ATK AudioTek provided sound for the 2006 Grammy Awards.ATK Audiotek started in 1983, doing local events until it broke into televised shows. As technology has developed through the years ATK has changed with it, adopting the newest digital consoles and fiber. At times, ATK would lead the charge on new technology, employing products such as power distros for award shows. This innovation has lead them to become one of the leaders in professional staging for audio.
Brett Velasek, logistics coordinator for ATK AudioTek, explained the objective of the company. "We focus on doing the best job possible and because we're so focused on working with the clients and giving the best show, we put out the best product. We have to look at the big picture but at the same time we're looking at making each show the best product possible for the client and event."
ATK works with many high profile clients, such as VH1 and the Film Academy. While the added pressure of working with such prestigious clientele can be quite stressful, ATK thrives in this environment, as Velasek explains. "Working with such high profile clients that expect so much from you forces us to be flexible. There's an understanding that things may not always be the way we went them to be but we work with what we have. And we're always looking for new products out there, if there's a new product or idea from manufacturers we're not afraid to implement them. There's a lot of new things out there and you've got to make sure you're comfortable enough to try it out on large events with big clients."
Being a national company out of a centralized office in Valencia, CA, obliges ATK to send trucks all over the country. As we speak, six semis of gear are sitting in South Florida being prepped for this year's Super Bowl. ATK continues to get events out of its region based on its commitment to be the best. Velasek said, "Whether its the Grammys in NY or one of the shows we do in Vegas, we're there. And there are plenty of sound companies in Vegas that could do these shows, but we continue to get them because of how well we do the large events. No matter what type event it is we put the same amount of effort in it. Everyone works together to make sure the gear is complete and correctly prepped as possible."
To help train newer employees for the high-profile events, ATK will often put trainees on smaller, local events to prepare them for televised ones. Velasek expanded, "We do plenty of smaller or specialized events and that's one way we educate the newer employees here. Everyone we use isn't able to do all the high-profile events yet, so we use the smaller, less stressful events to develop the newer individuals. It takes quite a bit to get everyone comfortable at these large events, there's a lot going on. The smaller events build the confidence of the individual."
ATK has a massive inventory, but since they are primarily an audio company, there gear is very specific to its needs. Velasek explained, "We try to keep our inventory somewhat simple because we do so many different types of shows if I catered to all different types of equipment I'd have a very wide variety of products. But by keeping it simple it helps make it easier when putting shows together. And doing just audio helps us out when buying gear. We carry a lot of JBL products like the Vertec like the 4889 or 4887. And we also carry some Elecro-Voice Delta Max speakers. We don't carry powered line arrays, but we've gone through a lot of line arrays like the EAW 860 to the L-Acoustics V-DOSC."
Doing such a range of events, ATK tries to implement new gear into high-profile shows, but in such situations, where the world is watching, it often helps to use the most reliable gear. Velasek said, "The gear we're buying and bringing in is reliable and we're comfortable with it. With use a lot of Yamaha consoles because we're comfortable with them, but we're willing to try whatever fits into the scenario. With the amount of inventory we have, to make a change is pretty huge financially, so you have to look at what's best at the time. Where you spend your money can limit you, but keeping the inventory simple where any piece can go in any scenario, whether it's a huge or small event, is where our inventory should be."
ATK has been successful enough in the past to open several other divisions within the company. Besides a full rental division, ATK started ATK Services, an integration and installation division, and a communication division for event production. Having a rental division has helped ATK reduce in its campaign to reduce its need for sub-rentals. Velasek explained, "We have reduced our own sub-rentals substantially over the year by looking at how to manage the inventory appropriately and seeing what you're falling short on and making purchases accordingly. Most of the shows we're dealing with we don't have to deal with rigging so we don't have to bring a lot of that type of gear, but it's really all about planning."
ATK AudioTek installed several line arrays for the 2006 Grammys.
Most of ATK's high-profile shows are televised, which often brings interesting challenges to the production. Velasek recalled, "Since most of the shows are televised, as opposed to a concert, we've always got to keep the visuals for the best camera angles. Sometimes your PA can't go in the most optimized place, but you've still got to get the best quality sound. The newer technology is making it easier to put your PA in a place that's maybe less desirable but still getting the best sound you can for the event. With the development of line array this has become even easier."
While working at such events, ATK is charged with doing only the audio, leaving the rest to other contractors. Working in such an environment can be confusing and complex, but the focus is still there. Velasek agreed, "Working with lighting guys and video guys can be crazy, but we're all there to put together the best product we can."
A recent regional event for ATK was VH1's "Best In 06" on December 2nd, 2006 at Sony Stages. ATK used a PM-1D for music, a PM1D for monitors, and PM-5D for FOH. It also used 28 JBL Vertec VT4889s, 21 Vertec VT4887s, eight Vertec VT4880As, 40 of its own proprietary monitors. Velasek said, "With the way technology's changing for everybody, from sound to lighting, we're all able to do more for the audience. And now there's usually numerous performance areas instead of a localized one." The event featured several stages with performances by the Killers and "Weird Al" Yankovich.
As the Super Bowl nears, ATK has invaded South Florida with its semis in preparation for the extravaganza that is the Super Bowl Half Time Show. For such a large event ATK employs its PA cart system that it rolls out for the event. Being centralized in SOCAL can cause problems if some of the gear comes up short. But for Velasek, his savior is the internet. He concluded, "Being here in SoCal and doing a show in Miami we've always got to know the local PA vendor and the type of gear they carry before you're actually calling them. The Internet has made this a lot easier, I don't know what people did before it." For more information visit www.atkcorp.com.