Lockdown Q&A: Young Freelancer of the Year, Oli Crump

Taking place this year from 9 to 13 November, TPi’s Production Futures goes online, offering a week of free web-based learning, resources and engagement with the global live events industry. The event also marks the return of the TPi Breakthrough Talent Awards, where students, freelancers and young people can be in with a chance of winning a seat at the TPi Awards 2021. TPi’s Jacob Waite catches up with last year’s Young Freelancer of the Year, Oli Crump to discover how he is keeping occupied in lockdown…

Where when the lockdown came into force?

“I was out with Stereophonics as a PA tech for Capital Sound when people started having serious conversations about how this would effect our industry. Three shows before the end of the tour the Support band flew back home to Texas early due to the impending travel restrictions, and pretty much as soon as I got home after the last show I found out that my next tour (Rick Astley for BCS Audio) was being postponed, and then soon after that the full lockdown was announced.”

Have you managed to find any industry-related work / projects during the past six months?

“Unfortunately not, I was happy with a bit of a break after a busy tour, but once it became apparent that the festival season would be affected too I started to look elsewhere. I was fortunate to find some work in a local factory assembling ultrasonic transducers, and I stayed there for a few months before moving out of the area for unrelated reasons. A few weeks ago I started working for a company installing and wiring up recording studios, so it’s nice to be back on team audio again.”

Have you developed or enhanced any industry-related skills in lockdown?

“In the first couple of months I followed a lot of the videos and webinars by L-Acoustics, DiGiCo and other manufacturers/freelancers – it was really great to see so many great resources being put online. I wish I could say I’d done more with my time, but with full-time work and then moving house I’ve kept pretty busy.”

How has this sudden change in work life balance and the luxury of time affected you?

“It’s certainly been interesting and I must say I’ve come to appreciate having my weekends and evenings back, but I’ve missed the constant pressure and responsibilities of my normal work.”

How do you see the next few months panning out for you?

“Your guess is as good as mine but I’m lucky enough to have some work for now, so I imagine I’ll continue to ride it out and dream of the gigs on the other side.”

What advice would you offer to young people looking to break into the industry at this strange time?

“There’s loads of resources online now – L-Acoustics/DiGiCo/Rational Acoustics have put loads of really useful content on YouTube, and a lot of software has extended trial periods now. Livestreams seem to be the main game at the moment so there’s no better time to be brushing up on your networking knowledge and getting nerdy about how to change your mix for broadcast.”

This article originally appeared in issue #254 of TPi, which you can read here.


Lockdown Q&A: Production Rookie, Harry Boyde

Taking place this year from 9 to 13 November, TPi’s Production Futures goes online, offering a week of free web-based learning, resources and engagement with the global live events industry. The event also marks the return of the TPi Breakthrough Talent Awards, where students, freelancers and young people can be in with a chance of winning a seat at the TPi Awards 2021. TPi’s Jacob Waite catches up with last year’s Production Rookie, Harry Boyde to discover how he is keeping occupied in lockdown…

Where when the lockdown came into force? What project(s) were you working on?

"I was in Melbourne, Australia, for a Robbie Williams concert at the F1. We were on-site getting ready to load in when the news came through that the F1, as well as the concert, were canceled. It was a long way to go for a show that didn't happen. I was also reprogramming Groove Armada's show for the Teenage Cancer Trust at The Royal Albert Hall. As well as working with Fatboy Slim's crew getting a special show together for his headline Glastonbury show."

Have you managed to find any industry-related work during the past six months?

"ER have been lucky enough to get to work on a couple of projects over the last 6 months, including a socially distanced festival called Revival Festival, where we provided an arsenal of lasers and special effects. Fortunately, some TV work has started to pick up for us which has included working with Blackskull Creative on an interesting project for Sigala & James Arthur's performance on Britain's Got Talent. We used a programming technique where we used rolling shutter cameras to create an effect with the lasers that look completely different to how the eyes see it."

Have you developed or enhanced any industry-related skills in lockdown?

"The ER Productions team have used the down-time productively to enhance our skills; this includes weekly programming and design tasks and video meetings for training. It has been great to hone in on some skills that normally we wouldn't have time to improve on. Since restrictions have eased we have also had more hands-on training in the warehouse on our own in-house products, online training from outside manufacturers and laser safety courses for America."

How has this sudden change in work life balance and the luxury of time affected you?

"Being a touring technician, it is normal for me to be flying around or sleeping on a tour bus, sometimes being away from home for months at a time. It has been great to reconnect with all of my old friends and family. Having this time to take a step back and reflect on where I am, has only given me the reassurance that I am doing what I love and that I am fortunate to have a career that I enjoy so much."

How do you see the next few months panning out for you?

"Of course, at the moment it is extremely difficult to predict the future and when live events will come back to how they were. I am taking things as they come and am keen to keep improving on my skills, ER Productions have a fantastic studio space which is full of lasers for us technicians to play with, as well as having some brilliant, experienced technicians, who are always more than happy to offer training and advice. We do have some projects in the books, so fingers crossed these will actually happen."

