2024 AV Trends with Rockit Event Production

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We were delighted to welcome Rockit Event Production as our audio visual specialist partner in the autumn of 2023. Rockit bring our events to life with its unrivalled technical expertise, its detail-oriented approach, and its boundless imagination. As the new year begins we wanted to introduce you to our latest partner, so read on to find out exactly what makes this company tick, insights to the industry, and the AV trends likely to shape 2024 with the company’s Director, Chris Baxter…

What is The Mermaid London like to work with?

“I’m really impressed by their structure; they’ve got a strong, forward-thinking and focussed team in place, and every single room is ready to go for events. Being a supplier to The Mermaid London is something we’re very proud of. We want to do the venue justice, make the rooms look great and end every event with happy customers.”

What makes Rockit Event Production stand out?

“I set Rockit up 16 years ago, but I’ve been in the events industry for over 25 years. Rockit is a small business and we’ve got a small business mindset which allows us to give a lot of personality to the work that we do and put all our focus on our clients and into being really creative. In a first for our company, we have somebody based full-time at The Mermaid, so it’s a different type of commitment and one that we’re very excited about.

“We’re very much about our people, we’re a people driven business and very proud of our incredible team. I feel very passionately that having the right people in the right place makes things work really well.”

When you’re working with the same space, how do you keep what you offer exciting?

“This is something my team and I often talk about, and every year we try and implement small changes that give our clients a little bit more. I think there are some things that will look and feel the same because an LCD screen is an LCD screen and a lectern is a lectern. But, in other areas, we have the freedom to be much more creative. Lighting, for example, provides opportunities to create completely different looks. We also vary our technicians, instead of having one technician do everything, so we get different eyes on a project, all with a range of viewpoints and varying creative strengths. This enables us to keep our work exciting and keep the company on the front foot.”

What do you think AV brings to an event and what impact can it have?

“I think it makes a huge difference. If we start with the basics, how is a presenter going to be heard by the audience? Do they want to move around the stage or stay in a fixed position? How are they going to see their notes on their PowerPoint? The answer is…with the right equipment.

“In today’s world, a lot of people also livestream or film their events. Hybrid events are also common, so you’ll have less people in the room and more people participating online. Every single job is based around the list of equipment, and that’s what we pride ourselves on. It helps clients to be visual, professional and, most importantly, comfortable.”

What is something that people don’t know about working in the AV industry?

“I think, when events run smoothly, people don’t actually realise the hours it takes behind the scenes to make that happen, often having to work into the night. They also don’t realise quite how labour intensive a process it is, for example, moving flight cases and lifting equipment on and off vans, which in the case of The Mermaid is easier as they have a large off-street loading bay. So, preparation and procedure are very big in what we do and I think a lot of people come into the industry not realising that.

“This is something we’ve definitely noticed as a result of the development programme we run, Rockit NextGen. Rockit NextGen includes work experience for local schools and also allows us to work closely with local government and charitable projects to make the industry more accessible. We’re trying to encourage young people to get into the events industry and give them a taste of what working as a technician is like. So, we have a lot of people coming in and saying, “I love it, but I didn’t know this or that. I didn’t know I’d have to do this, or that I’d be so responsible for things.””

Do you have any AV heroes?

“To be honest, I’d start by looking at our own Rockit people and the amazing things they do. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to diversify away from events and go into shop fitting for six months; we had four people out, travelling up and down the country installing sales counters into shopping centres, and constantly working just to keep income coming into the business. These are the heroes of our company.

“The word hero also comes to mind when you think about local crew companies, the thousands of people who you can book to work every day just to give you a hand. They’re always there for you, day or night, no matter the time, always smiling and always willing to do whatever you need. Sadly, they are never recognised enough for what they do because they’re not at the forefront of the event, but they deserve a lot of credit.”

What developments or challenges are having the biggest impact on the event production industry at the moment?

“The biggest one at the minute is navigating the transition to LED lighting. That’s huge because you could have a stockholding of traditional lamp-based lighting sitting in your warehouse that’s worth £100,000 but, at the same time, we’re all committed to being more sustainable and using LED fixtures would save energy and reduce electricity use. Changing to LED lighting should be a top priority for all production companies as it is definitely where the industry is heading.

“There’s also a big rise in battery technology. Using battery fixtures instead of fixtures that you plug into a wall is becoming more and more common, and I think that will continue to grow. Sound and audio will become battery-based soon, although, at the moment, the batteries don’t last long enough for it to be as common as it should be.”

What trends do you anticipate in 2024?

“Video walls are becoming more and more popular. Instead of a projector and projection screen, it’s increasingly normal to have very large format video walls as part of the design of an event. That side of the industry is really evolving with a lot more suppliers of that type of equipment appearing.

“I think electric vehicles and vans that cater to the needs of the events industry is something that many people would love to see. Everybody we know who has bought an electric van for event work has said the same thing – sadly, there’s just not enough miles available in the vehicle yet. I don’t know if it will happen in 2024 but, given the will there is for it in the industry and the steps we’re all taking to reduce our carbon footprint, I think fully electric vehicle fleets is something that will happen.”

 What has changed about the industry since you started working in it?

“The main thing is diversity, which is something we really pride ourselves on at Rockit. It’s an industry that has been dominated by men for many, many years, particularly in technical production companies, but we’re now seeing a huge rise in fantastically talented female technicians and diversity across the board more generally. Diversity is at the root of everything we do here and we pride ourselves on having a strong balance of people across aspects of the business from the warehouse to the van drivers to the onsite technicians.

“There are also not many black business owners in the events industry but, on the technical production side, there are even fewer. I’ve always been very proud to be one of those few, so I make sure this filters down to the team and we have people from different cultures, backgrounds, and ethnicities represented here at Rockit. Our team is central to the company’s culture and objectives, and the benefits of having a diverse team are endless. Being a diverse company is more than just a statement, it’s a core feature of our business. It is something that is always at the top of our agenda, and something that we continue to push forward and develop proudly.”

 What do you think has contributed to this increase in diversity?

“I think there’s been a huge amount of change in the last 10 years. 15 to 20 years ago, you couldn’t study for an events degree of any kind at university, but now there are young graduates who are coming out as event managers and event professionals in different capacities across the industry. So, there’s a lot more opportunity for younger people to see it as a career path. Before, it was very much “who you know”, but having the chance to gain qualifications in the industry has opened the door for so many more people and allowed them to gain training in a different way.”

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