How to Have and Hold Professional Meetings with Audiovisual
James Anthony Allen
San Francisco, California
How to Save Money on Audiovisual Services
By James Anthony Allen
Mark A. Cole & James Anthony Allen
Editor: Elizabeth F. Allen
Glossary by Mark Allen Cole and James Anthony Allen
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Allen, James Anthony.
The Audiovisual Handbook: How to Save Money on Audiovisual Services/by James
Anthony Allen --1st Edition.
ISBN: 0-9634718-0-5 $39.95 Softcover
(C) Copyright 1992 by J. Anthony Allen
First Printing, 1992
Printed in the United States of America.
Published and Distributed by:
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in
any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written
permission from the author, James Anthony Allen, except for the inclusion of
brief quotations in a review.
Check your Audio mixer .................................. 52
Check for Business Center Services ...................... 52
Check for Door Stops .................................... 54
Check your Pointer ...................................... 54
Check your Flipchart Easel .............................. 55
Check your Lights ....................................... 55
Check your Overhead Projector ........................... 57
Check the Microphone(s) ................................. 56
Check Pipe and Drape .................................... 58
Check the Podium ........................................ 58
Check the Projection Screen ............................. 58
Check the Riser ......................................... 59
Check your 16mm Projector ............................... 59
Check for Telephones .................................... 59
Check Room Temperature .................................. 60
Check your 35mm Slide Projector ......................... 61
Check your Stage Lighting ............................... 61
Check your Video Playback ............................... 62
Check your Video Projector .............................. 62
The purpose of this book is to show you how to save money on the rental of
audiovisual equipment and services in the meeting environment. It is
specifically designed for hotels and locations where meetings are regularly
held. It is not intended to be read from cover to cover but to be used as a
handy reference guide when planning and conducting your meetings and as a post
meeting guide. You may also learn how to prepare for meetings more effectively
by knowing what to expect when you get to your meeting location. This book will
also give you insight into the audiovisual industry in general and ideas on how
others prepare and conduct their meetings more effectively.
The field of hotel audiovisual services is one of which there is little known by
the public. I realized one day as I discussed ways to save money on audiovisual
equipment with clients, that not many individuals know how to save money. Nor
did they know how to check to see if their bills were correct. They were either
so concerned with other areas of their meeting or the audiovisual services
rendered were of little interest to them. Perhaps, audiovisual as a sleeping
dragon would not wake up and bite if left alone.
The problem with audiovisual is if you do not keep track of what is needed,
ordered and added, you will indeed get burned in the end by the sleeping dragon.
Remember the hotel has more energy devoted to food and beverage and room rentals
than audiovisual; therefore audiovisual takes a back seat when it comes to
satisfying you, the client. Audiovisual represents a small amount of revenue as
compared to the overall hotel revenue. If the hotel is not happy with the
service rendered by one audiovisual company there is usually another audiovisual
company waiting to take over.
As you read this book, expect it to help you better understand the audiovisual
rental business, the personnel associated with conducting meetings as it relates
to audiovisual and expect insight into opportunities to receive discounted
audiovisual equipment prices.
This book is designed to provide information regarding audiovisual services,
particularly in the hotel meeting room environment. It is not to be used as a
tool to undermine any authority, person or organization. It is not the purpose
of this manual to establish the author as an authority in the field of
audiovisual services nor to become engaged in professional consulting resulting
from the sale of this book. It's sole use is to inform user's of audiovisual
services of the opportunities for learning more about audiovisual services and
to secure optimal charges for audiovisual services.
My special thanks to hundreds of individuals who wanted to know more about
audiovisual services and showed my their interest in this handbook.
Many thanks to the many meeting planners, travel agents, meeting coordinators,
lecturers and interested parties who took the time to read the manuscript in its
rough form to give me insightful ideas into a more useful document.
Thanks to Dr. Roger McLeod of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, Russ
Wilkins of West Educational Publishing, Dr. Paul Phibbs of Institute for
Management Studies, Conley Baker, Federated Employers, Sue Blackburn of Peoples
Travel Service, Amparo Lago of Synoptics Communications and the Mobile Office
Division of International Cellular for taking time to speak with me concerning
this project and showing interest.
A special thank you to my wife Elizabeth and my daughter Francesca who have
borne the burden of me pressing with time and effort towards the completion of
this book. Their understanding and support in this effort is greatly
Ultimate thanks to God who gave me the insight to see the need for such a book
in the audiovisual industry and the motivation to complete it. The Audiovisual
handbook is the silver lining in the audiovisual rental industry.
James Anthony Allen
The A, B, C's of AUDIOVISUAL
GENERAL OVERVIEW ____________________________________
This book is designed to give you the A,B,C's of renting audiovisual equipment
utilized in the facilitation of your meeting. It covers basic audiovisual
equipment and its use.
Meeting environments involve a myriad of technical considerations which we will
look at from an audiovisual perspective--lighting, sound and visual
requirements. Keep these considerations in mind as you utilize the Audiovisual
Handbook to get the most for your money and still have a professional meeting.
