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A Newbie Behind the Scenes: My First Time on Headset!

May 22, 2018 Author: admin Category: Getting Technical with Event A/V, Slide, Technisch Creative Behind the Scenes  0 Comments

I’ve worked as an event planner since the early 1990’s, producing fundraising, corporate and social events, but the technical production side has always been a mystery to me. When venues asked me about my a/v requirements, I never quite knew what I needed, and I definitely had no idea what those wizards in black in the tech booth were up to!

Since I’m always up to learn new things, I was thrilled when Heidi said I could listen in on comm at an awards dinner Technisch was producing with their partner, Zoom.7. I got there early to meet all the players so I could put a face with a voice at showtime. Keith was manning the audio backstage and showed me the Voice of God mic that the announcer uses to let everyone know what’s coming next. He had all the lavalier mics lined up and numbered so he’d be ready to get people mic’d up at the right time before they hit the stage.

Jim was in his usual position at the main sound board, playing peppy tunes to get everyone pumped up while the team put finishing touches on the setup. He explained how he mixes in the microphone audio with music to keep the show flowing. Under the direction of producer, Scott Thompson of Zoom.7, the team got to know the players pretty well, and matched music to fit their personalities.

Nancy Hart from Zoom.7 was calling the show on this night, which means she’s the big boss. All of the tech crew have headsets on, and she leads them through the show using a run of show document, which details every moment of the plan. This role takes lots of precision and calm, and intimate knowledge of each part of the process.

I watched as the team set up lights, cameras, microphones, and the row of sparkling trophies for the awards. Once everything in the room was in perfect order, Jim cued up the party music and the hotel team drew back the curtains to welcome the excited crowd, all decked in their finest and ready to celebrate. For the first hour, the tech crew’s job was just to keep the music playing and watch the progress of dinner, to determine if the timing would coincide with the awards ceremony plan. Nancy kept everyone apprised of the plan over comm, so the team was ready to go when the show began!

Nancy smoothly orchestrated each element of the awards. Even a relatively simple show like this required so many little details and instructions, and everyone had to be on point. Nancy told Keith when to have the announcer begin speaking, when to mic people up, and when to send people out onto the stage.

The video team got their cues to keep the slides moving, and they had to stay on the ball to make sure the right names came up on the screen for each award. Jim and Nancy worked together like a well-oiled machine, having rehearsed the show several times. Jim kept the music going, switching it up when he felt the room needed a bit more energy, and fading it out when people were talking.

My biggest takeaway from my first time on comm was how many details, technical elements and instructions go into what seems like a simple awards show. It was so evident that this team enjoyed working together, and the conversation on comm was friendly, fun and professional, but always focused on getting the job done right. Usually at an awards show, I’m only thinking about what people are wearing and who wins what award, and only give thought to the tech team when something goes wrong. Now that I know more about the extraordinarily complex dance that goes on behind the scenes, I’ll never watch the Gala Awards in the same way again!

 

Written by Sunshine Woodyard

Women in Event Production: Janet Taylor

May 15, 2018 Author: admin Category: Event Production Tips, Slide, Women in Event Technology  0 Comments

Janet Taylor is a powerhouse Event Producer, traveling the world to put on shows for corporations, associations, and nonprofits. Here at Technisch, we’ve loved working with her on a touring show for a cosmetics company over the last five years, and we look forward to many more projects together! Let’s get to know a little bit more about Janet.

Back in the day…

How did you get started in the industry?

I have been in theatre since I was a teenager, but I promised my father that I would get a degree “to fall back on” – so I got a B.S. (how appropriate) in Journalism with an emphasis in Radio/TV/Film.  I’ve essentially outlived the radio industry and have been able to make a living in business theatre.  I tell my friends who are still in “legit” that I usually have the advantage of much bigger budgets and the challenge of much shorter rehearsal schedules.    I’m still performing, but in a different function.  My lines are “yes, let me check on that,” and “of course, I’ll update you on the budget impact as soon as possible.”

