Check it Out: AVWeek Episode 55: It’s Not A Cookbook

Click here for MP3

I was a guest on this week’s podcast.

Click Here To Hear it on iTunes: AVWeek 55: It’s Not A Cookbook

Released Aug 25th  2012

Host: Tim Albright

Guests: Kevin Iselli from Crestron, Brad Grimes of InfoComm International, Steve Greenblatt from Control Concepts and Chris Neto of AV Helpdesk.

This week the roundtable discusses the future of Sharp now that they appear to be getting out of the display business. What does that mean for the industry and where do they head from here? We discuss the sexiest touchpanel (the AMX Modero) and whether or not there is a market for the tabletop version. As integrators and end users, we need to start concerning ourselves with the various content delivery companies. One to keep your eye on is suddenly Amazon. CEDIA’s members say they expect 12% growth during the second half of the year. Do you? Our resident Crestron rep explains what BACnet is and why it’s important. Plus Brad Grimes encourages us who are bound for pasture to start pouring into the young, up and coming AV professionals.

Running Time: 1:06:32


REDBAND: Licensed To Fail: A precautionary tale for the aspiring AV Tech by Ward Hails

Licensed To Fail: A precautionary tale for the aspiring AV Tech by Ward Hails

All too often I come across young, aspiring A/V technicians who are simply unable to land that first gig, or first job, despite submitting applications for countless postings. They may be perfectly suited to the job requirements and possess the requisite education, but increasingly it seems that this is not enough.

After applying for positions in a variety of industry sectors (television, live events, music studios, post houses), I lost count of how many applications went unanswered. I resigned myself to seek employment opportunities outside of the Audiovisual Industry, and although I landed a “job,” I was not happy. The environment was caustic, and I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with my professional life until I was using my skills to their fullest extent.
Finally, a company (which will remain nameless) wanted me to interview for a technical position, and I was thrilled. I felt that the difficult part was over. I had finally been noticed, and I genuinely believed that I would be considered for my ability and my potential contribution. Not so.

I arrived at the interview and proceeded to fill out all of the redundant paperwork. I waited patiently for half an hour, and was finally greeted by a senior technician. We took a quick walk down the hall, and the interview began. Initially, everything ran smoothly, and I felt that the interview was very positive. I let them know that I was eager to learn, and willing to work the long hours they both insisted the position would require. No problems. And then I was asked what I thought was a throwaway question.

“Do you own a vehicle?” one of the interviewers asked. I thought little of it at that moment, and I answered honestly.

“No. I have a valid G-class license, and I have lots of driving experience, but I don’t own a car.”

The interview came to a grinding halt, and the two men paused for a moment. They seemed to share a genuine mix of disappointment and confusion, as though they had expected an entirely different answer. After a few cursory questions about Microsoft Powerpoint, they thanked me and the interview ended abruptly.

Needless to say, I did not receive an offer.

Understandably, the manner in which the interview concluded left me with a pretty dim view of the company. Owning a car has nothing to do with one’s ability to function as an excellent A/V technician, and if they felt that this was a legitimate concern I was pretty sure I didn’t want the job, anyway. This wasn’t pizza delivery.

I’m constantly encountering younger A/V technicians looking for advice on how to “get a foot in the door.” We routinely tell them to focus their resume on the skills required for a specific posting. We tell them to upgrade their training. We tell them to develop a demo reel. We give them common sense answers, because we seem to think that hiring decisions are made on the candidate’s merit. As I learned, that is not always the case.

To be fair, this is an extreme example. It’s not even the worst interview I’ve had. Any organization that would even consider someone’s automotive assets ahead of their technical capabilities is only harming itself. What sort of training and development would a company like that would offer?

I recently worked an event where the “unnamed” company held the contract for the selected venue. The A/V techs looked like they would rather be anywhere else, and one of them even proceeded to watch a movie on his laptop – instead of monitoring the mic levels going to tape, or watching the levels going to the front-of-house PA. As the client’s A/V rep overseeing this, I was less than pleased.

I suppose the technicians’ unprofessional behaviour shouldn’t have come as a surprise; when you ask idiotic interview questions that have nothing to do with a candidate’s ability, there is a chance you’ll hire the wrong person. If you do somehow hire a promising young technician, but you’re unwilling or incapable of developing your employees, they’ll lose interest. I believe that successful organizations leverage strong training and development programs to both drive employee loyalty, and improve business results. Those same training programs can also help mitigate risks associated with hiring candidates that have loads of potential, but not as much experience.

The lesson for A/V employers is simple: even if you hire the right people, you need to ensure that they have opportunities to develop their skills, and to further their own professional abilities. And if you’re a recent grad, or you’re looking to break into the A/V industry, don’t be discouraged by a bad interview, or missing out on an opportunity. Even companies can fail at interviewing, just like the rest of us.

