The View from the Risers
Take a blank space and bring in seating for thousands of people. The seating when risers are used ensures everyone has a view. Mindy Meadows, an InProduction national sales executive who has designed, sold, and delivered numerous riser options for our clients, has brought risers into some of the largest and most prestigious events in the industry. She took some time to talk through why she thinks seating without risers is like wine without a wine glass.
What should we consider when determining whether risers are warranted at an event? Sight lines to the production, overall look of the production — and by this, I mean how will risers add to the look, feel, and sound of the entire show? Audience risers almost always vastly improve flat floor seating. However, on the rare occasion, I have advised that risers may not be a solution. Each event deserves riser consideration if seating is being brought in.
Are risers cost effective? You want cost effective, put your audience on the floor and show them some video. You want their attention and them to know that each of them is the most important person in the room? Put them on risers. They will have a great view of the presentation and the presenter will have a great view of them.
How do you figure out the best riser configuration?
My secret weapon: the CAD geniuses of our company. They can figure out a way to successfully design and match our capability to the client’s specs — for pretty much anything I throw at them. Our CAD drawings help our customers with planning all kinds of things around their presentations. Entries. Visuals. They are the first step to planning a successful event.
Also, many of my clients know our gear well and they tell me what they want because they are designing the entire show around a concept. A new client might have an idea in mind or just a vision. Together, we work through their goals and how to reach them. I ask them to tell me about the end user and the concept of the show. If it’s the CEOs, CFOs — bigwigs at a show, I would take them in the direction of our first-class risers, and then see what works with the room, set, and stage design, etc. If it’s a huge audience and they are looking for a cost-effective solution, I would steer them toward our conventional setup. I know it sounds like I am contradicting the answer to the question about whether one needs them or not, but I’m comparing risers to risers and not risers to floor seating. There are, of course, many in-betweens on those two options that are too numerous to mention.
What’s the most difficult challenge you faced in bringing risers into a venue? Installing 13,500 stadium seats in 11 days on the upper decks of a stadium for the Georgia vs. Florida game comes to mind. We are talking about three cranes and lots of lifting to get it loaded. Our crews do amazing work here every fall.
The strangest place for a riser installation? The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier. Not too long after the ship had returned from duty in the Gulf, we brought in cranes to install seating for a basketball game. It’s still one of my favorite images from any event we’ve done.
Do you have a favorite riser configuration? I’ve always liked a curved riser with VOMs and a cross aisle. (VOMs, for those of you who don’t know the term, are the entrance and exit “doorways” in the aisle of the seating.) It’s like walking into an amphitheater. I bet most attendees do not even realize they are on a temporary riser.
With the focal point during presentations changing in ways they didn’t used to do (moving from the stage to the wall to the floor), how does that affect the riser situation? Risers are a must when any video application is used to project a message onto the stage surface. The riser start height and rise must be designed to maximize audience sight lines to effectively view that projected message.
I’d love to hear from you, if you think risers might be the answer for your next event.