Thread: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

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  1. #1
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    Default Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    It's been a while since we had a story about one of the moderators of
    this sub-forum, now is the time.

    A bit of background. RC and I do some lights and sound for a small band
    in our area as you may know. A bit ago one of my co-workers that I
    interact with a lot mentioned that his daughter, M., just out of high
    school, wanted to get into the fantastic world of live audio. So when
    schedules matched up she has been working with us as an intern. This
    fall she got started in the Theater Tech program at the local university
    with a focus in sound. Trying to help her get real exposure I contacted
    Pounce to see if she could shadow him on an event to see how the pros do
    it.

    Pounce being the guy he is was very willing to help with the education
    of M. We left the pick of an event up to Pounce. We had a bunch of
    scheduling issues because M. was for a first semester student, getting
    put to work at school quickly. She had A2 duties for a musical at
    school as well as being required to be present at all the strikes. The
    scheduled event that finally worked was over a month off, but it would
    be something that showed a wide range of audio duties. Close to the
    date Pounce had more details, and the day expanded from a rehearsal and
    live show at the Ohio Theater, to a setup of a different show at
    Pounce's home base the Southern Theater, and then the main event at the
    Ohio Theater.

    The day for us started just after noon. Time was tight for the setup at
    Southern, so M. just stood back and watched and asked me a few things
    about what was going on. It was a setup for 20-ish member group from
    the Columbus Symphony. Pounce did put her to work a bit, she was on
    the stage going from wedge to wedge as Pounce tested the feeds to each.

    Setup done, we all walked up the street to get food at nice local place.
    Then it was time for questions, and getting caught up on what everyone
    had been doing lately. Still a bit rushed we made our way on foot
    another block to the Ohio Theater. Setup for the show was had already
    been done, it was just the start of a rehearsal for the one show later
    that night. Right away we heard about some of the "trouble" from the
    video guys about the colors not being right.

    The event was not a high channel count, but had a mix of just about
    everything. A nine person band in the pit, good players, a 200 person
    choir, audio feed and click from some of the videos, a few lav mics, and
    a few handheld. The band members were good players and very
    professional. The people speaking were a mixed bag. Also they didn't
    rehearse with the solo singers except for two kids. Along with the
    video color issue, the head of the event was snapping about missed
    lighting or video cues during the rehearsal. They were not directed at
    Pounce but it was getting to him. The only time he came close to
    showing it was when the two boy solo signers came out, each grabbed a
    mic off the stand, and proceeded to smack them on the top and say, "Is
    this on?" The director of the show took the hit as the "bad guy", she
    yelled across venue, "don't hit the mics!"

    With the rehearsal over, we all talked about the setup for the show,
    answered more of M's questions, and he gave his basic philosophy on
    starting a live mix and keeping a band happy. During the show I was in
    the audience and M. stayed alongside Pounce at the mixer. The show
    turned out well. Some of the people speaking were not part of the
    rehearsal. It figures that woman with the most to say didn't speak up.
    The solo performers, which again we hadn't seen yet, all did a good a
    job. Pounce said he felt more relaxed in later parts of the program
    when all the speeches and talking was done and it was just band and
    choir, less unknowns. After the show M. I walked back a few blocks to
    the parking structure as Pounce and crew had to load out the show.

    I found this out about Pounce. Even when stressed and rushed, he still
    is a very nice, polite guy, willing to share his knowledge. I thought
    he had all his keyboards at home, (he has a wall of keyboards in his
    studio). His office has a vintage DX7 and a slightly newer Ensoniq in
    it. I think he has a hidden stash of classic keys, he just doesn't want
    us to know about it.

    Pounce, it was good to see you again and get caught up. M. had a great
    time and learned a lot. Bottom line, many, many thanks.
    Tori's Alibi

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    I will say from direct experience of observing Mr. Pounce in his professional capacity, that he is one of that rare and elusive cohort...the "real deal."

    Pounce is a professional in the TRUE sense of the word. He has very strong opinions but is ego-free. He is eminently knowledgeable about his craft but has the curiosity and wonder of a complete newbie. He is magnanimous and utterly selfless.

    In other words, I'd marry him. IF I wasn't also a guy, and IF I wasn't also foresworn off marriage as a concept. Not to mention, he's already taken.

    When he took me and my family backstage for the in-the-round in-the-tent cyclorama "Peter Pan" show, I, a veteran of backstage, learned an incredible amount. Not just about modern state-of-the-art stage tech, but also about the processes, relationships, and risk-mitigation strategies of a true professional.

    (by the way...the Peter Pan show, which Pounce was mixing, sounded INCREDIBLE.)

    Now...full disclosure...the show had a big budget, and so Pounce wasn't exactly hamstrung. But I walked away with the sure perception that given some paperclips, duct tape, a nearby Radio Shack, and 15 minutes, Pounce could whip up an audio experience that the most discerning and disaffected audience couldn't find fault with.

    He's "that" good.
    "...but ma, audio engineering IS gainful employment!..."

