Category Archives: ATP

Ask The Producer Articles

“How do you bring precision to executing a live Cybis show?”

Inspired by broadcast awards shows that we’ve had the privilege of supporting (MTV Movie Awards), Team Cybis developed our innovative cloud-based block-format production cue script. Our goal was to ensure all parties had access to the latest real-time spoken word and audio / video / grafx / lighting cues and they would evolve together from first draft until showtime!

Our scripting approach easily outshines the old-school free-flowing Word doc with endless page numbers. Cybis scripts are notoriously organized by block name and number. A “block” is essentially one segment owned by one speaker. Numbered blocks and titles summarizing content allow our team to break the script down into bite-sized, easily identifiable pieces. Each block has its own sound, lighting look, set of graphics, choreography notes, and spoken word, to support the presenter on-stage. Blocks can be reorganized without disrupting the music or graphics cues they are associated with. This strategy makes it significantly more efficient for our production team to follow along, focus on transitions, and plan for what’s coming up next.

A Cybis script designates columns for audio cues, lighting cues, and graphics cues; all aligned with the perfect moments in the spoken-word portion of the script. Now we can execute these cues synchronously with the presentations on the stage.

What makes Cybis events stand out is our simultaneous execution of elements all at once to make a moment. The speaker on-stage announces a big win, music crescendos, gorgeous graphics animate on-screen, streamers blast out from the stage, lighting effects punctuate the atmosphere, and the crowd goes wild! How does all of that happen at the same time? Not luck… it is the result of a highly refined script with detailed notes in-line with every moment of the show…. executed with precision.

We are very proud of our script format and although I’d love to call it proprietary, we know many of our clients embrace it for their other smaller presentations throughout the year. Imitation is the best form of flattery.   : )

In addition to bringing an expert team and the latest gear, allow Cybis to introduce our innovative scripting strategy to your next show!

Jeff Douglass
Founder & Executive Producer

To have your question featured in next month’s article, ASK THE PRODUCER at contact@thinkcybis.com

“What is your definition of success for Cybis?”

It’s heartwarming to reflect on Cybis’ 27-year evolution and successes. These include the million+ audience members inspired by a live Cybis show, our team (past & present) who proudly take their talents to the next level, our growing clientele we get to partner with, and the company’s overall long-term viability. My definition of success for the future of Cybis is essentially the same as day one… continue to be the home for extraordinary talent who collaborates to move people to pursue their own achievements through the power of creative media & event technology!

Since founding Cybis in 1995, I’ve had the privilege of seeing it completely change shape over the years. Going from a team of college friends hanging in my living room, to an office of full-timers, to now 100% freelancers around the world, I’ve found a successful business model that works in the industry we serve. Working with all freelancers isn’t always easy, but our superior team of professionals is committed to excellence. Everyone on Team Cybis shows up to our events ready to create a stellar experience for our audiences. This commitment is a huge indicator of success for me along with their attitudes on-site and what their experience is during the show. Putting on a great show that the audience loves and the team feels proud to create is what I ultimately believe is a successful production.

In addition to this, our CLIENTS are what determine our success. We strive to provide superior service in all aspects of production—whether it’s before, during, or after an event. Earning trust and leveraging client relationships is one of the most important things I spend my days doing. Making sure clients feel confident in our work, trust us to work with them to achieve their goals, and are thrilled by the end result is what success looks like to me. If a client doesn’t come up to me after an event beaming about how we exceeded their expectations, then I know our team must do better. That’s my standard.

Success also comes in the form of stability and growth for the company, and the opportunities that are open to us looking forward. When we are scaling the number of clients we serve, the amount of equipment we own in order to serve them BETTER, and are challenging ourselves to take risks and do new things for our events, THAT is another measure of success for me.

It is my goal to see Cybis grow as a company, flourish as a team, and excel as a partner to our clients. Clients come back year after year because they have found success in US.

