictured)

It’s going to be a very interesting day of show and tell and, as is our wont, nice and informal so we can chat with all and sundry depending on our interests. I think the whole set up at UAL on this extended campus will be engrossing. Do come along.

So, why is this little blog entry called ‘busy, busy..’?

Because that’s what March seemed like to me! It started with taking part on a panel at BVE the subject, AV/IT convergence. Yes that old chestnut. I went to the Christie open day at the Barbican, both of these sandwiching; TD17, the Reflex technology day, EventTech live at 1 Wimpole St and laying plans with our members at RIBA for a big AVCF event on 28th July (more of that soon, but put the date in your diaries).

So, after the dust settled at BVE.

IT/AV convergence is a big topic of course, with lots to talk about and many opinions.

I can sum my approach in the light hearted response to a tweet that came up in the days following, on an event happening in New York, for the AV User Group. It read:

Find out how AV/IT convergence resembles the Game Of Thrones storyline with @qsc @coryschaeffer at our New York meeting tomorrow #avtweeps

To which I had to reply, mischievously:

Yep, the battle lines are drawn 🙂 Ha ha, but AV professionals already have the dragons. Willing to negotiate. Discuss #avtweeps

Like I say, tongue in cheek and if you follow that show (you should) you’ll know where my thinking leads.

Discussion on the day was interesting and stimulating, and it did highlight a distinct gap in approach between the fields. My main point being that there is ‘no one size fits all’ solution. Communication is key, and IT technology per se is not a panacea for the AV Professional, just another set of solutions for the toolbox. Discuss.

Great to see some of the AVCF posse represented there and it certainly helped me as I looked out into the audience and see some friendly faces.

A great example of good communication and people aiming for the desired outcome was highlighted in a talk at TD17 by Adam Harvey and his colleague Matthew Bell. Worth watching and this presentation is available as a download from the nice people at Reflex via the following link:

And finally here’s an interesting link to an article by David Trott (Top ad creative and copywriter) on the Campaign web site, an interesting take on the ‘People, not boxes’ stance:

I’d recommend his book 1+1=3 because after all we AV bods are creative thinkers and problem solvers! Natch:

Hope to see you at UAL on Wednesday.


By way of introduction…

Being the chair of our august body brings many responses and requests. One such was the kind offer of a colleague, Mike Piddock, who runs a company specialising in ARS he offered to write a small outline for us, from his viewpoint, of how this has become part of what we deal with more and more at the coalface.

I know some of you already adopt your own solutions or suppliers for this function. But I think Mike has encapsulated very usefully the history and impact it can have on our events. Look forward to any feedback you might have.

Check out his site.

Over to you Mike.

Chris Power

The rise of Audience Response Systems… and what that means for AV Techs










The use of an audience response system at a corporate event is nothing new, and the presence of an “ARS Operator” behind the tech desk is an increasingly common sight, so I thought it would be interesting to explore why this is, what’s changing, and what that means for AV companies and their technicians.

The background

Audience Response Systems, while originally developed in the 1960s, gained popularity through education establishments, but really impacted the corporate world when firms with large numbers of shareholders realised they were far more effective way of collecting votes at AGMs.

So their original purpose was simply information collection, rather than ‘audience engagement’, and hardware was developed in order to perform this simple process. With a limited number of options (A to D, for example), a dedicated Local Area Network (LAN), and a specialist operator, they did the job they were meant to.

Then, once more creative minds started thinking about more interesting ways that delegate response could be used (no doubt influenced by the success of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and its ‘Ask the Audience’ section) the hardware and corresponding software began to evolve.

However, usage remained relatively niche compared to the huge volume of corporate events taking place. The cost of shipping hundreds of handsets, installing a LAN, paying for dedicated ARS technicians, and the fuss of distributing and collecting back the devices, meant it remained a fairly specialist pursuit.

The impact of smartphones and iPads

Getting closer to present day, the introduction of iPhones and iPads and increasing expectations around what smart devices could do meant creative event planners started pushing the boundaries. They wanted an experience more like the consumer apps that were being launched with great fanfare, with much richer forms of engagement.

Specialist apps were developed, and early event-tech pioneers pre-loaded their software onto hired devices and continued to provide network hardware to support this. Not least, because native apps took an age to download, and venue Wi-Fi was still not up to scratch, so everything needed to be a lot more controlled. Only the very largest clients, or those with the deepest pockets, could afford the luxury of these solutions, and again the providers took full control of their complex ‘black-box’ software, leaving AV providers to take a back seat.

Audience Response Systems in 2017

The current ‘third wave’ of innovation has been fuelled by the continued rising expectations of clients seeking better audience engagement, but has only been made possible by three technical advancements. These have allowed new operators, including my company Glisser, a platform to take things to the next level.

•  First, smartphone (or smart device) ownership has neared 100% in many countries. Users are familiar with them, and so the need to hire in iPads or use clickers (and the associated costs) has dramatically reduced.

