REDBAND: Get a job! 10 steps to becoming an A/V Pro By John Sciacca

Get a job! 10 steps to becoming an A/V Pro By John Sciacca


It doesn’t happen as much anymore, but there was a time when one of my top “Questions from Readers” was, “How do I get a job in the Custom Installation industry?”

And it’s easy to see why people are interested in this industry.  You get to meet tons of interesting people, nearly every project/day at work is different, and you’re constantly working with the newest technologies and coolest gadgets. Arrive at a house in a van loaded down with high-tech goodies, be viewed by your customer’s as some mash-up between a computer genius, wizard and super hero, and then at the end of the day, press a single button and make…magic. Unlike any other trade – electrician, plumber, HVAC, cable/telephone, gardener – A/V installers are generally celebrated when they come to a house. They bring with them a head-full of knowledge and make a house a fun place to live.

However, it isn’t all just sitting around hooking-up amazing systems and watching movies, oh sorry, I mean “calibrating video” all day…

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



REDBAND: The Video Vandal leaves his mark – The 10 spot

The 10 Spot

  • The display designed for the application will never be better than “that guys” TV at Home…you know who you are.
  • “It’s not loud enough” & “it’s not bright enough” are now both universally accepted technical terms.
  • All AV equipment is unsightly and will always need to be hidden in remote areas where unsightly devices go to be forgotten. Thank goodness distance limitations do not exist.
  • AV drawings that have device locations labeled as “future” is code for “not happening”
  • The true value behind the art of Value Engineering is to kindly tell you that your site survey and needs analysis were never really necessary.
  • AV equipment is always at fault regardless that the presenter was presenting while on a  “pay as you go” Mifi connection and on a moving train in Eastern Europe.
  • IT “speaks” three distinct languages…PC, MAC & IP. While AV is more like a Nomadic tribe with over 100 distinct languages & dialects and few dead languages. Rabbit Ears, Cassette Tape & Reel to Reel Rest In Pieces guys!
  • Audiovisual can really impact a Presentation, Meeting or Conference so expect your first introduction/meeting to start 10 minutes into the event.
  • Using bigger fonts and more slides in a presentation is much more costly than re-engineering the presentation system.
  • 10 remotes on a table is a great alternative to a control system. Even the end-users would agree with the savings.

Video Vandal.

REDBAND – Customer Service: One Bad “Apple” Can Spoil The Bunch by Ward Hails

Customer Service: One Bad “Apple” Can Spoil The Bunch by Ward Hails

About a month ago, my 15” 2008 MacBook Pro booted normally and I began my Sunday as I would any other. After briefly checking the headlines I closed the lid, and made myself a pot of coffee. Upon lifting the lid to write an email…

… a brief white flash, and then nothing. This was a first, and although I am quite capable around a computer, this was a different scenario altogether.

I held down the power button, and the machine seemed to power off. Yet no matter what I tried (PRAM, battery out, etc.), the laptop simply wouldn’t reboot. It seemed stuck in a zombie like state. Disheartened, I made an appointment online and prepared to haul my brick to the nearest Apple retail location (Yorkdale Mall, Toronto, Ontario).

In the interim, I did a little research – and what I found was encouraging. After viewing a forum on Apple’s main support site, I found a link that seemed to suggest a repair would be covered – free of charge! Apparently, Apple had been “investigating” problems with Nvidia’s GeForce 8600M series graphics chips, and they were found to be defective.

From the link, above:


In July 2008, NVIDIA publicly acknowledged a higher than normal failure rate for some of their graphics processors due to a packaging defect. At that same time, NVIDIA assured Apple that Mac computers with these graphics processors were not affected. However, after an Apple-led investigation, Apple has determined that some MacBook Pro computers with the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor may be affected. If the NVIDIA graphics processor in your MacBook Pro has failed, or fails within four years of the original date of purchase, a repair will be done free of charge, even if your MacBook Pro is out of warranty.

