Live and the people working around them

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Sound Engineers have a difficult and intense job at live concerts, festivals
and events. A Live Sound Engineers job is to make sure the sound of the
instruments sounds good for the audience and sounds good for the performers by
controlling the mixing desk and managing the different sounds correctly. Live
Sound Engineers are required to have a good knowledge of acoustics and have
well-trained ears in order to be able to do their job correctly at live events.
Live Sound Engineers also need other skills such as good communication to
communicate with the performers and the people working around them such as
technicians and other sound engineers; they must also work closely with the
Stage Manager in order to follow a plot (a sound plan) to work with the
performers and lighting. They should be able to communicate with the and the
performers to discuss the productions sound needs so they can be faithful to
the performers sound whilst the mix of instruments is acoustically ideal for
the audience. However, being acoustically ideal for the entire audience is
difficult at concerts as to one part of the audience the mix may sound perfect,
but another part may be different acoustically and so will not sound the same.
This is one of the biggest challenges of being a live sound engineer as they
must please the paying audience and the performers that pay their salary. They
also require extensive knowledge about microphones and other equipment so they
can choose suitable microphones and microphone positioning for each instrument
on stage in order to get the best sound from all of the instruments to create
the best mix, whilst also taking in to account that it is a live performance. Live
Sound Engineers also have to work fast as they do not have long to set up
everything before the show. An example of a live sound engineer Is Paul Boothroyd who has
worked with artists such as Paul McCartney and AC/DC. In an interview Paul
Boothroyd talks about how he sets up the live sound for AC/DC and how he
approaches setting up for shows differently than with Paul McCartney, “With AC/DC, you’re not dealing with lush
vocal harmonies, piano or acoustic guitar ballads; this is full-on, balls-out
rock & roll. I ‘feel’ my way with AC/DC’s live mix, rather than
approach it delicately.” He also talks about mixing Paul McCartney’s
‘Yesterday’ at live shows, saying that when AC/DC come out of a rockier song,
the crowd will be loud, so to compensate for the noise of the crowd when
playing a quieter song, “you have to
increase the presence”. He also talked about interference in a stadium
caused by rustling crisp packets or general background noise, and how he ups
the master faders and pushes Paul’s vocal channel up a little.”  This shows the knowledge and experience that
a sound engineer must have to deal with challenges
like this.


Stage Managers also have one of the most difficult jobs at
live concerts, festivals and events. The role of the stage manager is to help
organise the production of the show and realize the director’s choices. Stage
Managers organise and supervise the “get in” and “get out” as well as organise
the rehearsals so this role requires leadership in order to get things done
efficiently. The Stage Managers job requires excellent communication, as they
must work closely with everyone involved in the production of the show. They
also need extensive knowledge about many things; as they help plan the set
design, sound design and lighting design for the show. The Stage Manager must
work closely with the live sound engineer and the sound technical crew to
develop the plot (a sound plan) as well as work with the lighting technicians.
This ensures that the lights, sound and performers are all on the same page on
what is going to happen in the show. The Stage Manager also communicates when
things should happen during the show with cues to make sure everything happens
at the right time. This job is one of the hardest and most important in the
industry as it requires the ability to work well under a lot of pressure during
shows and being able to constantly solve problems. The Stage Manager is
integral for a show to run smoothly. An example of a Stage Manager is Jen Raith
who talked about what the typical day of a stage manager is like, and said when
we she in rehearsals, it’s important to make sure everyone is set up with what
they need to do, including props and any set that are being used. She said that
you often have between 20 and 40 cast members, along with musicians, so it is important for her to
make sure the rota is running on time. Once production starts, it’s much more
health and safety based so stage managers have to keep their eyes and ears on
everything. She also talked about key skills needed to become a Stage Manager, “Communication,
communication, communication! Being the friendly face onstage and backstage
with all team members so your team knows they can rely and go to you with any
problem. Knowing your show inside out so you can problem solve, be organised
and communicate with your team effectively and fast.”


Lighting Technicians have the
responsibility of setting up the lighting equipment such as electric lights on
stage for shows. They usually work under the director and lighting designer and
must interpret and realize the lighting designers plan for the stage. The
lighting technician’s job involves a lot of cabling so they must carry out risk
assessments to take health and safety into account, planning out where to run
cables, place lights and setting up generators to power the lighting. The
lighting technician also has to make sure that all of the equipment is working
before the show. This job requires a lot of knowledge about lighting equipment
as well as programming control consoles in order to automate lighting and
colour changes during the show as they must operate these systems during the
show, whilst taking cues from the stage manager to make sure the right things
happen at the right time. This requires communication and teamwork skills in
order to work with the stage manager and the audio engineer if sound is
synchronized with the lighting. At the end of the show the lighting technician
must de-rig all of the lighting equipment and ensure that it is safely
transported away. An example of a lighting technician is Michael F who talked
about the skills required to be a lighting technician and what a typical
workday is like for him: “A lighting technician’s job is very hands-on. Understanding
how to focus a light and the direction of the light is very important. Running
the dimmer board is very technical.” Michael said that twelve to fourteen hour days
are standard and some days can be 16 hours long. A normal work day starts at
5:00 a.m., and ends at 8:00 p.m. When he gets on the set, he turns off the
house lights and turns on the safety lights. He gets told by the chief lighting
tech when to turn on light 115, and he turns it on. When the scene happens, he
documents everything, watches his own monitor and is a second set of eyes for
what’s happening on the set. He then anticipates what he needs to do next and
listens to what the DP and gaffer are saying over the headphones. This shows being a lighting technician is a difficult role
in the industry due to the skills and knowledge required, and it also requires
a lot of commitment as they have to work for very long hours.

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