    "...If I wuz at that club where Miles played one note I would have bounced ONE BOTTLE off his shiny fucking coconut. What? He's Phil Glass now?..." -Slipperman

    "...never attribute to magic, that which can be explained by conspiracy."
  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    I also echo the unspoken point of Spock's post...that educating the upcoming class is very important. I recently attended a concert at the local university, which was a middle-eastern quartet, basically all acoustic. Small room, very minimal requirements for achieving success.

    The guy who was seated at the soundboard was a dismal, utter failure. Not only did he do a terrible job, it was obvious that he also didn't even know what a "good" job would have sounded like, and probably worse, didn't seem to really care one way or the other.

    I don't think that is a "good" thing.
    "...but ma, audio engineering IS gainful employment!..."

    "...If I wuz at that club where Miles played one note I would have bounced ONE BOTTLE off his shiny fucking coconut. What? He's Phil Glass now?..." -Slipperman

    "...never attribute to magic, that which can be explained by conspiracy."
  4. #4
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    Ah shucks, very kind words.

    Happy to see help folks who have initiative and a true desire to be in this industry. I won't encourage people that don't already come to the table with the drive to do well, but if they do have that drive I'll try to assure that they have the education and opportunities to do something with it.

    By chance this happened to be a particularly busy and faster paced day. And of course the most stressful day of the week. Today in contrast to that, with three performances of two different shows, it was still super relaxed and fun and in that way the opposite of the high pressure of the day before. That was only because the show from the night before was with a group who puts a lot of importance into this as their highlight show of the year and have a lot of extra nervousness to navigate.

    We started the day at the lovely Southern Theatre, which is essentially my "home base". It's a smaller opera house space (approx 900 seats) but amazing acoustics. Really lovely place to do a show. We have quite a few resident arts groups there, one of which is the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. We set up for the rehearsal last night and performances starting tonight of Curtis Stigers and the CJO. Sounded really really good and that space is very intimate.

    After we did a set up for the CJO the food break was welcome but short. Then on to the Ohio Theatre. It's close so I just walked between them. We had already set up and had rehearsed in bits and bobs the day before. Things were at least roughly in place. Super lovely roughly 3000 seat house.

    Both systems happened to have Yamaha M7cl consoles in house, both were pretty filled up. The show with the Harmony Project choir at the Ohio took all 48 channels normally and were down to 45 because a small string section was cut from the pit. The show at the Southern was slightly less than that, just under 40. Fairly standard mic choices were used as both shows relied on house gear. No rental gear was used, as both groups are local residents arts groups. The "fanciest" kit in play was the earthworks piano mic system for the Steinway. Works great. Tons of other decent mics like Sennheiser 421's and such. Respectable, normal kit. Generally, nothing in either show was a technical stretch. Normal mics and methods, just a tight time frame.

    At the Ohio the user group was more nervous and tense and I'll fess up to eventually allowing that to get me tense by the end of the rehearsal. Always a bummer and to be avoided when possible. Today (the day after this show) was the opposite of that and much more the norm - everyone pretty cool and joking around top to bottom. The rehearsals and shows went better because of that.

    So my shadow caught the first show in a 12 show week (my week has 12 shows in 2 theatres, a recording session, two load in and load outs, a maintenance session for video gear, and general advance work on next weeks events- absolute insanity.) What was good is that the gear and procedures were pretty industry standard. Better yet, we talked about some nice big picture stuff and not just about technical tidbits. How to work dynamically and determine a mix approach that fits the material and serves the show, how to build volume but when to relax back a bit to not just constantly chase the top of the fader, how to actively mix and pay attention, with the choir we talked about using the female section for clarity and the males for power. We talked about gain staging and headroom. I used profanity, that's a given. We talked about the user defined keys and my shadow got to observe the speed at which things need to change on stage to keep nervous clients happy.


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  5. #5
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    Beer Thirty Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    This reminds me of when we had an audio student shadow the same group of us while we did the Columbus Symphony Orchestras pop season at the outdoor park a year ago. She was also a motivated young lady who was quick on the uptake and a person I'd be happy to have on my crew any day. There is something to getting the feel for the real speed and setup of this size of a show that you can only learn by soaking in it.

    Hope my guests had a nice time checking out two theatres and catching a load in, rehearsal, and show all in a whirlwind day. I was not able to be as chatty as I could have been even a day later, but that still made for a real look at living the dream.

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    Last edited by pounce; December 4th, 2014 at 02:56 PM.
  6. #6
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    I heard that M. Had a great day. Trust me if you had time and she had a bit to think about it, she would have kept you busy with questions. She seems to ask them after we load out from a club and are driving back to my place at 2AM.
    Tori's Alibi

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    Loved reading about it. You folks are beautiful
  8. #8
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    Our friends caught a good show, but they missed the incredible shows going on now - the gig at the Southern is amazing. Also, the theatre across the street had the fire alarms go off mid show so we all missed lots of unwanted excitement. At least they caught a decent day, but today was so good it made that look like chump change. That's just how this goes.
  9. #9
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    Cool stories, and photos.

    One thing I thought was intern M should have stuck around for the full load-out... you know, just to get the full glamor experience (and, hey, there is something to that work, too).

