Case study: McGrath Awards 2018

22 August 2018 | Events Technology


This post first appeared on Event Birdie.


The annual McGrath Awards Dinner 2018 attended by 850 guests at Sydney’s Fox Studios in July was a resounding success.

From the event management and production to the styling and catering, the client was blown away by the end result.

But what we want to take a closer look at for this particular event is that ceiling feature. Not only does it look amazing, but it served an important purpose too. Let’s take a closer look at how we met the production brief for this visually stunning gala event.


Photo: Campaign Track


The Event

The McGrath Awards 2018. A gala dinner style event held annually to acknowledge and reward the company’s top performers. This year was a special celebration as it marked McGrath Estate Agent’s 30th birthday.


The Brief

In regards to production there were a few key requirements including;

  • Create an exciting reveal from the pre-function area to the dining hall
  • Create a sense of intimacy for all guests
  • Design custom on-brand graphics for the award presentation
  • Arrange pyrotechnics and confetti for headline performances and to celebrate McGrath’s 30th Birthday
Photo: Campaign Track


The Solution

In order to create intimacy in the huge space, we needed to lower the perceived ceiling height in the dining hall. For this to be effective, we knew that it had to do two things, it had to occupy a huge volume in the air and it had to feel close to all guests.

So we designed an intricate web of festoon lighting. A total of 1800 individual lights, on 30 strings, each 45m long were suspended across the ceiling to create a sensational effect.

The lights were all programmable to allow the production team to create movements across the room and change the atmosphere throughout the night at the touch of a button (or two).

The net result was that due to the depth of the installation it seemed like wherever you were looking at it from in the room, you were looking through a grid that was not just a lot of long strings but rather a dense volume installation.


Photo: Campaign Track


For the reveal, we installed a 6m tall white crushed velvet drape which separated the pre-function area from the dining area. On a music cue, a 12m Kabuki section of the drape dropped to reveal the dining area. (For the uninitiated, a Kabuki drop is a swift and sudden reveal with drapes that drop to the floor to expose hidden elements. Check out the highlights video below for a quick glimpse.)

Designing custom graphics is bread and butter for our media team. We revelled in creating a seamless and professional awards ceremony that could have rivalled the Logies.


Photo: Lucy Alcorn


We were also on hand to capture the event’s best moments, including red carpet interviews, and produce a highlights video to continue engagement with the audience post event.

And to celebrate turning 30? We took no time at all in engaging Howard & Sons to install the pyrotechnics and confetti cannons. This included installing a row of shower fireworks that ran the width of the stage to go off during the highlight of the headline performance.

Confetti cannons were installed too on either side of stage, showering guests in purple and pink confetti (to match the event décor) when the Birthday celebrations occurred.


Photo: Campaign Track


Other noteworthy elements of the event included a red carpet arrival, Hollywood searchlights and gobos for framing the entrance outside, and a performance by Paulini.

And of course, it’s a given; state of the art sound, vision, lighting and personnel to manage the production.


The Feedback

When you watch the highlights video you get an immediate sense that the event was enjoyed by all. The happy, smiling faces are proof enough that the event was a resounding success.

A big round of applause goes to our wonderful client Nichola Byrne and her team at McGrath, along with her well selected suppliers for such an amazing job.


In Nichola’s words…

The McGrath Awards Night is the highlight of our events calendar and this year’s event truly blew all expectations out of the ballpark.

An event this size takes a village and months of planning to ensure a seamless and flawless execution. For this reason supplier selection is an integral part of our event planning. AV1’s team are professionals with a proven track record for success, who also understand our company and the standards we expect.

They’re fantastic, and we wouldn’t have had the success we had without each and every one of the dedicated professionals that worked on the event.

Year on year we are expected to raise the bar and reinvent the event, a challenge that can seem daunting, but with the team of wizards we have, I know that challenge will be met, if not smashed, when the next event rolls around.

Huge thank you to the other suppliers involved in pulling this event together:

Venue | Fox Studios Australia
Styling & décor | Divine Events
Catering | Laissez-faire
Fireworks | Howards & Sons
Photography | Lucy Alcorn
Artwork design & photography | Campaign Track
Logistics management | Event Advisers
Entertainment | Dane Laboyrie Band
Entertainment | Jelly Bean Jam
Entertainment management | AV360 & Paulini Curuenavuli
Printing, place cards & menus | NEO

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