Enhancing events and extending event impact
Businesses don’t generally have events just on a whim. Business events are purposeful: celebrating clients, fundraising, education, networking, and a myriad of other goals. No matter the purpose of a business event, it’s vital for the event to meet that goal.
One way to improve the quality of any event as well as build long lasting returns on time and money investments is to make sure to properly utilize local audio/visual (AV) services. There are various AV vendors that provide a range of services from setting up, taking down, and operating presentation equipment; filming at event venues and other locations; editing footage; and preparing materials for promotion after the event.
E Street Audio Visual
E Street Audio Visual started business in Alaska in the mid-90s according to Marketing Director Erica Thomas. “There weren’t a lot of [A/V] companies up here yet, at the time, and [the owner’s] clients were in need of services like that,” she says. It’s a small business of approximately ten employees, though she says that AV services in Alaska are incredibly seasonal and their number of employees increases in the busy spring and fall shoulder seasons.
“We provide services for any industry that’s looking for services at an event,” Thomas says. “Whether that’s a corporate event or not—we’ve done receptions, we’ve done seminars, we’ve done board meetings.” E Street provides various options to their clients. “We can rent out equipment for a small, 10-person meeting or run and rent the equipment out for a weeklong, 2,000 person event.” It just depends on the customer’s needs. She says they also do live feeds, either for live events or in a crisis management situation.
Beyond recording services, E Street has a production arm. “That’s where our production company and our AV arm work together: we can not only put the cameras out there for your event, but we can also put the video together for your event,” Thomas says. “It makes us a little bit all inclusive.”
As with all corporate events, it’s always beneficial to schedule services far in advance. Thomas says whether or not the company can respond to a last minute request depends on the situation, “How much equipment they need and when they need us,” she says. “We will always try to make it work.” She says in one case she received an email in the morning for a quick turnaround and was able to accommodate the request by the next day.
E Street has provided services in the Hotel Captain Cook, the Hilton Anchorage, the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center, the Egan Center, and the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel and Spa, to name a few, so they’re familiar with Alaska’s convention venues. “Pretty much anywhere and everywhere, if there’s a conference room, if there’s a hotel room, if there’s a ballroom, we’ve been there,” Thomas says.
E Street is a preferred provider for the Hotel Captain Cook, and she says they also work very closely with the Anchorage Hilton. “Our goal for our AV company is to support clients and make them look as good as possible,” she says. Thomas continues, “We want our customers to look wonderful—whether they’re trying to look really fun, whether they’re trying to look very professional—whatever their goal is, we want to broadcast that to the people that they’re having come in for their event.”
Imig Audio/Video has had roots in Alaska since 1968. According to Imig AV General Manager Eric Imig, his father, Dr. Charles Imig, came to the Last Frontier to videotape the land claims meetings taking place in preparation for the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. According to Imig, his father was “in and out of small planes and villages videotaping not only the forty regional meetings but also the land claims meetings after that about how to parcel up and how the corporations would be started.” At the time, the company was called Community Development Associates.
It was in 1993 that Imig AV was officially incorporated, and now the company provides a range of AV services, including media production, AV installation services, AV equipment rentals, and other general AV services.
As with many of Alaska’s cyclical businesses, Imig AV increases staff seasonally to meet demand, primarily ramping up in the spring and fall for the corporate convention and event season. “We do rental and staging of events in Anchorage for a variety of people—for conferences, meeting, presentations, and events.” Imig says. Imig AV provides services at venues statewide and is a preferred provider for the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center and the Egan Center, Imig says, as well as the Sheraton Anchorage.
In addition to renting out and setting up their own AV equipment for a meeting or conference, they also provide tech personnel to groups and other venue properties that have their own equipment but want someone to set it up or run it. “There’s a lot of people own projectors, but getting then to connect to the computer and look good on a screen is a little more of a challenge, and we understand that. We’re not the type of business that says we have to do 100 percent or nothing. We want to help everybody out,” Imig says.
In the trade show and convention arena, he says, he has noticed in the last few years there’s been a trend for organizers utilizing more creative lighting and just more lighting in general. Another trend, and one Imig is proud to have introduced, is LED wall panels. Essentially, they’re 2-foot by 2-foot LED panel that can be assembled to form a large monitor or a stage backdrop that can be programmed with an image or video.
Imig can provide a valuable service after the conference or presentation through their media production arm: “After an event we can edit a video, put titling, make adjustments, and then make copies for everyone.” But Imig AV provides many services beyond live event filming. Imig says, “We try to give the whole gamut of services,” Imig says, including video used a live event, corporate videos, marketing materials, or court recordings.
While Imig is comfortable working in offices and conference centers, they’re happy to provide services wherever they’re needed. “We’ve worked in gyms in Dillingham, we have done office buildings in Nome, we did City Council chambers in Unalaska, and we’ve done city parks,” Imig explains.
Imig says succinctly: “A business that’s thinking about using AV should call us because we know the nuances of setups and equipment to accomplish their goal.”
Upper One Studios
AV services don’t just include setting up microphones or lighting solutions. AV companies can be utilized during and after an event as a part of a branding or marketing strategy.
Upper One Studios was founded by Rick Mallars and Tom Karpow, both of whom were probation officers; on a work trip back from the Kenai, the two conceptualized Upper One, a video production studio. At the time the two had been hired by their supervisors to create a video for probation orientation using “little handy-cams,” according to Mallars.
The name came from the common Alaskan nickname for the contiguous United States—the Lower 48. If the other forty-eight states are lower, that makes Alaska the “Upper One.” Mallars and Karpow officially started the studio in 2008, though the idea had been stewing for years.
“What sets us apart from a lot of other businesses is our ability to write,” Karpow says. Upper One’s primary work is in video production, which includes video recording and editing of industry conferences, trade shows, and events. Mallars says Upper One has performed video recording services for Junior Achievement Alaska for the last six years, recording Business Hall of Fame inductees and editing the footage for the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame dinner in January.
Upper One also has the equipment and expertise to provide live event filming. “We have the capability of producing images on screens while we’re mobile, so we can put those cameras on our shoulders and run around with a transmitter that hooks to a unit that puts the image up on the screen, so we can be completely mobile,” Mallars explains.
While Upper One doesn’t brand itself as a marketing company, their products and services may certainly have those aspects. Mallars says, “They’re synergistic—marketing, advertising, consulting—it all goes together. There are elements in the video production world that co-align with the elements of marketing, and of course your advertising side of that, your video content, your blogs, or whatever, all of that can be on the advertising side of things.”
Karpow continues, “We’ve kind of become these consulting people that, if you want analytics, we have options to come and help them decipher the data. We’re kind of a good middle ground: we’re not just video production, we’re not a marketing agency, but we’re kind of that middle consulting.”
Upper One, with their different emphasis of services, says they’re busy spring through fall with a little bit of lull in winter months. Business picks up for the convention and trade show season but continues for Upper One through the summer, as they film state-wide and often take advantage of the brilliant Alaska summers. “In my opinion there’s no better venue than outside, especially in Alaska,” Mallars says. “We find nine times out of ten the clients want to be outside. We’re in Alaska; it’s the greatest venue for filming the world.”
Tasha Anderson is an Associate Editor for Alaska Business.
This article first appeared in the April 2017 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly.