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6 Cities, 7 Days, 3 Teams – A Successful Medshield Broker Event

POSTED ON November 7th  - POSTED IN News

Since 1968 Medshield has been providing reliable medical schemes to over 160 000 members throughout South Africa. For the past 5 years, Saints Branding has assisted with the annual Medshield broker event. We, at Avstage have been lucky enough to be a part of this phenomenal event. Here’s how it all comes together.Medshield broker event

The Medshield broker event aims to bring brokers together from various firms to discuss exciting Medshield product launches for the following year and any benefits they may have added to their existing products. Medshield use this event to celebrate their company achievements – such as AA ratings and provide brokers with sales tools to recruit new members. To produce a seamless annual event, Saints Branding works alongside an event production company – Alan Glass Production.

Avstage have been working directly with Alan Glass of Alan Glass Production for many years, on various projects. Alan Glass Production specialises in corporate communication, event production and facilitation, TV / video production and advertising services in South Africa and Mauritius. Alan Glass is also part of Fried Glass.

Each year the Medshield broker event pulls together a fantastic team of people that make the event possible and memorable. The team consists of a number of dedicated specialists. We have been providing technical solutions for this annual event, for the past 5 years.

Since it started, the annual project has grown. It now includes two Joburg events. One for Medshield Staff (+- 250 Pax) and the main event for Medshield brokers (+- 350 Pax). Medshield then then do a 5-city roadshow with a smaller version of the event for all the brokers in Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, PE, and East London. Setting up and providing audio-visual equipment for 6 cities over 7 days requires planning, resources, technical know-how and most importantly, 3 incredible teams!

Our itinerary looked something like this:Medshield annual broker event

Day 1 – 25 September 2017:
Our first team set up in Kyalami, Johannesburg at Theatre On The Track.

Day 2 – 26 September 2017:
The staff show took place at Theatre On The Track.

Day 3 – 27 September 2017:
The show for the brokers took place at the same location. Here’s the challenge – we needed to produce a scaled-down version of the show in Cape Town, the very next day.

While the broker show was taking place in Johannesburg, we had a second team, with a second set of resources, setting up in Cape Town.

Day 4 – 28 September 2017:
We had set up in Cape Town at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. While the show was in action, we had a third team, with their own set of resources setting up for the fourth show in Durban.

Day 5 – 29 September 2017:
Our team were set up in Durban at Moses Mabhida Stadium, ready for the show that day.

Day 6 – 2 October 2017:
Over the weekend, we had time to gather ourselves. The Durban team were ready to move on to Port Elizabeth where the next broker event took place at Protea Hotel, Marine.

Day 7 – 3 October 2017:
The Durban/PE team were set up and ready for the sixth show on day seven in East London, at the International Convention Centre.

Day 8 – 5 October 2017:
We had reached the last destination of the roadshow – Bloemfontein. The same, incredible Durbs/PE/EL team had already set up for the seventh and final event which took place at the Protea Hotel, Willow Lake.

Apart from showing off our insanely capable team, each year we use the annual Medshield broker event as an opportunity to showcase the latest and greatest technology at no extra cost to the client. It’s a two-fold strategy: The show turns out spectacularly and we have fun playing with new toys – obviously.

The equipment that made the Medshield broker event possible


medshield broker event
For the Medshield broker event we used Christie Projectors purchased from Stage Audio Works. We use this particular projector for all our events. It is compact, provides a bright, high res image and has wonderful flexibility when it comes to screen size. We swear by this brand but always have a spare on hand.


medshield broker event
Shure claims to be the most trusted audio brand worldwide. We purchased the latest wireless microphones from Wild & Marr. The Shure wireless microphones are absolutely incredible. We use them because while there are many devices competing for wireless airspace, the Shure Wireless microphones seek out areas in the wireless airspace with the least interference. This results in flawless sound with no drop out or decrease in quality.


Medshield broker event
This is the department where we really like to show off.  Robe Lighting – purchased from DWR Distribution, never lets us down and provides incredible, impressive stage effects.

We cannot wait to be a part of next year’s Medshield event where we will meet new professionals, push our limits, test our resources and play with a whole new range of the latest and greatest technology.

All photographs featured in this article were taken by Snapdragon.


Our team give back to Center of Hope

POSTED ON April 3rd  - POSTED IN News

The team here at Avstage do believe greatly in giving back, and as a team we have partnered with The Way -International Center of Hope which is a registered Non Profit Organisation, located in Newclare in the West of Joburg to make a change in a few lives when we can.

The center currently focuses on a feeding scheme as well as providing counselling and fellowship to people in the area who have various addiction issues.