•  Secondly, venue Wi-Fi, in the most part, or 4G/LTE has improved sufficiently to enable most event locations to support the continuous flow of data between audience devices and a central control system. This has provided a network infrastructure that doesn’t need the long and complex set up of a LAN. Having personally operated our solution at numerous events over the last two years, I’ve always felt a little sheepish to have simply disconnected my laptop and been ready to go home barely minutes after the last speaker has stepped off stage, leaving you guys to pack up boxes and boxes of kit.

•  Finally, as with much of the start-up tech scene, it is cloud infrastructure that has enabled an influx of innovative solutions, from fast moving, smaller companies, that are really tuned into the creative demands of clients, rather than building technology for technology’s sake.

All of this has combined to shift audience engagement, and the audience response systems powering it, up a gear or five. Now integrated live polling is commonplace, and digital Q&A feeds are reducing the need for roving mics after every presentation (many of us are thankful for the brevity it encourages from audience questions…) Taking it a step further, instant slide-sharing is becoming a powerful way of using every screen in the room, and creating opportunities for creative, interactive sessions, and hybrid live/virtual meetings across multiple locations.

What this means for AV technicians

This combination of factors – sophisticated client needs, innovative start-ups and crucial technical advances – has meant that audience response is now far more mainstream and increasingly impacting what has traditionally been the AV technician’s domain.

Generalist event apps have, by and large, stayed clear of the tech desk. They’re downloaded by attendees, and someone (from the client or app company) is managing things from behind the scenes. However, audience participation software (whether through Glisser, our competitors, or embedded within event apps) does cross over into AV since it invariably requires content to be displayed on the main screen(s).

That means that the ARS software needs to have been designed with the role of the AV tech in mind, it needs to fit around the way that you work and the systems that you use. At the same time, it’s important that AV engineers begin to familiarise themselves with the systems available, and how they combine with what you are already doing to ensure a great client experience – or even (whisper it…) make your life easier.

At Glisser, we’ve put a lot of thought into this, and been working with AV professionals to refine our solution. We’ve seen the most challenging presenter demands, and the way they are expertly handled and seamlessly plugged into an already stressed event, by you guys. And we’ve tried to design a solution that helps you do the things you need to do, including:

•   Quick keys to swap between slides, question feeds, Twitter walls, etc. reducing the need for feed switches at smaller events

•  Polling integrated straight into the slides in the right place, with the results again revealed with a quick key, rather than the constant to-and-fro from one system to another

•  Improved video playback – something where PowerPoint notoriously struggles

• Tools to combine multiple presentations into a single event window, laid out like a regular calendar, to avoid the single slide deck for the whole day

•   And last, but not least, simplicity to upload and replace presentations and slides that arrive and change at the last minute – as they always seem to do…

We believe ours is a solution that the AV community can understand easily, and continue to contribute to its development. While we’re on site for 50% of our clients, we’re all about building the best product for everyone – not least the original ‘event-tech’ experts behind the AV desk. Please take a look at what we are doing, tell us how we can improve, and help us make sure our technology works for you.

Mike Piddock is the Founder of Glisser, event technology to engage audiences and gather data at live events.


And so to… BVE

Intelligent Audio Visual


Allow me to explain. It’s not a new software platform, a control system or a magic black box. It’s an approach.

It’s the inclusion of an experienced AV professional. A human filter who knows how to deliver an outcome. It’s the successful communication of what is needed. It’s the balance to be struck between competing factions.

Where is this leading I hear you say? Well, I’ve been invited to take part on a panel at this year’s BVE and the subject under discussion is:

Embracing a future of AV/IT convergence

The more I think about it, the larger the topic seems (can of worms). Where to start. Take this as a question that will be raised:

– With AV budgets and teams increasingly sitting under IT – how can pro AV teams get buy in and support to embrace a fully immersive and integrated AV future.

Speaking to members of AVCF, and remember, you’re no slouches. There are many stories of what I will put kindly as ‘miscommunication’ and sheer ‘power politics’ from our cousins in IT. Who, let’s face it, are big players in our workplaces.

Of course, I am speaking from my experience of delivering live events in a large museum environment. There is a bigger systems integration issue here and it will be site/venue specific. But the story I mainly hear from our community is ‘we weren’t listened to, taken on board or consulted’.

Not exclusively of course, but quite a lot. How do we get buy in? Which led me to another question on the agenda:

– Pipe dream or reality – How can AV systems be integrated more fluidly, automated and centrally controlled like the IT sector?

Automated. Centrally controlled. Discuss, eh.

I advocate the use of IAV.

Intelligent Audio Visual.

An approach, a filter, an interpretation. Which in my experience, most of the best AV practitioners have instinctively.

That’s not to say we can rest on our laurels. Oh no. The world doesn’t stand still and we have to box clever. I attended an event this week which was all about how AI and robots will play a bigger part in the delivery of events? Very big questions for humanity as a whole here of course, concerning AI and robotics. But it will ripple down to our little world. Already has in subtle ways.

