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Author Topic: A1 etiquette  (Read 921 times)

Luke Geis

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Re: A1 etiquette
« Reply #20 on: March 08, 2018, 12:24:27 am »

Well in theory, an A1's role is to simply walk in, confirm system setup ( is it to his / her standard ) and then mix the show and leave. An A2's role is to set up the system to the A1's standard, be sure all stage power and patching is correct, handle RF management and mic changes, manage com, then clean it all up. A really nice A1 will help with setup and clean up. System design falls onto one of three peoples roles. Usually a system designer will draw up the system that will be put together, this can sometimes be an A2 or an A1 who does this or simply a system designer.

So while being the owner, operator and all of the above, it kinda makes you not an A1, but more a systems tech. A systems tech falls more into an A2 role. The systems tech is the guy who usually knows more about the PA system than the A1 and if a request is made by an A1, he can not only make the change quickly, but with confidence.

So as mentioned, don't get caught up in the titles. It is a team sport. If you are playing to win, you have to be in the game and being in the game means sharing and sharing is caring :)

What may not be clear is if the client actually hired the outside A/V company to provide an A1. You are very much a system provider and systems tech, so while you have a vested interest ( because your own the gear ), you have to allow others to succeed or fail on their own. If I am running an event and the band has a BE and they ask if they can run the desk, my answer is sure, I will be in the beer garden, if you break it you buy it...... Actually not kidding, but sort of kidding. I usually ask if they are proficient with the mixer I have provided. If the answer is no, then I suggest just shouldering me, if they are, then I say cool you break it you buy it, I will be in the beer garden, here is my number...... Don't be afraid to give up the wheel. If a show goes bad because of tech issues and it is not the venues fault, there should be no fear of it looking bad on you as long as you gave 100% to the effort in making things the best they can be.

If the system is pretty much set and requires little to no management so to speak, it should be rather easy for even an average A1 to walk in and run things with success. I can't see why there should be fear of blowing things up, that protection should already be built into your system, but a well designed system should have ample room left as to not need worrying about who is behind the wheel. If the system is on the raged edge, then perhaps. A well designed system practically runs itself.

As others have mentioned, you can always end up learning a new trick. In my case working as an A2 on some jobs, the A1 has shown me some things that have made me not only a better A2, but a better A1 as well. An A2's role is SUPER IMPORTANT to the degree where if you are really that good at it, any A1 can walk in and do exactly as they wish easily and without problems. When I play A1, I shoot to teach my A2's what can make them better at not only being an A2, but replacing me one day. You know you are a good A2 when your A1 asks a question about something and the answer is its already done, it is exactly that way already, everything is ready, all mics are checked, everything is on and hot, everything is off and cold and you have done it all before he asked. It may not be as fun to be an A2, but being an A1 sucks too. If shit hits the fan he is the FIRST person everyone looks at. The less an A1 has to worry about, the more he can focus on giving a flawless show.

I used to be VERY controlling and rigid about things too. It took me a long time to realize how much fun I was having and how easy this job really is when you have acquired a lot of the knowledge and experience at it. Soon I began to realize that my way isn't the only way, but there are certain things that truly make a difference. The things that make a difference are making it so you can always work around a problem. Having a well designed system that can do anything you need it to at any time is the key. Never having to say I can't do that is a goal. Give your system away as much as possible is what I say. You might just find it fun to turn over a system that is so well designed and tuned that even a monkey can walk in and run it with ease. Getting to that point is the hardest part. We sell an experience and a result, not limitations. Our job is to make ANYTHING possible within the confines of our employment. You fear what you don't know, so make it a goal to start knowing it.
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Joe Pieternella

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Re: A1 etiquette
« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2018, 08:16:44 am »

This is in a band vs BE situation but most principles still apply.

I sometimes help out on a yearly event another company does here. This is a 3 man show. A monitor guy/stage hand, A system designer/coordinator/mix engineer and me.
All I do is mix the bands so that makes me A1. But I'm essentially with the production company so when a band comes in with their own BE all they get is the talk and a babysitting from me. The talk always includes me telling them what their limitations are and that after a third warning(level) I will take over.
When I'm out with my own equipment I sometimes end up as an A1 by default cause there is no one else there. No offense but this might be the situation here. They will run your system and you are there to answer their questions and keeping things in check.