Jeff Douglass
Founder & Executive Producer

To have your question featured in next month’s article, ASK THE PRODUCER at contact@thinkcybis.com

“Where does the name CYBIS COMMUNICATIONS come from?”

I didn’t have a crystal ball when starting Cybis Communications in ’95 but it might seem like the future was predestined.

The name CYBIS originated from an exquisite ballroom in Ft. Lauderdale in the 70’s, called “The Cybis Room.” People visited The Cybis Room, with its multi-million dollar display of art and antiques, from all over the world. So do you think it’s a coincidence that, today, Team CYBIS spends so much time producing exquisite shows in ballrooms?

I added “COMMUNICATIONS” as a broad grasp at what I enjoyed – inspiring people through design/technology.

But this is a new day, we have evolved, and it’s time to better communicate what CYBIS really does. And let’s face it, I’m tired of folks thinking we sell phone services. We’re dropping “Communications” and need your help! Shall we become Cybis Productions, Cybis Live Events, Cybis Audio/Visual, or Cybis ________?
Please help us with this 1-MINUTE SURVEY.

Thank you!

Jeff Douglass
Founder & Executive Producer

To have your question featured in next month’s article, ASK THE PRODUCER at contact@thinkcybis.com

“With events back in-person, what are some tips for handling stress during an event?”

It’s so great to be back together! The best way to reduce stress is to overly prepare during pre-production… —

If you’re like me, you’ve indulged in “ event stress” once… maybe you craved the rush! Putting out fires, being personally vital to an event’s success, and then celebrating when it was over… and knowing it could not have happened without you! Then, fast forward to your 3rd or 30th event and you realize there has to be a better way!

If your next event is in 6 months, the best solution is to start now! By overpreparing and beginning the process early, you’ll find ways that you can enjoy the event along with your attendees. I can mostly attest to the live general session productions, but believe the same practices apply to all aspects of an event/conference. And the best part is that when you overly prepare, early; you’ll also be reducing stress for your support staff and, ahem, your AV production company! The result: everyone will be excited about your next event and you’ll benefit from an experienced team.

Here are some quick tips and reminders. With events coming back strong, I share them humbly as reminders to myself, too! 🙂

  1. Create a timeline for major milestones. Break down the important tasks into and spread them out over days or weeks, especially the ones that seem to cause the biggest headaches right before or during an event. Place your deadlines on your personal calendar (google calendar is my preference!)
  2. Set high expectations and be ready to roll. At Cybis, we shoot for the stars, to exceed our clients’ expectations in every aspect of the event. Then, when something doesn’t work out exactly as envisioned, our team is the only one who knows and I can relax. When the bar is set high, the client / audience will still be ecstatic!
  3. Bring in the man/womanpower! If you don’t have sufficient staff, it’s time to recruit some friends and family to assist you on-site. PRO TIP: If you still need extra bodies, consider local labor or friendly event companies who can provide experienced support staff for nominal costs. Even Craigslist can help you bring on some very talented people who are just looking for new opportunities.
  4. Plan one solid day to yourself right before your event. Enjoy this moment to clear your mind. PRO TIP: Even if that goal was too lofty, if you plan this way, you’ll appreciate this “bonus day” to tie up any loose ends and still walk into the conference recharged and ready to rock!
  5. Reward yourself and your team. Plan at least one day off, to completely disconnect, after your event. Everyone will be more relaxed on-site knowing a well-deserved break is around the corner.
  6. Thank your team. You’ll want them back next time and a handwritten note or token gift card goes a long way to show appreciation. PRO TIP: Write these weeks in advance because you’re going to want your time off afterwards!
  7. ENGAGE AN EXPERIENCED AND TRUSTED PRODUCTION TEAM. Cybis’ clients appreciate that the show will go on! We own our world of general sessions and strive to minimize your stress at all stages of pre-production and on-site. We know you have a million other things to handle and are proud to help you NOT worry about your shows! : )

It’s so fun to produce and host events! And I’m so excited we get to be together again. By working with intention in the months leading up to each event, Cybis is poised to bring peace of mind to your live event productions. Please contact us today for your 2022 events!

