Knowing your way around audio visual technology is a blessing when you are an event planner, but understanding the language of AV does not come naturally and can sometimes be overwhelming for many. Even when you are (and you should be!) working with an experienced and trusted audio visual partner, being familiar with the most important terms is a huge advantage.
Being able to correctly identify what it is that you need and knowing how to ask for it specifically is a crucial part of planning an event, especially with the added – and still somewhat unfamiliar – virtual element in the case of hybrid events. Ensuring that you have all the correct information and technology needed for your event and delivering the best possible experience for your audience is dependent on how much you know. The more knowledge you possess, the more options you have to build your idea around and make them a reality.
Yes, AV terminology can be overwhelming. Notwithstanding, we’ve assembled a comprehensive list of some of the most frequently used, most confusing, and often most mystical AV terms that will help you navigate the world of hybrid events.
Let’s dive right in!
API — An Application Program Interface, which facilitates seamless exchange of data and information between unrelated software.
Aspect Ratio — The proportional relationship between a video’s/image’s height and width.
AR (Augmented Reality) — Provides an interactive experience by offering a near real-world environment. Here, the appearance of real-world object(s) is computer enhanced, with a focus on certain sensory modalities such as somatosensory, auditory, olfactory, haptic, etc.
Audience Response System (ARS) — Creates inter-connectivity between the audience and the presenter(s). People can answer questions in groups or vote on a topic using their mobile devices.
Bandwidth — This refers to how much information or data you can send through a connection or signal. It is usually expressed in form of download and upload speeds, which are usually measured in megabytes per second (mbps). Bandwidth is pivotal in determining the kind of quality of digital experience you get. It is usually influenced by a variety of factors such as one-way or two-way communications, etc. You can run a speed test to check the quality and speed of your bandwidth.
Broadcasting — This refers to the ability to stream simulated or live content. It usually requires the integration of an AV company and a streaming key or RTMP to initiate the streaming process. A close option to this is the use of on-demand, pre-recorded video.
Broadcast Studio — A studio set up for the purpose of creating and broadcasting live content, for instance, a television studio.
Chroma Key — This technology gives the illusion that graphics are being displayed behind a speaker. It is often referred to as “Green Screen.” Usually, a solid green or blue screen is used mainly because these colors aren’t present in human skin tones. Depending on what kind of software is used to project the green screen, the video or projected graphics usually block out the screen’s green or blue color and projects the content being displayed.
Cloud Recording — Offers the ability to encrypt, record, and store all data and information from your event without any need for a physical storage device. It also provides a more stable storage environment, which can easily be expanded.
Dry Hire — Hiring AV equipment and/or studio space for your event without technical crew to operate it. This option works well if you have your own crew and only need the venue to and special equipment that you do not have to run your event, otherwise it is best you opt for “wet hire”, which means that you also get the technical crew along with the gear.
Encoder — Can be utilized to translate audio or video content to digital format, which is more efficient for over-the-internet transmission.
Extended Reality (xR) — This is the umbrella term for all the subsidiary “Reality” technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR), blending all three together to create an immersive and realistic environment in real-time with digital 3D technology.
Understanding AV terminology can be a daunting task
Gamification — Is typically the process of creating incentive for attendees and encourage them to engage with various or specific event content in a playful, entertaining way.
Green Screen Studio — A studio setting specifically designed for filming against the green backdrop, which is then replaced by a digitally generated background during the post-production process. In addition to being an affordable alternative to using LED and more complex technology, one of the main benefit of using green screen for a virtual or hybrid event is that the set itself can be easily moved and transported to another venue. (See: Chroma Key)
Hybrid Event — An event format that mixes virtual and live elements, e.g. broadcasting the show to a virtual audience from a venue with in-person presenters and attendees, connecting multiple small venues (pods) virtually, etc.. The crucial characteristic of a hybrid event is that it is more than just a simple live stream, instead it entertains and caters to the needs of live and virtual audiences in equal measure, providing a holistic experience for all.
Hub and Spoke Model — It is a system that allows for a one-way flow of digital content relayed from a central live event and streamed to virtual audiences or other smaller, in-person events.
