Monday, October 27, 2014

Grand Opening: EventWorks' New Warehouse and Workshop Now Up and Running

We love to re-purpose. It makes environmental and economic sense and it allows us to offer great rates to our clients. But our extensive collection of decor elements and furniture and our fabrication studio outgrew our old warehouse space.
Repurposing in Action!
Production Manager Carolyn Vasi and her great crew needed more room. Fortunately for us, a next door neighbor moved - and we jumped on the space! We added 7500 square feet of warehouse space, now happily spreading out over 30 000 square feet total.
Carolyn Vasi: "We got the keys on Labor Day weekend and went right to work to remodel the adjacent building for our purposes. Our amazing crew did it all in just over 6 weeks. They built and installed new ceilings above the office space to create more storage, built new floor-to-ceiling shelving and re-organized it all! We doubled the work shop space! Manuel and his crew can spread out. We have better, more accessible storage. It speeds up the work process."

We can also offer better amenities. Enter the doors to Carolyn's Queendom and get greeted in the well-lit (Thank you, Larry!) arrival lounge. Take a seat on the couch! (Thank you, Selena!)
Carolyn now works out of a new office where the force is definitely with her! The warehouse expansion features a new shower for our warehouse workers, a "man cave" for off-time with a fuss ball table and a blue couch group (Thank you, Ted!)with a wall-hanging TV set for video games.

We did it all on a shoestring budget.
Carolyn: "In the process we cleaned out the old storage and found items we had not used in 20 years. We held a garage sale and used the income for the construction. The couches for the lounge and the recreation room were donated by co-workers and the chic lamps had been used in an event and were a gift from the client."

We celebrated our warehouse opening a few days ago -  with our favorite food for a lunchtime fiesta! Edwin's and Mario's families' recipes: carne asada, pollo asado, the best black beans in L.A., marinated cucumber wedges, salsa, freshly made tortillas and great guacamole!

If you would like to get the black bean recipe, please revisit our Cinco de Mayo Post:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Janet and Ted's Excellent Shanghai Adventure

Janet and Ted returned red-faced from Shanghai on Friday! Yep, our intrepid world travelers got themselves into trouble in this beautiful city - but they were saved by the incredible kindness and outstanding helpfulness of local law enforcement and hotel staff!

So what happened?
Janet: "We had some free time to explore this fascinating, cosmopolitan city. Ted and I were walking along one of the busy streets of Shanghai when four "20-something" students approached us, wanting to practice their English. They were quite friendly and charming.  So we chatted away.

They told us about a tea festival down the street. Always up for a new experience, we went along.  We entered a small tea shop and learned a lot about tea and these 20-year-olds.

We had a great time and felt, when the bill came, that we should offer to pay. That evening, over dinner, Ted and I thought about the bill and could not help but wonder whether we had been overcharged as it was somewhat confusing at the time.  Anyhow, how much could some cups of tea cost? The next morning I checked my VISA card online, and sure enough: the bill was an outrageous $1694!!!! Ted and I were duped!"

Yes, we know: DUH!

Now, this would have meant a painful financial loss and lesson in many places in the world and here in the U.S. where local authorities would consider this a price to pay for touristic gullibility - but Janet and Ted were in Shanghai, China, where hospitality and helpfulness reign.

Janet: "I informed our hotel about the incident, thinking it may help warn other guests. To our surprise, they immediately called the police. The nearest station sent a policeman within minutes! Wow, what an incredible response to assist some dumb tourists - yes, we have to admit it, we fell hook, line and sinker for one of the oldest, international scams in the world. Maybe we should read guide books! The policeman, Ted, a concierge and a hotel security staffer ventured out to try to find this obscure tea shop. Ted had a photo of us near a building that provided a landmark. We were invited to drive in a paddy wagon around the first possible police district.

No luck. We struck out in our precinct. But our policeman did not give up. He referred us to his colleagues in the neighboring precinct.

So we visited the second police station    — and now two policemen, our hotel concierge and security guard,  Ted and I walked the streets to find this obscure tea shop.

And we did!
In fact, we walked  into the same room and found the scam artists with two New Yorkers! Yes, even those hard core New Yorkers fell for the scam!

It was me living my dream - just like on Law and Order. I busted the “thieves” while shouting to the grateful New Yorkers "They stole from us! Get out!"
Yes, fabulous memories for a life time!

We then got into another paddy wagon with the crooks and we all went to the police station. After some time the tea shop owner came in and the police made him go to the ATM and return our $$$.

Moral of the Story: Even Veteran Travelers and New Yorkers can be duped - but in Shanghai the Police and hotel management went above and beyond to save us from our own mistakes.

谢谢 - Thank You for your assistance and incredible support!

Thank you to Ted Bowers for capturing our (mis)adventures with his camera!

What a week it was!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Pay Up or Face The Music! What You Need To Know About Copyrights!

If found guilty of copyright infringement, under the criminal portion of the law, or liable, under the civil portion, you may face a penalty of five years imprisonment and up to $250,000 in damages.

Did we get your attention?