Cheers to stress-free events,
Jeff

 

To have your question featured in next month’s article, ASK THE PRODUCER at contact@thinkcybis.com

“How can I host an event for my organization during the pandemic?”

Many event planners are now exploring virtual options because of COVID’s effect on social gatherings. Cybis is adding our extra touch of professional production knowledge to make virtual events engaging and special for online audiences. —

While it’s not our normal market, the live event industry has largely gone virtual and caused many companies to adapt and follow suit. Our team has banded together for an approach to virtual live events that we are very proud of.

There are many options for virtual events – what is right for you and your organization should depend on your budget and the type of experience you want to offer your audience.

Pre-recorded, live-streamed events:
First, we provide technical specifications, host Zoom practice sessions, and conduct “rehearsals” with talent and speakers. Then, Cybis will receive videos, announcements, and elements submitted by leaders of your organization and edit them together to create a virtual session experience. We add motion graphics and engaging music soundtracks under presenters and in-between segments to keep the energy alive. Once the session is fully edited to your satisfaction, we can set up the recording to stream live on the date and time of your choice!
Click here to read about the full process!

Pre-recorded, pre-produced, live-streamed events:
We will travel to a venue of your choice, or help in your search for one, and build a completely custom set to shoot your event. Our team of video directors, lighting technicians, audio engineers, and production assistants will create an entirely pre-produced event for you, pre-recorded and edited to perfection. Then we will stream the event live on the date and time of your choice!

Live, produced virtual events:
Our team will provide our full package of production elements as described above; with optional stage management, script development, and a full suite of custom motion graphics. After a hearty amount of rehearsals, our team will execute an exciting, truly live broadcast to your online audience!

While we can’t wait to get back to doing live events with audiences in the hundreds to the tens of thousands, we are excited to serve our virtual clients in the coming months for these special times. If you are looking to make your live event virtual, please contact me right away so we can start the conversation. I want to help deliver the absolute best production possible and help you make the right decisions for your audience and organization!

To have your question featured in next month’s article, ASK THE PRODUCER at contact@thinkcybis.com

“What are the highs and lows of live show productions?”

Frequencies! A successful event requires a superb sound system to effectively amplify the high, mid, and low frequencies to your audience. —

Having the best sound system for your event is essential to captivate and engage the audience. Everyone in a large room should feel connected whether they are in the front row or the nosebleed seats. With the proper audio equipment, arrangement, and an ace Audio Engineer, you can reach every person with high fidelity.

This year, Cybis is proud to debut the newest addition to our inventory – RCF line array speakers. These powerful, yet compact, speakers are designed for the greatest voice clarity and aural experience for 100 to 10,000 people.

Our scalable audio package provides crystal clear, high-quality sound so your presenters can be heard from every inch of the room. Our gear is also exceptional for music because it’s driven by our 32-channel Yamaha digital mixer, which handles all audio processing and routing. It provides superior sound that we can direct to our various RCF Line Array Speakers and Subwoofer options. These speakers can be hung from the ceiling when rigging is available or stacked upon one another on the floor or stage risers. Our line arrays are designed with built-in amplifiers, so we don’t have to worry about extra bulky power equipment that takes up unnecessary floor space and expensive setup time.

With these features, our audio equipment can be completely catered to the needs of your event – they are compact, convenient and completely versatile. And don’t forget the A1 (Audio Engineer) – the right man (or woman) behind the audio console is the final key ingredient to ensuring the system is properly EQ’d, delay signals are properly timed, and feedback is effectively eliminated.

Since we’ve rolled out our new audio system, we’ve heard from so many of our clients and attendees. They are complimenting the superior sound we have brought to their events. This is exciting news as our commitment to audio represents Cybis’ largest technology investment in the company’s history! Give us a call today to learn about all of our audio options. We want to deliver the absolute best production possible. Cybis promises to give you sound advice to make your events sound great!

