5 Ways to Achieve a Flawless Load-In Day
Published on: Thursday, September 28, 2023 - 10:19am
Live event production is a high-risk, high-reward endeavor. You have the unique opportunity to impact people and inspire action by creating a one-time environment that can never be recreated. The magic of live events lies in the unpredictable human aspect — this event, and the visuals, sounds, and emotions it creates, is unique to this one particular place and time.
While the prospect of such an event is exciting, it comes with loads of responsibility. Because the entire production is happening in the moment, every team member must be locked in for the duration of the event, and every call time, cable path, and floor space must be planned flawlessly.
To ensure this happens, your preparation must be precise and comprehensive. The most important day of your event prep schedule, the dreaded load-in day, is the linchpin that can determine the success of the entire operation. Here’s how to make your load-in process smooth and effective.
Take Complete Inventory of Your Equipment
Because your event depends on the synchronized performance of hundreds of components and pieces of equipment, you need to know exactly what you have and where it belongs. Before load-in day, you’ll need to make sure your CAD drawings are finalized and you have a clear understanding of the room layout and stage plot. Additionally, your equipment lists should be completed well in advance of load-in day so you can adequately notify your team and organize your warehouse before loading up trucks.
Just as important as the actual gear deployed, the communication between each vendor and knowledge of expected responsibilities is critical to a successful load-in day. Stay connected with the client and keep tabs on any other potential vendors and their designated services. What are the expectations when it comes to working with other crews on load-in day and the entirety of the event? You don’t want to show up at load-in and discover your team and the other two equipment providers each brought a set of feeder cables when the event only requires one. To save time and resources and execute the setup efficiently, make sure your crew knows what each provider is responsible for before loading in.
The chain of command is an incredibly powerful tool you can use to your advantage as you prep for load-in day. Delegate one crew chief per department to manage the load-in and setup of the equipment. Giving each member of your team a specialty will cut through any ambiguity or confusion that can arise when hundreds of cases show up on load-in day. This creates clearer heads and a more efficient setup process. Each person is solely concerned with their category, and should any questions arise, everyone will know who to talk to regarding a specific part of the event technology.
Keep a Strict Schedule
Once you’ve developed your list of items and your chain of command, it’s time to build your load-in schedule. While you can have all your gear and team members arrive at the same time, it may be more prudent to space them out. Fewer bodies, especially in a smaller venue, can make load-in considerably easier. Also consider the order of operations; if several things need to be built or assembled before the lighting techs get to work, it might not be helpful to have them standing around before they need to be in action.
Distribute your load-in order with strict timelines to your entire team. Pro-tip: the optimal load-out order is often the inverse of your load-in procedure.
Develop a Contingency Plan
Visit the venue ahead of time for a site survey and take detailed notes on the intricacies of the space. If possible, request detailed drawings or CAD files of the space so you can plan your cable runs accordingly. You don’t want your team (or worse, the talent) to be surprised by a narrow corridor or doorway that prevents you from rolling cases room to room. Get ahead of any idiosyncrasies or issues by crafting an attack plan for each space, as every room is unique and requires a different approach. Use this knowledge to influence your list of equipment spares. This walkthrough will give you language to adequately prep your team and the talent on what they can expect to experience during load-in and the performance. It will also help you develop a contingency plan for any aspect of the setup that may prove difficult.
Work With a Live Event Production Company
The best way to get ahead of the entire load-in process, including preparatory steps 1-4, is to work with an experienced and reliable live event production company that values the details. At CTS, we pride ourselves on relentless preparation of our events so we can execute flawlessly and take care of the technical processes for the client. You can outsource the majority of the pre-production work, packing, and prep entirely to your live event technology partner. This way, you’ll have more time to focus on the creative and emotional aspects of the event.
Be selective when choosing a production partner and be on the lookout for any red flags that may arise early on, such as inconsistent communication or an inexperienced crew. The most professional live event producers have garnered insights about the load-in and setup processes from years of experience managing large-scale events. By entrusting a seasoned AVL partner like CTS with your vision, you better position yourself to succeed while reducing the stress and margin of error.
Your Production Partner
Work with an experienced AVL provider that can ensure your event runs smoothly, impactfully, on time, and on budget. The team at CTS will utilize decades of experience and attention to detail to design and execute an event that fulfills your vision and exceeds your expectations.
We can help you devise a load-in and event management plan that covers every aspect of the process, including equipment, packing, setup, performance, venue management, and teardown.
Your live event deserves to sparkle. We’re here to make sure that happens.
Give us a call at 615.337.8808 or connect with us to discuss your live production plans. We can’t wait to help you bring them to life!