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Author Topic: Help with Covid-Coping Sound Reinforcement Topics for the AES Convention?  (Read 179 times)

Dan Mortensen

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Hi All,

I'm Chair of 2/3 of the Sound Reinforcement Track at this year's October AES Convention (Henry Cohen is Chair of the rest, specifically RF and Comms), and am thinking that Covid's existential threat to us as individual humans and individual companies, and how we cope with it, is quite a bit more important this year than the normal technical talk and needs to be addressed somehow at this time.

If you disagree with that premise, you might as well stop reading now because I am not willing to be in an argument about it in this thread.

Thereís actually two related topics that I think we would all like to have answered:

The first, which is the one that seems easier to quantify, is: when we are able to work again, what steps do we need to take to keep ourselves, our crews, the artists/performers, the clients, and the audience safe from us and from each other?

The second is: how do we sustain in the meantime without work and income until itís over and we can work again? In answer, I canít and nobody I've talked with can think of anything but platitudes and newspaper articles (or whatever) that donít need the AES for promulgation. Every person's and company's situation is different and we can't think of how to find a middle that works for all.

Can you? If so, please feel free to describe your thoughts. Otherwise, I don't know what else to say and will not address this one again in this thread.

So, what I'm thinking about is at least two events, one that is approached from the perspective of a large company doing large events where a specific person or crew can be responsible for coordinating what needs to be done (which I'm referring to as "LAB Level" in honor of this great forum that our buddy Dave started), and the other in which a sole proprietor or sole technician or maybe two, who are the only techs at the gig, and are also responsible for the implementation of mitigating measures. (I do realize that we each need to be responsible for acting appropriately, but I'm trying to get at the difference in scale between resources and staff for these two different circumstances.)

The second one I'm referring to as "Lounge-level", again in honor of this site. I think I need to do another post there, but do you agree that people who read one might not read the other?

There is a lot to describe, so I'm going to stop here and put the next part in the next post. Thanks for reading.
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Dan Mortensen

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Part 2;


More specifically, I think that each of us, regardless of scale, are going to be a position when this is over (over enough that we can go back to large live gatherings like concerts/trade shows/whatever) where we will have to convince our clients, the artists/performers, our crew, and the public that we are able to keep them all safe or at least not make matters worse by our behavior and actions, and the ability to demonstrate that capability will separate us from our competitors who cannot or will not show that capability. Which puts the discussion in a financially advantageous perspective.

Since this Convention with its presentations

a) is in October, and
b) our part of it will be virtual if not fully pre-recorded, and
c) is an International convention,

I'm thinking that different parts of the world will be at different stages of recovery by then, so those who are going to be in the earlier recovery stages (looking at USA right now) will be able to benefit from the experiences of those who have already passed through the worst parts and are further into the "getting back to the new normal" stage (China and Europe?).

I'm also thinking each of the two events should be a panel discussion, each with 5-8 members from different parts of the world. I've already talked to a few people who I respect from diverse places, and with what I've been able to explain so far, they are in.

One is Tim McCulloch, Sr Systems Engineer & General Manager, Pro Audio Systems, Inc, in Wichita, Kansas, who I'm sure all of you know from his posts here.

Another is Jonathan Stoverud-Myers, co-founder of Carlson Audio in Seattle and Portland, which is the largest sound provider in the Pacific Northwest.

The third is my recent buddy Gordon McGregor of Glasgow, Scotland, who also posts here and who has been an avid participant in my AES Section's "Tea* Time Topics", presenting several related subjects so far.

Since what we know now about Covid is not the final word, and therefore information and practice will evolve over time, I'm thinking that each LAB and Lounge presentation prep will start with a Zoom meeting where we get acquainted, agree on a list of topics that we can address each time we meet, and begin to address them in periodic meetings, perhaps as few as one each level per month. I'll record them and use that to portray the shifting awareness of what is necessary, possible, and doable.

The final presentation at the convention will be an edited recording (probably by me but not necessarily) we've done in some format that might not be Zoom, and those panelists who can will be "at" the "Convention" to offer comments and maybe more (not sure at this time what "more" means, or even "at").

The third and final part is next.
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Dan Mortensen

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Part 3


Topics that I think we'd want to cover are:

-Treatment of the gear the artists touch;
-Treatment of gear the audience touches (like snakes);
-Load in/outs as changed by the virus precautions;
-The impacts on pricing (though not exact costs charged) of the precautions and the fact that our income went to zero, along with clients trying to bust pricing (if any);
-Changes in venue size due to pandemic issues (reduced audience? reduced budgets? more?)


Additionally, one of the potential panelists wrote back with another list of questions that are all great:

"How much of that do production companies "own"? What is our duty of care and who sets those standards?  As employers we have an obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace for our employees - we may be providing hard hats or pay for protective footwear and safety glasses, but who decides what kind of masks or gloves, and what are the standards for their handling, use and disposal?  Who enforces compliance?  What happens when a venue, act, festival or subcontractor has different standards and there is a disagreement?

"What kind of training should we provide our employees?  How do we utilize local hands in ways that minimize, to the extent reasonably possible, the amount and nature of their close contact time with our crew and each other?

"How do we effectively (and who decides what that is) and safely clean multi-contact items like mixing consoles, talkback mics, comm headsets, stage mics, mic stands... and how often?  Do we need to log such cleaning?  How do we verify the cleaning meets whatever standard?

"Who will pay for all the above?  For providers that work in TV and video it's easier to say "we need a local A2 to do cleaning and sanitizing of multi touch items" and get some budget for it.  For a regional production company, not so much.  It's going to be more time for someone that nobody will want to pay for."

Sobering, yes?

What I'm here in Classic LAB is to ask, first, if there is anyone associated with what would be considered a LAB-level company, whether owner or employee, who is interested in being part of this discussion, particularly from someplace which is outside the U.S.?  As mentioned, we already have West Coast, Central USA, and U.K. participation, but we need more geographical variety.

Second, Gordon sent me info about the PLASA organization and their work on this and other subjects which seems really great; anybody have a connection to PLASA who can introduce me to them, to see if they can participate?

Thirdly, I guess, does the differentiation in scope between "LAB" and "Lounge" make sense, and if so, should I publish this note there, too, or assume that readers there also read here?

That's a lot to read and ponder; thanks for doing so.

I hope you can help me and us figure out what to do when we get to the other side of this predicament we are all in.
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Re: Help with Covid-Coping Sound Reinforcement Topics for the AES Convention?
¬ę Reply #2 on: July 01, 2020, 03:21:28 am ¬Ľ


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