To have your question featured in next month’s article, ASK THE PRODUCER at contact@thinkcybis.com

“As an event planner, what should I do today to increase attendee revenue?”

It’s so easy to commit all of one’s energy into an upcoming event production and forget about the NEXT one. Time after time, we hear: “now that this event is done, we can think about the next one.” Wrong! The time to think about your next recurring event is NOW, and one solution is the ThinkBackTM video! This can be a fun highlight reel or convey a serious message – either way, it is a powerful marketing tool that must be planned in advance. —

As we declare on www.ThinkBack.com: “A ThinkBackTM video is an exceptional way to commemorate a past event or promote a future one. We’ll send an experienced Cybis videographer out to capture your inspiring general sessions, powerful award ceremonies, engaging meetings, captivating shows, and grand presentations.” By capturing unique moments along with the raw, authentic emotions of the occasion, you will continue to experience the thrill of your event every time you take a look back.

We have produced ThinkBackTM videos for everything from White House summits, countless student leadership conferences, corporate events, fashion shows, non-profit organizations, MAC, and even the Playboy Mansion. Videos are typically 1-5 minutes long. Sometimes they are just music and footage… Sometimes they contain sound bites from presentations, speeches, and/or excited attendees. Our team can run totally autonomously based on your brief objectives of the video; or you can direct us into specific activities or interviewing specific individuals. And we are especially proud of our synchronization licenses to pair clients’ ThinkBackTM videos with popular, mainstream radio music; usually an extraordinarily difficult feat.

While the main purpose tends to be to present the ThinkBackTM video on-site at the closing session to current attendees, there is a huge recurring value in using the same video to market the next event months later to future attendees. Not only are you able to re-live it, but you are also able to share your inspiring experience with the world, which helps extend your reach to an audience beyond your event.

Are you ready to see what ThinkBackTM can do for your event? All of this is possible when you plan in advance! Contact us right away so we can start the conversation. We want to help deliver the absolute best production possible and help you make the right decisions from start to finish. Visit thinkback.com to live and re-live the experience!

To have your question featured in next month’s article, ASK THE PRODUCER at contact@thinkcybis.com

“How do you keep an audience engaged?”

Keeping an audience’s attention does not come automatically just because people showed up; nor does it have to be expensive —

Maybe your event needs a boost – a little caffeine pick-me-up – in order to best communicate your message, inspire guests, or celebrate success. It’s time to deliver a show that is swelling with energy, tightly choreographed, features a handcrafted soundtrack, and portrays how serious you are about the outcome.

I will share a few secrets that I hope you can employ at your next live event:

Least Common Denominator – This is a factor I’ve promoted since our very first BIG show in 2002. Imagine the person who has the least interest and reason to be in attendance. Maybe ze is the most cynical or the most unlikely person to impress. I focus my efforts on impressing this person through the spoken word and immersive production experience. If you can reach this person, you may find that you have reached the other hundreds or thousands in attendance.

Timing is Everything – Everybody’s lives are jam-packed and there are few things worse than feeling like your time is being wasted. Absolutely, in speech, insert the pregnant pause or the dramatic question to the audience to further your message. Otherwise, keep the show moving! Do’s and Don’ts: Do start your event on time. Don’t allow it to go longer than it needs. Do have presenters queued and waiting for their intro. Don’t ever leave an empty stage. Do monitor the time during the show (I take on this job during Cybis shows) and do adjust the program; shorten parts; etc. if you’re at risk of going long. Do end earlier than published times; never later. And Do have the production team with their fingers on the trigger for every song, lighting cue, and graphic roll, because that synchronization is felt/embraced by the audience; 1 second late is late.