What advice would you offer to young people looking to break into the industry at this strange time?

"Now is a great time to hone in on skills and to get further training. ER Productions studio is a great resource to learn and fine tune your programming skills. ER Productions have full BEYOND capabilities plus various lighting desks including the new MA3. Don't give up on your ambitions; the industry will come back and when it does return it will be bigger and better than ever."

This article originally appeared in issue #254 of TPi, which you can read here.

 


Lockdown Q&A: Owen McIlreavy

Taking place this year from 9 to 13 November, TPi’s Production Futures goes online, offering a week of free web-based learning, resources and engagement with the global live events industry. The event also marks the return of the TPi Breakthrough Talent Awards, where students, freelancers and young people can be in with a chance of winning a seat at the TPi Awards 2021. TPi’s Jacob Waite catches up with last year’s Undergraduate of the Year, Owen McIlreavy to discover how he is keeping occupied in lockdown…

Where were you when the lockdown came into force?

“When the COVID-19 pandemic situation worsened at the beginning of March, as an international student, I was advised by the University of Derby to return home if possible. While the university already had a good online infrastructure for delivering the academic content of my course, this created an issue for the practical elements. Luckily, being in the latter part if the academic year, most of the assessed practical modules had been completed. However, my Independent Technology Project (“The Design and Build of a DMX Network Tester and Data Analyser”) required access to the specialist equipment in the soldering and electronics labs at the Markeaton Street campus. Thankfully before I returned home, I had my electronics assembled to a stage where I could provide a working prototype, and through the online resources I was able to complete my technical report of the project. With demonstrations of the devices’ functionality being delivered to assessors via video link.

“Once I graduated from university in May, I was due to start full time employment with IPS mid-June in their lighting department. Like any production company, the summer months are usually very busy for IPS, providing technical production for multiple festivals and events. One of those being Harper Adams University Summer Ball, where IPS provide full production, and I was tasked with producing the lighting rig design, overseeing its installation, and operating it throughout the event. However, with the way things have gone, IPS like so many other companies were not in a position to take me on in June, with the vast majority of events being postponed and rental orders cancelled.”

Have you managed to find any industry-related work / projects during the past six months?

“Being back home in Ireland, I contacted many events companies all over the country. Doing so, I found the situation here was much the same as that in the UK. With the majority of in- person events being cancelled, companies were moving to the production of virtual, socially distanced events. However, with Ireland having a much smaller population than the UK, I believe there has not been as much of a demand of such production here. Due to this new virtual aspect, the local population here can tune into events being streamed from the UK or further afield, and not feel like they’re missing out.

“A similar sector (to live events) I have seen continue to operate, if not expand, is the commercial AV install sector. With so many businesses and other sectors now having to move to remote/ distanced operation, it is understandable that there has been an increased demand for such install companies. The positions I am seeing available with such companies require good IT/ electronics/ networking skills, and after developing a lot of these though an IET accredited university degree, and self-education, this is a sector I have been looking into with a lot of interest, seeing good potential for the foreseeable future.”

Have you developed or enhanced any industry-related skills in lockdown?

“I have turned my attention to developing skills that would be applicable in the current job market, while also remaining useful/ transferrable within the events industry once it returns. One of these have been a counterbalance forklift license. Over lockdown and continuing now, I have seen a growing demand for warehouse operatives with a ‘forklift license being advantageous’. Getting this certificate, puts me in a better position for the current job market, while also adding a useful skill to onsite events work once it returns.

“I have also looked into learning the MA lighting control software while I am at home. When onsite, it is always good to be competent in multiple lighting control soft / hardware brands. As it allows you to adapt to unforeseen changes in production and makes you desirable / available to more production companies that may only stock a particular brand of desk. I feel adding MA will give me a real advantage in the professional industry, with my skillset being expanded to the 3 main control softwares; Avolites, Chamsys and MA Lighting.”

How has this sudden change in work life balance and the luxury of time affected you?

“When I finished university, it was always to be expected that I would have a ‘come down’ after handing in my final piece of coursework. However, finishing during lockdown, I felt the absence of then moving on and starting into work more then I had anticipated. I am the kind of person that needs to be kept occupied, be it through physical work or planning something for the future, two things that are a constant in the events industry. Throughout lockdown I found myself looking at what events went ahead last year, and re-designing/ planning them again as if they were happening this year. However, the satisfaction of seeing a design progress from conception, to pre-visualisation, then reality has been sorely missed.

“After being away from home for the past three years between university or summer work, it was nice to just be at home for more than a week or two. While I couldn’t go and see friends or extended family to begin with, it was nice to talk to them while being that little bit closer, and once lockdown restrictions were eased, I was able to see some family members I hadn’t seen since I moved to the UK.”

How do you see the next few months panning out for you?

