Surviving your experience with an audio guy at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

All Things Audio
Everything Audio, from acquisition to postproduction.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 21st, 2012, 04:52 PM   #1
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 1,682
Surviving your experience with an audio guy

What happens when an outside video guy walks into a ballroom to shoot a conference? Probably should go in wedding/event section but here it goes.

Some of my points here should be plain common sense, but I still see it happen all the time. Other comments are just the plain honest truth. Most of it is satirical humor.

My production company specializes in corporate audio visual productions/technical direction with an emphasis on video production. I have run live audio for many years, with that said I will also tell you I am not a true A-1. When we do a show with the proper budget I am the guy that hires the A-1. I also fill just about every role there is on the video side of things (my favorite roles). We live in the live show ballroom environment.
So here is the scenario. You (the video guy) gets a call from a meeting planner to show up and record her live event. No problem, it will be easy, right? She even tells you it does not have to be perfect from start to finish so she will only pay for one camera. And no post production. You’re in a bad place already. We have all had those clients that believe everything will be perfect because we are PROFESSIONAL videographers and we have fancy looking cameras. Right? Chances are the planner will be disappointed with anything less than perfection anyway.
Now, the real reason you got the call is because I, or someone like me, already gave her a quote for two cameras, two ops, a video engineer on a switch, and all the expensive stuff that goes with it. The numbers blew the meeting planners mind and budget. So there YOU are. I know all this because I fill both roles. You, the good guy, walks into the ballroom without a clue about thy dynamics of the situation. No problem. You are self sufficient; all you need is a feed from the audio guy. That is where the trouble starts.
There is four guys in a back corner of the room sitting at tables on a riser (with headsets on that will later be used to make you the blunt of AV humor) and almost hidden by the black drape that IS hiding hundreds of feet of cable spaghetti (I’ll get to that). It is seven AM, sixty to thirty minutes before show time (big mistake). You walk up to the guy sitting behind the audio consol and say something like “Hey I need you to give me sound for my camera” (big mistake). “It has to be mic level, I’ll be over there, drop me a line” and you walk away (big mistake).
I am not going to lecture anyone on good communication skills, this is not a lecture, it is supposed to be black humor but I see it happen all the time. Now I, the producer or technical director, who just watched this interaction take place, is thinking “this is going to get ugly and fun to watch!” You the video guy, has just made demands to an overworked, sleep deprived, audio premadona. He and the other guys have spent most of the last twenty four hours building that show, your client is THEIR client and the client probably forgot to even mention you were showing up. They have been through one scheduled rehearsal and two unscheduled rehearsals that went on until one in the morning. At which time the client made multiple changes to the show and room. That kept the technicians there until four AM. There are two other guys standing there that are not technicians, they are presenters having the graphics guy make last minute changes to his PowerPoint slides that were already loaded into the final decks. It is now thirty minutes before kickoff and you showed up without your own XLR cable and no DI Box, and oh yea, your camera only has an eighth inch input and you don’t have a 1/8 to XLR adaptor cable. No problem, the audio guy is there for that, right. Wrong again. It is a lose lose scenario.
So how does this get fixed?

Number one: Show up early. That will fix most of the problems right there. The last hour before a show kicks off is stressful and crazy. You will get the least amount of cooperation at that time. Technicians are the first ones in the room, find out what time their tech call is and be there then. Or better yet, ask the meeting planner if there is a scheduled rehearsal. Show up before that. Everyone wins and there are no surprises about the show.

Number Two: Be prepared. The audio guys only responsibility is to make an audio signal available to you. It is not his job to provide you with cables, adaptors, and a DI Box. He might do it if your there early but he will probably not do it thirty minutes before the show. Chances are very good that you are going to get a line level signal from him. If your camera only takes mic level you should have a DI Box in your kit. It should go without saying, but your 20 DB pad will not save you.

Number Three: Tell the audio guy what you want. Don’t tell him how to do it, he won’t listen anyway.

Number Four: Don’t commit the cardinal sin. Never, never ,never, reach across that drape and touch the board unless you are asked to do so. I am one of the best guys you could hope to find at the board because I am a video guy. I will go out of my way to help you. If you start messing with cable connections or settings I will probably stab you in the hand!

Number Five: Even though you have the same client, it IS their room and they may act like it. I have written about a worst case scenario here for fun. AV guys and audio guys are just like video guys. Be professional and everyone gets along.

Number Six: You want and need a clean program signal from him. But don’t count on it. Have you own back up audio recording system in place.
This was just a fun look at audio guys and video guys in the ballroom, with a few tips. It is obviously not a tutorial on recording the signal. But what is the best way to do that. Use an aux send so every source can be adjusted at rehearsal. It is also the riskiest. Good luck getting that if you’re an outside guy!

Steve
__________________
www.CorporateShow.com
Been at this so long I'm rounding my years of experience down...not up!
Steven Digges is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 21st, 2012, 05:22 PM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 6,609
Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

Heh, Yep! Been there, done that both good and bad and on both sides. I knew right where you were going after the first couple of sentences and all I can say is AMEN BROTHER! Good call!
__________________
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
Don
Don Bloom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 21st, 2012, 07:35 PM   #3
Trustee
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 1,177
Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

Excellent stuff. I've been there on both sides as well and agree absolutely with everything you said.

Perhaps we should publish a couple of recommended audio connection kit specs. A "dream kit" with everything we've ever needed, and a "minimum kit" below which you shouldn't be so presumptuous as to call yourself a professional.
Richard Crowley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 21st, 2012, 07:37 PM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia (formerly Winnipeg, Manitoba) Canada
Posts: 4,087
Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

While Steven makes some good points, I'll take issue with the statement "The audio guys only responsibility is to make an audio signal available to you."

MANY video guys make this assumption. Unless the technical rider SPECIFICALLY requests an audio feed for cameras, it ISN'T their job. If they accommodate you AT ALL, consider yourself lucky.

Their job is to provide room sound and whatever is on the technical rider for the show.

The board they have supplied MAY only have the requisite outputs for THEIR show. Not every gig has a 32 channel Soundcraft for a single podium mic. Which is why it is so important to be involved EARLY and carry adaptors, converters and DI boxes as Steven suggests. Even then, you may not be accommodated at all.

I carry a TON of extra audio gear on every conference/convention shoot for exactly that reason... my audio kit is pretty comprehensive but every now and again even with all that, I get stymied.

Which is why Steven's Numbers 1 & 6 are so important. Thanks for sharing.
__________________
Shaun C. Roemich Road Dog Media - Vancouver, BC - Videographer - Webcaster
www.roaddogmedia.ca Blog: http://roaddogmedia.wordpress.com/

Last edited by Shaun Roemich; December 21st, 2012 at 11:29 PM.
Shaun Roemich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 21st, 2012, 07:48 PM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 310
Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

Video guy here, +1 for a kit outline ;p
James Palanza is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 21st, 2012, 08:03 PM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia (formerly Winnipeg, Manitoba) Canada
Posts: 4,087
Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

My list off the top of my head:

Y-Splits: (2 or more of each)

XLRF - 2 x XLRM
1/4" TRS-M - 2 x 1/4" TRS-F
1/4" TRS-M - 2 x 1/4" TS-F (also called an "insert cable")

Gender Turn arounds

XLRM - XLRM
XLRF - XLRF
RCA-F - RCA-F
1/4" TRS-F - 1/4" TRS-F

Adaptors

1/4" TRS-M - XLRF
1/4" TRS-M - XLRM
1/4" TS-M - RCA-M
XLRM - TRS-F
RCA-M - XLRF
XLRM - RCA-F
1/4" TS-M - XLRF
3.5mm TRS-M - 2 x RCA male (cable)
3.5mm TRS-M - 1/4" TRS-F
1/4" TRS-M - 3.5mm TRS-F

Impedence

Whirlwind IMP2

Cables

1/4" TRS-M - 1/4" TRS-M (18", 6' and 25')
1/4" TS-M - 1/4" TS-M (18", 6' and 25')
XLRF - XLRM (18", 6' and 25' lengths + 50' and 100' on some gigs)
RCA-M - RCA-M (18", 6" lengths)
3.5mm TRS-M - 3.5mm TRS-F (for extending headphones and laptop audio feeds)

Small Mix Pad
Behringer XENYX802 or similar JUST IN CASE...

ADDENDUM: I also carry some miscellaneous bitz for "unbalancing" stereo 1/4" and 3.5mm outputs before inserting them into balanced or unbalanced XLR runs...

ADDENDUM 2: strangely absent is a vari-pad which strangely, I have never needed in 14 years but I always mean to go buy... nor do I carry humbuckers. My Whirlwinds DO have ground lifts which I use on occasion...

ADDENDUM 3: I sometimes build "combo cables" out of component parts and gender turnarounds as needed...

ADDENDUM 4: an audio kit is only as good as the knowledge of the operators involved... it is REALLY easy to mess up line/mic/consumer line/stereo/balanced/unbalanced and end up with no audio, distorted audio, faint audio...

ADDENDUM 5: it is also important to know where your feed is coming from... I OFTEN ask for a Main Mix/Front of House mix if I can safely assume that additional sources may be added over the course of the run of a show... the audio tech MAY forget to add a laptop audio feed to the Aux send he/she is giving you, leaving you with nothing... having said that, an Aux send means that you can get more or less signal without "interfering" with the FoH mix... Sometimes, I actually get my own matrix feed, depending on the venue...
__________________
Shaun C. Roemich Road Dog Media - Vancouver, BC - Videographer - Webcaster
www.roaddogmedia.ca Blog: http://roaddogmedia.wordpress.com/

Last edited by Shaun Roemich; December 21st, 2012 at 08:36 PM.
Shaun Roemich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 21st, 2012, 09:37 PM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Chicago, Illinois USA
Posts: 660
Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

I may forget my name sometimes, but I won't forget Steven's post!
Jonathan Levin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 21st, 2012, 11:42 PM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 310
Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

Man what a great thread for info. Love this website, ive learned more things about tech outside of my field here than anywhere else.
James Palanza is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 22nd, 2012, 03:10 AM   #9
Trustee
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Cornsay Durham UK
Posts: 1,941
Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

and that is why you need an audio guy as part of your video shooting crew, to make sure that the audio for your video reflects what you need not what the PA company is doing for their front of house sound.