Unless you request extra lighting to light a stage or a runway, you are stuck
with whatever permanent lighting system is in the room. This is normally
What is crucial is the ability to dim the room's lights so that any light on the
screen is eliminated as well as allowing enough light elsewhere for people to
read and take notes.
Unscrewing lights above and near the screen solves most lighted screen problems.
An engineer will have to be called to unscrew a bulb or two--primarily the
lights directly above the screen. Getting the hotel staff to do this can often
be a problem. Check your room early enough to make any changes well in advance
of your meeting.
If no operator (projectionist) is scheduled, experiment with the room's lighting
controls, see if one lighting level can be set for all day; even though it will
leave the room with a dark feel, try to find a happy medium. Assign one of your
people the job of darkening the screen (or darkening the room) when needed if
you do not plan to do it yourself. Almost always, lights have to be dimmed for
projection (except for overhead projection and other high intensity projectors),
and raised after a client's presentation for question and answers.
Fluorescent lights need to be turned off first. Fluorescent usually have a
tell-tale buzz/humm which in some cases will be too noisy or annoying to have
the light on. Turn it off if possible.
If special lighting is needed to lighten up a podium and is planned to be left
turned on all day, be sure the light is not close enough to something which
could inadvertently become inflamed. The more modern meeting facilities have
permanent supplemental lighting built into the room which really is great to
have. They are generally located in the ceiling.
Other hotel facilities have to bring in supplemental lighting
from the engineering department or from the audiovisual department. The lights
from the engineering department should attach on tracks in the ceiling, whereas
the lights from the audiovisual department are probably leiko lights or another
type of stage lighting. Leiko lights are theater lights which are hung on
lighting trees and require additional labor requirements. Leiko lights must
never be placed on the same side of the room as the podium but instead at a
diagonal from the podium to avoid blinding the speaker. They should be placed as
high as possible. It is not advised to use stage lights directed at the podium
when using a room which has a low ceiling and when the podium is placed on a
Usually you're dependent on the room's permanent sound system, which is
generally adequate for most meeting requirements. Any microphones, mixers or
tape systems which are set up properly should not require any additional
Check for feedback or high tinny sounds from the sound system. There should be
access to the audio mixer if there is no operator scheduled and you should know
where the audio mixer is located. Not only should you know where the audio mixer
is located, but you should know where the master volume control is located and
how to turn the volume up or down. You should know which volume control knob is
designated for which microphone if you have multiple microphones in your room.
If you bring your own microphone, you should know in advance whether you are
allowed to bring it, what type of adapter is needed to interface with the house
sound system and if there will be an additional charge for patching your
microphone into the house sound system.
The overhead projector is the bread and butter of hotel in-house audiovisual
companies. It is the workhorse of the industry. It is used more frequently with
less problems than other types of projection equipment. It is easy to set up and
easy to operate. There are few idiot lights and buttons with which to be
The 35mm slide projector is the next industry workhorse. With a 35mm slide
projector you will need a stand on which to place the unit, a lens, a remote
control, a spare lamp and a slide tray. For 35mm slide projection which utilizes
vertical slides you have to plan for vertical slide projection.
Audiovisual technicians and most lecturers like to get as much of the image on
the screen as possible. When you have vertical and horizontal slides, your
projector has to be set to allow all of the vertical image to show on the
screen. When you plan to use vertical slides in your presentation, they should
fill the screen properly. Remember, when you set your projector's lens for
vertical projection, you will reduce the size of your horizontal images. If you
don't have vertical slides, your horizontal slide images should fill the screen
as much as possible.
Bright light or Hotshot lamp modules brighten your projected images quite
nicely. Kodak Ektagraphic III 35mm slide projectors are recommended for slide
projection. The auto focus function on slide projectors usually work, but can
cause problems, i.e. while searching for the focus, a lens may be extended out
of the projector, causing the lens to come off of its ramp. Auto focus
alleviates the need for the lecturer to focus each slide if not in focus. Auto
focus is recommended but its use depends on individual preferences.
Wireless remote control for projectors are common and generally work well. There
may be an extra charge associated with their use. If you plan to use a wireless
microphone or do not want to carry a wire around with you, then a wireless
remote is best. If you are one of those people who do not trust wireless
remotes, use a wired remote which is free with the projector rental. The wire
will run from the projector to the podium. You can also designate a person to
change slides on command so you do not have to handle the remote.
For film projection, the image should fill the screen as much as possible. Fixed
focus lenses or zoom lenses are used. Fixed lenses are brighter than zoom lenses
but are also less common. Film is used less often than 35mm slide or overhead
projectors. It is re-commended to transfer your films to the VHS video format if
you frequently use it during presentations. You avoid the problems associated
with film projectors and films, i.e. old sprocket holes, noise from projector
operation and incorrect film threading to name a few.
