Country Music Festival Event Case Study
For the past five years, AV Chicago has partnered with Windy City Smokeout, known for being Chicago’s top BBQ & Country Music Festival, to manage video production, switching, and signal distribution during the four-day event. Hosted at the iconic United Center, AV Chicago assembled a team of 12 staff members and freelance technicians, including camera operators, show directors, switcher operators, and load-in/load-out technicians, to make sure every festival goer can experience the high-energy entertainment no matter where they are in the venue.
Our team was responsible for running a comprehensive network of cameras and managing signal distribution to various locations throughout the festival, including the main stage, artist tents, and two mobile LED trailers. We also worked closely with the stage crew members responsible for building out the LED walls and helped them find the best signals to have the LED looking its best all weekend long.
AV Chicago was also responsible for coordinating with each performer and their stage crew to provide support and assistance with show graphics, videos, and tying their cameras into the custom system built out for the event. This involved a lot of cabling on our part to ensure each team would be able to control their own graphics and manage their own cameras through our system. Touring Directors would constantly stop by asking to preview a look for their upcoming performances and we had to be ready to do that at a moment’s notice.
With 16+ vendors and sponsors needing to be recognized during the event, managing sponsor graphics was another huge undertaking for the AV Chicago team. Logos and videos would arrive to us in various formats and we were responsible for making sure they were broadcast clearly and according to the established schedule and frequency. Sponsored content would change daily and our team would receive a flash drive on the day of with all the instructions to follow and implement within hours of receiving it.
Working with a large number of stakeholders requires a great deal of organization and patience from our team and we had to be flexible and ready to adapt to whatever came our way. It’s ideal to arrange things in advance but it’s impossible for that to happen with events of this nature. We’re often throwing out the game plan on day one and performing audibles and reacting to last-minute requests.
The weather was sadly anything but ideal, with periods of rain throughout the event, but our team was prepared to weatherproof the cameras and cabling, including using trash bags for the cameras and taping up all connections. When the equipment was returned to our warehouse, our team had to deal with a little more cleaning than usual, but nothing we couldn’t handle.
Windy City Smokeout is one of the largest music events in the country and has pushed us to engineer things in a different way than we normally would for corporate or nonprofit events. With our industry-leading video production equipment and expertise to turn any idea into reality, our team was excited for the opportunity to bring new concepts to life and do it in the most efficient way possible.
Windy City Smokeout is a celebration of music and food and our AV Chicago team enjoyed every minute of helping bring this atmosphere to life.
Equipment List Used At Smokeout
- Aquilon RS2: Provides true resolution signal routing and graphic switching.
- Blackmagic Broadcast Panel paired with two M/E ATEM Constellations: Used for camera switching.
- Manned Cameras (3), Robocams (2): Two manned cameras were in the pit while one was at front of house. One robocam was used at the end of the thrust while the other was rigged to the upstage truss column for crowd shots.
- Single Mode Fiber: Over 500’ throughout the United Center.
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