Rehearse – I would like to make this the first, second, and third item on the list because live one-off events are seldom effectively rehearsed; and it makes the difference between silver and gold. First, ensure your organization has the appropriate dedicated stage director or at least a presenter-liaison to host special guests. Insist that every presenter attend a rehearsal prior to the doors opening. And my rule of thumb – rehearse, in real-time, every single action/cue/transition that will happen during the show. A fumbled music/lights/video sequence takes away from so many of the efforts that go into planning for your big event. Whether you’re an event manager, producer or show director, I commend anyone who says “that was close to perfect, but let’s do it 2 more times to be sure we’ve all got it!”

Crave the Special Moments – We acknowledge that many shows contain long biographical spiels, acceptance speeches, and historical testimonies. But don’t let that bring you down. Look for every appropriate instance in the program to crescendo the music, utilize special effect lighting, and provide motion graphics on screens that parallel what your guests are used to seeing on prime time television. When we identify and execute a dozen of these extra special moments in a program, I’m happy and I think the audience is satisfied, too! The energy and action in your show should peak and valley. Be conscious of the order of presentations in your agenda in order to best keep the audience on the edge of their seat and wanting more.

Lights, Camera, Soundtrack – I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to just mention the power of programmable moving light fixtures, well-choreographed camera movements, and delivering the right music for the mood. These are not all easy to convey in one article so I’ll focus on soundtrack. My best advice is to stay trendy. We frequently mix instrumental beds of the newest popular songs in order to capture a special part of our audience’s senses. Staying current with music and crafting an aural soundtrack for your live event helps to promote the relevance and timeliness of your message.

The key to all of this is planning. Recognize the beginning of a show as an opportunity to start getting the audience excited even if no one is on stage. Know who is speaking, when they will be speaking, and what they are speaking about. Ask about important points that might be enhanced with audio, lighting, or camera shots. Know where the person will be presenting and plan to have cameras/lights focused on those points. Consider having multiple cameras for different angles and cutaway shots. Make sure anyone on stage knows where to enter and exit; professional choreography will highlight excellent preparation!

Creativity in audience engagement is an art form that takes practice, but the right team with the right equipment and leadership will be able to execute a captivating experience. If you have a live event coming up, and you’d like to enlist Team Cybis to help keep YOUR audience engaged, please contact me right away so we can start the conversation. I want to help deliver the absolute best production possible and help you make the right decisions for your audience, space, and budget!

To have your question featured in next month’s article, ASK THE PRODUCER at contact@thinkcybis.com

“How do I get involved in the live event production industry?”

While there are degree programs, industry conferences, webinars, books, etc., there’s another way to fast-track your way into a very exciting and rewarding field. —

It’s one thing to experience an amazing live event in the audience; but being part of the production, working back stage, planning/coordinating, and building the set from the ground up gives you an entirely different appreciation of what live event production is all about. And if having fun while earning good money sounds intriguing to you, first find out in which part of the event you’d like to be involved.

If you’re a student, there are often opportunities in campus production teams to figure out if you thrive in pre-production, the live event itself, or post-production. When I was in college (go Knights!), I heard about their “Video Productions Committee” and stopped in to a meeting. I was soon invited to check out a hypnotist show where the students would be running camera, switching videos, etc. I lucked out when one of the camera operators didn’t show up and I was thrust into the seat. It was so exciting and swiftly intensified my passion for live events! If there aren’t student-led committees on your campus, find out which companies service your school’s productions — and read on!

Outside of school, there are many A/V and event companies in every major city that will offer internships and on-site experience opportunities. These companies are usually just a phone call away (like Cybis!) and will likely welcome you to “stop by” an event to see how things work. Your best next move: roll up your sleeves and offer to push cases, lug around cables, fetch coffee, test microphones, etc. Earning rapport with the team and demonstrating your value in a volunteer-position will almost definitely earn yourself an invitation back. If you’re willing to do some of the grunt work and most importantly USE these opportunities to observe the departments that interest you most and ask lots of questions, you’ll find yourself better suited than any outsiders when that company is looking to expand. If you’re worried about getting the company’s attention in the first place, try posting on their social media site! Be sure to provide a link to your online resume so folks can see your background and interests. Also be persistent — if you try hard to get noticed, then at least as far as I’m concerned, you’re more likely to try hard to be great!