For video projection, in smaller rooms and for fewer people, one or two 26"
video monitors are recommended, but for larger rooms with 80 or more people, a
video projector works best. There are various kinds of video projectors which
vary in quality, i.e. G.E. Talaria, Barco, Sony, Sharpvision--compare prices,
ask about discounts for multiple day use. The speaker can operate the
videocassette player from the podium or if there is a wireless remote available,
it can be placed at the rear of the room or any appropriate location in the
room. Sometimes a remote control may not be available because remotes are easily
pilfered. Television remote control units are a consumer item.
The half inch VHS video format is the most commonly used. The three quarter inch
U-MATIC format is still used as well as the BETA format but less often then VHS.
Super-VHS is becoming more popular but a tape of that format must be played back
on a Super-VHS videocassette player for Super-VHS quality. For proper connection
to a video projector or monitor, a special cable is necessary for best picture
results. A regular VHS tape can be played back on most Super-VHS videocassette
players but a Super-VHS tape can not be played back on a regular VHS
videocassette player. For European video cassettes which use PAL or SECAM, make
sure you have the correct videocassette player which corresponds to the
appropriate video format.
Try to order audiovisual equipment and labor directly through the audiovisual
department instead of the catering department. Sometimes you will be able to
negotiate a deal with the Audiovisual Manager if he can direct bill you.
Direct bill refers to the audiovisual company directly billing you instead of
the hotel billing you for the audiovisual services rendered. Audiovisual
services are usually contracted out by the hotel, which gets a percentage of
sales. It is in your best interest to deal directly with the audiovisual company
and expect reductions on your bill. If you have been ordering your audiovisual
requirements directly from the AV manager, then this manual will offer you
helpful insights to get your reductions.
If you are planning on needing an audiovisual operator to work a slide
projector, videotape playback, audio recording, videotaping, etc. you can save a
lot of money if one of your staff is instructed on the operation of the
particular audiovisual equipment. Audiovisual companies will charge you $20 -
$40+ an hour (with a four hour minimum) for an equipment operator. Almost any
type of audio or video equipment is easy and sometimes even fun to use. The key
is getting familiar with the gear and know how it functions. Ask the Audiovisual
Manager or technician to show you how to operate the specific equipment you are
If you are regularly using a particular audio or video piece of equipment and it
is portable (or a portable version can be purchased), it would be a wise
decision to buy that item and use it for your meetings. These items usually are
wireless microphones, LCD panels (especially those with composite video) and
laser pointers. These are money savers!
When reading the information discussed in this book, remember that
hotels/meeting environments are not the same. Some av prices and setups may be
similar but few are identical. Rooms in a particular facility will be different.
If you are a frequent user of specific facilities it is a good idea to make
notes on each facility you visit. The information presented here takes the
differences into account and therefore generalizations are numerous but
There is no other document which I have found that gives insight into the
audiovisual industry as this book does. It goes into detail concerning
audiovisual equipment setups which you or your clients use during your meetings.
It is helpful in that you are informed about pitfalls into which you or your
peers have probably fallen, for some more than once; some of which you may be
aware and others which you never knew existed. The Audiovisual Handbook may
change the way audiovisual business is conducted because it puts you in the
When using an overhead projector, plastic acetate rolls or sheets are necessary
items on which to write or draw during your presentation. Acetate sheets are
standard 8.5" x 11" sheets which are used with markers. The acetate sheet is
simply placed on the projector's glass face. It is suggested that a damp cloth
be used to erase information instead of a dry cloth which may scratch the
acetate. Special acetate cleaner may be available.
* Do not write on the glass plate of the overhead projector.
* Acetate rolls vary from 25 to 50 feet in length and are attached to the sides
of the projector using acetate roll holders. One roll holder has a cardboard
roll on which the acetate roll is attached. The holders have knobs that can turn
the roll back and forth.
* Make sure the projector is not tilted too much which would cause the
transparency sheet to slide off. Sometimes in an effort to eliminate keystoning
by an overhead projector, the front of the projector is tilted up so the
projected image is as high as possible. Once the projector is tilted, make sure
the acetate sheets do not slip off.
* The most common marker used for overhead acetate sheets are fine tipped water
soluble markers (Vis-a-Vis) as opposed to a fine-tipped permanent marker
(Sharpie). You can use either marker. Permanent markers do not wipe off. Bring
your own markers if you plan to use them.
ADDITIONAL AUDIOVISUAL REQUIREMENTS
See Equipment, Last Minute Adds, page 99.
Sometimes you will have problems with your audiovisual equipment malfunctioning.
If this happens, ask the Banquet Manager to adjust the problem equipment and/or
labor off of your bill. Whether the problem is minor or major, remember the
squeaky wheel gets the oil.
* In most circumstances the Banquet Manager is the person who you will ask for
the adjustment. Most hotels will gladly adjust the audiovisual component of your
bill, especially if you are a recurring client, if you have a large block of
rooms or large food and beverage orders for your group.
* When the Banquet Manager is not around or you have the Audiovisual Manager in
front of you (which you generally will have if you are having a problem), inform
him/her that you need to get an adjustment on your bill.
* Ask the Audiovisual Manager to adjust the problem piece of equipment or labor
off your bill. If she/he does not want to do so, take the matter up with the
Catering Director, your Sales contact or the Food and Beverage Manager.
