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Vetting the Crew–Choosing the Right People for the Right Job

Vetting the Crew–Choosing the Right People for the Right Job
  • In the wild west of live events, it’s clear that the technicians rule the world. They transform black boxes of miscellaneous gadgets and gizmos into these amazing displays and moving experiences for the audience. Whether a small, medium, or large show, it is critical to have a talented crew to ensure a successful outcome. The team in place can either make or break a show, and it is extremely important to take the proper measures to place the right people in the right jobs for your next event.

Author Les Goldberg
The live events industry has transformed so much in the last few decades and technicians today are required to wear many hats. Whether specifically an audio, video, lighting, or LED technician, they also need to be computer gurus to be able to operate the equipment. Technology is also changing so rapidly; technicians need to make time for ongoing training to keep current with the latest equipment on the market. Each show is just one cue away from failure, and a highly trained, skilled technician that knows exactly what to do in the event an issue arises, whether a technical or human error, can make all the difference in what happens next to determine the outcome. Even the best technician can make a mistake, but with proper training and experience those types of issues will be resolved efficiently and competently, and the show will go on.

Given these circumstances, it’s critical to vet the crew. But, how do you go about making sure you have the right team in place? One of the first pieces to analyze when hiring the crew for the show is the size and scale of the event. If you were holding a breakout session for 10 people as opposed to a show for 10,000 people, obviously the required skill level of the crew is going to be drastically different. The level of technical sophistication is much higher, the number of devices, and interconnectivity involved in putting on a large scale show demands a crew with advanced training and a highly experienced skill level. When looking at the team to hire, it is key to not only determine each person’s competency level, but also whether that expertise can be delivered successfully on a large scale.

Another factor when hiring the technical team is to consider the equipment list for the event. When you are lining up the team of technicians who will be operating the equipment, confirm that they know how to work the specific gear that will be onsite. For example, the term video technician can be vague, and even if those technicians have decades of experience, don’t make the assumption they have worked with the exact equipment that was specified for the event. A widescreen event with a 4K resolution will have a different lineup of gear than HD, so even if your team has done a large number of HD events, it won’t necessarily translate to expertise in 4K. The last thing anyone needs on a show is a crew that ends up “in the weeds” because they’ve never worked on the specified equipment, so conduct technical interviews beforehand and be sure all equipment expectations are met.

In addition, checking references or asking someone for a referral can be a vital step. The live events industry thrives on building relationships with people you can trust and count on over time to get the job done. Tap into your trusted network to find additional talent. Generally, people are not inclined to put their reputation on the line to recommend someone else that may be potentially incompetent, or not a good fit for your needs. For example, if you’re doing a show in city with a union venue in which you have never worked in the past, reach out to your network and ask for recommendations. You can request a specific person(s) with the union, and knowing that someone has had hands-on experience with your technicians can be a great reassurance.

The amount of talent that exists today throughout the live events industry is staggering. Everyday these magicians manage to build new immersive experiences and innovations from one venue to the next, within short time periods. The key to success is doing the homework in advance to make sure you put the right team on the right show with qualified people. Technical skill comes in many different forms and levels, and it’s extremely important to vet the crew to find the right mix of talent that fits together to create synergy on show site. Success on a show is defined by having all the equipment work and all the buttons pushed at the right time. Investing the time to ensure you have a qualified and experienced crew can make all the difference between a show with challenges and a successful outcome.