Opinion

5 minutes with James

Meet James Butler, our Head of Production. Here we take 5 minutes to find out more about what he does and his experience in the events industry…

Tell us about your career so far and what brought you to Bray Leino Events…

Since leaving University I have always worked in live event production. I started out building conference sets and staging and then moved into the AV world. I was always interested in making things work on-site and the problem solving involved. I still get a buzz out of turning an empty venue into a real live event – creating an atmosphere and opening the doors to the audience.

I joined Bray Leino Events around 18 months ago to lead our event production team, and really enjoy the variety of projects I get to work on here. Whilst previously I was working for smaller event companies where I needed to take on many roles, here I can give my full attention to event production and I get to work with some amazing clients helping to deliver events all over the world.

Tell us about your most memorable event.

There have been many memorable events over the years for different reasons. I have been lucky enough to travel around the world due to the projects I have worked on. Probably one of the events that has stuck in my mind was also one of the most stressful on-site experiences that I have had. I was the Production Manager for World Future Energy Summit Gala Dinner January 2008.

The event took place on the terrace out on the back of the Emirate Palace in Abu Dhabi. During the run-up to the event we were expecting and planning for an audience of 800 invited guests. I had mapped out the temporary structures, table plan, stage, audio, video and lighting design. Three days before the event there was a requirement to invite an additional 1,000 guests so we had to redraw the whole event and source extra structures and equipment to accommodate the huge increase in numbers. Then during the setup, in the afternoon, the lighting generator failed – a new one arrived just moments before the first of the guests walked in.

It was a huge relief to see everything come together and that we were able to quickly respond to and manage the unexpected changes. It was a truly amazing event and it won Best Launch Event at the AEO 2008 awards.

How do you approach working with the Creative Team on an event project at Bray Leino Events?

At Bray Leino Events we are very creatively driven – it runs through everything we do.

We are very lucky here to work as one big team, and I work very closely with my colleagues in the Creative team. Because of this, we will often share ideas and collaborate on what is possible, and how we can bring innovative ideas to life.

For the best results, I get involved with event projects very early on, so that I have good knowledge of what is required and can offer advice and workable solutions as the project progresses. I usually attend kick-off meetings and site visits – this allows me to offer the best possible production solution for any given event. It also helps to ensure a much more seamless workflow from creative concept to final technical production. 

What predictions do you have for the future of live events? Any trends to watch out for?

I love keeping up to date with all the latest trends in the industry and share these with the team here on a regular basis. I am particularly interested in how technology is developing at such a pace, and the impacts this will have on the world of live events and what we do daily.

The developments in AI are fascinating, and they will affect all of us in one way or another in the near future. For example, the development of chatbots have come a long way, and I see them being used on event websites to help deal with delegate queries in real time. This technology can also be used to create automated email responses to delegate queries. This will provide a better delegate experience since the responses will be instant, and it will also save event teams a lot of time in monitoring inboxes – freeing up resources to be used elsewhere.

Similarly, large format holograms are set to be a real game-changer; current investment in technology aims to create holographic objects that appear to be three dimensional and float in space without head-mounted gear such as virtual reality goggles. This technology gives us a huge amount of creative scope which I find really exciting.

However, that said, the decision to use a technical solution at an event should always be driven by its relevance to the content and audience. And ultimately, whilst we are living in an ever more digital world, technology itself will never quite be able to replace the impact or relevance of a face to face experience that a live event can provide.

 

For a further discussion on all things event production, click here to get in touch with our team.