Ward Hails is a multimedia technician at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, in Toronto, Ontario. His role involves A/V system design, implementation and maintenance – in addition to videography, photography, post-production and motion graphics. Previously, he has worked in Marketing, IT, and Application Support, and has a strong background in music theory and the recording arts. You can check out his Linkedin profile HERE.

REDBAND: AV Myths, One-liners, and Other stuff you can’t make up!

A few months back I posted on some industry forums asking  if anyone cared to share their best AV Myths, One-Liners and interactions  Below is the Best from the various posts. The Enjoy! – Chris

David R.

  • Not a myth, but a fact often ignored or forgotten … The 1st Law of AV: There is Nothing Brighter than the Sun.

Michael K.

  • How about the myth of “Cookie-Cutter Installation.” Just because you have identical gear going into ten different rooms, that doesn’t mean that:
  • All ten rooms are structurally identical (different structures inside walls, conduits which may or may not go where you think they do, etc.)
  • All ten rooms should take the same amount of time. Or, even worse, become increasingly faster because “you’ve already done a couple.”
  • These factors will increase exponentially with the age of the building. I’ve hung screens on a wall that had three different support structures behind it, and no one knew about it. (Ironically, it was a classroom in a school of architecture.)
  • That’s how you tell who did the site survey.

Scott T.

  • The whole building is wireless. Why do I need conduit for AV?

Doug F.

  • Immersive Telepresence is worth the money.
  • For VC, you can hang a Polycom QDX 6000 (or similar such camera) on the back wall of an auditorium, 150 feet away from the stage, and the remote audience will like it just fine.
  • Flush-mounted boundary mics in conference room tables are a great idea!

Ron D.

  • “As long as the impedance presented to my amplifier is equal to or greater than its rating, I can safely drive as many speakers as I want!” …FAIL!

Marty W.

  • I can use a 6 pt. font size in my PowerPoint presentation. Looks fine on my laptop, should look ok to the folks in the auditorium. And they’ll really appreciate how efficient I was by cramming my entire presentation onto one slide!

Dana B.

  • Our group has been working on this project for 6 months and you (who you’ve just met) are the person who’s going to make it go perfect!
  • ” It was just working in the shop”

Timothy L.

  • Two 3/4 inch conduits are the same as one 1 1/2 inch conduit.

Douglas M.

  • Just splice it, it’ll be OK.
  • Why do we need spare bulbs?
  • We never had a grounding problem before.
  • Why can’t you take this Instructor-led 3-week course and turn it into a 3-hour PowerPoint?
  • I want one small remote control to run EVERYTHING!
  • Let’s not forget “Smoke, I want Smoke and Lasers!” And it’s just a sales presentation.
  • Let’s not forget, “Don’t worry, its future proof.”
  • And my favorite, “This shouldn’t take you to long to modify, right?”

 Dan W.

  • Can’t you make it look great with the fluorescent lights we already have?
  • Money is no object
  • I need all of my spread sheet to show on this one slide.
  • We don’t need acoustical treatment; we are not trying to be a recording studio.
  • Can’t you do something to fix it??? i.e.: Bigger, Clearer, Louder, Legible, in focus, not distorted…
  • Why are these video files so huge???
  • Looks (or sounds) great to me. Usually heard from deaf and/or blind clientele.
  • Oh, just one more thing…….

 Greg L.

  • Fast, Good and Cheap. Pick any two.
  • You want it fast and good it won’t be cheap.
  • You want it cheap and good it won’t be fast.
  • You want it fast and cheap it won’t be good.
  • All though I do aim for perfection with every event that I do

 Jonathan K.

  • Myth – This show is EXACTLY like the one we did last time.  Truth – 99.44% not likely. There’s always some change that needs to be addressed.
  • Just had a client email me and say “Just give me what you gave me the last time.” Then I called and asked some questions. The “last time” was not what was needed for this time. Close, but not exactly.

Eddie M.

  • “Yes and I want wireless speakers too, you are not spoiling my new décor” followed by “Batteries, I have absolutely no intention of changing batteries!!!!” followed by “look if you can’t do it wirelessly without batteries I’ll find someone who can” :p

John D.

  • Here’s a myth, “we’ll have volunteer labor for the loadout.” I have one group that ever actually does have volunteers…

William B.

  • “But my video conferencing unit is HD, why are all my calls at 384?”
  • “no one touched anything, It just stopped working”

John D.

  • Actually you are right on. the ultimate AV Myth IS “HD videoconferencing”

Paul B.

  • I see this as a myth from installers: “All the wiring and routing has been tested and verified.”