I began my life in business theatre in 1984 when I came off the road from a tour with a professional theatre for young audiences based in Boston and took a temp secretarial job to keep the bills paid at home in Chicago.  My boss for this assignment was a national Director of Corporate Programs for Arthur Andersen & Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).  When she discovered that I had been touring as a Company Stage Manager, her eyes widened, her smile got very big and she informed me, “Your temp job ends Friday.”  Before I could ask her why she continued, “If you give me first option on your time, I’ll give you 20 hours a week at $20 an hour (I was being paid $12 by the agency), a phone, a desk and a computer.”  She taught me corporate production and I never looked back.

I’ve always seen myself saving the day.

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in technology?

My biggest personal challenge was to respond with humor and a smile when the inevitable on-site issues/muck ups/snafus occur. I was very lucky to learn those coping mechanisms early in my career.  Now, I pride myself on that skill set.  Practicing yoga helps.

How do you think women have an advantage in the technical world?

Because we are trained from childhood to be fearless, save the day and enjoy multitasking. My internal soundtrack is often the William Tell Overture or the Sabre Dance.

What is your favorite tech tool?

Either my smartphone or my netbook – I don’t know how I did my job for ten years without them in my hands at all times and I can’t really separate them – especially when the phone is my only source of wifi.

On the job!

What advice can you give to young women who would like to begin a career in production?

Keep doing it.  No matter what.  Now especially is a terrific time to join the industry and ride the upswing in business and jump in with both feet.  Find a company: an agency, a supplier of gear or services, an association, a corporate events department and begin to learn the business by doing the job.  As far as I know, the only training available is either through university theatre departments or for-profit technical schools, neither of which really teach you corporate production.  My industry-specific training was all OTJ.  I bring a great deal of added value to my projects because I have been a stagehand & technician, an event manager for a venue, and a producer/technical director/stage manager for experiential marketing agencies so I know all sides of the business.  I love mentoring with new PA’s.  My number one goal with them is the same as any show I take on — work to foster collaboration for the best show product.

 

 

Women in Event Production: Stephanie Jayko

May 08, 2018 Author: admin Category: Slide, Women in Event Technology  0 Comments

 

Stephanie Jayko is a passionate creative and an accomplished event operations/production manager who is well known for her leadership of theatrical productions and live events. She specializes in corporate event management and high-profile productions.

How did you get started in the industry?

I actually came to the events industry from having worked in theater. I went to school for, and later worked in, production technologies and management for theater. I was mostly working as a Stage and Production Manager for different companies. While I was working as the Production Coordinator for a regional theater company, I was given the task of handling the production for their annual fundraising Gala. I got to be a part of the process all the way through from design to execution. It dawned on me after my second year doing this event, that of all the productions I was working on every year, the Gala was the one I enjoyed working on the most…and it wasn’t actually a theater production, it was an EVENT. I soon after decided to leave the theater world, and have been working in the events industry ever since.

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in technology?

I’ve found the biggest challenge is getting people to take me seriously. Not only am I a woman, but I am also on the younger side. These two things put together make the uphill climb even steeper. Despite my education and extensive experience (which can be proven by my resume and portfolio at any time) getting the people around me to recognize my expertise is not as easy a task as it should be. I constantly get second-guessed, fact-checked, taught how “how things work”, or completely cut out of technical conversations altogether. It’s frustrating because I’ve spent so much time and energy learning and perfecting my craft, it would be great to be able to do the job without such hurdles.

How do you think women have an advantage in the technical world?

Women are (generally) better at multitasking and handling stress. And this is the ultimate advantage in the technical world, especially where events are concerned. There’s no telling when something might go wrong or change mid-show or any number of “oh crap” moments might happen. Being able to keep your cool, think on your feet and track changes through, all in the same breath makes you an invaluable asset to a tech team!

What is your favorite tech tool?