What to look for:

  • Distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen
  • No video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on

Specific products affected:

  • MacBook Pro 15-inch and 17-inch models with NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics processors
    • MacBook Pro (17-Inch, 2.4GHz)
    • MacBook Pro (15-Inch, 2.4/2.2GHz)
    • MacBook Pro (Early 2008)
  • These computers were manufactured between approximately May 2007 and September 2008

I felt confident that Apple would help me sort out this unfortunate failure, and I’d be on my way in a couple of days. I had a bad chip, it was covered under an extended warranty (I was two months inside of the four-year date-of-purchase cutoff, and remain within the cutoff as of this writing), and there ought to be nothing to worry about. Apple’s service was renowned, after all.

Not so.

I arrived at the store, surrendered my laptop, and waited patiently for about ten minutes. The first “genius” to look at my computer determined that the logic board had failed, and that I’d need a new one, and it would be $600, plus taxes. I was a bit confused, given that a free warranty replacement had been offered to all customers experiencing this failure.

“Were you thinking of buying a new computer today?” he asked. Wait – what? I was totally stunned.

I attempted to explain what the problem was and how I was entitled to a free repair. I did this more than once, and short of drawing pictograms this “genius” seemed unable or unwilling to understand.

I left and fumed while I ate breakfast. I decided that my best option was to leave the computer with Apple, and speak to a manager when things were less hectic. Bad decision.

Apple Yorkdale held on to my laptop for a week, and despite numerous conversations with a manager, (who had no technical expertise, a point she admitted) the response was the same: I’d have to pay for a repair, and I’d have to pay a lot. The manager finally offered a discount, and although not much – I took her offer.

I had been stonewalled.

By now, I was more than a little frustrated. After doing a bit more research that evening, I became livid.

There were thousands of postings online, from literally all over the world, from users experiencing the exact same problem. One blogger had even resorted to a lawsuit – which he would eventually win - when his $5000 17” MacBook Pro failed due to a faulty Nvidia chip. There were plenty of customers (including friends of mine) who’d received the warranty replacement without so much as a second thought. Yet I was being told to pay, and pay full price. This whole process seemed to be totally arbitrary. What the hell was going on?

I cancelled my repair the next morning and accused the manager of running a scam. I have never experienced more dishonest service, anywhere, at any point in my life.

I reclaimed my bricked laptop from Apple, and took it to a third-party Apple repair centre. The tech quickly confirmed that the problem was related to the Nvidia chip issue and further – I didn’t require a new logic board, as Apple had so fervently insisted. I was furious.

I have already ordered a replacement for my MacBook Pro. It’s a Lenovo. And it was less than half the cost of a comparable MacBook. And I can upgrade it – not something that can be said for the new MacBook Pro.

With the near-constant hype surrounding Apple’s every move, I’m sure that quite a few breathless sycophants will continue to propel the company’s success. But there is no doubt things have changed. The stumbling release of FCPX, the lagging uncertainty surrounding the MacPro line-up, and articles like this one make me think that Apple is not the same company it was when I originally purchased my laptop.

Tim Cook’s focus as a CEO is fundamentally different than that of the late Steve Jobs. Where Jobs seemed willing to interact with (even angry) customers directly, Tim Cook is undoubtedly aloof. Jobs placed incredible emphasis on design, whereas Cook seems to find his strength in lowering the average cost-per-unit. Apple may continue to be a behemoth in personal electronics for years to come, but after the Kafkaesque experience I’ve had with the “new” Apple I feel pretty sure that the company has already abandoned the principles on which Steve Jobs re-built the company. The consequences of that decision may take years to play out, but if Apple has become arrogant enough to believe that customer service no longer matters, you can be sure that the consequences will be severe.

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.


Earlier this year I was interviewed by Anna Mitchell for an article on Audiovisual technology and its use in collaborative workspaces. The magazine was distributed at Infocomm 2012. Here is the online version…

Anna Mitchell’s Collaborative Workspaces in InAVate Magazine.

Click here to Read the Article.


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,