Latency — This refers to the lag times between a content source and its streaming. It’s usually more effective to test for latency during the planning and rehearsal stages of your hybrid event to avoid any setbacks as a result.
LED — Short for Light Emitting Diode, LED is a device that emits light in specific directions when an electrical current passes through it. Their durability, longevity, image clarity, and usability in bright environments, LED technology is now frequently being used in live, hybrid, and virtual events as an alternative to projection or green screens. With LED panels it is now possible to create immersive and dynamic sets and set backdrops created in virtual reality. (See: xR Stage)
Live Stream — A one-way live broadcast from a live location, such as a concert, interview, etc. in real-time. The feed is usually transmitted over a virtual event platform, a website, or social media.
Mixed Reality (MR) — A technology that mixes Augmented and Virtual Reality elements and blends the physical and digital worlds, providing a real-time experience in which presenters and speakers can interact with their digital environment. The result is an advanced computer-generated reality, based on graphical processing, computer vision, input systems and display technologies.
On-Demand — Refers to content (e.g. the recording of an event) that is readily available to users whenever they want to consume it. This kind of content is usually stored and ready for use, as opposed to live, real-time content.
Pixel — Pixel is short form for Picture Element. These are tiny dots of information that, when put together, make up a digital image. Pixels can be found on a camera’s image sensor (CMOS or CCD) or display. The more pixels a camera has, the higher the resolution.
Pod — A remote group of attendees that passively or actively participate in a hybrid event. They are typically remote groups that gather to watch or witness the event. This technology is often harnessed when the provisions for live attendance at an event is full to capacity and unable to accommodate more attendees, or when some attendees are unable to travel to make the event. The live experience is then captured and streamed out unto the pods, from where remote attendees can watch and participate live. The time delay is usually adjusted to match with local time zones.
Post-Production — This process begins after an event has wrapped up. It usually comprises of editing of audio and visual materials gathered from the event. The process takes on all tasks associated with assembling raw footage, cutting, reviewing, and making edits such as color corrections, music/sound element adjustments, and more.
Public Address System (PA) — Also called a sound system, it is comprised of microphones, amplifiers, loudspeakers, and related audio equipment that amplifies sound from one point of the venue to another.
Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) — Originally created by Macromedia (now Adobe), to facilitate real-time, high-performance streaming of audio, video, and data content. RTMP is known for its reliable, smooth streaming experience as it “maintains a constant connection between the player client and server, allowing the protocol to act as a pipe and rapidly move video data through to the viewer”*.
Streaming — Refers to the transmission of audio, video, slides, and other forms of data content over a computer network. The feed is usually delivered in the form of continuous streams made available in a consumable format for the user.
Switcher — A software or device that allows a user to manually select from a list of available input sources to create a master output. This gives the technician greater control over the final output, in terms of quality of image, sound, graphics, etc. For instance, video switchers can facilitate seamless transitions of video content.
Town Hall Meeting — The town hall meeting format is a North American event format where a politician, a political candidate, or public official answers questions from members of the public. It can be conducted in a virtual or hybrid format.
Transcoder — This technology facilitates the creation of various video resolutions, in order to deliver optimized playback to participants, regardless of their devices or the speed of their internet connections.
User Interface (UI) — A software solution that provides a means by which users can interact with applications or softwares, in order to benefit from a digital service or product.
Virtual Event Platform — A digital environment where hybrid and virtual events take place. It is a complex software that, unlike popular online meeting tools like Zoom, Skype, Teams, or GoToMeeting, is designed to incorporate many elements of a traditional meeting or conference while still connecting audiences from anywhere in the world. Virtual event platforms, much like any live event, allow multiple sessions happen on different tracks or in different “rooms” at the same time, and also utilize interactive tools such as Q&A functions, polls, live chat, gamification, etc. to increase audience engagements. Many platforms also provide great branding and or customization options.
Virtual Reality (VR) — A subsidiary of Extended Reality technology that features computer-generated simulations in which people can interact within an artificial three-dimensional environment. This is made possible through the use of electronic devices, such as specialized googles with sensor-fitted gloves, screens, shoes, clothes, objects, etc.
vMix — vMix is a popular and widely used, Windows-based live video production and streaming software, which allows you to “switch inputs, mix audio, record outputs, and live stream cameras, videos, audio, etc. in resolutions of up to 4K”.
