Conference Production question...
I'm partially in-charge of the production of my company's annual conference this year.
I've created various video content and slideshows to display at certain times throughout, and there are, say, Powerpoint presentations that keynote speakers will be using, as well.
I'd like to be able to cue up and sequentially roll the various presentations (i.e. the conference kick-off animation video clip, then a conference-themed still image, then into an image of the keynote speaker, then into the speaker's Powerpoint) all without the audience seeing anything change on the big screens. You know... all professional-like! In the past, it's been a series of blanking out the projector, cuing up the next piece of content, then un-blanking the projector. It's messy and well, you can imagine what it looks/feels like...
I've done a lot of research today and I cannot seem to find a solution other than Wings, which we just can't get right now. Is there anything else out there (hardware or software) that can help me do this?
- The Foonshoe
Yes. Sub-contract the running of presentations/videos, etc to a professional rental company that has seamless switchers with multi-generic inputs such as a Folsom, Extron or Analog Way. Such a company will also have the source equipment to feed the seamless switcher. You may provide the laptops (at least 2 units) to run the Powerpoints.
Digitize your conference-themed still image into the seamless switcher (if it has such a feature). Else put this still image on a 3rd laptop. Feed all laptops to the seamless switcher. Likewise with all other sources (DVD player, tape player, another PC running videos, etc...perhaps even live video cameras depending on your configuration). Such a switcher will have a Preview key, and an Output Key. The Preview Key basically cues up the next output.
Such a company will also provide the technical expertise and operator of the equipment, and all you have to do is sit next to him/her with a cue-sheet and cue the operator when and what to prepare well before the switch-over (to the next presenter, conference image, whatever).
REHEARSE...REHEARSE...REHEARSE. With a seamless switcher, it will be...well...seamless (no blanking of projector). Don't do it all yourself. Get a pro.
Thanks so much for getting back, Thomas.
I've done more research, and I think I've found a device that I can use for this type of scenario and it's relatively cheap:
I have another question though. On the following diagram, it shows a connection for a Dry Contact Switch. I guess this is a remote switch connection, but where can I buy a very basic one of these remote switchers that will work with this model?
Thanks so much for the help!
- The Foonshoe
Although it may look like a good find, the specs do not state that it is a seamless switcher, meaning, on switching from one input to the other, this unit probably blanks the output momentarily. Speaking of switching, I do not see a manual switch on the unit, so I'm not sure how you can control the switching.
Nevertheless, Kramer has a good reputation. I notice that B&H says the unit is Out of Stock. Try Markertek.com.
Personally, I would still recommend that you get a seamless switcher. Probably a bit more expensive, but if there is a chance to re-use at other events, it would be worth it.
As for the dry contact closure remote, I'm no electronics engineer, but I think it is a simple switch (as in a light switch such as those for table lamps, or a slide projector remote). However, I'm not sure of the type of connector, or it could be open-ended wires looking at the picture at B&H. Generally these are what the industry calls GPIO (General Purpose Input Output, I think). You could ask Kramer to supply or try Radio Shack or just google for 'dry contact closure switches' and see what options there are.
If (and it's a big if) you're able to gather all the various presentations of your meeting together, are certain of the order they will occur, then there are several ways to string them together into a large master Powerpoint, or several smaller and interconnected PP presentations, that each return to a static, or default slide. This can then be done without additional hardware, although it takes extra scripting and preparation time at the front end.
Also, a relatively affordable rental from your local A/V supplier is a scan converter / scaler box that is capable of freezing the image temporarily. For example a Sony 1024, though Extron, Analog Way, Folsom and Kramer all make something similar. Although these boxes will all switch various input devices (computer, DVD, etc), you don't need to switch between sources, which causes a momentary black screen (as ThomasLeong mentioned previously).
Instead, pad your presentations front and back with your meeting default slide, and when you get to the end of a presentation, freeze the screen while you cue up the next one. Unfreeze it, and voila! the audience has no idea that you've changed presentations.
This is an easy cheat that avoids multiple computers, allows for last minute changes and substitutions, and means that the screen never goes black.
Freaky People Productions,
Live Event Technical Production
If your meeting is taking place in a goto convention market hotel than your inhouse a/v provider will probably have the switcher your looking for.
A reminder - besides the murphy law factor - another reason to have a backup laptop (that has all presentations that are on the main computer) is the ability to be in slide sorter mode and confirm how many slides are left in a presentation, that the title slide for next presenter is correct, slide w/ lunch info is correct and other countless things that will make you love a backup presentation computer.