From LED walls to kinetic rigging: A new wave of high-tech events is here

Everyone loves a good comeback story. There’s a certain thrill in the air when something returns from hiatus stronger than ever before. And the resurgence of live events after two years under restriction is no different. This time, we’ve also got better technology to thank for the wave of innovative experiences popping up in our cities.  

We’re not just talking about virtual technologies – although digital events remain alive and well, with Torrens University Australia citing that “two in three Australians attend six or more digital events a month” – from webinars, to workshops and beyond.  

But it’s in-person technologies that are playing an even bigger role in creating fresh, exciting, and immersive experiences. From innovative lighting to onstage tech (think Microsoft’s HoloLens-powered keynote speaker that’s able to address audiences in different languages), technology is changing, and improving, our shared experiences. 

Easier to impress 

A showstopping evening may once have struck fear into any producer’s budget. But advances in the technologies available to us are easing delivery qualms by making it cheaper to put on a spectacular show. For example, XR technologies and 4D holograms are no longer just for the Googles of this world. And instead of a full fit-out, you can transform a space with clever, cost-effective LED walls or 3D projections.  

Event Staging Manager Corey Bulley of MicroHire is one of CENTREPIECE’s in-house AV experts, and he recently created some truly spectacular experiences for clients AIME, SportNXT, Committee for Melbourne and Destination Australia, all of which featured 15m-high LED walls and complex lighting states to bring their visions to life. He says that “after not hosting an event in two years, a lot of event managers are turning to these LED walls because they look impressive, and they’re easy to turn around in a short period of time.”  

Obviously, what you put on screen can really set you apart, with opportunity for spectacular animation and art. The high-tech backdrops are a canvas to display branding, promote sponsors, and really create that personalised wow factor. “There’s nothing more satisfying than a gold or platinum sponsor walking in and seeing their name in lights,” says Corey.  

“The screens can also be used to dial in remote presenters at 1:1 scale – far better than a tiny head on a screen,” says Corey. CENTREPIECE’s video-conferencing platform also has features that enable you to brand your video call with real-time supers and lower thirds. “It’s more like delivering an in-the-box TV experience, and our team can conduct full tech run-throughs to direct the best lighting for presenters’ home-setups and makes sure WiFi connections are stable,” says Corey. 

Simple techniques like changing lighting states throughout the evening to promote different stages of the event can also be highly effective. “Great lighting designers who understand the client’s vision can adapt the space to that throughout the evening, like we did for the four-act AIME welcome event. Each ‘chapter’ of the event had its own lighting state and the LED walls moved around with ShowTech’s spectacular rigging.”  

Yes, technology is taking engagement to new heights – literally. “Advanced staging from our in-house riggers allowed us to suspend a grand piano and aerial performer more than 6m in the middle of the Grand Hall for AIME,” says Corey. “They’re on site full-time and have some great tech to ensure complete control during high-risk displays.”   

So, where to begin?  

With heightened expectations on events as they make a return in 2022, what are the first questions an event planner should be asking when it comes to technology? 

  • Know your vision. If you’ve got a clear idea about what you want your event to achieve, the venue can help bring it to life in a way that exceeds all expectations. You might not need a light show for an AGM, but a once-in-a-lifetime gala dinner may call for something more special. 4D holograms anyone?  
  • How can I best use the space? Your venue will have multiple opportunities to personalise the space and wow your audience. Corey recommends going to a site inspection and meeting the team. “Our job isn’t just functional – it’s also to think outside the box. What can we do that we’ve never seen before? Can we execute it? Great. Can we do it within budget? Even better.”  
  • Involve the venue early in the creative process. At venues like CENTREPIECE, we have a full creative, AV and rigging team who work closely with the food and beverage department to light every element and bring your brand to the fore. Integrating these elements early ensures you’re getting the best outcome on the night.  

“Whether it’s a hybrid meeting for 20 people in a boardroom or a 1,400 pax gala,” says Corey, “you can never take the format for one event and apply it to the next. It’s about adapting to the environment in the best way that you can, and utilising the technology at your disposal the best way possible.”  

And with so many possibilities, the future is bright.  

Find out how you can make CENTREPIECE your next Masterpiece.