    I'm amazed at this whole gig of, well, bouncing back and forth between two gigs in the same day's work. I mean, aside from just the work and the time and logistics, that's keeping a hell of a lot maintained in your head as you go... I mean, it's not like you're going between "right, gig one is a piano and singer, and gig two is a speaker giving a slideshow" or something.

    The photos are cool, not just because there are a couple of pretty cool looking venues, but it looks like a pretty good example of part of this world. That is, aside from everything else, just the kinds of little puzzles in this stuff, if you have a lot going on in a show, a lot happening on stage, and it's just just how you're going to mic and mix stuff, but just the practical logistics of where to put everything, arrange it, get the signals from here to there, how you're going to sort that out with everything necessary including the mundane but vital stuff of people being able to get onstage, offstage, and move around even when there's little to no light without tripping over shit.

    Cool places, and having them a short walk apart is just great. That worked out nicely.

    Anyway.

    Now I have to go massage my brain and try to recover from dwoz talking about visiting Pounce backstage at a show in the round.


    JLE
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    Cool stories, and photos.

    One thing I thought was intern M should have stuck around for the full load-out... you know, just to get the full glamor experience (and, hey, there is something to that work, too)
    She has been getting a lot of "pushing boxes" around with me. And I'm sure you know what small clubs are like, no real loading dock, or even door, lots of steps, no ramps or a small elevator making you take 10 trips to get everything in.

    They announced in one of her classes that they can make a few bucks this weekend being stage hands at the local arena. She is doing the load in and out for Trans Siberian Orchestra.
    Tori's Alibi

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    TSO does a good big show. It will be great to work on. (I've worked with them a few times). M didn't see that sort of a load in with me, so it will be good to do.
  12. #12
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    And I'm sure you know what small clubs are like, no real loading dock, or even door, lots of steps, no ramps or a small elevator making you take 10 trips to get everything in.
    I'm thinking she would have a better deal schlepping cases with Pounce at the nice theaters!

    You saying that just brought a sudden ugly flashback of one club in particular. I think I only played there once. (But some friends were damned near house band for a bunch of time, so they experienced it a lot!) Was actually a nice open roomy club, with a good sized stage and all, pretty decent club to play.

    The problem was elsewhere. It was the second floor of a building, with a really high ceiling first floor, musicians access via a back staircase that was about two feet wide (not really, just felt like it) and with the above layout, it was basically like going up and back down to a third floor, one long straight shot no landings. Somebody had to have died loading in or out sometime in history. I just know that as a bass player, I took a look at this and was really happy I chose a rig that was not some refrigerator sized cabinet.

    Somebody with a B3 would say 'fuck it, I'm gonna go rent me one of them synthy thingies for this". That, or lose the will to live.


    She is doing the load in and out for Trans Siberian Orchestra.
    I see Pounce mentioned they have a big show.

    I saw them live, I don't know, a little over a decade ago, in about a 3000 seat theater. Much different from what I've seen of that show in glimpses since, where it looks like they've got about the biggest arena show you're going to find. Much more low key in the show I caught.

    I just remembered something else about that.

    In the middle of the show, there was a big <WHUMP>, and then, I realize all we're hearing is the floor wedges bouncing off the back upstage wall. It was maybe kind of fortunate coincidence that they were in the middle of a segment of a couple tunes with just a singer and two acoustic guitars, so it was suddenly kind of a natural acoustic show, and sort of worked.

    End of show, crowd filing out, I stopped by FOH and asked what happened. It turned out that literally, somebody tripped over a power cord, and suddenly the FOH mix position went down (with the power amps taking the surprise!), and then it took a couple minutes to get Humpty back together again. Oops.

    Just thought of that, thinking about the Pounce photos, and all the layout and cabling stuff... big lesson for Intern Girl... don't take that stuff lightly!


    JLE
    "A machine is only as effective as its user"-Wilbur Wright

    "I've suffered for my music, and now it's your turn"-Neil Innes

    "I am amazed every single day how so many think that you have to constantly DO things to engineer properly. In fact, you do as little as possible, and then only the things required. The trick is in knowing what is actually required."-Terry Manning

    "WE'RE ALL VILLAGE IDIOTS AT ONE POINT OR ANOTHER. "-der Schlippermensch

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    I've never actually seen Pounce actually do his thing, but it is my guess that he has about the same susceptibility to stress as a bucket of Portland Cement.


    otek
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    Heart warming thread. You're right, Otek.
  15. #15
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    I've seen Pounce in action and he is both utterly amazing and as cool as a dry ice iceberg. And an utterly great guy. Saw him doing the Peter Pan in the round and got the backstage tour.

    Blew my mind - I'd done some local small time theater but had no idea what the real stuff was like.
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    You guys are very kind. I'm humbled by this thread. Thanks for making my day.
  17. #17
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    Default Re: Pounce, Educating the Youth of Today

    Nothing to be humbled about! Our industry is about delivering a service with knowledge and class... in a time when both of are often forgotten. Its always a treat to work with someone who does both of these. Its evident Pounce is exaclty what more of we need the next generation to learn from!

    Good job, Pounce!
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