Tag Archives: CEO

Evan Williams Receives StudioDaily 50 Award at NAB 2017

LAS VEGAS, NV – April 25, 2017 — At an awards presentation held at the 2017 NAB Show, Evan Williams, CEO/Co-Founder of Riverview Systems Group, Inc., Milpitas, Calif., was named a StudioDaily 50 award honoree. The award sponsored by StudioDaily – the leading news site for independent filmmakers, directors, producers, cinematographers, editors, visual effects and motion graphics artists and a wide array of technologists working in production and post – honors a cross section of influential creative professionals whose leadership exemplifies innovative thinking.

Riverview Systems Group is the award-winning full-service provider of engaging and innovative live events that specializes in the rental, sale, design, installation and implementation of lighting, sound and video systems for corporate, retail, museum and educational markets.

According to Bryant Frazer, editor, StudioDaily, the magazine’s editorial team asked for nominations and also did their own sleuthing to create a list that recognizes excellence across the board, from high-end feature filmmaking to ground-level B2B productions, in a variety of disciplines.

Evan Willaims, CEO, Riverview Systems Group

“The StudioDaily 50 pays tribute to creatives, technologists, executives and others who exemplify the boundary-pushing spirit of innovation that drives our industry forward in their day-to-day work. In that spirit, we’re delighted to honor Evan’s contributions by including him in this year’s StudioDaily 50 list,” Frazer said.

With 30 years and counting under its belt, Riverview Systems Group is known for its creative and technical service support of corporate events, trade and award shows in the video, audio, and lighting disciplines, and has been the recipient of numerous industry awards including an Infocomm/L&SA Magazine Staged Event Award in both 2010 and 2011. Evan holds a Bachelors degree in Accounting and Finance, as well as Theatre Technology, and a Master’s degree in Lighting Design and Theatre Technology. In addition, he is a member of IATSE and an adjunct member of Infocomm’s Rental and Staging Council, and has been the Production Director on the PLASA Board of Directors since 2009; and held faculty and staff positions at Indiana University, as well as San Jose State University, continuing the growth and evolution of the entertainment industry through education.

Additionally, Evan has designed over 600 Theatrical and Industrial productions since 1982, and has been the Production Stage Manager for events such as the DGA Honors, the Gotham Awards for Bravo Television and the Opening ceremonies for the premiere of the Tribeca Film Festival in 2002.

“I’m delighted to be among this year’s honorees of the StudioDaily 50 award,” said Williams. “For the past thirty years Riverview has strived to deliver innovation on every level — from our technology to our talented staff — and I’m pleased to accept this award on behalf of the entire Riverview Systems Group team.”

A profile of Williams and the other StudioDaily 50 list of award winners is now available here.

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Sneak Peak At Latest Barco Technology

I recently had the good fortune of spending an amazing week in Tahoe with our friends from Barco who previewed their latest projection and visualization technology including razor-sharp 4K UDX Laser Projectors, which offer stunning experiences in terms of color, resolution, and processing, combined with savings on installation, shipping time and asset management.

At Riverview, we continually strive to stay on top of A/V trends, and the UDX solution is impressive. Particularly exciting is the introduction of short-throw right-angle lenses for the HDX and UDX platform. In my opinion, the two new lenses, a fixed 37mm, and a .65 – .85 zoom are game changers.  

The technology is not what we have seen previously, where the short-throw is based on direct mirror bounce, but rather a true 90° right angle pair of lenses. This allows the ability to stack redundant back-ups, and place your large-venue projectors at distances never before imagined in a short throw environment.

The geometry and range of lens shift we witnessed were truly spectacular.  

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Evan Williams: In Conversation

2017 marks our 30 years in business. Riverview has enjoyed a slow and steady climb from our first client – a local laundromat chain – to our current perch as the go-to live event producer for some of the best-known brands, including Facebook, Google, Cisco, Intuit, Symantec and much more.

We caught up with our CEO and Co-founder Evan Williams, who talked about the company’s start and decisions made that now seem particularly prescient, especially the early 90s show in Philadelphia that looking back in hindsight set the company on its current run of success.

Q: Let us go back to the beginning. When did the company officially open?

Evan: Officially, we “opened” in a pool house garage on N. 5th street in San Jose in July 1987. We moved to a “real” building, an 1800 square foot incubator space at 1266 Alma Court, San Jose, in October of the same year.

Q: Do you remember your first client?

Evan: Our first client was a chain of laundromats called Oasis.  We installed large screens and projectors so people could watch TV while they did their laundry. There were 4 or 5 of them in the South Bay.

Q: What do you remember most from your first year in business?

