Ok, I agonised over whether or not I should post this. On one hand, we all know disasters can and do happen even with the best planning. On the other hand, the fail in this instance was so unbelievably … well … inept that it defied … um … belief.
I was at an advertising awards event recently. The majority of the work shown was commercials made for TV and/or the cinema.
The work was great, the food was great, the organisation was great. But the whole evening was severely marred by the really bad AV set-up. Some of the notable and unbelievable fails were:
- The event logo loop was shockingly illegible. It was badly compressed and muddy. It was too dark. It had a metallic shine-reflection effect that was clearly supposed to loop but did not – so it stuttered away painfully.
- Instead of using the theatre’s HD projector and surround-sound sound system, the AV people trucked in a bad stereo loudspeaker set-up and PC-quality (VGA?) projector. Remember – this evening was about showcasing the best TVCs and cinema advertising. There was even an HD category – but the work was shown on a display system barely capable of managing VHS quality.
- All the video pieces seemed to have been recompressed badly – perhaps to a good enough level for a 14” laptop screen. But certainly not on a cinema screen.
- All the video pieces were squashed into a 4:3 aspect ratio. The theatre did have a wide screen which was not used. Pieces that were in widescreen format were simply butchered.
- Some of the pieces had clearly out-of-sync soundtracks. The volume also jumped up and down between pieces. Some pieces were uncomfortably loud.
- Every time they played a piece, the blue DVD player interface bar appeared on the screen with the play icon. When they paused the playback (to switch the vision back onto the illegible not-quite-looping logo) the blue bar again appeared with the pause icon. Very professional. Not.
- There were beautifully animated intro pieces to each of the categories and awards. But the typography was shocking bad (the word “silver” looked like “sil ver”). Those were the only close-to-professionally made pieces – which was so totally not the point of the event.
- The emcee clearly had no idea how long each intro was supposed to run to as he was more often out of sync with the display than not. This resulted in many odd and uncomfortable moments. A little rehearsal could have gone a long way.
- Key pieces of winning work were simply not shown – “we could not find the video clip” was the lame excuse. So there were many odd moments of silence as people did not know whether to clap, or wait to see what they were supposed to be clapping about.
If I had not been there myself, I would not have believed how bad this aspect of the event was. And no, this was not the first time the award’s been on.
The AV people were either not properly brief, or they did not understand the intention of the event and had other priority.
They clearly spent time on making the (bad) looping logo piece, and the (good) category intro pieces. Unfortunately there was no one looking at the big picture stuff.
Was the lack of time an issue? Possibly. Then again, if these AV people were actually good at what they do, they would have been able to prioritise properly and made things work (albeit with simpler elements). They should have ditched the time intensive animated intros. They should have used simple and reliable stills and focused instead on making sure that all the video pieces were present and looking fabulous – surely the whole point of the event was about the work! They should have spent time rehearsing the run sequence with the emcee.
This was a regional event. A senior representative of the government’s media body was present, as were key people from the region’s advertising agencies. How embarrassing for the organisers. I really felt for them.