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Don’t confuse “easier” with “easy,” though. Building a production is something of a symphony and takes a lot of effort to get all the sections working in concert. “What does it take to actually design a show? It starts with sitting down with your clients and getting information, trying to read into what they’re seeing and envisioning for their event and then trying to put something on paper,” said Evans, who explained that mapping out staging in CAD software is one of the first steps. Then it gets technical. How big is the stage? Because that affects lighting. How big is the audience? Because that affects sound. And both of those need rigging, which means figuring out how many trusses there are and how much weight they’re holding. Is there a video component? How will it be displayed? “You work on each aspect of that idea and break it up into subcategories. And then once you get all of that information together, it goes back over to technical to figure out what kind of power requirements it’s going to draw, things like that,” Evans said. It that sounds fun, well, it is. But a lot of people show up looking for a job with the idea that it will be “fun,” with little understanding of the real work that goes into it, said Evans. “For this field, it starts with passion. You have to have passion for the trade. If you don’t have passion, you won’t have key things like reliability,” he said. Reliability matters because it’s not a typical 9-to-5 job. “This is a field where you may work three weeks straight and with very little sleep for a one-week period during that time,” he said. “Even with a threeday show, the week immediately before is planning, packing, pre-wiring, doing all this stuff to make sure the show happens.”

It’s also physically taxing with lots of lifting and hauling, Browning added. Then there’s nothing quite like showing up for an event and finding out the firmware of the lighting console has been updated and you no longer know how to work it. You’ve got to be able to think fast, Evans said. “It takes someone who’s looking forward, always looking for change and is adaptable to change.” Beyond that, Evans and Browning advised anyone interested in the field to have a good grounding in production concepts. “Learn the basics,” said Browning. “Learn what a DMX is and how to address it. Learn about profiles. Know how many DMX channels a fixture takes. You can apply that across all the different consoles. You should know what scenes are.” The good news for people who do know their stuff is that there’s work out there. “My dad used to say it’s hard to find a good diesel mechanic. Well, it’s a lot

harder to find a good audio engineer, I can tell you that,” said Evans. Part of the difficulty, from a hiring standpoint, is that it’s a field where people tend to find a home and stay there. “You have to find somebody at the beginning of their journey, snag ‘em up, teach ‘em the ropes and try to keep them,” said Evans. Study up, watch YouTube (“it has some amazing videos” on sound design, Evans said), but don’t forget to go do, the professionals said. Work with a production company (especially a fullservice company, even though there aren’t many) just loading and toting gear, but ask to observe the technical stuff, too. Volunteer to run sound at church, but don’t forget to try to find other venues, because it takes all types of experience, Evans said. “If you take a church sound guy and you put him out on the road doing a tour, it doesn’t work. And if you take a tour person and you try to put them in the church, that doesn’t work either. So it’s trying to find that right person who can really work with everything and everybody. That’s really the tough part.” Being on top of tech makes getting hired a lot easier, though. Evans noted that for 50 years, not much changed in the audio and lighting production world. Then came the computer revolution. “Evolution is happening throughout the industry, and computers have changed everything,” he said, describing networked systems that not only allow for real-time monitoring, but more efficient control of lights and sound. Being comfortable in that environment is a big plus, he said, because, like EAST, it’s a tech-driven world that rarely slows down. n Editor’s note: To see Sound Logic in action, visit the EAST Conference awards gala 7 p.m. March 15, at the Hot Springs Convention Center. Tickets are available on site for $15. The event will also stream live on the EAST Initiative YouTube channel. WINTER 2017 | EAST QUARTERLY


Winter 2017 EQ  

The quarterly magazine of the EAST Initiative.

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