Clarity's Approach to Design
by Gary Lagestee, on May 27, 2021
AV Insights & Advice - Episode 13
Hey everyone! I'm Gary with Clarity and I am with Chris, our lead designer at Clarity. Today we are going to have a conversation around our approach to design and some of the benefits of looking to create a design before your event!
What is the creative process that goes into designing a show?
For all shows, big or small, I start with the end in mind. What is the purpose? What are you trying to do? What do you want your audience to walk away with? Aside from that, one thing that helps me a lot is knowing what inspires them. Most often I find that when it comes to an event, there are a lot of things that inspire them that aren't event-related. Their event could be about selling paper, or selling planks, lights, or it’s internal and they are trying to inspire people and they come up with a theme. When you ask the background of the theme, it may be something they saw in a movie or a concert or something they experienced while driving home from the beach. Sometimes it’s those things that help me to combine that theme or inspiration with whatever nuts and bolts they need to get their message across. Basically, I look at what has to be achieved and what the inspiration is behind the event.
How would a customer help you get started on a design?
The design process is a team effort and in any creative process, it may not hit the nail on the head after the first pass. However, it’s a collaborative process with the customer, so knowing their role is important.
One of the first things I ask is if this is an event they have done in the past. If so, what have you done before? What has worked? What hasn’t worked? Where do you want to go? Where do you see your event in 5 years? These are things I like to work with the client on in achieving that goal.
If their goal is attendance-based, there might be a big element that is missing in their event to get them to their goal. Maybe they don't know what that element is, or maybe they do. Maybe that element is something that falls in our department. Maybe it’s lacking in energy, which is something we can definitely provide. One of my goals in designing anything is to provide a great experience for people attending. If I can know what inspires you and I know what your end goal is, it’s my job to draw the line between those two things.
One of the processes we use is we have a shared folder with a client where they drop inspirational pieces. I ask them to not only drop pictures of events you enjoy the design of but drop pictures of things you see elsewhere that help inspire you.
It's the idea of them thinking outside of the event and more about the theme, the brand, emotion, and feeling and we work on these events together and we encourage people to drop in a lot of content outside of event content. What colors do you like? What emotions do you want to portray? What movies align with this? From there, we can determine the right elements to bring that forward.
Should design be done for small events and large events?
If I'm going down the street but it’s somewhere I've never been, I'm going to open up my phone and use maps to get there. So with that being said, I don’t think there is a limit to how small you can go. You are always going to need some sort of road map for your event. One of the most frustrating things is working with people who don’t have a plan. Where they show up and just look and don't know what they are going to do yet. I don't know that there is ever a situation, big or small, that you don't need a roadmap on how to get there, and that is basically what design is. It’s a roadmap for your event for all different elements like seating, staging, what the scenic is, where the registration is. These are all elements of your plan for your event and there is never a time where you shouldn’t have a plan.
We work on a lot of layouts that go into the audiovisual production, but it also goes into helping the planners see and visualize the spacing in the room, the right stage size, how many people they can fit in the room, etc. We will go through scenario planning with rounds and theater and we can also do layouts and design outside the room.
Importance of a scaled layout vs. an unscaled layout
I believe in doing everything scaled because I don't ever want to present something that I don't know how to accomplish. I don't want to present something that can't be accomplished under the budget or at least within striking distance of the budget. There is almost any obstacle that can be overcome if you throw enough money at it, but that’s not realistic for every client. If you look at the amount of work that goes into the Super Bowl halftime, there is an unbelievable amount of production done in a very short amount of time. The truth is, it can be done if you have the type of money that the Super Bowl has. You are talking about months of pre-production, months of onsite, doing it over and over again, and making sure you can execute it properly at the live event.
When I start building, I build as if I'm building the show, as if I'm bolting the truss, hanging the rigging points, building the scenic, and if I see any problems as I'm designing, I figure out the solution to the problem right then and there. The product I send to clients is a rendering and I know how I can achieve that from a lighting and audio perspective.
A lot of time event planners or designers don't have that process in mind. They will build something beautiful in Photoshop that looks great, but it isn’t real. How are you going to make that look good in person? How can you achieve that in person? Every time I design something, I overcome all of the problems in that setup of that show. I am a big believer in doing everything in real-life application, even if it means I am just presenting you with a picture and a layout, I want it to be real.
The bottom line is, every venue and every space is different. Every dimension is different. You might have an unbelievable concept, but if it’s not built in that environment, it might not work.
How does content play in the final result of a design?
Content helps if there is anything specific. The majority of the time it is going to be something simple where there is no custom content. It’s not just the content, it’s the people executing the content. You have to provide the canvas as well as the content and the right driver executing it. It goes back to the emotion of your event. If I design something, it’s because I saw something in that inspiration folder that tells me this is what they want. Part of the design is knowing exactly what content should be created to get that emotion behind the inspiration.
How do you choose the elements in design?
There are certain obvious reasons to choose elements. Sometimes your space will only allow for certain things. But to be honest, I do have a lot of rules, but there is no rhyme or reason to my rules. One of my rules is to always try and create depth on stage. I don't ever want it to look flat like you're looking at a picture. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing wall-to-wall LED screens and you are watching an audience watching TV. I do like 3D and I do like physical elements. How I achieve that, is whatever I think is going to be interpreted best by the audience.
That's Clarity's Approach to Design!
That is how the Clarity team approaches design for our different events! Tell the planners out there to reach out to us and we look forward to working on design for your upcoming fall events and we look forward to seeing you on our next episode of AV Insights & Advice!