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Author Topic: A/V at large Universities  (Read 1192 times)

Clayton Luckie

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A/V at large Universities
« on: November 20, 2006, 08:22:49 pm »

I'm curious... does anyone have experience with A/V at larger Universities?  I'm talking about the ones with multiple large sports stadiums, large performing arts venues, etc.  Does the university usually hire full timers to manage these systems?

I'm sure there are many one-off and contract type gigs for things like camera ops and such, but surely there is a staff of people who manage and oversee the venues, as well as work during events, right?  How does that usually work?  It's an odd question, I know, but I'm wondering how these operations are usually run.

cl
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Tom Manchester

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Re: A/V at large Universities
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2006, 08:56:56 pm »

Coincidentally I work for the Media Services department of my university. Actually, I have worked here since before I started going to school here. I wouldn't say we are a huge school, Maybe mid sized with something like 30k students.

Our organization is pretty big. We are a division of the IT department. Our Department has full video production capability with several fairly state of the art TV studios throughout campus. A couple are run by students, and the main one in the building that I work out of which is run by full time professional video guys. We have camera crews that go out and can do remote videotaping with equipment like a local news station might have.

The classroom technology devision is the section I am involved in mostly. We have 6 full Time techs servicing 168 classrooms all with projectors and sound equipment. There are also a number of departmental rooms that we service on an as needed basis. Myself and one other tech are primarily the Install and repair techs. When there is something wrong with a room other then operator error or new cable, etc. We go in and troubleshoot and repair the problem. We also do the special installs that involve climbing in the ceiling, etc. For most of our classroom installs we contract out to an A/V installer because we can not handle the volume of work. Sometimes I double as a tech in the...

...Performance Events division. These guys take care of all the live stuff like outdoor and indoor speeches and performances requiring portable A/V. We have several powered mackie systems and rent more stuff as needed. They also manage our various theatres and one movie theatre. There is usually one tech per venue with as many as 5 or so paid student helpers. Sometimes, we have to do work in the...

...Sports facilities. We have one main indoor area, which seats several thousand people. It is a basketball court and also is used for Expos, conventions, and high school graduations. The facility has an installed cluster system for announcements, light music playback etc. Anything larger is usually contracted out to one of the local A/V companies depending on what type of even it is. Our various stadiums also have installed systems mostly made up of community brand horns with crest/bss/dbx processing. All of this is usually maintained by me and the other repair tech or contracted out to the installers. During football games we have about 3 techs on hand and one or two supervisors.

Hope this answers a few of your questions. Here is our website.

http://www.udel.edu/UMS/


I hope I don't get fired for divulging all of our top secret info  Laughing
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Mike Locke

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Re: A/V at large Universities
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2006, 09:17:08 pm »

I recently worked for the University of Idaho.  Probably classified as a medium sized institution, though I'd guess our situation is fairly unique.

When I worked there, my department was called Events Services.  (the department recently merged with another which was a horrible idea and part of the reason I left.)  The scope of the department was pretty large, ranging from table and chair rental for campus and community to tents up to 40'x60' to sound for major concerts and graduation.  We owned equipment for small, speakers-on-sticks events up to a JBL array system that served as 10 clusters for football games (indoor dome stadium) to concerts (Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, Mighty Bosstones a ways back) to off site concerts (Everclear, Whoopie Goldberg, Jay Leno...).  Our main FOH console was a 56ch Soundcraft SeriesFIVE.  All of this was handled by a full time staff of 6, part time student help, and the occasional prison work crew for large setups.  Also on campus was a more student-centered organization that did sound for student government sponsored concerts (Blackhawk, Real Big Fish).  95% of what we do is accomplished w/o renting gear from off-campus.  

I suppose that's just a brief (rambling) description, hope it's a bit of in site.

Mike
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Tom Reid

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Re: A/V at large Universities
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2006, 09:37:47 pm »

Private Institutions traditionally pay better for these services than public schools. ;>
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James Ribar

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Re: A/V at large Universities
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2006, 09:46:45 pm »

While RPI definitaly falls on the smaller side of the spectrum (~7000 students), we certaintly do a fair amount of A/V work in house and as such I feel compelled to comment.

The academic campus AV needs are handled by a division of the IT department, Media Ops.  They are responsible for maintaining all the A/V equipment installed in classrooms and lecture halls.  They also maintain portable sound systems for speeches and conferences, but the equipment is limited to some JBL Eons and Mackie consoles.  They are also in part responsible for operating the CATV system on campus.  They have both a full time staff and work-study students.

The various arts departments operate their own equipment for their performances in the various venues on campus.  These are usually staffed with a combination of staff as well as work-study students.  The equipment used ranges from D&B Q7's to powered Mackies.

The student union operates both a lighting and a sound organization that is responsible for handling all the student produced events on campus.  The sound organization, which in part is my responsibility to run, owns and operates a number of sound systems ranging from an EAW KF650 system (hopefully with a Yamaha M7CL-48 out front next semester) to powered Mackies.  The lighting organization operates similar to us, and as part of their larger setup they have a 48 foot box truss along with a 48 channel ETC Sensor Touring Rack.  We handle typically 70-90 events a year and are completely student operated.

Both a 10,000 watt radio station and an on-campus TV station are operated under the Student Union and are completely student operated (along with some community participation on the radio station)

A/V requirements in venues on campus are typically handled through staffing of the venue or through the various organizations listed above.

Large events are typically contracted out to local production companies. (i.e. Graduation, etc)

As I've said, I'm only involved with the student side of it, so the portions of what I've said relating to the academic campus are only from what I've seen and heard.  Considerably more could be outsourced from what I've mentioned.

For reference:
http://sound.union.rpi.edu/
http://lights.union.rpi.edu/
http://rpitv.union.rpi.edu/
http://itops.rpi.edu/avservices/

I hope at least some of this is useful.
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Michael 'Bink' Knowles

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Re: A/V at large Universities
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2006, 11:03:50 pm »

I don't work in a University A/V department and I never have. The number of times I've interfaced with such folk are few... I can count them all on fingers and toes. Every single time has been a real PITA.

What I see when I go to the local FPUTJFKWTFAST is an events department that has turned from being a service-oriented organization into a major bureaucratic hassle for the intended users. The reasons I've been working a few times on campus is that the inhouse events department is SO unyielding in its dedication to mediocrity that people who want to throw a great-looking or great-sounding event have been calling outside vendors to come in and do it right. I actually heard the inhouse events planner telling my client that the number of uplights she wanted was too many for the space... this client knew exactly what she wanted it to look like and was able to get the effect by giving the job to an outside vendor.

One gig I did in their big soft-seat theater was one where I spent two hours checking and rechecking the main speaker array to find that more than a few drivers were out and apparently had been out for some time including the time that somebody went to the trouble to mark the optimum levels on all the amplifier knobs so that the working parts would be overdriven to cover for the non-working parts... Oh, and the lighting rig was positioned permanently in front of the boxes that were supposed to cover the balcony. I ended up bringing in a PA.  Mad  

Note to anyone connected with that institution: if you are new to the place like in the last year or so then all my info can be considered old. MAYBE they've turned things around since then. MAYBE you were brought in to help turn things around. If so, good luck. It's going to be an uphill battle.  Confused

-Bink
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Michael 'Bink' Knowles
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