Tag Archives: Projection

Conference Nightmares, Episode One

Medical Conference, Monte Carlo, 1980s.

This was a big show with lots of break-out sessions. The production company’s MD was there and busy selling extra content while we were on location. Another AV? No problem! It was pretty busy.

One of the meetings in the main hall of the Auditorium had a lot of 16mm film inserts. The audience wasn’t very big for this session so they were seated in the block of seats nearest the stage (think of a mosh pit for medical execs) and the production desk was roughly in the middle of the hall.

The speakers would arrive just before their session was due to start and hand over spools of film to me. The projector was too noisy to rewind each film as it was so close to the audience so they would end up tail-out on the take-up spool and would be sorted out after the session.

By the usual standards of conference production it was pretty chaotic.

One speaker handed over his film and I laced it up ready to go. A few seconds after I rolled the film I realised that the take-up spool was not big enough. A few words were exchanged over the comms and a plan was rapidly formed.

I had to remove the take-up spool while the film was running and replace it with a more suitable sized reel. This entailed walking back and climbing over the rows of seating and dragging the film along with me. As soon as another tech had put a larger spool on the projector I had to cut the film and pass it back so it could be laced on and the slack taken up. As soon as the film was finished we had to splice it back together and hope the owner didn’t notice.

The audience didn’t see any of this so I’d rate this as a minor success. Pro tip: Make sure you have a good selection of empty reels and get more sleep. You kids playing in an mpeg file from a laptop today have no idea.

As I mentioned earlier, the overall event show was a bit chaotic. At another time there were two small break-out sessions in adjoining rooms. They were supposed to be at different times but the schedule was being adjusted constantly and they ended being run simultaneously. We had enough kit to run both except for comms. The two crews had to share the same circuit. You can’t begin to imagine…

At this point most of the production team had gotten by with only a few hours sleep over several days. Having two crews sharing the same comms was a nightmare.

Producer in Room One: “Standby AV”

AV tech in Room Two: “There’s an AV next?”

Producer in Room Two: “What?”

And so on. Somehow it all worked. I still haven’t figure out how.