Media assets are probably the most overlooked and undervalued items when it comes to planning and delivering content at shows and events.
Let me put that another way. Event organizers spend a huge chunk of their event budget on things like big-screens and cameras to capture the action, multi-media and production equipment, staff and resources...yet for some reason, they treat the content that needs to be shown on the screens as an afterthought.
Imagine a team competing in Nascar that spends millions on the car and treats the driver as an afterthought. It sounds ridiculous, yet that is the approach unprepared event organizers take when they wait until the absolute last-minute to submit content. Imagine the Nascar team grabs some dude that can't drive stick... Ridiculous? Well I can tell you first-hand how often materials that production crews don't see until the last minute have unusable content, corrupted files, out of sequence files, improper video format... even blank or unreadable disks and USB's!
When digital assets are created with the intent on being used on someone else’s equipment, which is the case in almost every event, they must be checked for operational integrity. If the file is corrupted, won’t play on the suppliers media server, DVD player or computer, you need to know about it long before the morning of the event. Time must be put aside for testing all assets and for any adjustments or corrections that must be made.
At a recent show the production crew was downloading files from advertisers, sponsors and the marketing companies two hours before the screens went live! All of it done using a USB connection on-site. The excuse given was that the material was "hot off the press" and that the team had worked late into the night to ensure the materials even made it at all.
The real reason was simple. Fortunately for the client, it wasn't their first rodeo.
Over the years not much has changed. Back in the 80's it was an A/V tech running into the production trailer with a binder full of slides demanding that they all get loaded into a slide carrousel 30 minutes before the show...and you better pray to God you got them in the right order and right-side-up. The worst part is that the production crew is where the blame lands regardless of the fact that it is rarely their fault.
As event managers it is important to ensure that you do not put unnecessary strain or stress on your crew. Your memorandum should include mutually agreed upon submission deadlines well before the event that everyone can adhere to.
I like to make two deadlines, the real one and the fake. With the earlier deadline, I tell everybody because I know darn well that everybody's favorite thing to do is procrastinate.
You also need to ensure you send anyone contributing assets a set of format instructions that have been given to you by the provider of the production equipment to ensure you are getting the best possible combination of hardware and content.
I mean, in today's digital age there really is no excuse. Most assets can now be sent via FTP, Google, Dropbox, and other data transfer methods. I am not saying last-minute edits and additions won't happen...but I am saying that it's in everybody's best interest to avoid them.