AGREEMENT, LONG TERM
See Long term agreements, page 117.
* Do not take up time or energy arguing with the audiovisual technician or
Audiovisual Manager. Speak with the Banquet Manager or Director of Catering
concerning any disagreements.
* Argument with the Banquet Manager or the Director of Catering should not occur
either. Have the Banquet Manager inform the General Manager that you would like
to speak with him/her. Discuss any problems which cannot be resolved by other
hotel staff with the General Manager.
James Anthony Allen
The A, B, C's of AUDIOVISUAL
If you have a question about anything concerning your audiovisual setup, do not
hesitate to ask. Don't be afraid. There is no such thing as a dumb question.
Remember, you are paying for the service.
* If you do not ask certain questions, it is assumed you know the answer or are
not concerned about the answer. The assumption is made that you have seen a copy
of the audiovisual equipment price list or you do not care about price.
* When you are ready to order the equipment these are some questions to ask:
1) How much does this cost? Is the price list current?
2) Do I really need this piece of equipment and why?
3) Can I use something else instead which costs less and get the same results?
4) Are there any hidden costs? Or costs associated with renting this equipment?
Or costs of which the catering department is not aware?
5) Does the cost include someone to operate the equipment?
6) For example, if you do not ask for the price of renting a high cost video
projector, it is assumed you are willing to pay the going rate. You will be
stuck with a high bill.
* Ask your audiovisual questions to the people with the audiovisual answers--the
audiovisual staff. It is ofttimes not the catering/sales staff who know what
will work best in your given situation. Speak with the Audiovisual Manager.
These are costs assumed by you for renting audiovisual equipment. You assume to
pay the going price at this meeting location for equipment which you rent.
* If you rent something, then you assume there will be a cost. When the
audiovisual company or hotel rent you their space or audiovisual equipment, they
are taking an assumed risk. When you rent the space or audiovisual equipment,
you are taking an assumed cost.
* The audiovisual technician/manager is not obligated to tell you what the
prices are unless you ask.
* Many of the rooms/events are booked years/months/weeks in advance. The hotel
sends out information concerning services which you can expect from their
facility. Included in this mailing should be an audiovisual price list. Take a
moment to review the sheet(s) when you receive your packet. When you review your
audiovisual equipment price sheet, compare the prices of equipment packages and
the individual components of the packages. You may find that the equipment
packages do not always save you money.
* The Audiovisual Manager is placed in a delicate position when it comes to
volunteering audiovisual prices. Many clients using audiovisual services are
really not concerned with price and are offended by the manager raising the
issue. Therefore, often the audiovisual staffer will not bother to give you the
price of the equipment unless you ask.
* The Audiovisual Manager is in the business to make money for the audiovisual
company for which he/she works. Most audio-visual managers typically make a
commission based on sales, so they are trying to sell you equipment you need and
upsell you equipment that you really don't need, but which adds value to your
presentation. You have to know what you want and need.
* With smaller companies and/or individual clients, the audio-visual staffer may
inform them of the price of equipment so the person in charge will not:
1) Refuse to pay the bill after the meeting is over when presented the bill. Or
refuse to pay the bill when it comes in the mail.
2) Argue about not being informed of the costs when presented with the bill.
3) Have a heart attack when they see the audiovisual portion of the bill.
The audiovisual company takes an assumed risk when it rents you audiovisual
equipment. The assumption is you will not take, damage or otherwise change the
equipment from the state in which it was rented to you.
"I would like to speak to the audiovisual person in charge." "Speaking." "Were
you there last year when we had our conference?" "Yes." " Well I don't want the
rate that was charged me last year. I only used you because you are the in-house
audiovisual company. My bill last year was twice what I was quoted."
* This type of attitude will cause your bill to rise and result in a less than
average handling of your audiovisual equipment for your conference.
* It is better to present a positive demeanor to those who will setup and charge
you for your audiovisual equipment. Rudeness can get you additional charges.
During the course of meetings equipment is added and removed from the meeting
room based on the desire of the lecturer, meeting planner or whomever is in
charge. Peripheral equipment which is necessary for the main piece of equipment
to operate properly is sometimes forgotten to be charged. If you have a several
day conference the forgotten equipment is added to your bill the next day. The
Audiovisual Manager has discretion to not charge you for forgotten equipment.
For example, a 35mm projection lens, cart, or stand, may not be added to your
bill because it was forgotten the day before. If you have been rude, you can be
sure that you will be charged for everything, full price.
* Or, because you are such a nice person, equipment is added to our meeting room
at no cost or at a discounted price.
* More often than not, you do not know all the ways how or where you can save
money on your audiovisual costs: the audiovisual person can save you money if
you're friendly, or can stick it to you if you are not.
* Don't expect the Banquet Manager, Sales, or Catering managers to come to your
rescue--because if you have been a "rude dude or rude gal", more than likely you
did not start with the audiovisual person.
