The purpose of a site survey is to determine what production resources will be needed and where they will be placed. We simply start with the 4 “P’s” Parking, Production, Power, and Phones. From there you will have subcategories but the 4”P’s” are a great starting point.
Where are the Production vehicles parking? Account for a production truck, generator truck and uplink truck. Other things to consider are modular trailers for additional work space and multiple production trucks and uplinks.
Park as close to the venue as possible. A running joke is look for the dumpster and park near it because production trucks are always parked near the dumpster. Located a door or window to run cables through. In some cases there are venue lines available to use in which case the venue contact will determine the parking. Keep in mind that from locations in North America satellite trucks need a southern exposure.
This is an important aspect of the site survey however the majority of the details like number of cameras, microphones and record channels will already be determined. A production site survey is to decide where the cameras will go and how the cables will get to those cameras.
Measure all power, audio, video and phone runs.
Power is tricky as you need to know the power requirements for all vehicles in the TV compound as well as lighting in the venue. Most of the time the venue contact will know his power availability. Take notes and circle back as needed to make sure your needs are met. If you are doing an event with inadequate power an external generator will be needed. Keep in mind that lighting will also need power and power distribution. If you are unsure of lighting power needs be sure to bring a Lighting Director to your site survey.
Use the general rule of thumb that 1000 watts equals 10 amps
Most wall outlets are 15 or 20 amps and those located near each other are likely on the same circuit
Locate and confirm access to the circuit breaker panel
A typical uplink truck uses single phase 208-240 v. - 100 amps
A typical production truck uses three phase 240 v. - 200 amps per leg
Confirm power location in relation to trucks and production area
External communications are paramount on all live events. Phones encompass all data needs (because IT doesn’t fit with the four ”P’s” acronym). So be sure to get your POTS lines ordered as well as internet and WIFI during the site survey. If the venue cannot supply them then contact the local phone company and they can install temporary connectivity for your productions.
People who should attend the survey
Technical manager or engineer
Venue operations manager
Things to consider in association with the project
• Crew, talent and engineers.
• Rule of thumb if lodging is needed each crew member gets his or her own room. Reason being is that they will be with each other all day and need a few hours of down time to reenergize and regroup for the next day.
• Location and price of the hotel should be determined while in town for the survey.
• Remember hotels with free breakfast are a great way to save some money on crew meals.
Meals and refreshments
• Will the event be catered? Venue or outside caterer
• Where will the crew eat?
• It’s a good idea to always have water and snacks in the TV compound so the crew is always hydrated and able to snack through out the day.
Know the other vendors who may be involved
Other rental companies like equipment companies with wireless mics or cameras, scaffolding, security, shipping companies, and generator rental.
To be addressed during the survey
• Make sure there are no permits needed for your parking or production. Rule of thumb:if you are on the street you will need a permit. Private property you will not.
Access to the building
• Any special access codes or key cards needed to access the venue or building especially after hours.
Loading dock Load-in/Load-out location
• Are union stage hands needed to move gear.
• If outdoors, determine where sun will be during production.
• Indoors, will ambient light from windows be an issue?
• Lighting will require additional power.
• Pay attention to the ambient noise of the location (Is there an echo? Is it dead? Is there background noise such as machinery, light ballast buzz, wind, etc.?)
• Determine microphone placement
• Are there any wireless microphone (mic) frequency restrictions?
• This applies to two way radios, wireless PL and IFB systems. And keep in mind that RF activity during a survey is most likely not a true representation of the potential for interference during an event
Video monitors or video projection systems
• How many? How Big? Where are they needed?