I’m a BIG fan of Show Flow! It’s a production software that keeps changes in event documents in one place and accessible to your entire team in real time. No more having to print 30 copies of the Run of Show or wondering if you have the most current version. Can you say lifesaver?!

What advice can you give to young women who would like to begin a career in production?

My biggest advice would be to get out there and DO! No matter what discipline you’re looking to get into, whether it’s specific like Audio, Lighting or Projection, or more broad like Production Management, get your hands dirty in every department. The more you know about all the different equipment, needs and uses for it all and how things work, the more valuable you will be to any tech team. Also, remember that any experience is good experience! Whether it’s a paying job or you’re volunteering, your resume lists where you’ve worked, not what you got paid.

Women in Event Production: Heidi Brumbach

April 19, 2018 Author: admin Category: Event Production Tips, Slide, Women in Event Technology  0 Comments

Today we start our new series, taking a look at the powerhouse women working in the technical side of events. And who better to kick off the series than our very own CEO, Heidi Brumbach? We sat down with Heidi to learn more about her experience.

How did you get started in the industry?

I grew up a dancer. I was lucky enough to work professionally in some great productions that exposed me to some very advanced technology. I also worked in venues with practically NO technology! But I learned production from both experiences.

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in production?

I’ve had times when crew members that don’t know me assumed I couldn’t be in charge, because I’m a girl. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten that vibe, so maybe times have changed!

How do you think women have an advantage in the technical world?

As a woman, I think I’m more approachable to a lot of meeting planners than some of the techs. Having a CMP helps, too 😉

What is your favorite tech tool?

My iPhone! I couldn’t live without it.

What advice can you give to young women who would like to begin a career in production?

Always learn. Keep your eyes open and watch how things are done. Get your hands dirty and be prepared to do some heavy lifting. Never wait for someone to do the hard work for you.

 

 

Power Play Part 2

 

 

Ok, now down to what event planners really want to know, what does all this Power stuff mean to me? In Part 1 of the Power blog, we  touched on three-phase power. I’m sure you’ve had people tell you “I need a 200 Amp, three-phase, 220 service.” This means you will need three hot conductors at 110 Volts, capable of carrying a maximum of 200 amps on each phase, or leg. (A phase is also referred to as a leg, which is a single hot conductor.) The electrician will run cables from the service panel on the back wall (the one with the big Frankenstein-looking lever), to the distro. The distro will have breakers with amperage values, normally 20 to 50 amps. We achieve the 220 Volts by adding two of the legs together. The plug we use will have two hot legs, a neutral, and a ground. Any higher voltage is beyond the scope of this article and will be ignored. Now all we have to do is make sure we’ve used the equation for power to calculate our load (in amps), and we can connect our gear with relative ease and piece of mind.

At this point, a demonstration of the power equation would probably be in order. Let’s look at the real world and do a calculation using an ordinary household light bulb.

Example:         How much current (in amps) will a 120V 60W light bulb draw?

Using the power equation, we know that:

W = V x A      where W = 60W

V = 120V

With simple algebra, solving for A becomes:

A = W ÷ V

A = 60 ÷ 120

A = .5 Amps

Our household light bulb draws half an amp.

This may seem like an oversimplification, but it really is that simple. All electrical and electronic gear will have at least two, if not all three of the necessary variables marked on its case to calculate the load for that piece of gear. Add all of your loads together, and that is the size of service you need to order. By the way, make sure you leave yourself at least twenty percent for headroom. If you have a 20 Amp breaker, don’t exceed a 16 Amp load. From our example above, that’s the equivalent of 32 bulbs.

By having a basic understanding of power, the event professional becomes something of a “power” as well. You will be able to speak with confidence and authority at your next pre-con. Who knows, you might even show up the tech geeks. Good luck and never be afraid to ask a qualified electrician or technician for help if you don’t understand any of the concepts we’ve covered today. You can send an email to jim@technischcreative.com if you would like to discuss this subject in more detail.

Class dismissed.