Hi everyone, further to my request for contributions to our blog I have great leisure in introducing the first of these from our member Jason King. Thanks, Jason.


Dispatches from the front line

So, I have been thinking about this blog thing after Chris got in touch about contributions and where to begin. Do I write about technology and business or do I write about conferences and events? Well unless it’s Pink Floyd reuniting for a one-off gig there isn’t much there to write about as it’s all about the event. I guess what I’m trying to say is all of us in the business of running audio visual services strive to make every event the best possible experience. Whether that’s running technical services for a small intimate meeting or a 200 seat event streaming videos from multiple sources in multiple locations we all do our best with the tools we have.

So here I am thinking about my experiences both today and in the past and I have come to the conclusion that it’s the people in the industry that make the difference. It is the unsung hero sitting in a booth at the back of a conference room that deserves the accolades. It is he or she that understands what it feels like to have 200 people baying for blood because the speaker that is due on stage is lost and hasn’t finished their presentation. Yet we are rarely applauded for the work we do.

Take today for instance, in between dealing with a Lync meeting involving senior executives and the culmination of a 3-day conference involving multiple breakout sessions, demonstrations and practical sessions all running simultaneously. I decided to take some time out to meet a friend and colleague for lunch. Now this person (who shall remain nameless) works for a leading supplier of AV technology in sales, yet he doesn’t consider himself a sales person. He doesn’t have the usual sales patter, he doesn’t try to dazzle with tech. He calls himself an introducer. He naturally has targets and responsibilities but ultimately he is what I would call a people person.

People ‘people’ (pardon the expression) listen to end users, understand the brief and with the right technology make our jobs that much simpler.

To St Pancras…

So, my focus today, Friday 27th November, has been on finishing off a few mundane tasks before I cruise over to the new Google HQ for an event, run by AV User Group, showcasing new AV technology. The venue is nestled in amongst the huge St Pancras and Kings Cross development, you feel like you’re being assimilated by big brother, all steel and glass towers.

After getting lost and having to rely on Google maps, the irony, I found their HQ. I was somewhat taken aback by the masses of smokers congregating outside the entrance all furiously chuffing away producing as many emissions as a badly tuned London bus. Not very ‘west coast’ I agree but nevertheless I plowed on conscious of the time and excited all in good measure.

Once in the heart of the machine I was greeted by a charismatic young lady who gave me my badge and who, after a short time, then escorted me to the conference floor. During my brief trip, I passed large wooden crates passing as quirky offices and walls laden with coloured post it notes in the shape of arcade games. We exchanged niceties on route and I realised this left me feeling upbeat and relaxed. Google conditioning?

After about 20 mins of nosing about like a child in a sweet shop in all the meeting rooms and the main control room aptly named Ground Control. I helped myself to lunch which included sushi, wraps, branded cakes and water decanted in jars with plumbs, mint leaves and other exotica. I must admit I thought ‘god all this stuff is wasted on my untrained pallet’! Duly fed and watered we were all ushered into the main conference area for a sneak peek. I was surprised to find the room I was eating in turned out to be just the staging area.

After securing my seat in the conference room curiosity got the better of me and I began snooping around hoping to see behind the scenes. After a few mins of wonderment at all the flashing lights, screens and devices I worked out that there are separate mobile trollies for Lighting, Sound and visuals and that the meetings rooms and the two larger conference spaces were all named after David Bowie songs; Jean Jeanie, Aladdin Sane, Rebel Rebel how could I have missed that!

After a brief discussion with colleagues on this and that device, or choice of kit, our very own Kevin McLoughlin arrived to do a presentation on the ‘MeeToo’ voting system.

The technician in attendance for Google obviously had an issue with plugging a ‘rogue’ laptop into their system and started to ask many questions, usual stuff a tech would ask, and I have to say struck me as a little sniffy. But, Kevin answered all the questions superbly, as befits our AV Professional of the Year J

The tech finally managed to merge Kevin into the Google mothership but still seemed a little out of sorts? Bad day probably. Didn’t get nominated?
Just bought to mind what we all know, that one person can make such a difference to an event. Perception is all eh.

Jason King