The Feeding Scheme at the center currently feeds breakfast to approximately 200 kids from Monday to Friday between 06h00 and 07h30. Most of the childeren are from the immediate and surrounding areas which is predominantly an impoverished community.

This meals serves as a starter meal for the day as most kids are extremely hungry and in some cases have not even had a meal the night before, and it is the only full meal that they receive.

The Counselling and Fellowship center offers another unique service which is to offer council and fellowship to addicts from the surrounding areas.

The head of the church, Pastor Henschel Adams, spends much of his time assisting people with issues pertaining to personal developments, addictions, counselling, prayer assistance etc.

These people are trying everything that they can to make a positive difference through their actions. Their goal is to make our community a better place for people dealing with various issues.

As a company Avstage made a decision to contribute to this center on a monthly basis as a part of our CI initiative, and we felt that a monthly contribution would in some way impact the lives of the children in this community.

Attached are some pictures we took when we delivered the food items. If you are able to also get involved with donations, please contact the center directly:

Centre of Hope – 39 Wanderes Avenue, Newclare, Johannesburg

Contact: Mr Lenny Reddy

Telephone: 062 7943030

ICRI Conference a great learning experience

POSTED ON April 3rd  - POSTED IN News

It was with great excitement that the team at Avstage received the invitation to propose for the audio visual and technical requirements for the ICRI (International Conference on Research Infrastructures) Conference 2016 roughly a year prior to the event.

The ICRI Conference focuses on research infrastructures and the event highlights the essential role of global research infrastructures in addressing challenges and reflecting on needs, development and sustainability of global/regional research infrastructures

This was the first time in South Africa and the organisers were expecting roughly 1 000 international delegates over the three days.

The venue had already been selected and the organisers had  selected Cape Town Convention Centre due to its central placement as well as being a well known destination for international conference visitors.

We took in to consideration the different requirements for not only plenary, but also parallel sessions and workshops, and submitted a detailed proposal soon after. After many revisions we were awarded the contract, and so began the preparation and planning.

Avstage finds itself constantly reminding clients of one thing – Yes, budget is important but the event must still be a success. Cutting corners can jeopardize the  quality of the event, and this is a knock on effect to the brand, and the event organiser.

For us the simple part of the event is setting up the equipment. It is the team on site that make the event work. Some of our clients seem more concerned about the budget than what it takes to make the event a success, and this is a mindset that we are working at shifting.

Our first port of call is making sure that we understand exactly what the client expects. An equipment list does not give any idea of what the room must look like. And one must ask oneself, what does the delegate feel when they enter the room for the first time? What impression will they have about about the organisers? Are screen images clearly visible from every seat?

Receiving presentations before the event can always be a hitch – usually presenters are such busy people, running businesses, lecturing and travelling – even the best conference organiser cannot guarantee having all the presentations a week in advance, let alone a day in advance.

Our Content Manager was tasked with ensuring that all the presentations were in, changes were made, checked and run through with the

For the on-stage panel discussions we provided a conference microphone system on the stage, and several roving microphones, with runners, were available for audience questions.

The plenary and some of the parallel sessions were streamed live over the internet via webcast and a link was provided on the client’s website for viewers to log in to the sessions from anywhere in the world. The content remains available on their website for six months after the event, allowing people from all over the world to not only log in and watch, but also have access to the footage as well as the presentations once the event is concluded.

We also provided a live camera feed to screen which is vitally important in larger venues so that the audience can see a close up view of the presenter, no matter where they are seated in the room.

The exhibition area was separate from the conferencing area, and the client requested an LCD Tree – which is basically a number of LCD screens (in this case 12) on a vertical truss that was visible from anywhere in the exhibition area.

We ran video content throughout the conference, and also used these screens to display Twitter feeds and the ongoing social media interaction.

The client also asked us to create a short video with a catchy soundtrack that would get people back into the sessions after tea and lunch breaks, and this worked really well! No matter what the delegates were doing they would start heading to the next session when they heard and saw the video – which helped immensely with prompt starting times.

All in all the ICRI Conference was a huge success. Our team had spent a lot of time designing a set for the stage, the client had mentioned that he wanted delegates  to walk in and say “wow”. When he walked in on the first day he said to me that it was exactly what he imagined, and this i possibly some of the highest praise we have received.

A few learning lessons from our side:

  1. Events Managers are quite busy people with a lot on their plate. Setting up a weekly touch base call to make sure everyone is on track is really helpful, and doing your best to understand your clients needs and executing that to the best of your ability is key.
  2. Technical conferences or congress do require a content or programme manager, with the vast number of session on the go throughout the day, it is vital that someone is in charge of the inevitable last minute presentation arrival, and that nothing is missing.
  3. Even if the client doesn’t request it – make sure you have a range of microphones available to accommodate every presenter’s preferences (stick mic, headsets, lapels etc)
  4. An event app is a great add on to the event – in that way programme and venue changes can easily be communicated to all attendees, much easier than printed programmes
  5. We are all for wireless communications between the technical crew and event organiser is essential, especially in massive venues. Headsets between key parties make life easier and phone bills smaller.