* Try to get to know the hotel associates by their first names, especially those
who are actually setting and/or servicing your room. These are the people you
will have to deal with after you are at the hotel setting up your meeting.
* Remember, if you project a positive attitude, one should be shown to you!
* Audio cassettes are small reels of magnetic tape utilized in the playback or
recording of sound. They are used primarily in audio cassette recorders and
* A normal audio cassette tape is usually 60 minutes in length with 30 minutes
on each side. A 90 minute cassette should be supplied by the audiovisual company
if you order audiotape; these tapes have a recording time of 45 minutes on one
* Audiotapes with a playing time of 120 minutes are also common. Generally these
tapes are not used because of their tendency to wrinkle, jam or become
inoperable. Audiotapes with a total playing time of 110 minutes, 55 minutes on
each side have also become available on the market. These may take time to find
but they are available; they should have less of a tendency to jam or wrinkle.
* You should expect to pay $2.50 - $7.00 for an audio cassette tape. It is in
your best interest to bring your own.
* Audio cassettes fall into the classification of supplies. If you are not
allowed to bring your own equipment into a facility, audio cassettes or video
cassettes should not apply. They are a supply item.
* For speech recording, use normal bias tapes. For music recording, use high
bias tapes, either chromium dioxide or more expensive metal tapes.
Audio cassette players/recorders are used to play background music as
participants enter or leave the meeting room, to record a meeting or to playback
an audio segment which is a part of the seminar.
* Audio cassette recorders are normally either stereo or mono machines.
* Stereo players are not necessary unless the room has a stereo public address
system which normally will be stereo. Most built-in public address sound systems
in hotels are mono.
* If you plan to have stereo playback through your P.A. system, make sure you
have a stereo playback unit. Otherwise, you will only get mono through your
expensive public address setup.
* Know the difference between mono and stereo sound. If you don't know the
difference or hear the separation between right and left channels, you may pay
for stereo when all you are getting is loud mono.
* If you bring your own audio cassette player to be used for playback, expect to
be charged a patch fee. Always ask if you are going to be charged for patching
in your player. Don't wait until after the meeting to find out.
* Additionally, ask the av technician whether a mixer or other audio device is
necessary to get your cassette player to play through the house sound system.
Most players have line level outputs and many house sound systems have
microphone level inputs. The input and output levels need to match for your
player to send sound to the house speakers.
Cuing your audiotape
* In an effort to have your presentation go as smoothly as possible, it is a
good idea to cue up your tapes.
* Play your audiotape until you hear the information which is to be presented.
Stop the tape and rewind it very briefly. Your tape should be cued.
* For a quicker program start, when you hear the program start on playback, stop
the tape; eject the tape and with your finger or a pencil, rewind the tape one
full turn. Ensure there is no slack on the tape reels. Place the audiotape back
into the machine and it is cued. Zero the counter on your audiotape player.
* Many presentations begin poorly by having to wait for a presentation to start.
Avoid this by cuing your tape. If you take the time to cue your tape, your
presentation will look more professional.
* When do I need to order an audio mixer? What size do I need to order? Am I
expected to operate it during the meeting?
* You can expect to see small four channel mixers in general use. When using
three to four microphones you may see these mixers in use. Or if you have a
large group and you're using a video projector to show a VHS videotape, the
sound will be amplified using a small mixer.
* The Shure audio mixer models M-267 and M-268 will be the four channel mixer
which you will see used most often.
SINGLE AUDIO MIXER
* Have you ever been in a meeting room where the sound was not loud enough? Or
too loud? You call the audiovisual technician and you have to wait ten minutes
before it is corrected. The following suggestion has more to do with saving face
rather than saving money. Have the audiovisual technician place a small four
channel in your room so you can control the volume of the sound on each of your
microphones. You can quickly correct sound problems.
* Now let's say you don't want a mixer in your room. You have two microphones.
The audiovisual technician may place a mixer in your room to accommodate you
without asking you. If you are in a room which has a built-in sound system and
the room has two or more microphone inputs in it, have the audiovisual
technician take out the mixer and patch directly into the microphone inputs.
* Sometimes the audiovisual staff will place a mixer in your room when you have
more than one microphone because you don't know (or have not taken the time) to
check your room to see if there are microphone inputs (jacks) which can be used
so a mixer does not have to be used. If you do not check you may get burned.
Three to four microphone inputs are usually in rooms which have built-in sound
* In an effort not to use a lot of microphone cable to set your room and to
avoid having to run back and forth to your room because the sound is not loud
enough or is too loud, because the different lecturers have different vocal tone
qualities, the audiovisual technician may place a small mixer in your room
(unless you specify otherwise). It will be charged to your account.
* Keep track of specific equipment requirements which you use for your meeting.
If your room never used a mixer before and you have been using one or two
microphones (never using a mixer), and they charge you for one, get the mixer
comped--taken off your bill.
When to use a four channel audio mixer
1) When you want to control the sound level in your meeting room from inside the
room and there is no built-in volume control.
2) When you are using a video projector and you want the sound to go through the
house sound system.