This last one depends on the specifics of the situation. If the company is sending someone over they are probably providing an AV solution which can be very specialized/unique and/or complicated. They will have the same reservations as you do. If their equipment malfunctions or doesn't do what it should because of house-operator errors it could reflect badly on them.
If all you need is one extra piece of equipment there should be no need for extra personnel unless you are unfamiliar with the device and/or their guy knows certain specifics about the events (where his cues are for instance).
If the client however insists that the production company a1's the event none of this may matter. They are the ones responsible in his/her eyes and you are there to help them as if you rented your equipment to them.

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William Schnake

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Re: A1 etiquette
« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2018, 08:56:15 am »

Hi all, this is a strange situation that I've run into a few times and am curious where you fellow A1's draw the line.

I work at a museum where we have a 300 cap theater for live presentations during the day, corporate and/or social event buyouts.  It's a pretty standard equipped theater: 32 channel LS9, digital stage box, suspended VRX mains/subs, 1080p 7,500 lumen projector, 10'x16' screen...

My job is to oversee, maintain, and serve as A1 for *all* presentations, meetings, events, etc.  However we occasionally have clients that need more video capabilities than our theater is equipped with, and will need to hire an outside AV company to assist.

I'm in a situation where the outside company wants to bring in another A1 and use me as A2, even though they will be using entirely museum-provided equipment.  Since this is essentially "my house", I don't really feel comfortable letting an outside A1 be in charge of the equipment that I buy, install and maintain, or mix on a console that I've patched and saved scenes for the daily needs of the theater, in a room that he or she has never mixed in before.  I typically adhere to a "only museum staff can operate museum-owned AV equipment" policy... does that sound unreasonable to any of you?

Basically, I'm not comfortable having someone else come in to do my job.

I'm sure I'm not alone on this, but I'm curious if anyone else has had similar experiences and how to gracefully deal with it.

Kyle, a venue that I have done several shows for is setup much the same way you are talking about.  They have a staff with an A1 and I have, on several shows, been asked to come and mix.  The rule at the venue is that you have to have gone through an 8 hour training session on the system and rules.  You also have to sign off that anything that is broken during the show is to be repaired with funds from the show or my pocket.  We have to check each wireless before we take it for the show and prior to putting it back after the show with the theatre A1.  I am good with all of this.  People have me do their show because I have decades of theatre experience.

This approach seems to work well.

Backup your LS9 to a USB stick and computer prior to visiting A1 coming in
Visiting A1 has to be trained on this system
Performance group or who ever is renting the facility is responsible for any repairs
All equipment is tested at checkout and check-in
Any physical changes to signal routing ie moving cable etc. have to be approved by you
You reserve the right to disqualify visiting A1
When show is done load your USB stick back to the mixer

I think that takes care of it.

Bill Schnake - Owner Schnake Sound, Inc


duane massey

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Re: A1 etiquette
« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2018, 02:59:51 pm »

Unless I missed something, the museum is hiring the outside company. If that is the case, your house/your rules. Doesn't mean you can't be flexible and work with them.
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Kevin McDonough

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Re: A1 etiquette
« Reply #24 on: March 13, 2018, 08:33:32 am »


another one coming from the music side rather than corporate events, but I agree with most of the music based comments above.

The band bringing their own engineer is a pretty common thing, even low level bands are starting to do it nowadays and anyone of any level above this will usually have their own engineer. They're the ones that have worked with the band and know what "sound" they're looking for, and know the songs. They know when the horns come in, when to push the reverb or delay for a particular effect, when the singer hits a quiet section and needs a we push on the fader etc etc.

If they come to my house venue, or if I'm system teching as part of the rental company providing a system, then I'm there to facilitate a good show, so will help them set up the band and mic everything up, and am happy to let them mix the show. However from their side they know I'll be there babysitting and checking everything goes smoothly, and I'll have no problem providing some "advice" or if worst came to worst stepping in of there is a danger of something being broken.