There’s a compelling scene in the new film ‘Hidden Figures’ about the crucial part played by black women mathematicians who were astounding, yet neglected, in contributing to the US space race. A supervisor realises her team can’t compete, for speed, in doing orbit calculations or models with the first IBM computer delivered to NASA. She surreptitiously learns the programming language, does it better than the IBM techs in fact. She spreads the word and teaches her team

’this is the future’ she says ‘but they’re going to need people to programme this new machine, and if we want to keep our jobs, we need to stay ahead of the curve’.

It is this human factor that solved various critical anomalies as they went forward.

it’s a great scene, amongst many, go see it.

It’s inclusion in my argument does traduce a momentous moment in US history. But hey, Hollywood made a movie of it. I had no idea of this particular moment, but it ably illustrates my point. We in AV need to be open to what’s happening in our worlds and to what’s coming.

Always thinking. That’s what humans do.


Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated by me and I can use them to inform the debate. Maybe you disagree strongly? Just let me know.

Some of our number will be at BVE and Dan Crompton, from Tate, is also appearing on this panel. It takes place on March 1st at 10.45-11.30 am in the AV, Integration & Live Theatre. It would be great to see some of you down at the Excel Centre.

Hope to see you there. It is possible that a drink may be had later?

Just sayin’.


NOTE: For those interested, here are some links which touch on some of the things I’ve been speaking about.

An alternate view of this debate:

Fascinating series on Radio 4 which explores AI and robotics:

The non fiction book on which the film I mentioned was based:

Rules for an AV robot to live by:

Further reading:

L.A. Story

Picture the scene.

The Getty Center, an amazing architectural statement, designed by Richard Meier, sits atop a hill with a commanding view of LA. In the distance, the Pacific ocean, glimmers through a gap in the clouds.

Have I mentioned the rain?

There was much rain. As I set out on my journey the weather was atypical, rainy and overcast. More in tune with London than LA. But after several years of drought no one was complaining.

However, Interstate 105 and all US freeways, are a challenge (read scary), and that’s without the rain. Check out Steve Martin’s film L.A. Story and the freeway scene. You’ll get the idea.

Happily I was driven there by my friend Nick Night, digital media maestro and formerly one of the world’s top illusion acts, with his wife Kinga. (A story for another time). Anyway, all good. As, after all these years, I have managed to escape the driving treadmill. More of a passenger me. But for Los Angelinos it’s a given, everyone drives.

Ok don’t send me the names of the six people who don’t.

Anyway, anyway….while on my adventures in LA I thought I’d fly the flag for AVCF and arrange a visit to the AV technical team who run things at Getty. Many of my academic colleagues from the British Museum had worked on projects there and spoke very highly of it. Having sent a little heads up email a week before (I know how busy museum AV delivery can get) I got a very nice invitation from Steph Dirden, the man tasked with running AV for the Getty, and was invited to pay a visit.

Steph had very kindly supplied us with access to parking ‘up on the hill’ so no tourist monorail ride from sea level for us. We were met and taken to one of the main orientation theatres where they show a small film to put the building and it’s history in context. This is run from pre recorded content fed to a projection system via AMX, updates are serviced by Steph or one of his team (he has 9 people to serve both the Getty Museum and the Getty Villa which is in Pacific Palisades, Malibu). Like my previous existence at the Museum Steph has been a long time staff member at Getty, 34 years. He started at the Getty Villa in 1983 and saw the construction of the Getty Centre campus from it’s inception in 1984. He was appointed by the trust to run AV at the museum in 1995. So he has good context on the way things have evolved. Steph then took me to see their main theatre, the Harold M Williams Auditorium, which seats around 350 people and is named after the man who steered the Getty Trust through implementation of this this site. The trust oversee all aspects of programming for the museum.

Steph introduced me to some of his colleagues; Bill King, Mike Easley and Marvin Jones. They use the title of audio visual specialists, which I think has a nice ring to it. For those of you who know my views I think the titles we get for our roles can inform the perception of users. These guys are indeed specialists in either audio, projection or lighting but obviously can turn their hands to many different tasks. I felt right at home on the flight deck with names like Christie, Yamaha and Crestron, all amongst the familiar racking and control equipment you’d find in any control area.


They made me feel very welcome and I told them what AVCF was about, how it began, and where I hope my stewardship will lead it. At present, I explained, we are a growing community, a knowledge exchange and going forward will have some influence within our discipline. They got it. As you can imagine a group of techs chewing the fat in a projection room is a very familiar experience and I told them this could have been one of our Cultural Forum get togethers back in Blighty. I was happy to invite them, on your behalf, to link with our merry band, and have extended them all an invitation should they ever come through the UK. So our first international members! Welcome chaps.

In fact I hope we can arrange a remote VC link at one of our events, so we can say hi to each other and have a little Q&A. It was a pleasure to get an insight on how they ran one of the world’s top cultural venues.

It was still raining when I surfaced, but they had thought of that and had a complimentary Getty umbrella on hand.