September 01, 2016


In this series, we explore each of JHE’s in-house capabilities and how JHE utilizes these skills to make its clients’ visions a reality.

On average, JHE produces 300 events a year with approximately 80 percent requiring some level of live show direction.

As an expert at live show direction, it all starts with JHE’s mantra … “people first.” To be a successful show director, a director’s skill set should always include organization, preparation, awareness and poise under pressure. Having a director with those skills then coupled with the talented technical and operational teams that JHE has assembled is why JHE has been able to bring to life so many successful live shows over the past 28 plus years.

To showcase why JHE is an expert at this skill, we dive into the application of live show direction in a few event formats, starting with corporate events.

Corporate Events

JHE produces a multitude of corporate events including conferences, trade shows, press conferences, networking events, product launches, VIP events, shareholder meetings, awards ceremonies, board meetings and more.

Live show direction for a corporate event can range in duration from 30 minutes to eight hours. It entails audio, video, lighting, music tracks, microphone changes, house lights, video screen changes, PowerPoint presentations, a teleprompter, calling camera changes and much more.

While there are numerous moving parts, client direction also can vary. A client can provide little to no direction and the JHE team must follow cues and rely on experience to execute a flawless performance. Or, the team can be provided with a list of elements that will take place in the show or a fully-scripted show.

Like a dance, a technical director must manage details down to the second for a team of two up to dozens of personnel. An experienced team also develops an acute sense on when to adjust the audio for speaker variations or prepare for upcoming camera changes, even when not prompted.

With all eyes focused on the stage, errors can often be seen much easier in this environment than others; thus the importance of rehearsals and sound checks. During rehearsals, the staff can test video, set audio levels, adjust lighting, test microphones and when possible conduct full rehearsals with the speakers.

JHE exemplifies expertise in this space with the team’s extensive experience and ability to “read” the event, in particular when many decisions are made quickly and without a script. The intensity in detail and duration make corporate events a challenge even in a controlled environment.

 NASCAR Opening Ceremonies

Each weekend, thousands of fans attend a NASCAR race to see their favorite drivers compete for a victory. Prior to the engines roaring to life, JHE is on hand to combine sport and entertainment into a 45-minute to multi-hour opening ceremonies package.

Included in that intense period is live show direction for VIP introductions, driver introductions, a military flyover, the national anthem and drivers taking a lap in a track vehicle. Each event and venue has different needs which make JHE experts at scalability.

With little to no rehearsal, JHE has one shot to get opening ceremonies right. That’s a difficult feat when you factor in dozens of moving pieces meaning equipment, staff and on-stage guests as well as the producer and staff juggling the last-minute details with several entities both on the two-way radio and in person as the show is in progress.

The uncontrolled environment requires a live show producer who can direct not only his or her team to maintain the run of show, but one that can continue a constant line of communication with the television broadcast partner, NASCAR and the client.

Live show direction at a NASCAR event requires trust from the client, a keen attention to detail and flexibility as details change rapidly. That trust allows JHE to make quick decisions that will result in the most ideal outcome.

 IndyCar Opening Ceremonies

Live show direction at IndyCar events have several differentiators that set it apart from its NASCAR counterpart. Yes, JHE coordinates and produces VIP introductions, driver introductions, the national anthem and occasionally a flyover. However, it is a few special touches that make IndyCar’s live show direction unique.

For example, JHE took advantage of its creativity and understanding of IndyCar’s vision to develop a custom music track that is used for VIP introductions and driver introductions. Prior to the season, 15-20 songs that range from Kanye West to tech to metal to electronic were identified and edited in-house to accompany specific aspects of opening ceremonies.

In addition, JHE is responsible for coordinating six to seven on-stage driver interviews during opening ceremonies. Working closely with the IndyCar announcer and interviewer, JHE selects the most newsworthy drivers for that weekend and prompts the interviewer with appropriate questions that drive compelling and interesting conversation for fans.

With a team of approximately 10, live show direction is no easy feat for the open-wheel series. JHE’s creativity and passion for integrating the perfect special effects make it great. As with the custom music tracks and attention to detail, IndyCar’s live show direction has developed into a unique format that showcases the sport and the personalities that make it successful.

Want to learn more about JHE’s other capabilities? Click here to read about JHE’s fabrication capabilities. 

events, event production, live shows, nascar, daytona, daytona 500, indycar