All in all we had a great experience with the team from ICRI and have learnt a lot about international conferencing from this event.

AV Talk – understanding screen aspect ratios

POSTED ON August 12th  - POSTED IN News

Understanding Screen Aspect Ratio


Aspect ratio is the width of a screen compared to it’s height.

There are aspect ratios that are popular for movies that are shown in cinemas but it is unlikely that these will find their way into events unless it’s a movie preview.

The shape of TV screens and projection screens have changed over the past decade. Almost all of us in our homes now have the more modern wide screen (16:9) TV. These have replaced the old style full screen (4:3) shape TV.

Wide screen TV 16 x 9






Wide Screen 16:9 Aspect Ratio

4 x 3 TV






Old Style 4:3 Aspect Ratio

Surprisingly in the events world there are still numerous 4:3 screens installed in venues as well as 4:3 projectors. In venues that have equipment permanently installed they may have upgraded to the newer technology in their large venues and moved the older equipment to the smaller breakaway rooms. Your presenters will be faced with projectors that are not suited to the content they created.

Why is this important? It looks unprofessional to have the image not fill the entire screen. The image size will have been selected based on the size of the audience and room dimensions. If the content does not fill the screen it means that not all participants will see the image correctly.

Your AV supplier will ask you what aspect ratio is required. As the event organisor you should advise presenters which aspect ratio screens and projectors will be available for them at the venue. It is simple enough for them to create their presentation in the correct aspect ratio if they know ahead of time. Changing the presentation once it is created is possible but does often introduce errors that have to me manually corrected.

If videos form part of the presentation these are not easily changed unless it’s done by the studio that created them and if they are large files it could take hours to render.

Last year we staged a corporate event for our client. Although we had been promised the content for days prior to the event on the morning of the event we did not yet have the video. I offered to collect it from the studio only to be told that it was being created in a different city. Doors were opening at 5 am and by 12 pm we still hadn’t received the video.

I was told it would be sent electronically. I called the studio and asked what was the size of the file. With the available up and download speed the video would have arrived the following morning. I asked for the video to be rendered at a lower resolution and waited for several hours while it downloaded on my computer. I tested it, drove it across the city and walked into the venue with guests already seated.

Decide if some of the last minute changes to videos are really necessary. A small change can result in hours of waiting for the image to render and you run the risk of it not being ready in time.

I find so often that event organisers are reluctant to specify the aspect ratio requirements to the client. The dry run, hours before the event starts is not the time to discover that the presentations are incorrectly formatted.

– Article written by Julian Cohen


Avstage adds to the community

POSTED ON August 12th  - POSTED IN News

Avstage has joined The Way Centre of Hope as a monthly contributor as part of our CI initiative. We really feel that a monthly contribution, no matter how big or small will with doubt impact the lives of the children in this community – and we encourage you to join us.

The Way International Centre of Hope is a registered Non Profit Organisation, situated in Newclare on the Westrand in Johanneburg.

The centre currently focuses on a feeding scheme as well as a Counselling and fellowship to people in the area who has various addiction issues.

The Feeding Scheme
The centre feeds breakfast to approximately 200 kids rom the immediate and surrounding areas which is an impoverished community on Monday to Friday from 6am to 730am.
This meals serves as a starter meal for the day as most kids are extremely hungry and in some cases has not even had a meal the night before.

Counselling and Fellowship
Another unique service that this centre offers is to offer council and fellowship to addicts from the surrounding areas.

The head of the church PS Henschel Adams, spends time assisting people with issues pertaining to personal developments, addictions, counselling, prayer assistance etc.
They are trying to make a positive difference through their actions. Their goal is to make our community a better place for people dealing with various issues.

Get hold them on either of the contacts below – every bit helps:

Centre of Hope Address
39 Wanderes Avenue

Contact Mr Lenny Reddy
Telephone 062 7943030

Church Address
68 St Georges Street
2cd Floor Clan House
Ps Hentschel Adams
Telephone 0714012958
Email Address

Sophos “bush” event with Fried Glass Events

POSTED ON August 9th  - POSTED IN News

“AV STAGE and FRIED GLASS EVENT PRODUCTION COMPANY recently collaborated once again on a fantastic corporate event in the Kruger Park. International software company Sophos, embarked on an incentive trip to SA through travel company Mercury 80. After spending a few nights in Cape Town, 220 guests flew into Skukuza, and spend a few days unwinding at the various luxurious lodges in the area including Mala Mala, and Londolozi.

