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Sound or lighting?


YoungOne

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Hey guys,

 

As some may know I used to be a mobile Dj, but recently I have quit, sold the majority of my equipment and am now looking to move into stage/band work,

 

But I have come to a question that I am struggling to answer myself.

So here goes,

When starting in this business is it best to focus on one aspect (lighting OR sound) I.e buy the gear for one specific thing. Or is it better to borden your horison and go for both?

 

Bare in mind whilst thinking about this I'm 15, and have limited moneys so that may/may not be taken into account when thinking of this subject,

 

Thanks in advance

 

Edd

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The question you have to ask yourself is, do you want to be a jack of all trades or a master of one? Also, investing in a load of equipment to do the occasional job is much less cost effective than hire. Just a couple of thoughts to get you started.
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Edd,

 

As with all things in this 'business' your age (as well as lack of experience and knowledge), at the moment IS against you, despite what you may believe.

 

I would always recommend that you start off by going to look for work WITH an established company, or group, and get the feel for every aspect of the sorts of jobs you may come across. However, even that may be tricky to get into legally at 15.

 

However, as an employee, you don't need to look at the chore of buying in your own gear - and inevitably you will find as a newbie to the genre, the kit you DO buy is very likely NOT the kit that any given gig will need!

 

Save your pennies - literally - and start from the ground up.

Running your own business is bl**dy hard at the best of times, and as a teen starter even harder still.

 

It is NOT like having your own DJ setup, where you'll on the whole be self-contained. It IS a big world out there and you really need to get to grips with the way things are before you start trying to make your mark!

 

Oh - and PLEASE brush up on your spelling & grammar!!

(See multitudinous other threads here for the reasons why!!)

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Definitely try getting work with a company before you look at striking out on your own. It will help you develop all round skills, before you start to really specialise in anything in particular.

 

Most of my colleagues have worked up through the ranks of corporate AV, where the standard tends to be "everyone does everything" until you have worked in the industry a couple of years. Then they start pushing you in a certain direction, based upon where they (being management) see your skills lie, or where there is a skills shortage. Corporate AV, if you don't mind repetitiveness, will almost guarantee you work for 90% of the year, as well as allow you to work on a diverse set of gigs, ranging from small bread and butter gigs, to huge, extravagant, multi-million dollar product launches, as well as expose you to a range of equipment, and to the world of customer service. It is becoming quite a good stepping stone into the 'bigger' stuff.

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Hey guys,

 

As some may know I used to be a mobile Dj, but recently I have quit, sold the majority of my equipment and am now looking to move into stage/band work,

 

But I have come to a question that I am struggling to answer myself.

So here goes,

When starting in this business is it best to focus on one aspect (lighting OR sound) I.e buy the gear for one specific thing. Or is it better to borden your horison and go for both?

 

Bare in mind whilst thinking about this I'm 15, and have limited moneys so that may/may not be taken into account when thinking of this subject,

 

Thanks in advance

 

Edd

 

One of the main requirements of being in this business, is the ability to drive. Until you can do that, you will probably have to go and work for someone else.

 

Another requirement is to be able to use SPaG correctly, but that has been discussed so many times recently it is :** laughs out loud **:

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To answer the original question, I would probably say go with sound.

 

Just thinking out loud, but I started off like you, doing sound for mates bands etc. Now, when you go down the local village hall to see a band what would you say was more important. Hearing the band, or seeing them lit with a handfull of parcans.

 

Picture the scene, the village hall all ready has lighting to light the room (florry's or whatever), there's your start point, great, the band can be seen. All you need to do is rock up with your PA and away you go, a bunch of happy school kids.

 

If you turn up to the same village hall with a load of Pars (56/64 whatever) rig it all up, focus it, plot it etc, yes the band will look better on stage / at the end of the hall, but when the band strike up, the singer won'thave a mic to sing into, or a PA to be heard from, therefore the guitarist with a stack of Marshall 4x12's will blow everyone away.

 

 

I know I'm waffling on, but I think other people on here will agree with me. Start with the basics. No PA = No gig.

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To answer the original question, I would probably say go with sound.<snip>

I know I'm waffling on, but I think other people on here will agree with me. Start with the basics. No PA = No gig.

Actually, I'm going to disagree (again:D)

 

The point is that if you're serious about doing anything in the biz, then the talent (be they schoolkids or pro's or anything in between) will need to look at what THEY need to succeed.

Yes, they need a PA, but in my experience most kids who reach the stage where they're ready to rock in public have a small amount of their own audio gear.

