Rigging 101: Essential Things Event Planners Need to Know

“Do you offer any rigging services?” This is a question every event planner will come across sooner or later in their career. Most bigger events require items to be hanged, from banners to production setups, so expect to be asked to provide rigging to your clients. If you don’t have experience with this time of setup, here’s what you need to know before hiring a rigging team. 

What is rigging?

Long story short, rigging involves the overhead hanging of materials and equipment by trained professionals AKA riggers according to premade plans. Here’s what can be rigged at an event: screens, projectors, lights, speakers, sponsor banners, promotional materials, branding, drapery, balloons, electrical cables, aerial entertainers, and various heavy equipment. So, everything from audio-visual production to signage, décor, and electrical and production cables—it’s obviously a very useful service for all events. 

When do you need it?

Whether you need rigging or not depends greatly on the event scale. Small events only need ground-supported screens and lights, but if you’re organizing an event for a company that asks for big stages and space for plenty of people, you will need to hang lights and projectors above the crowd. Ground-supported equipment also takes up valuable floor space, so if you want to maximize the capacity of the room, raising the equipment off the ground is a priority. 

Is it complicated?

Rigging needs to look effortless, no matter if you’re having hanging balloons or aerial performers. However, the process of safe and beautiful rigging is actually very complicated. Rigging professionals will shower you with various questions like the size and weight of the items, placement of the rigged items, timing of installation and dismantling, and many other things. These details are used for the development of the rigging plans which ensure safe and practical rigging that maximizes visibility and aesthetic effect. Some logistical details like the available floor space for navigation and lifts are also important so come prepared. 

When it comes to physics, don’t try to play with rigging unless you know what you’re doing. Specialized and trained riggers know all about dynamic weights, gravity and other forces involved in the process. For instance, an aerial performer weighing 150 pounds puts a lot more force on the rigging equipment than just their weight, especially when they are swinging and spinning around. 

Is it safe?

In general, rigging is very safe when performed by professionals who understand the forces involved and know the limits of their apparatus. Find a professional event production company in your country and you will get great rigging design that will make everything safe. It’s best to go local. For instance, if you live in the UK, before you book your rigging provider, make sure they offer rigging services in the UK so you don’t stay empty-handed. Your rigging service provider knows all about point load, uniform load, dynamic load, weight limits and such, all of which are necessary for safe rigging. Even if you have all the necessary formulas and know important considerations, calculating weight and load limit is very complex, so consulting with professionals is a must. 

Is it worth it?

If you want to leave a great impression on your clients, it’s a great idea to have rigging connections for audio and visual production and lighting. Since this setup can maximize the floor space, ensure best visibility and safety and project the desired image for an event, it’s more than worth investing in. Attendees will get to experience the event from a different perspective (in front of them, behind them AND above them) and they will certainly be wowed. 

What about the costs?

The rigging gear itself is not too expensive, but the labor is where the money goes. The more rigging you require, the bigger the crew and the more expensive your setup will be. Large event venues usually have their own rigging crew, and you will need to pay for their help even if you have your people working on the setup. If you need to use the event rigging points, expect to pay a fee, so include it into your event budget. Overall, the costs are not negligible, but if you’re going for that “wow” effect, it will be worth it. 

Rigging is not a simple thing, but hopefully, this short intro offered some basic knowledge that will help you decide whether to go for rigging on your next event. 

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