Evan: We just wanted to do good work, and we had no money to grow. We didn’t want to take on any debt, so we paid ourselves almost nothing. Our second customer was Santa Clara University and 30 years later we still do an enormous amount of work for them. Both live events and all of their new building integration and upgrades.

Q: How has the company grown in the last 30 years, and more importantly how did you manage growth into other areas?

Evan: We grew very organically. We had some core customers and got into trade show support by way of a referral in 1991. It was difficult to compete in the larger event staging market as we grew our personnel and equipment inventory, but we fooled everyone for quite awhile. We certainly made some mistakes along the way, like getting into the retail pro audio market for 5 minutes, but we cut our losses and concentrated on what we were doing best.

Q: What was your “turning point” project? A particular project or client that challenged the company in the way it hadn’t before in which you exceeded the client’s vision (and perhaps your own)?

Evan: Besides the early 1990s trade show business that we put a lot of our efforts into, we had a client called Microfocus, long since defunct, that put their faith in us to produce two major conferences, in 1994 and 1995. The first was in San Francisco at the Masonic Auditorium; the other was in Philadelphia. It set us on a course and awareness that we could do this sort of high profile work, as well if not better than others in the marketplace.

Q: What’s the best business advice you ever got?

Evan: Probably two tidbits: Never sell your receivables – it’s called factoring, where you sell your receivables to the bank for a percentage. It never ends well if you don’t have good cash flow.  The second was to never rest on your laurels, meaning don’t ever be complacent. There’s a saying: “You’re only as good as your last show.”  In reality, it’s more like “you’re only as good as the show you are executing right now!”

Q: Looking back, anything you would have done differently? Anything you wish you knew then that you know now?

Evan: We never thought that we would grow this company to the international force that we are now, but there was never a question that we would succeed.  As I said, there were mistakes along the way, but we have built a business that has grown many lives and supports a vast customer base.  I guess I would say that it was never harder than we thought it would be.

Q: Has your measurement of success changed over the last 30 years? Is it all about the numbers, or are there other metrics you use to define success now?

Evan: Of course it had to be about numbers at a certain point. That said, I had an accounting degree and Chris, my partner, and I did everything, including freelance work outside the company as designers and production managers, so we could put it all back into the business. There are numerous projects where we charged a little less, or even donated services, just so we could be involved in an innovative project. There has never been a time or a client where that wasn’t the right move, either for business or employee’s personal growth. It will always be that way here.

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Spring 2016 Event Production Trends

You hear it all the time, content is king.  No surprise there, but more often this year than ever before content is driving production design, rather than the other way around.  Clients demand wide aspect ratios and display technologies to fit with their content desires and formats, and we as content providers have to muster the design acumen and technologies to make it happen.

So what are the current trends for the live event production industry? Here are a few that we’re seeing.

LED technology:  As LED light sources get brighter and more consistent, it won’t be long before our lighting inventory, both automated and conventional, will all be LED-based.  ETC [RE1] just released their retrofit LED engine for the Source 4 Ellipsoidal spotlight, the industry standard in conventional profile fixtures, and while it’s not as bright as we would all like it to be, yet, it’s a welcome solution to convert our vast inventory of Source 4’s to LED technology sooner than later.  I expect that by 2018 sometime, our entire lighting inventory, numbering some 800 units, will all be LED driven.

Event Execution: For clients, great concepts are one thing but executing is quite another. More and more, we are welcoming clients to the Riverview fold who have been referred to us by their colleagues because of our reputation for extreme execution and event satisfaction.  Regularly we will get a call or an email from someone we don’t know who wants to talk about their client’s needs and how we can help them be successful.

High fiber media diet: Up until recently, the use of fiber technology to distribute signal paths has been primarily used in the IT and video disciplines, and often for permanent installation and systems integration solutions.  In the last year or two at most, it has become an almost ubiquitous technology for distributing high resolution video signals long distances to projectors and LED walls, as well as transmitting hundreds of pristine audio channels via the Dante protocol and enabled hardware. Now in 2016 we see regular use of fiber networks to distribute production lighting system protocols across a whole venue to support multiple universes of DMX, RDM, and Artnet protocols.  All of the disciplines using fast, efficient light pipe networks, and we now provide it all.

These are just some of the trends we are seeing, but there are certainly more that have the potential to drive our business in new and exciting ways in 2016, such as increased use of mobile apps that tie into events, multi-channel live streaming to global audiences and increasingly more conceptual/creative service demands. We are also encouraged by the Inc. Magazine research that includes dozens of exhibition and event industry suppliers in its list of the fastest growing privately owned companies in the country in 2015, signaling overall steady growth in the industry.

It will be interesting to watch as these trends unfold as the year progresses. What trends are you seeing?

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