Hi-fi it may not be, but they'll likely have a back-line of sorts and something to amplify the yells that often pass for songs. :S

If they don't, how are they practising?

 

They may also have a mate who has a few par cans, etc.

 

Either/both may very well be more than suited to the village hall.

But the other end of the scale is having TOO much of either sound or LX gear. Knowing when that limit is breached comes with experience, and that's what you'll get by going to work for someone else for a while.

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Buying kit is great. Until you have to find somewhere to store it, find someone to insure it, get somebody to PAT test it, find someway to transport it, and above all a way to get it out and working.

 

Save your cash. Instead spend time working with and for different people and bands. It's the people you know that will bring work in to you, so your better off building up a good base of work from friends etc. Then hire the correct kit for the job, and if you've spent time building relationships with the local hire co's you'll find that they'll offer discounts which will allow you to make a small mark up on their prices, assuming your charging yourself and the kit out at the correct prices.

 

Production:av started out of a need to supply a client. We started with very little kit, hiring in what was needed gig by gig. Nearly three years on there are two of us full time, and a workshop/warehouse with good quality kit in it. 90% of our work comes from people I know. As we do more work, we meet more people and the work grows.

 

In short- don't buy kit, work for and with as many people as possible, and always be a decent person to deal with.

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As an old fogey (well, compared to most of those replying so far) I'll agree with Little DJ (and others). Save your money and, instead, get out there and work for and with as many people as you can. Bands are your interest so that's and obvious direction to go, but also don't rule out volunteer work for various local amdram groups, the school "tech club" and anything else you can think of .

 

Doing it this way, you'll gain the broadest possible experience and KNOW which side of the industry interests you most. Although there is certainly room for the "jack of all trades" (house tech at a small receiving house for example), most of those at the "top of the game" have specialised in terms of both training and experience. The knowledge and skills required are very different depending which way you choose.

 

However, a second reason for not rushing out and buying gear is that, unless you have a very good after school job, you probably won't be able to afford the sort of gear you'll want after a year or two of learning. I've seen my son and several of his friends buy a bunch of Maplins "cheapies" when they were around your age, only to have them start failing very quickly and turn into a garage full of junk. (I eventually had to pay for the skip to clear the garage!) Of these people, one (my son) has remained with the industry and is now spending six figure sums of OTHER PEOPLE'S money on truly professional gear (he owns practically nothing himself) while the others have, ten years on, drifted into other careers as diverse as chef and computer games designer!

 

Bob

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Go for lighting, in any audience everyone has a different idea about how it should sound and everyone is a sound expert, on the other hand lighting is much easier just give them a bit of colour and movement and most of your customers will be happy, this is especially true in these days of home cinema.
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At the risk of moving slightly off topic....

 

I suspect that a good many professional lighting directors who frequent the Blue Room might take exception to your theory that "a bit of colour and movement" is all you need for an acceptable lighting design.

 

That said, I have to admit there is an element of truth in your post. Too often today lighting IS just a bit of colour and some wiggling movers--and this is accepted by the punters. At the same time, you're right that everybody thinks they know how something should sound. People have got used to good sound and aren't willing to settle for less in a live situation.

 

This is where David A and I differ in terms of the conclusion though. Even at my advanced years I'm not just looking for the easy option. I relish the challenge of trying to get the best sound I possibly can out of whatever circumstance I'm in. Yeah, it's a pain when the singer's mother comes up and complains that her daughter isn't loud enough...but, on the other hand, when you nail it and do a mix you're really happy with, there's no better feeling.

 

I'll stand by my previous advice to get as much experience as you can in all aspects of lighting AND sound...but don't discount sound just because lighting can, at it's most basic, be easier. If you're interested in sound, go for it!

 

Bob

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Go for lighting, in any audience everyone has a different idea about how it should sound and everyone is a sound expert, on the other hand lighting is much easier just give them a bit of colour and movement and most of your customers will be happy, this is especially true in these days of home cinema.

 

I take a bit of exception to this one, it is stones breadth away from being flame bait. I work bloody hard to give every band that graces our stage something unique and befitting their music and image, and I think every LD/LX Op worth their salt would.

 

True you don't get too many LX complaints, however you do get a few, "the stage is too dark!", "the stage is too bright!", "there is too much haze, I don't want it on my instruments", "more haze... I like haze", and every band will walk away with an opinion of you - and they will certainly be willing to say "I don't want XYZ as the lighting guy".

 

And anyway, who wants to take the easy way out, even if there was one?

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