Another strategy? Put yourself out there on production crew websites (like productionhub.com). Again, if you’re happy to intern or volunteer to work for free while getting your feet wet, the opportunities will be endless. (Side story: when I first started Cybis 25 years ago, I earned my first clients by offering computer help for FREE… after a while, I was eventually able to start charging. Side-side story: it’s also the basis for my favorite quote on the bottom of www.thinkcybis.com!) Be patient though — the companies you’re supporting know that in this industry, you only get ONE chance to get it right. “You’re only as good as your last performance.” Expect it to take time to fairly demonstrate you are determined, diligent, and 100% dependable.

The live event world is a super-fun industry to work alongside fun people, travel, and be a part of something that people experience with all of their senses!

At Cybis, we pride ourselves in being able to provide our clients world-class service, and that ability comes from having an exceptional team. If you’re interested, we are always looking for new talented people to add to our roster. Getting in touch with us is easy — click “Impress Us” on www.thinkcybis.com; that’s always up-to-date with the roles we seek, and which ones are “hot”! If you love your work, and it’s shows – contact us!

To have your question featured in next month’s article, ASK THE PRODUCER at contact@thinkcybis.com

“Should I just use the in-house AV company?”

Many hotels and venues have in-house AV companies. But using in-house AV is only an option and it could result in a generic event, less qualified show team, and inflated prices. —

Sales coordinators may suggest the in-house vendor is “more comfortable because they know the space”… but just because they are in-house doesn’t mean they have some exceptional wisdom on how to layout your room or execute your custom event. In fact, experienced production teams know that every ballroom in every venue is nearly the same. In-house AV companies tend to incentivize clients with discounted exclusive services like power and rigging, but the inflated costs for AV typically far exceed this value. Many times, a fresh perspective, our 3D-diagramming, and experience with all types of spaces will add more to your project than the folks who often prefer to do the same thing every time.

Total Show Management:
Consider the value of total show management companies like Cybis, as we are primary experts in everything from show graphics, to scriptwriting, to choreography. In-house AV companies may be able to dabble in these services but cannot deliver the same fully integrated experience.

Costs:
Did you know that in-house AV companies are required to pay the hotel as much as 40-50% of their revenue? That generally means your price will be higher to make up the difference. Then you need to have someone operate the equipment… in-house AV companies employ many full-time techs who get an hourly rate to do a variety of jobs every day. You may end up with an Audio Engineer, one of the most critical roles for your general session, who is overworked and underpaid. Alternatively, a third-party AV company will bring out exceptionally qualified technicians to come in and provide 100% more value to your production. In-house AV companies have to recoup these costs of keeping a full-time crew employed all year long, while third-parties are able to offer the true experts by only spending on the day they are serving you!

In-house AV companies may be ideal for very small needs such as a microphone and laptop rental—where it may not be economical for a third-party to send a technician out—but as soon as you start adding more to the production, the in-house company starts adding much more to the overall cost.

Service:
More expensive and harder to reach, the in-house manager or representative may not be in his/her office any time you run into a problem or have an additional request. With a third-party AV company like Cybis, you’ll have the 24/7 cell phone number of the Producer or Account Executive. We provide 24/7 commitment to the success of your event and 24/7 availability to support you. In-house AV companies may offer the benefit of a salesperson that you can meet and greet in person, but all too often that individual is not even available during your actual event. Your Cybis producer or account executive is happy to meet with you at any location nationwide!

Consider Cybis:
If you have a live event coming up, please contact us right away so we can start the conversation. I want to help deliver the absolute best production possible and help you make the right decisions for your audience, space, and budget!

To have your question featured in next month’s article, ASK THE PRODUCER at contact@thinkcybis.com