I got a call today from a woman in Los Angeles. She was preparing to host a hybrid webcast, with a local live audience in the room and a simultaneous feed to remote participants over the web. She told me they were having trouble miking the room so people on the web could hear both the presenters and local audience members. I'm not sure whether she was also trying to make sure that remote attendees could be heard in the room, but that is another common request.
Setting up room audio for local/remote hybrid events is difficult. You usually have problems with volume balance, clarity, and feedback between in-room speakers and in-room microphones.
My caller said she had contacted some local service providers, but kept getting companies who specialized in music events. They couldn't understand why she would want to highlight people speaking in the audience… "Don't you want to eliminate audience noise during the performance?"
Your first inquiry in these situations should probably be with the company that supplies your web conferencing/webcasting software. Some vendors have an in-house staff of event specialists who can come on site to take care of the mechanical aspects. But be careful… These people may only be experienced with running the webcast software and not with the equipment and audio analysis needs involved in setting up audio and video gear. Other webcast vendors maintain relationships with service providers and can either subcontract the services or point you to a reputable contact.
But what happens if you need to find a local provider yourself? I was able to point my caller to a wonderful online resource. I'll tell you about it as well, along with my standard disclaimer that I have no business relationship with them, have not been provided with any incentives for mentioning them, and can't really speak for the accuracy or quality of their listings.
www.productionhub.com features a directory of service providers who focus on various aspects of event production. Use the navigation bar at the top of the page to "Find Crew & Vendors" then "Search Company / Vendor Profiles." There is a category with "Live Event Production Services" that includes all the things you could ever need for your event setup and operation. If you dig down to the sub-category of "Streaming Media" you will find companies who concentrate on web-based events so you get people who understand the needs of a webcast.
The directory lets you narrow your search to a geographic area, and most listings seem to be for the US and Canada.
If you have experience using this resource and can speak to its effectiveness in solving your event services needs, I would love to hear from you!