3) When you want to have playback from an audio cassette player go into the
house sound system. Audio cassette players used in the audiovisual industry
generally have line level (high impedance) outputs. The in-house sound systems
in hotels generally have microphone level (low impedance) inputs. So if you try
to use the cassette player without an in-line transformer or mixer you will get
distorted sound levels. An in-line transformer will save you the cost of a
mixer, but you will not have the ability to control the sound level in your
room. Get the mixer charge comped by saying the technician should have supplied
4) When you are using a 16mm projector and want the sound patched into the house
sound and you want the controls to be in the room.
5) When you record from the microphone or other source which is routed through
the mixer. The appropriate mixer will give you a line level which your audio
cassette recorder can use.
6) When using a television with a 1/2" VHS or 3/4" U-MATIC playback, you may
want your sound patched into the house system. (This is usually overkill, but do
it if you already have a mixer in the room.) When you have multiple televisions,
a mixer is generally used and it is patched into the house sound.
* Most of the time, audio recording of speech or music involves an audio mixer.
An audio mixer combines audio signals from different sources and send them to an
amplifier which sends the signal to the speakers. An audio mixer is generally
necessary because a microphone level (low level/low impedance) input will not be
accepted by most audiocassette recorders, a line level (high level/high
impedance) input is necessary. (Note: Some audio recorders will take a
microphone input. Specifically order an audiocassette recorder with microphone
level inputs to avoid the audio mixer cost.) Microphone signals are fed into the
audio mixer and a line level output is fed into the tape deck. In large
ballrooms, the input signal from the sound source generally can be patched back
into the ballroom and connected directly into your cassette recorder.
* A test of the whole system is a must, i.e. record a test recording through the
microphones and then playback the tape to hear sound quality. Ensure that you
can record through all the microphones.
* Make sure the audiovisual department supply you with head-phones. Some
recorders have an internal speaker. You can monitor your sound from the internal
speaker or from headphones.
* Sometimes the audiovisual technician who performed your setup may not have had
enough microphone inputs on the audio mixer so he/she may use the house sound
system to supply audio from one specific microphone(s) to the room, but bypasses
the audio mixer. If so, one or more microphones may not be recorded. This would
happen because of a shortage of inputs on an audio recorder. The sound from that
particular microphone (generally a Q & A microphone) does not go to the audio
recorder. Test each microphone when you perform your audio recorder test.
* If the tape deck does not have an internal speaker, then headphones are needed
to hear the playback. If the deck does have an internal speaker, it needs to be
disabled during recording if the recorder is in the record room.
* If a hum is heard, then either the tape deck is too close to the mixer, there
is a faulty patch cable between deck and mixer, a ground plug is needed on the
tape deck, a microphone is faulty or is too close to an electrical source such
as a podium light, an electric pointer or unshielded audio cables are being used
and are near power cords.
AUDIO TAPING CONSIDERATIONS
You may want your lecturer audio taped. There are a number of ways to do this
after you consider: One, what is the purpose of the audio taping, and two, how
am I going to get it done?
People record lectures for documentation, transcription and for the purpose of
selling the lecture. Different purposes may require different setups.
* Are you going to record directly from a microphone onto the audiotape recorder
or will you record from the speakers located in the ceiling to the audio tape
recorder? Indicate that you want your recording made from a direct feed from the
microphone which is to go into the audiotape recorder, if you want a quality
* Are you going to do it yourself? Are you going to use the in-house audiovisual
company? Or are you going to get another company to handle the recording?
* Who is going to pay for the patch fees and audio mixers necessary to
accomplish your audio taping goals?
* Who is going to tell you what is required to audiotape at this particular
property? Surely not the outside audio-visual company who wants to keep your
business. And you will not need to contact the in-house audiovisual company
since they are not involved, right? Wrong!
* Remember when you go to a hotel which has an audiovisual company working
there, you, the client, not the outside audiovisual company, should contact the
in-house audio-visual company and work out all the minute details of your
meeting arrangements. Audiovisual companies are in the business to make money.
If two audiovisual companies are servicing your audiovisual requirements, both
are trying to make money from you. You will ultimately get burned in the end if
you do not communicate effectively with both.
AUDIO CASSETTE RECORDERS WITH CONDENSER MICROPHONES
* Some lectures are recorded to be transcribed at a later date. If this is your
purpose, try using an audio cassette recorder which has a built-in condenser
microphone. The microphone will pick up most speech from a speaker five feet
* Place the audio cassette recorder near the podium close to the lecturer or
near the table with the lecturer.
* The problem with using this recorder is that it requires close proximity to
the lecturer and someone has to perform audio cassette duty (turn the audiotape
over when the first side is complete and place a new tape in the machine when
the second side is finished). If you forget you miss portions of the lecture.
Also if the recorder is near the lecturer, someone should be dedicated to sit
with the recorder whose responsibility is to turn the tape over.
* If your lecturer uses a microphone, you can place the audio cassette recorder
any place in the room and get a signal worthy of transcription (if the room
sound level is loud enough). Be sure to perform a test recording.
