Must-Know AV Terms
Updated: Mar 7, 2022
AV can be a confusing and overwhelming topic for someone with little or no experience in the area. Even if you hire professionals to handle your event’s Audio-Visual needs, without the basic industry language, there may be some confusion between you and the contracted company. In short, you may not end up getting exactly what you’re looking for.
These common terms will help you rent or order the correct equipment and services as well as improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your communication with those who you’ve hired!
Equipment Rental Rates
An AV company will usually quote you using their standard day rate for each piece of equipment needed for your event. If you need the equipment for 3 or more days, you will receive a “weekly rate” as three days is typically considered a week when it comes to equipment rentals. This is because the longer you have the equipment the longer they are unable to rent it out anywhere else; therefore they may have to turn away potential new clients.
It is important to communicate with your AV vendor about the length of your event when budgeting and planning so you are aware of any additional expenses that will be incurred for keeping the equipment over a more extended period.
Loss of Equipment
It’s also important to keep in mind that while you are renting the equipment, you are responsible for it. If you are storing it overnight, be sure to lock it up. If the weather isn’t looking favorable, it would be best to cover the speakers or make sure they stay inside as water damage is one of the easiest ways to ruin equipment.
Load-in (Set up) & Load-out (Teardown)
Load-in is the delivery of equipment, as the audiovisual company will arrive on location and make sure that everything is brought to the venue and placed where you need it. More commonly, if you need them also to set it up and get everything ready to function correctly, this would be simply referred to as “set up.” Load-out is the removal of the equipment after the rental period. Your A/V provider will come in after your event and take everything down, pack it up and leave with it. Most companies will refer to this as “strike.”
Be sure to prepare enough time for the AV company to load everything in. Furthermore, keep in mind any other contractors that you will have setting up, where they’ll be and what time they’re scheduled to come, as you’ll want to ensure that you don’t have too many people setting up in the same area at once.
If you have a video at your event, the source (laptop, DVD player, cable box, etc.) can be connected to many different pieces of equipment for various uses. These include TV screens, speakers, monitor displays, projectors, and more. Unfortunately, not all of these have the same ports, so there is not a universal connector that is needed.
While there are many different options for video connectors, these are the 3 most common:
HDMI is the most commonly known and used video connector. They do an excellent job providing high-definition video. Additionally, they can also carry audio, making them the most versatile and popular choice for many. Almost every TV and computer these days have an HDMI port. Remember, HDMI cannot be converted to VGA.
DVI (Digital Visual Interface)
DVI cables are used to connect a video’s source to its display such as a projector, computer monitor, or TV screen. Also, be sure to note that DVI cables cannot carry audio signals like HDMI.
VGA (Video Graphics Array)
VGA cables are used for projectors, laptops, computer monitors and some TVs. Because they are analog, they are not optimal for clear images. Be sure to note that HDMI cannot be changed to VGA, so you will need to have adapters on-hand at your event.
Wired vs. Wireless - The phrases “wired” and “wireless” are pretty self-explanatory. What’s important to note before selecting one, though, is how the microphone will be used. If the performer or speaker prefers to move around a lot and/or is very animated, it is probably best to use a wireless mic to avoid any cables getting in the way. If the microphone will be stationary during the event, wireless is not necessary, and a wired microphone will do the trick.
These are the most typical. Handheld mics are the most commonly used for singers and musicians, news reporters and often on podiums.
Often referred to as a “lav mic” or “lapel mic,” the lavalier microphone is small and clips onto the user’s collar, tie, or shirt. It is hands-free which is why it is so often used to avoid any distractions for speakers and the audience.
Countryman microphones are often used for singers and performers who like to dance and sing at the same time, TED talk speakers, preachers and anyone else that wants extreme mobility or freedom while using it. Its over-ear design allows it to handle much more vigorous movements than a lavalier mic. It also has slightly better audio quality due to the way sits directly in front of the mouth.
Click here to learn more about the Types of Wireless Microphones.
Types of Projectors
Rear - Rear projectors sit behind the projection screen and usually are ground-based. It’s important to note that space is needed between the projector and screen to allow enough room for the light to travel, so make sure you do not plan to have rear projection if your screen will be placed against a wall. Your AV provider should let you know how much space is needed, but be sure to ask if they don’t mention it.
Front - Front projectors are placed on the same side of the screen as the audience. It is more common as not all projectors and screens have rear projection capabilities, but with this advantage comes the downside of it being visible, taking up floor space, and people can walk in front of it. These potential issues can be avoided by rigging it to hang from the ceiling, but this will, of course, raise the cost. If you have room in the budget, rigging is a very effective and popular method that may be well worth the investment if you plan to use a projector often.
If you plan on projecting something, brightness is going to be a significant factor. It is measured in lumens. More lumens = more expensive, and brighter is not always better or necessary. Try to find ways that enable you to use a less bright projector by turning off lights, keeping it indoors or placing it in a shadowy area. These factors will be better than a bright environment regardless of your projector’s brightness, and they will provide a better viewing experience for your audience or guests.
Standard Definition & High Definition
HD (high-definition) is anything that has a 720p resolution or higher. The standard definition is 480p and lower. As mentioned previously, if you are looking to save on the budget, an HD projector may not be entirely necessary depending on how you plan to use it.
The standard definition has an aspect ratio of 4:3, while High-Definition has an aspect ratio of 16:9 (the same as an iPhone 8 or below). Creating your video content in a different aspect ratio than that of the projector can lead to some last-minute problems, so be sure to be aware of what you’re working with and communicate this to anyone who will be presenting.
A day rate in the industry is considered 10 hours of labor or equipment use, and a half-day is considered 5 hours. Note that everything is typically charged in 5-hour chunks. If you go 6 hours you will be charged for a full day rate; 11 hours would be charged as 1.5 days.
Travel days are any day needed for travel and will typically be charged at a half-day rate.
Events often run long hours or extend longer than originally intended. While most companies won’t demand that they leave at the scheduled time (communicate with them beforehand on this), anything that runs over 10 hours will likely be charged as overtime.
If there are odd load-in or load-out hours you may be charged for overtime. This often happens because events typically run during regular hours, so the set-up and strike will need to fall before and after. Events on holidays may also require an additional charge. As with most things, this should be cleared up with your AV provider beforehand. A responsible and thorough company will be upfront about these additional costs, but on the off-chance that they aren’t, be sure to inquire.
We hope that this guide has cleared some things up. You don't need to be an AV expert when hiring a vendor, but it helps everyone involved be sure that you are 100% satisfied with the Audio-Visual at your event. Knowledge of these basic industry terms will ensure that you get what you want, and confirm that you’re hiring an experienced, knowledgeable and organized AV provider. We at Channel Audio wish you all the best in your next event, and are always available to answer any other questions you may have!
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