The idea behind REDBAND is simple…Find unique individuals in the AV industry and give them a platform to air their views. George Tucker was the first to use the opportunity and write about the online AV community the rest is REDBAND lore. Since then REDBAND has grown and developed as a group. In under a year REDBAND has grown to 16 contributors from various geographical regions and backgrounds. I never expected the idea of guest bloggers to have flourished into what it is today. I wish I could sit here and write about this grand plan of where AVshout.com and the REDBAND bloggers are heading but fact is we do what we do because we love what we do for a living. If we didn’t we wouldn’t put in a full work day, come home, eat and work on AV related blogs, podcasts and videos.
Most recently we launched our first foray into the podcast space with the help of AV Nation. While at InfoComm 2013 Mark Coxon, George Tucker, Mike Brandes and I went into the studio to record an unscripted view of the show we were attending. Having no idea where the conversation was heading was the main idea behind the show’s concept. When it was all said and done the end result was exactly what we had wanted. We had taken the idea of “shop talk” and put it on “tape”. What we didn’t expect was the response we received to the podcast when it was released on AV Nation. The hits, tweets, likes and downloads were better than we could have imagined. Again this goes back to the fact that we don’t see ourselves as anything special…we’re regular “Joes” in the industry.
As soon as I got back from Infocomm 2013 I began to work on an idea that Todd Puma and I had been working on. The original concept was to showcase or uncover people, places or ideas that touch our industry both directly and indirectly. When I brought the idea to Tim Albright, the founder of AV Nation, he liked the idea but not even Tim was aware of what we were planning. With Tim’s ok I approached Verrex with the show concept.
A few months back I had visited the Verrex headquarters for an industry event. While entering the building for the event I could hear a band rehearsing in the background. I later found out that the band I heard rehearsing in the background was Verrex employees who would get together every so often and Jam after-hours. Thinking back to the event I thought how awesome it would be to someday have an AV tech band play on the podcast. Most of our roots as AV professionals come from the music and performance industry. Ask around your office “Who played in a band or was a DJ?” Some were “unofficial” roadies for friends and family bands by default. Eventually they developed a skill that they translated into a career later on in life. I knew then what to do for our next podcast.
I approached Verrex with the idea to have the Band on the show and bring Tom Berry Jr., the CEO of Verrex, as our featured guest as well. I thought “How cool is that a company in our industry allows its employees to jam in the office”. The concept of a show based on how AV companies were changing and embracing a new style of company culture was interesting to both me and the members of REDBAND. REDBAND attacked the idea like a pack of hungry wolves…They loved the idea.
So the stage was set for our 2nd episode of REDBAND Radio. So how do we do this? George went to work on the audio portion of the project and figured out a way to bring the bands audio onto the show while the rest of REDBAND kept pushing other ideas that would make it “real cool”. We agreed that the idea of video would be the “cherry” on top of a cool concept. One catch… no one told Verrex. We worked diligently on the video idea afterhours testing back and forth. We tested a few different platforms to bring video to the show. It wasn’t until the night before the show that we felt comfortable enough with the Google/ YouTube platform to move forward with it as an acceptable means to do video.
The day of the show George, Todd, Jacqueline and I showed up onsite to set up for the show. By the way Jacqueline has not been officially announced but she is one of the newest REDBAND members who will soon post her first article. In typical AV fashion as soon as we walked in the door many of us knew or had worked in the past with some of Verrex’s team. Once we got past the hellos we quickly moved to the set up. The podcast portion of the show was relatively simple to set up. We had audio feeds ready and additional mixers on hand along with our computers. I had brought a spare PC for back up and few other devices “just in case”.
As the set up began we quickly found out that the dedicated laptop for the Verrex Band was giving us problems. We decided to remove the laptop from the equation and grab the audio and camera feed elsewhere. When the backup option failed the bulk of the operation fell onto my PC hence the technical difficulties that came across on the show. I should have been better prepared with more than just a secondary backup so that responsibility falls squarely on me. But the Show must go on and it did technical issues and all.
Looking back at the event I can say that we “overtaxed” my pc. We can also attribute some of the issues to network/bandwidth as well. Once we added video to the equation we knew that we would be changing everything. We each have been in AV long enough to know how much video can slow a pc or network down. Regardless of the issues we would soldier on Live. Verrex only found out about the video addition when we set up the cameras. In a way I’m glad it worked out that way. Verrex’s CEO was dressed down in jeans and a t-shirt and not expecting to be on video. Instead of panicking about corporate image he did exactly what we were hoping for he sat and talked to us like one of the gang.
What you saw and heard was 100% real conversation that took place inside Verrex’s warehouse. I guess the whole event was more REDBAND’s style than we originally expected. Everything from the Rock Band performing, to Sitting in the warehouse with equipment as our backdrop, to interviewing a major integrator in our industry while he sitting there in a Rolling Stones t-shirt couldn’t have been better. We had a vision and video was part of that. Pushing the limits of traditional podcasting that has been used in our industry and going out a live from a major AV integrator headquarters with a LIVE band not only special but it made the event unique and unprecedented. I can’t say enough of about the event without thanking Verrex for the opportunity and for rolling with the surprises. They were along for the ride and hopefully a great time with it.
Moving forward you can be assured that we will fix our technical issues. We have already met a few times since the show to discuss our lessons learned. It’s truly impressive how a group of late night writers, who already volunteer hours of their “off time”, are working tenaciously on solutions to improve the next podcast. I don’t doubt the members of the REDBAND because as the quote says:
“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew
I look forward to your feedback, comments, ideas and criticism. It’s how we learn.