* What is important to know about these recorders is they rent for about $20-$30
and they do not require a mixer or other peripheral equipment to use.
* A suggestion is to place one of your staff persons in the front row to perform
the recording of the lecture.
* Always have some type of monitoring device, i.e. earplug, headset or internal
speaker to ensure a good signal.
* Bring a micro cassette recorder to record the lecture and you save money!
Micro cassette recorders often have more than one speed, therefore you can get
more on the lecture on one tape than would be possible with a normal audio
* Remember, record a voice on tape and listen to the playback.
AUDIO CASSETTE RECORDERS PLACED IN THE BACK OF THE ROOM
* When you are audio recording a lecture to sell to the public, you require a
better recording than you will receive if you use an audio recorder which has a
condenser microphone or a micro cassette recorder.
* When you do not want the audio cassette recorder to interfere with the
presentation, many times the recorder is placed in the back of the room.
Needless to say, recorders which are placed in the back of the room are not the
condenser micro-phone types. What this means to you is your lecturer will need
to use a microphone.
* Audio cassette recorders can be placed at the registration table also. This is
the location of your staff person for most of the seminar anyway, so why can't
they operate the recorder as well? Some rooms are situated so it is impossible
or very difficult to place at the registration table. In this in-stance, you may
be charged an extra labor fee for placing it in an inconvenient location. Be
sure to ask if it will cost more.
* Audio cassette recorders which are used in the audiovisual industry will
generally not be the Cadillacs of the audio industry (unless you specify you
want one). They will generally be those found in your local stereo store and
will use a line level input. What this means to you is the microphone which your
lecturer is using will require an audio mixer for the audio cassette to receive
the signal--added cost.
* The scenario goes like this. The lecturer speaks, the sound goes into the
microphone which travels to the audio mixer. The audio mixer sends it both to
the audio cassette recorder and to the house sound system, where you hear the
* Some built-in sound systems may have a feed from the mixer to the microphone
input panel located in the room. Ask if there is one available. If there is, you
have saved yourself a mixer fee, because the house system should be able to give
you a line level, high impedance output to the audio cassette (though most house
systems are designated primarily for microphone level, low impedance).
* Always have some type of monitoring device, i.e. earplug or headset, to ensure
a good signal.
* And always record voice on tape and listen to the playback.
AUDIO TAPING HANDLED BY AUDIO TAPING COMPANIES
* Audio taping companies travel around the country audio taping seminars for the
purpose of selling and perhaps the distribution of your taped lecture.
* They generally use better audio recorders than would be used in in-house
audiovisual setups (unless otherwise specified). Nakamichi audio recorders or
other high quality recorders are generally used.
* In-house audiovisual companies generally charge a patch fee for an outside
audiovisual company to use the sound system in a given room. There could be no
fee, a $30 fee or as high as $100. This is a daily rate for each room. Example:
If you have ten rooms being audio recorded and the rate is $100, then you should
expect a charge of $1000. Unless the outside audio taping company supplies their
own sound system for each room, they will ultimately have to pay for the patch
fee if there is one. You should not be charged this fee--the outside audio
taping company should be charged.
* The way the audio taping company gets around paying the patch fee is to allow
the in-house audiovisual company to supply the microphone(s) during your
conference. The in-house audiovisual company gets some business (some is better
than none) and the audio taping company doesn't have to pay the patch fees. But
a question for you is who pays for the microphones? You or the audio taping
company? Work out the details because a bill for those services will be received
by someone--ultimately you.
* This is what normally happens in a situation where you hire an audio taping
1) You do not speak with the hotel in-house Audiovisual Manager concerning your
audiovisual requirements after having spoken with an audio taping company. If
you do speak with the Audiovisual Manager at all, you inform her/him there will
be a company doing the taping.
You must get specific, find out the details--what is required at this particular
property to audio record? How many microphones can I have before I need an
operator? What type of microphones are available? When is the latest time which
I can change my mind without penalties? Is a small mixer required? Is there a
patch fee? Is it daily or weekly? Are the first microphones free? If the
in-house Audiovisual Manager says she/he must speak with the other company,
inquire as to what will be discussed. You will end up being billed by both
companies if you don't get the details.
2) The audio taping company will speak to the in-house audiovisual company,
discussing details like the patch fee and audio mixers or anything required to
make the audio recording a success. And who do they tell the Audiovisual Manager
to bill?--yes, you, the client. You get billed for the peripherals which are
necessary to make the recording a success, but may not know that you have been
billed by the in-house audiovisual company until you get a higher bill than
expected from the hotel.
* Designate an associate as the approving authority for any additional equipment
or perhaps you will be that person. Have that person report to you any changes
in equipment requirements. Have the audio taping company and the in-house
audio-visual company report any additional audiovisual equipment to you or the
* Your Banquet Order in many instances will be your contract with the hotel.
Have all the audiovisual requirements listed there. If you have any audiovisual
equipment listed there which you did not use (have in the room), don't expect to
pay for it. If you get billed for it, have it adjusted off.
