Contractors To Find Value At AES

New York - The annual Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention may attract sound pros from all corners of the industry, but it has been a familiar observation over the years that the show leaned towards the recording side of things. Without question, there's always been top live sound manufacturers showing cutting edge equipment, and recent years have seen the addition of various live sound workshops and events like the annual Roadwarriors panel. But the perception, whether deserved or not, has motivated AES to making sure every visitor knows it's a live sound show, too.

"I always felt that when I went to AES, I was seeing it more from a recording aspect," admitted live sound events co-chair John Kilgore. Working with co-chair Mary Falardeau, he's aiming to change that and ensure that the 119th AES Convention lives up to its theme, "Where Audio Comes Alive." The Convention will be held October 7-10, 2005 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York, and within its walls, audio pros will find not only the latest gear from exhibitors but also a specific live sound-oriented symposium series, developed by Kilgore and Falardeau.

"There has been a concerted effort to provide a track," said Kilgore, "that someone interested in live sound could go to all day for every day of AES. We wanted to be able to provide that-a forum for people who are practitioners of this art to get together and disseminate a little of their knowledge to their colleagues."

Things will kick off on Friday, October 6 with a series of largely theater-related symposiums featuring a roundtable of Broadway sound designers discussing the musical; a program on wireless mic placement and handling for actors; and sound design for drama, discussing soundscapes and scores.

While these speak to Kilgore and Falardeau's shared background in theatrical sound, he is quick to dispel any notion that the convention's live sound programming is rooted solely in that arena. "That's Friday, but then Saturday starts with a symposium on system tuning and our emphasis there, while we might touch on theater, is more on larger venues," he noted. That day's offerings include "Wireless Management in Stressful Environments," which examines how top experts handle live and televised events with multiple channels of RF and RF intercom. An "Intercom and Large Scale Events" session delves into the extraordinary efforts that go into coordinating and regulating communications at the Olympics, the Super Bowl and other stadium-sized events.

"Sunday, we're talking about industrial audio, playback and 'PA for TV,'" Kilgore offered. "The morning session is 'Industrial Strength Audio-Corporate Theater and Its Peculiarities,' and what we mean by that is product roll-out stuff, the quick in, the quick out. So to the extent that corporate theater can be called 'theater,' yeah, OK, but really the focus is on doing product roll-outs, meetings and so on.

"As for 'Playback,' the focus there will be playback for live television, and shows that are taped live. Obviously there are a number of shows where it's gotten to be very intensive in their use of playback, so it's quite timely. Sunday afternoon, we're doing 'PA for TV: Mixing for a Live Audience while Satisfying Production Demands,' because when you're doing live sound for an event that's being taped, you have to make sure the audience can hear what's going on, yet you can't get in the way of the audio feed for broadcast, and that's not always easy to do. Then on Monday, the last symposium is 'Touring Sound.'"

Putting together a symposium series of such breadth, ensuring that there's literally 'something for everyone,' is no simple effort, and it's one that Kilgore and Falardeau have been working at for months. Fortunately, they've found a welcome reaction from the audio community. "I think it's been pretty positive," said Kilgore. "A lot of people have expressed interest in participating or finding out what's going to be covered. I've discovered once again that it's a small, tight community where everybody does in fact know everyone else. A lot of the business runs on a level of friendship, and that is very satisfying, to know that there's this level of congeniality out there, because a lot of people say 'yeah, sure, I'll be on a panel with who? Great.' What the business runs on is relationships. Sure, we all have our little areas of specialized knowledge, but unless you have good relationships with colleagues, it would be very difficult, so I hope it will further not only technical knowledge but also relationships."