HIGHLIGHTED TEXT: Harvard University’s Widener Library is illuminated in 2011 by ATR Treehouse of Providence using LED strips as part of the school’s 375th-anniversary celebration.
COURTESY ATR TREEHOUSE
STAR POWER: Oprah Winfrey’s 2013 Harvard University commencement speech is shown on an ATR Treehouse LED screen at Harvard Yard.
COURTESY ATR TREEHOUSE
By Patrick Anderson PBN Staff Writer
Theatrical, video-assisted presentations like the rollout of Apple Inc.’s new iPhones this month have captured the imagination of corporate managers as well as consumers.
With the increasing sophistication of computers and electronics, companies holding special events, off-site gatherings or executive retreats involving meetings, are increasingly looking to add a digital flair to the proceedings.
That’s opened up new opportunities and challenges for professional planners who help organize these events and the audio-visual companies that rent, set up and operate equipment.
“As technology advances, there is more out there and it’s more affordable,” said Ann Gardner, co-founder of Fancy Pants Event Planning, in South Kingstown, which does a range of corporate events, including annual meetings, golf outings, groundbreaking ceremonies and holiday parties.
Specifically, Gardner said clients are asking about bringing in iPads for interactive entertainment, LED devices for decoration or digital projection for videos.
“Companies are looking to have fun and it is getting more affordable to do creative brand messaging and interaction,” Gardner said.
As an example of the kinds of things companies can do, Gardner suggested a photo image of a city skyline projected against a wall in an event space with the location of a new office pinpointed within the right building.
Or she’s seen a nonprofit bring in iPads for an event where attendees tried to solve a safe-cracking game and their progress was plotted on another large screen.
As an event planner, Gardner doesn’t have 100 iPads or digital-projection equipment ready to lend clients, so she works with theatrical-production firms like High Output Inc., a Providence production company that can bring its theatrical capabilities to more complex events.
Jess Klarnet, director of theater events for High Output, said a wide range of events are being influenced by how much time employees spend watching screens at work and home.
“Clients are looking for much more immersive environments,” Klarnet said. “People are used to watching TV and you need to give them something better. They also want some control over what they are watching.”
Like flat-screen before it, video presented in a wide-screen format is now the preferred medium through which to provide that immersive video experience, which can include picture-in-picture, Powerpoint, camera and computer-image magnification elements, Klarnet said.