Voiceover IP (VoIP) — A category of hardware and software technologies that are used to manage the delivery of ‘voice information’ over internet protocol networks. It may involve the transmission of digital voice information in discrete packets. Their main advantage over telephony is their versatility and inexpensive implementation. However, when the underlying network is heavily used, there are greater chances of experiencing dropped calls and poorer voice quality.
Webcast — A webcast typically features one or multiple online presentations, which in most cases, also offer interaction with their remote or virtual audiences.
xR Stage — xR production stages combine high-res LED video walls and flooring with 360-degree virtual backgrounds (rendered by a 3D creation software, e.g. Unreal Engine) and then tracked, composited, and recorded in real-time, unlike green screen backgrounds that are only applied in post-production. xR stages are also ideal for film-making, due to their ability to create and re-create any and all photo-realistic cinematic exteriors and interiors.
By the numbers
16:9 — The most widely used aspect ratio in AV. Aspect ratios typically refer to the proportional relationship between the horizontal (width) and vertical (height) axis of a video, screen, photo, monitor, or any other display of this category. Another commonly used aspect ratio in AV is 4:3.
24fps (24p) — An optimized video format that runs at twenty-four frames per second, with progressive scanning.
4k Resolution — This resolution delivers in Ultra High Definition (UHD) and is considered the next-generation of improved video resolution. It offers 3840 x 2160 pixels of display.
5GHz — Refers to 5GHz frequency bands that utilize wireless technology.
50Hz — Widely adopted framerate for video within Europe.
60Hz — Widely adopted framerate for video within America and Japan.
5.1 — Surround sound that supports 5 standard speakers, 6 audio channels, and at least 1 sub-woofer
7.1 — Surround sound that supports 7 standard speakers, 8 audio channels, and at least 1 sub-woofer.
But wait, there is more!
Important Roles in Hybrid Events
After gaining knowledge of most of the key AV terms, the next important thing to familiarize yourself with are some of the essential AV roles that you will encounter when planning and executing your hybrid event. This way, you will know who is in charge of what within your crew and who to address if you have certain suggestions or concerns. Some of these roles include:
- Audio Technician — Manages all things related to sound quality and microphones.
- Creative Director — Responsible for effective management and creative direction of the event.
- Deck Manager — Works with the presentation team to help maintain version control by assisting with changes and edits.
- Emcee — Also known as Master of Ceremonies (MC). This person acts as an event host, ensuring that everything goes according to plan, and makes quick improvisations where necessary, while keeping everything in order.
- Event Producer — Responsible for the organization and management of the event in its pre-production stage, acting as the main contact to the client and ensuring that their needs and requests are met.
- Floor Manager — Responsible for in-person management of event staff before, during, and after the event.
- Prompter Operator — Responsible for managing the teleprompters, which usually involves editing speech, adjusting sound speed for speakers, etc.
- Show Caller — Responsible for the “day of” direction of the event, creating the run of show for the broadcast, managing the on-site and remote teams and speakers and calling the cues during the technical rehearsals as well as the live broadcast.
- Stage Manager — In charge of the studio and casts coming on and off the set.
- Streaming Operator — Responsible for all streamed content during broadcasts.
- Technical Director — Responsible for providing quality technical production.
- Video Director — Responsible for monitoring and coordinating the actions of all video cameras at the event.
- Video Engineer — Responsible for monitoring and ensuring the safety and optimal functioning of all the video cameras before, during, and after the event.
- Video Cameramen — Assigned with the responsibility of operating the video cameras during the event.
- Virtual Technical Director — Assigned with the responsibility of offering technical direction of all digital and virtual development.
Did we miss anything?
Having some grounded knowledge about important AV terms will give you more confidence when planning your next event, receiving a quote, or consulting your audio visual provider. Did we miss any other term you would love to know more about?
We are here to help you – not only by familiarizing you more with the language of AV technology, but also by being by your side every step of the way while you are organizing your next big event. Get in touch with us and find out what our AV Alliance members can do for you!