William H.

  • “The client doesn’t need/want a big fancy control system  … they just want to control it with their iPads.”

Jim C.

  • “What do you mean ‘cable run’? Aren’t all cameras wireless now?”
  • “Why can’t you play a H.264 file on a tape deck?”
  • “Why do you need lights? My video camera at home can shoot in the dark.”
  • “You can’t do 16×9 in SD.”
  • And my favorite: “Well can’t you just ….”  Anytime I hear the “J-word” I know I’m in trouble.

 Timothy D.

  • Myth: “If I test it today, it will still work tomorrow.”

Grant F.

  • If we can’t fix it it’s not broke…
  • I think I have that adaptor….
  • Will tape that down right away
  • You won’t need a spare lamp the projector almost new..
  • You can put that omni mic anywhere it will work

Leah W.

  • This is not a myth, but a fundamental corollary: The higher the level of exec and the more critical that a meeting be flawless = the greater probability of trouble.

John D.

  • Especially if that high level exec wants direct wireless control his PPT deck… but we all know we humor them on that issue :)

Thanks to all who submitted, posted or sent in comments.


REDBAND Is always looking for new bloggers with a Strong Voices – Click here and Be heard!


AV Helpdesk Inc. is hiring in the Boston Area

AV Helpdesk Inc.

Audiovisual Design & Engineering


The company that I work, AV Helpdesk Inc., is looking for a qualified local onsite Audiovisual Service Technician in the Boston area.

For more information or to submit a resume please email:

UPDATE: Follow link  to Job Posting and Details : CLICK HERE

Check out this Video from NSCA – Chucks Blog: Expectations of New Generation Employees

Chucks Blog: Expectations of New Generation Employees

 What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?


 Check out this and other NSCA AV Industry videos on YouTube by clicking Here or visit their website at


Updated Audiovisual Training Links Page Audiovisual Training Links

I updated or added the following links on the Career Training Links Page:

  • Crown
  • Heil Sound
  • Sachtler
  • Gitzo

Please note the new address.  The Link above is the correct address.

Thanks Again,


RED BAND: Embracing Apple Mind Think By John Sciacca

Embracing Apple Mind Think By John Sciacca

“Think different.” – Apple

Whether you’re a Mac or a PC (and, for the record, I’m a PC), you’ve got to hand it to Apple. They went from a company on the brink of total irrelevancy to a market dominating innovator on multiple fronts whose stock closed Friday with a market cap crossing the $600 billion mark. Apple is beloved by consumers, stands at the paragon of product hype and desirability, and can move the market and hold pricing in a retail environment that is increasingly cutthroat.

What can we learn from them?

At the 2011 CEDIA EXPO I sat next to Russound’s CEO, Charlie Porritt, at dinner one evening and he shared one of the more profound quotes I heard at the show. Charlie said that while Russound was meeting with Apple to implement AirPlay into a new media streamer, one of the Apple executives held up a key component and said, “This part costs $15 (at manufacture) right now. What would you do if it was $1? How would that change what you made? How would that change what you do?”

It’s a simple idea, but it’s also quite profound and illustrates the forward, look-ahead of Apple mind-think. Don’t get hung up on what IS right now; think about what it could be, what it should be, what it will be and then change, prepare and work towards getting it there.

Where Apple is big enough to push pricing downward, our businesses are subject to the pricing whims of outside factors. And we face the exact opposite issue; things we sell are continually dropping in price and in margin. Think about what you are selling today for $1000; what would you do if it was $100? How would that change what you do? While we can’t move pricing, we have to anticipate the changes and adapt to them. Prepare and plan and then act accordingly.

To continue reading click Here.

John Sciacca started a personal blog back in 2010 which dared to ask the hard questions like, “Huh?” and “Whaa?” all written in a pithy, deliciously witty and uproarious manner. His blog likes to make new friends and would love to have you over for some caramels. You can follow John Sciacca on Twitter @sciaccatweets  and at his personal blog

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I’m Back!

I am back from my 2 week vacation in Portugal. I loved every minute of my time there and look forward to going back. I was great place to disconnect at least for a few days until i discovered Free WiFi in at the Turismo office in Sao Martinho do Porto. Nothing like a morning espresso and beautiful weather while reading your mail.

While there I worked on some blog material and articles to write about so look for them soon. The first to hit this week will be my first Ebook. I had been working on this for some time now and that should be ready later in the week. Along with the Ebook look for new articles from the Red Band Bloggers. I have 3 new  band member ready to go with their own take on AV.

It’s was nice to take some down time and recharge.

Thanks again for following the blog and I am truly honored by all the great emails, posts and feedback I have been receiving.



Vacation Pic: Not a single HD Antennae to be found


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