What we are talking about is a specific niche in overall copyright law: the soundtrack of your event sizzle reel. You produce a gorgeous affair, Your video team is taping hours of footage. You edit an exciting few minutes,  showing decor, costumes, location, catering and entertainment to promote and demonstrate your work and place the video on your YouTube or Vimeo channel. More often than not we use the native sound, i.e. the band's stage performance audio on the reel. In some cases, we use another song on the soundtrack.

So what rights do we have to worry about?

Record companies and copyright companies have developed software that allows them to find the most obscure video and its soundtrack. And they will come after you if you violate any copyrights.
And there are different rights to worry about: Master Rights, Synchronization Rights, Publishing Rights.

A number of notions are floating around, such as "fair use", "public domain"  and "promotional use" and alike. It's confusing and possibly costly in consequences. 

So we decided to investigate the situation and bring you a comprehensive fact sheet.

We contacted the United States Copyright Office ( by telephone.
Botttomline: "fair use" is a legal argument that does not even come into play until you are standing in front of a judge!
If you use any copyrighted material, you have to figure out which copyrights apply, who owns them and negotiate the right to use it.
The fact that you paid the copyrights for the night of the performance does not include the right to copy the work on video and distribute it.

Next we contacted ASCAP and the Recording Industry Association of America to see whether the argument that we are just promoting our own work and not making money off these recordings or performances with these videos make any difference.
The answer is a resounding "No".
ASCAP published a very useful tip sheet to help everyone obtain necessary rights:
How You Can Clear Cover Songs, Samples, and Handle Public Domain Works

So what about public domain and what is an event producer to do to show off their work without landing behind bars?

We checked in with our Picture Editor Garth Grinde.

Garth: "Even with music in the public domain, published before 1923, you still have to figure out whether the recording is newer. Any public domain song recorded after 1923 is still protected by Master Rights. And if the original piece is updated and altered, it may no longer fall under public domain at all!

I suggest to my clients to compose and create! It is really easy these days to get your very own music. You can find independent composers online or find unique pieces on SoundCloud that you can obtain easily. It is your safest bet.
If you are using the event sound,  keep your video postings private and password protected. This way it is clear that you have no intention of gaining profits off the recording. Should anyone come after you, you can prove that the video is only a demonstration and you did not make money with the music.
And most importantly: when you negotiate the contract with your talent, negotiate the demonstration rights upfront so you have it in the contract that you can use their performance for any promotional purposes!"

Yes, a simple sizzle reel can cause a lot of trouble.
We recently received a warning from Vimeo - and we are now dotting "i"s and crossing "t"s.
We hope this information is helpful to you!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bonjour from Ted Bowers! An Event Report from Paris and London

What does it take to ensure a flawless conference in two European Capitals within 4 days? Ted Bowers' nerves of steel and expertise!

Obviously, we all offered to carry his briefcase and fetch his coffee to go along on this enviable task: the technical production of a conference series in London and Paris. But Ted did not need hometown support.

Our client Dennis Maggi, Executive Director of the very prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, has been relying on us to provide flawless technical and event support for their two annual conferences for several years. We have built a relationship of trust and we really are proud of these assignments.

Dennis Maggi: "The College has partnered with Eventworks on our production and events more than twenty years.  It is a collaborative effort and as a small staff organization we consider the team that travels with us to be an extension of our own staff. The College wouldn’t be able to do what it does without the great relationship we have with the Eventworks team."
 Ted Bowers: "These conferences need  live event audio and video support as well as a complete recording of all events for meticulous archiving. We have been working together for many years and we adhere to a strict protocol to ensure 100% secure service. Capturing top quality video and audio and preparing the material is essential to the very structured archiving. Any moment of any conference has to be retrievable from the archives easily. Providing a set technical standard is therefor paramount to this task. Recently, the College has added new technology to make the conference more interactive for the attendees. We provide support for this effort as well, especially to the attendees who have to learn how to use it."

Usually these conferences take place in North America but every few years the members travel to Europe. They chose London and Paris for this year's Fall Conference.

Ted: "We had produced this conference in Europe in the past, 8 years ago. Preparation and sourcing require more attention as formats and norms tend to be different. We sourced two great A/V vendors to support us overseas. In London we worked at Grosvenor House where the in-house A/V team is really outstanding. They were fantastic to work with and provided great service!"
 "In Paris we settled into the Great Ballroom of the newly renovated, historic Grand Hotel. I had selected a Dutch company that has a Paris branch for A/V support assistance. Once we had our teams in place, everything went very well. We only encountered one challenge in both locations: both ballrooms were used for other events just before our conference so we had to set up overnight. Starting at midnight, we had to be ready for an 8am conference start. Thankfully, everything went very well."

There was not much time for sightseeing but Ted managed to squeeze a couple of quick excursions into his schedule.
"I left a couple of days early to adapt to the time change and visit the Gloucestershire Mainline Heritage Railway,  two hours outside of London. In Paris I was walking distance to the Musée des Arts et Métiers, by far my favorite sightseeing attraction on this trip."

Wishing you "une bonne semaine"!