Working out a plan for designing a permanent installation can be a daunting task. There is a lot to think about, especially since this is not a one and done job. This is going to be around for a long time and your efforts will be reflected in the outcome for years to come. No pressure here! Here are a few suggestions for getting off on the right track with your job.
1. Figure out your budget and end goals. Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and when you want it done by.
2. Find a good consultant. There are people out there who do this kind of stuff for a living. Work with them to find a solution that best suits your needs. If you have questions, ask.
3. Understand from the start that there will be delays in the process along the way. Some of these delays are good, some are not so good. Either way, they are going to happen, so prepare for it by under promising and over delivering.
4. Specify products that are designed to last for a long time. Stay away from inferior products.
5. Think in and set milestones. Work with your consultant on figuring out what needs to be done by when.
6. Hire a professional installation team. Installation work needs to be as perfect as possible. If you don’t think you have the amount of experience it takes to get the job done, hire someone who does. This will save you a ton of time and money in the long run.
7. When the installation is nearly complete, bring in your operational crew and start training. It is always an advantage when your crew can get some time with the installers to learn how your gear should work.
If your installation is a long term project and you budget depends on installing in phases, I highly recommend the following three phases
Phase 1 – Get the installation open. Since you have an overall plan of what your finished project will look like and consist of, get your complete infrastructure installed. All of your electrical lines, data lines, and networking needs to be done in phase 1. Any rigging points should also be added in here. I suggest this so that as move forward in additional phases, your backbone is already installed. While the cost of installing all of the electrical and communication lines might be high, they will be higher down the line if you have to take gear down to add in additional power and data. Same goes with rigging. The more you do on the initial installation, the easier it will be to add in lighting and AV gear down the road. In phase 1, you will have a basic lighting and audio package. This is designed to get your installation open. This package may not include any moving lights, just the front, side and rear lighting that you need so that your stage is not dark and enough audio so that your audience can hear what your talent is saying and that the band can be heard. You may even choose to rent gear knowing that you are going to purchase later. Sometimes renting gear might be a better long term solution depending on your situation. If you want to stay on the cutting edge of technology, then renting is the way to go. If you are content with setting up a rig that your crew can learn and use easily, then purchasing is a better option.
Phase 2 – Add in more gear. You already have a basic lighting and AV package. This means that you have the essentials covered; now you want to start adding in fancy gear. In phase 2, if your project calls for it, this is where I would add in the video package. Whether it is video walls, or projection screens, this is where I would add them in. I would also add in any additional audio needs that are part of the project. Audio and video are big impact items. By adding them in during this phase, your clientele is going to notice a big change and is likely to stay interested in your project. If you are relying on donations for your budget, this is something to keep in mind.
Phase 3 – This is where you finish up. Add in the moving light package here. By adding in the dynamics of moving lights, it puts the dot at the end of the sentence as far as your installation goes. Also, since you already have the rigging and electrical in place, you should be all set to add them in.
By planning and sticking to your plan, your installation will be something that you can be proud of from the get go, then by adding in additional gear as your budget allows, you will be able to achieve your complete vision. Now go forth and build something cool.