* If the two audiovisual companies are overly friendly towards one another, be
sure to check your bills from each source to ensure you didn't get double
* More often than not, you should not have a problem with the audio taping
company or the in-house audiovisual company. As long as there is open
communication among all parties concerned and you double check everything, you
should get good service at a fair price.
AUDIO TAPING HANDLED BY IN-HOUSE AUDIOVISUAL COMPANY
* When the in-house audiovisual company handles your audio recording then you
don't have to worry about which company is going to perform which services. Nor
do you have to worry about any problems which might crop up between the two
* With the in-house company, there is no patch fee.
* Do not expect the same quality audio recording from the in-house audiovisual
company that you should get from the audio taping company. Audio taping is the
audio taping company's specialty; whereas the in-house company will handle your
needs as another meeting room request.
* Compare the costs of the audio taping company and that of the in-house
audiovisual company to see which is lower.
* If you don't need or expect a professional quality recording, use the in-house
* If you want a professional quality audio recording or you don't want to worry
about labels, packaging and distribution go with the audio taping company.
AUDIO TAPING COMPANIES
See Audio Taping Handled by Audio Taping Companies, page 33.
The assistance of an audiovisual staffer may become necessary to change your
setup, improve your setup, remove a portion of your setup or a variety of other
reasons. When you rent audiovisual equipment from the in-house audiovisual
company you should expect to receive as much assistance to get your room as you
prefer it to be, even after it has been pre-set.
* Normal audiovisual assistance consists of things like showing you how to
operate the television set and videotape player; showing you where the
replacement lamp for the overhead projector is located and how to focus or tilt
the projector; how to operate your 35mm slide projector and which way to load
* When you believe you have gone past what the normal assistance for your
particular set should be (you will know what I mean when the time comes, i.e.
taking 45 minutes to get a routine set in place), then you may expect an
additional labor charge on your bill. A charge of half the normal labor charge
or some other small amount should be expected. If you have portrayed a negative
attitude, then you should be sure to check your bill for a larger than normal
* In the event you bring in your own audio cassette recorder and you don't know
how to connect your microphones or the ac adapter to the unit you will need some
assistance. Sometimes you can call the Banquet Manager and he will send someone
to help you. More often than not the Audiovisual Technician will be somewhere
around when you set up your equipment.
* Many times the technician will help at no cost to you. And then again you may
be presented with an audiovisual bill upon your check out.
* If you should call the audiovisual technician to help you with your equipment
you should ask him/her if there will be a charge for the service.
Audiovisual carts are used primarily to hold television setups and projectors,
i.e. 35mm slide projectors, overhead projectors and 16mm projectors. Most have
adjustable legs for fixed heights, i.e. 34", 48" or 54".
They can be used for projection equipment or presentation media. They usually
have a skirt or drape which fits around the cart.
* Audiovisual carts can hold heavy audiovisual equipment and are designed to do
so. They are also designed to move from one place to another while holding the
* Many carts have ac power cords built-in or connected on the side. When
ordering an audiovisual cart, state that you want one which has the ac cord
* It is also a good idea to place an overhead projector on a cart so you can
roll it out of the way for other presentations (generally moved for 35mm slide
* If you plan to move any projector which is stationed on carts, inform the
audiovisual technician so he/her can tape down the wires accordingly. (This
would consist of having a separate extension cord taped down up to the projector
location and have the ac power cord from the cart or overhead projector connect
into it.) When complete with the overhead projector just unplug it and move it,
leaving the ac cord which goes to the wall in place. Do not pull up the taped
* Television and VHS setups are the area in which you will see av carts used the
most. It is important not to move these carts around. Ask the audiovisual
technician to place it where you want it before the beginning of the meeting.
The taller carts, i.e. 54" carts, have a tendency to topple over if one of the
wheels doesn't roll when pushed. Push them with caution if you must.
* Audiovisual stands or projection stands are most commonly used with 35mm slide
projectors and overhead projectors.
* These stands have telescoping legs which are easily collapsible. Their
adjustable legs allow them to reach heights which cannot be reached by carts.
* They are not suggested for use with heavy equipment.
* These projection stands take time to setup and strike as opposed to wheeling
in or out a projection cart.
* Projection stands rent for about the same as a cart.
* Though the Audiovisual Manager should be friendly and quite helpful, remember
his/her job is to make money selling audiovisual equipment to you.
* If you do not understand what equipment you really need and what it takes to
make it operate professionally, you may get a larger bill than expected. The
Audiovisual Manager may add equipment to your bill to make your meeting more
successful than you had planned, and you will love him for it--until you see the
bill. Learn what audiovisual equipment you really need for your meeting and use
only what you need.
* If you know what you need in terms of audiovisual equipment and what it takes
to have an economical presentation look as professional as possible, you save
money. You can have a professional presentation on a budget.
Anthony: When I prayed to the
LORD for the financing for
eBlessings, the Holy Spirit
said, "AC Brown is coming over."
I said, "Who is AC Brown?" When
AC got to the door, he said,
"The LORD told me to come by
here." You see
below the results--with more to