iPhone in Business

Showcall

“The iPhone has enabled us to respond to our clients in a very rapid fashion, giving us a competitive edge in this marketplace.”

Ajay Patil, Founder

Large-scale event production goes mobile with iPhone.

With logistics that include sets, sound, lighting, audio, video, and even special effects, Showcall Inc produces high profile, large scale events with ease, thanks in part to iPhone.

Whether its a papal mass for 47,000 people; the opening ceremony at a presidential inauguration; or political summits, such as the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC., Showcall needs to stay on top of every aspect of the production process.

“Our tagline is ‘Plan, communicate, execute,’” says Showcall Co-Founder Blayne Candy. “I’m delighted with the iPhone because I can do all of that—plan, communicate, and actually execute and deliver products to my clients—just by using the iPhone.”

Instant, onsite feedback

One venue where iPhone really shines for Showcall is at event sites during the pre-production phase. With the help of several ingenious apps, Candy and his team can make on-the-spot calculations about the space, which allows them to give their clients instant answers to technical and equipment questions.

Take, for example, an app called Light Calc. “Typically when you’re onsite conceptualizing, a client turns to you and says, ‘How many lights will we need?’” Candy explains. “I can go into the app and pick the type of fixture and how far away the fixture is from a subject,” Candy says, “and Light Calc will tell me how bright the light will be.”

With that information, Candy can instantly give the client an estimated light count. “I don’t have to say, ‘Well, let me get back to the office, and we’ll work up some drawings, and I’ll get back to you,’” he says. “I can deliver real-time, useful feedback instantaneously onsite at a very preliminary stage in the design concept.”

The same is true for PowerCalc, which Ajay Patil uses to calculate power, volts, watts, and amps. “That’s very important to our business,” he says, “in terms of giving our clients a sense of what costs may be coming down the road for their event.”

And an app called Lens Calculator Pro makes similar calculations for video projection. Candy can input the distance between his projector and the screen and instantly learn how big of an image he can get. Or he can input the size of the image he wants, and the app will calculate what type of lens he needs.

Pana is another app that helps Showcall speed the production process. “Using the camera on iPhone, we can take a number of images of a venue and stitch them together into one complete image,” Candy says. “Then we email those to our client and our designers back at the office, who can instantly begin work on design concepts and technical schematics.”

Seeing the sound

When he’s ready to manage the sound at an event site, Showcall Chief Audio Engineer Mike Scarfe fires up iPhone.

“There are a number of apps known as Real Time Analyzers,” he says. “I use one called FFT. And it allows me to walk up to a speaker, hold my iPhone in front of it, and get a brilliant visual of what’s basically going on with the sound system.”

That’s extremely useful feedback, Scarfe says. “You can go up into the seats, or to the back of the hall, or sit in the front row, and visually see what you’re hearing, and control the relative levels of speakers in those areas.”

The Showcall production crew also uses Apple Remote to cue voiceovers. “With the iPhone,” Candy says, “I can be anywhere in that event site, standing with my client. When they want a specific voiceover to be announced, I can cue it up and play it back. I don’t have to talk to the audio engineer or run to the audio console.”

“When I’m on a job site, the iPhone is an extension of my office. I’m completely in touch with everything that’s going on.”

Running the business

For help with day-to-day business management, Patil is a fan of Dropbox, an app that can access his data stored in the cloud, from anywhere in the world he might be. Like so much else about iPhone, it helps him respond quickly, both internally and to clients.

“We were finishing up a 10-city tour for a client,” he says. “We were webcasting their entire series of events, and we told them we would have their files ready within a couple hours. With Dropbox on the iPhone, I could stand right there with the client and show them that the files had been posted.”

When he meets new people, Candy uses WorldCard Mobile on iPhone to instantly transform them into contacts. “You can take a picture of someone’s business card, and it immediately exports all of that content right into your contacts,” he says. “So when I get back from a trip, I no longer have to pull 50 business cards out of my pocket, sort through them, and manually input the information.”

Candy sees more apps in his future. “I have an ‘aha’ moment every time I go to the app store,” he says. “Because I feel like there’s somebody out there making these apps specifically for me.”

As a result, his iPhone experience is always evolving. “I find that the more applications it has, the more it can do, so the more I use it,” he says. “Every day, the iPhone gets better and better and better.”

Winning business with iPhone

When iPhone first came out, Showcall Co-Founder Blayne Candy came up with an ingenious way to use it. “We were pitching to seven people in a Fortune 100 corporation,” he says. “So we went out and bought seven extra iPhones. And then we loaded our entire Keynote presentation in a QuickTime file onto each phone, including music and graphics we intended to use at the event. All of our competitors had stacks of printed renderings that piled up on the desks, but our prospects walked into a perfectly clean room with one iPhone sitting in front of them. And when we delivered our Keynote presentation, they were able to follow along on the iPhone. We won that piece of business hands down, and they’re still a client of ours today.”

Apps on the edge

In the high-profile events industry, it’s important to innovate—and iPhone is always innovating. Blayne Candy explains. “In an industry like ours, you strive to show people something they haven’t seen before. One of the things that I love about the iPhone is that every day, somebody’s out there developing a new application. And I feel like they’re developing them just for me. Because every time I go to that app store, I find something new that I can use with a client, or personally, or when I’m traveling, or sitting in my car in traffic.”

Company Info

  • 35 employees
  • Halethorpe, Maryland
  • www.showcallusa.com
  • Showcall once produced the largest outdoor speech that a sitting American president had given—in the Republic of Georgia, with 250,000 attendees.

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