The needs of video and broadcast as far greater than a PA or conferencing company usually provide and you need a sound guy to make sure all the buzzes are sorted out and that what you get is useable and not just some audio provided as a courtesy feed.

An audio guy will also have the interface boxes required and will also be able to guide the PA guys into giving useable feeds or even splts that can be mixed seperately to suit the video production.
__________________
Over 15 minutes in Broadcast Film and TV production: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1044352/
Gary Nattrass is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 22nd, 2012, 04:10 AM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Belgium
Posts: 9,068
Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

Every year I have to cover a big business event which also includes a lot of presentations, It's the 5th year I did this now and I remember very clearly the very first time I did that (with hardly any experience in these type of events) where I asked to late for a feed, then discovered the sound was distorted and had to ask the sound guy when the event was live if he could fix it but he couldn't leaving me with unusable sound. I did have a backup at a soundspeaker which didn't sound good but it saved me from disaster.

This year during preplanning the organisator brought me in contact through mail with the audio guys, I asked if I could get a live feed for my Tascam recorder and that it could accept a line or mic level and told them where I was planning to stand with my camera. The day of the event I was there early during sound check so the audio guys could spend a few minutes for me to check the levels and all I needed to do was to plug in the xlr cable. Then I got clean and very usable sound. Lesson learned.. :)
Noa Put is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 22nd, 2012, 04:46 AM   #11
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Boca Raton, FL
Posts: 2,979
Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

I do both roles. Every time I run FOH, I leave a line level XLR sitting there in case anyone shows up to do video. It may not be the proper behavior for a primadona but it is a professional thing to do. You are ensuring the success of the event for your client within the bounds of your role. It's much easier to handle XLR to Camera issues in the 60 minutes before a show than to start from scratch.
Les Wilson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 22nd, 2012, 06:05 AM   #12
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: London, UK
Posts: 792
Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

The last time I recorded a live concert we agreed that the audio guy would save the audio to a usb stick.
He gave me the stick and apologised for having missed the first five minutes.
However, he had completely messed up and had recorded the first five minutes ONLY!
I had a stereo mic mounted on the camera as one back up and also two microphones working as a stereo pair into a mixer and sound recorder as the second backup, which saved the day.
You can't have too many backups :-)
Thank you Shaun for your list. It's priceless.
__________________
http://www.gooderick.com
Richard Gooderick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 22nd, 2012, 06:46 AM   #13
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: switzerland
Posts: 2,131
Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

why the hell a video guy would rely on the audio guy ?
Your job is to get picture AND sound on the tape, so you have to come with all what is necessary to get your job done.
Usually i come in an event with ZERO ressource assumption, when even a main plug is sometime impossible to get.

So , everthing must be running on battery, for at least twice he duration of the show.
Sound is wireless, because there are chance you wont even get the chance to install a cable.
Everthing is doubled (even if you will not use it, or if the B-cam is your iphone)
The problem solver box is mandatory with all adapters and cables required for in and out. (remember when the guy pops at last minute to get the live video feed in the room next door.)
And usually also, i come as late as possible before the show, so i am sure every thing is set for sure.
(remember when you place your tripod at the best place in an empty room, to discover it is in fact the worst place when audience filled the room ?)

If you have to rely on something, this must be specified with the meeting planner the first time you see him.
Giroud Francois is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 22nd, 2012, 08:52 AM   #14
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Posts: 2,323
Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
While Steven makes some good points, I'll take issue with the statement "The audio guys only responsibility is to make an audio signal available to you."

MANY video guys make this assumption. Unless the technical rider SPECIFICALLY requests an audio feed for cameras, it ISN'T their job. If they accommodate you AT ALL, consider yourself lucky.

Their job is to provide room sound and whatever is on the technical rider for the show.

The board they have supplied MAY only have the requisite outputs for THEIR show. Not every gig has a 32 channel Soundcraft for a single podium mic. Which is why it is so important to be involved EARLY and carry adaptors, converters and DI boxes as Steven suggests. Even then, you may not be accommodated at all.

I carry a TON of extra audio gear on every conference/convention shoot for exactly that reason... my audio kit is pretty comprehensive but every now and again even with all that, I get stymied.

Which is why Steven's Numbers 1 & 6 are so important. Thanks for sharing.
You are correct, sir!

Regards,

Ty Ford
Ty Ford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 22nd, 2012, 10:28 AM   #15
Trustee
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: New York
Posts: 1,844
Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

Same as Richard -- "I've been there on both sides as well and agree absolutely with everything you said"
- Note: Addendum 4- It amasses me how many working techs don't know basic operating levels. (mic, -10, +4dB)

PS- I never leave home w/o a few iso transformers.
Rick Reineke is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:01 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network