On the last evening of their trip, they were ushered into vehicles and told they were going on their final game drive. They were driven to an area, just outside Shaws gate where Haywards Tented Safaris had set up a luxury 5 star tent, along a river bank, with all tech supplied by AV Stage and all entertainment supplied and managed by FRIED GLASS.

To add to the element of surprise, the evening was in two parts. Drinks on arrival, along with drummers, Sangoma readings and traditional african face painting. Part two was heralded with the sound of a Kudu horn. The back of the tent dropped to reveal a boma area with seating for all guests, who all enjoyed a range of traditional african style entertainment and cuisine.

A magical experience in the heart of the African bush, was a perfectly fitting end to Sophos’s incentive trip. It all worked seamlessly and the guests went home with wonderful memories and will certainly be great ambassadors for SA Tourism.” Alan Glass – Fried Glass Events

Julian Cohen, owner of Avstage adds “When overseas visitors come here on conference they usually spend days stuck in a hotel or conference room, totally unaware that they are in Africa.

I’m always excited when we get the opportunity to show people the bush, and when we get to set up outdoor events. Of course, there are all the usual technical considerations – for example we need to provide power for all of our equipment. The generator must be silent, otherwise what’s the point of being in the bush? Its dark in the bush at night so we need to light pathways, kitchens, stage, tables and provide light for the entertainment.

Often the guests are unaware that there is entertainment provided. We need to hide our tracks away so they aren’t spotted in the bush or anywhere close the the “venue”. Our planning must be perfect. There is nowhere close to find a replacement bulb or faulty cable and our crew are used to setting up in an air-conditioned conference room. In the bush they need to be aware of protection from the sun, make provision for rain and keep an eye out for animals too!

A site inspection is critical. Setting up a stage in a dried up river bed is a challenge as it tends to sink.  We need to be aware of sound levels. In the bush the sound travels for kilometers and can affect guests in adjacent lodges. Timing is even more important in the bush. Travelling in large trucks, even relatively short distances, can take much longer due to unpaved roads and obstacles like overhanging branches.

We have many years experience setting up shows in the bush. The extra effort makes it a really worthwhile African experience for overseas or local guests.”


Avstage trip the light fantastic

POSTED ON July 11th  - POSTED IN News

The clever and creative use of lighting is often the unsung hero at many events and functions.

An invaluable contribution is made by skillful lighting to the ultimate success of any occasion. Lighting is often required to change over the course of an event, providing a functional work friendly environment during the day, and then transforming the same space in to a party venue at night with a band, dancing and all the lights that go with an entertainment element.

The work done a wile ago by Avstage, for the ENRC year end event, is a good example of lighting can be a key player of the design, style and overall effect of a function.

The venue, already styled, features brocade walls in silver and large mirrored pillars. Avstage expertly interpreted the event vision of the event managers and stylists.

A white tunnel at the entrance was transformed using purple lighting. The interior was washed with magenta, creating the exact “late night moody atmosphere” that was articulated by the event team. Light was intentionally reflected off the many glass and mirrored surfaces, allowing use of fewer fixtures and substantially reducing costs.

“We demand reliability and flexibility from our suppliers. Avstage deliver consistent excellence from all their levels of staff, respond effectively to any changes in lighting and entertainment, and have never let us down. In fact, Avstage have always OVER provided on the specifications of any event” Glenis Gillespie, Conceptspark.

Leading by example, founder, owner and director Julian Cohen, is the master mind behind Avstage’s excellence in lighting, sound and projection technology that has made his company a leader in the highly competitive and specialized industry. His attention to details is legendary and his philosophy is siple: “I do not believe in limitations or boundaries and I do not accept that there are any problems too hard or too complicated to solve…we get the job done and we do it best.”

Avstage triumphs at Robert Bosch Convention

POSTED ON June 11th  - POSTED IN News

In a highly competitive industry such as Audiovisual Technology and Eventing is extremely rare to come across a company with a unique and uncanny ability to find a creative, seamless and ultra professional solution to all and any “challenges” it encounters. Such a company is Avstage. Founded in 1989 by maverick Electrical Engineer Julian Cohen, it has grown in strength and reputation and is now widely regarded as the best supplier in South Africa for the staging of corporate events and conferences.

This reputation for excellence was never better displayed than in their recent triumphant execution of the Diesel Electric Convention for Robert Bosch in November 2011. Their objective, along with Y-Knot solutions as to “create an event with a story line depicting motor cycles moving forward using Bosch


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