The result is we regularly get told Glasgow is their favourite stop of the tour, and is the smoothest and easiest show of the run. To be honest, always kind of confuses me wondering what other engineers do to make this not the case. We're all there to work together and put on the best show possible.

So yeah, I don't see your situation being all that different.

From the event's company point of view, there's lots of great house engineers in venues all across the world, and I'm sure you're one of them. But there's also some who aren't as experienced or capable, and maybe they've had a bad experience in the past, just prefer to have someone they trust and who has worked with them before and knows how the night runs to make sure things go smoothly.

If they want an engineer there then let him mix, they're paying the bills. You'll be there to babysit and make sure it all goes well (you'll know straight away whether he knows his stuff or seems a bit inexperienced and how much you're gonna have to help him).

Caley Monahon-Ward

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A1 etiquette
« Reply #25 on: March 13, 2018, 12:41:43 pm »

Hereís one more perspective, more from the corporate side...

Iíve been on both sides of the discussion as an engineer for an outside venue, and as a house tech. In either position, my preference is to have the house A1 available and located at FOH. That way the house A1 - you - can help sort out routing, answer questions about console operation if the visiting A1 is not that familiar, give the heads-up about any gotchas particular to the venue, interact with the other house staff (stage management, front of house staff, etc.), and troubleshoot/put out fires if anything comes up. If Iím the house A1, of course I like to be free to watch out for any unsafe use of the system and be ready to jump in if anything really goes sideways - the outside engineer is probably fine, but itís always possible they will be completely clueless, and if I can save the show without stepping on anyoneís toes, everybody wins.

IĎd be less comfortable with a scenario where the house A1 gets repurposed as A2. In that case, you arenít really available to put out fires since youíve got a show track that keeps you away from FOH. It could be OK in some smaller venues but Iíd make the case to your management that either your venue or the vendor should supply the A2 so you can stay at FOH.

That arrangement should be best for all - you can keep an eye on the A1 and have a nice relaxed day, and the A1 can mix his show and have a capable helper if he needs it.

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Rob Spence

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Re: A1 etiquette
« Reply #26 on: March 13, 2018, 02:05:32 pm »

I have always thought of the A1 as the lead audio person with the other audio folk being A2.
This has nothing to do with who is mixing. To me, it is a management title. In any event, for each technical discipline (audio, protection, or lights for example) there needs to be one person in charge. In the audio world, I see that as the A1.

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Tim McCulloch

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Re: A1 etiquette
« Reply #27 on: March 14, 2018, 10:41:23 pm »

If the museum is hiring the AV company on behalf of a client renting the theater or the client is bringing them in directly, the AV company works for the rental client and there is a presumption of deference to the relationship between the rental client & production company.  If the AV company is hired by the museum to supplement the installed system, the AV company works for the museum and presumably you'd have been in on the hire.  If you were not that person, it is THAT person you need to be talking to about the who has what authority and responsibility.

I'm one of the house A1s at our PAC, rooms from 600 to 5000 capacity.  All have some kind of installed audio and supplemental portable gear that comes with the venue rental.  If a client brings in their own production (however limited or extravagant) my job is to be the interface between the house and client.  The client is already paying for use of certain assets and I'd probably get in trouble if I were to say "no, you can't use that if I'm not driving."  My job would be driving inspector, not driver, to protect the City's assets while providing access to whatever comes with the room.

As the Outside A1 I'd consider it part of my gig to have YOU in the email loop so we can get a common understanding of what Our Mutual Client wants and we can work out the details between ourselves.  If I or my firm are being brought in it's because OMC believes we can best deliver their message.  I'd rather have you on the team, bringing your facility and asset knowledge and in-venue experience to the table.  That might mean you're mixing audio or switching video or running playback, or you could be reading a book during the show.  Regardless of your exact showtime role you have some responsibility for the outcome of the event and I really like happy clients.  I enjoy writing nice thank you letters that look good to superiors, too. :)

So there's obviously a back story to this.  Care to share?
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