Audio Visual Equipment
You will need a fair amount of AV equipment during your convention.
The most important is data projectors. You will need several (3 is typical), and they are expensive. Many conventions scrounge them from workplaces etc. The more you have the better. Ideally, you schedule all items that need AV in the same room or two, but this is not always possible, and leaving equipment set up can be problematic -- but do try, as having to move equipment around is very annoying, stresses the committee, and leads to delays. If possible, have a backup plan to acquire one at short notice if needed, as they sometimes break or are unsuitable, and bulbs blow. In addition to the projectors themselves, you also need a white surface to project on to. Screens are ideal, but for smaller rooms a whiteboard can do in a pinch, and the hotel can probably improvise something with a sheet if desperate.
The audio equipment hired for the Masquerade may be useful for the opening and closing ceremony, guest speeches, etc. Do be aware that the mixer used for the masquerade may not always be useful for other purposes (a DJ mixer isn't suitable for running multiple microphones). Also, they are often overkill for smaller items.
If you have to specify, Shure SM58s are usually good microphones for convention purposes.
Incredibly useful things that you will probably need at some point, and that will probably not be supplied by your equpment supplier include:
- a really long stereo RCA cable so you can set up a laptop some distance from the mixing desk, about 4-5m is about right.
- RCA to 'phone plug' (1/4 inch audio jack plugs) mono converters, two of them to go with your stereo RCA connectors.
- 2.5mm stereo jack (ie consumer headphone socket) to dual RCA converters. Get spares - they are easily lost, and sometime unreliable.
- video adapters for non-VGA computers, such as a DisplayPort->VGA converter for recent macs etc. Make sure panellists know what you have available. Know that, in particular, all Macs are not equal - an adapter for a MacBook is not the same as an adapter for a MacBook Pro, which is not the same connector as an older Mac laptop etc.
- Gaffa tape!
- a set of portable powered speakers for a computer (ie with a 1/8th inch jack), useful if someone wants to show something that requires sound in an emergency. Laptop speakers are normally insufficient for even a small room
- DVD player spare. You may not need it, but DVD players are incredibly cheap (meaning far less security worries than a borrowed laptop), and it is fairly easy to find a full featured region free DVD player (while laptops usually are not region free)
(some other combination of bits approximating the above is also useful, but being able to plug both a laptop (or iPod, etc) headphone output and an RCA output (ie average DVD player) into both normal stereo equipment and a mixing desk is very useful)
Always test computer presentations for if its important (such as for awards, etc), especially if its on an unfamiliar laptop. Powerpoint is particularly likely to do weird things (like invert graphics), and video formats are notorious for causing problems.
Swancon usually rent AV gear from Matrix -- http://www.matrixproductions.com.au/