“I have been keeping an eye on the economic situation both here in Ireland and the UK. Listening to predictions as to where each country would be in the short term and longer term, I have been assessing what would be the best plan of action to further my career. I like others around me, was originally hesitant to alter our projected career paths and held back to see if things would improve. However, this is only appropriate for so long, and I feel that young people entering the industry currently, like myself, need to adapt our skill sets and see how they can be applied to other industry sectors where possible. I am currently looking for work in these alternate industry sectors, applying the skills and knowledge I already have where possible.”

What advice would you offer to young people looking to break into the industry at this strange time?

“I, for one, like so many others have found these past few months to be difficult and frustrating at times. Working for a degree or certificate for an industry that is not operational when you finish has been quite disheartening. However, the current situation does not void or nullify the skillset, knowledge, or training that you have received. While you may not be able to apply them straight away in the industry sector that you wanted, every one is transferrable and applicable to some extent in a similar industry. I know a lot of people within the events industry have had to do this, and this may be the case for some time. However, the live events industry will return, and when it does it will need the same amount of fresh, young, new people like it always had.”

This article originally appeared in issue #254 of TPi, which you can read here.


Lockdown Q&A: Standout Talent, Dylan Barber

Taking place this year from 9 to 13 November, TPi’s Production Futures goes online, offering a week of free web-based learning, resources and engagement with the global live events industry. The event also marks the return of the TPi Breakthrough Talent Awards, where students, freelancers and young people can be in with a chance of winning a seat at the TPi Awards 2021. TPi’s Jacob Waite catches up with last year’s Standout Talent, Dylan Barber to discover how he is keeping occupied in lockdown…

Where when the lockdown came into force?

“I was local to home at the time; I am studying an audio degree in Norwich so I was there when the measures came into place. In terms of work I had shows lined up with touring bands coming through Norwich, as well as BBC Radio sessions lined up too, and some festival work. My last gig before lockdown began was mixing front of house and monitors on a show with some upcoming bands and Joe Talbot from IDLES at Norwich Arts Centre.”
 

Have you managed to find any industry-related work / projects during the past six months? 

“The first work I got after lockdown began was a series of sessions for Wordplay Magazine, which is a magazine that highlights new Hip Hop, Jazz and Soul music – and these are still happening now. My role is to provide monitoring for and record the sessions – which could be anything from a rapper to a jazz or soul act, and then pass on the multitrack to another engineer for mixing before pairing with video and uploading to YouTube. Location recording prior to lockdown wasn’t something I had done loads of, but I always love the challenge of something new, so I felt, and am still feeling, very lucky to be involved in these sessions.
 
“I was also lucky enough to work with Epic Studios a few weeks ago in their outdoor broadcast trucks at a socially distanced weekend of events including live music, movies, and the world’s first socially distanced FM and International Broadcast of MMA Contenders.
 
“The most recent piece of lockdown work I did was on the 13-14 September: Wild Fields Festival in Norwich, one of the only festivals in the UK this year. I was lucky enough to have mixed monitors all weekend for artists such as Joe Armon Jones, Morgan Simpson, Nubya Garcia, Kokoroko, Another Sky, Anorak Patch and more. It was quite an interesting concept; all audience members sat in socially distant pods, which created quite a calm atmosphere that allowed everyone to focus on the live music, something which most had not experienced for months.”
 

Have you developed or enhanced any industry-related skills in lockdown? 

“I enjoyed watching some of the webinars about the new Yamaha Rivage PM3 and 5 consoles during lockdown. Throughout the time at home, I’ve started to teach myself Pro Tools. I saw the downtime as an opportunity to try a change in workflow; previously I’ve been used to using Logic Pro, but I’m really enjoying using PT. Also throughout this time I’ve worked with my Dad to complete a small garden recording studio build!”
 

How has this sudden change in work life balance and the luxury of time affected you?

“When lockdown was first introduced I felt a certain amount of worry or anxiety around how I would adapt to not doing what I love every day. I’d definitely say it took a couple of weeks for me to slow down, and come around to the idea that just because I can’t be out working anywhere near as much at the moment, the time can still be used wisely. Saying that, I can’t wait to be eventually moving fast again and doing what I love every day.”
 

How do you see the next few months panning out for you? Do you have anything in the pipeline?

“With things the way they are, I’m not sure exactly where I see myself in the next few months but I’m definitely looking forward to settling into the new garden studio and doing lots of recording in there. Throughout lockdown, myself and my bandmate Izzy (my sister, who I live with) have been working on lots of new music with a view to an album with our band (The) Red Dear. I’m looking forward to hopefully working on some more Wordplay Sessions, as well as starting the second year of my degree.”
 

What advice would you offer to young people looking to break into the industry at this strange time?

“The first thing I’d say is don’t be put off by the way the world is right now; everyone is experiencing the same worries or feelings about our industry at the moment, no matter their experience or how much time they’ve spent in the sector. Secondly, I’d say stay in touch with industry contacts you’ve already made on a personal level; this goes a long way. Even if it’s not to talk about industry related stuff, just checking in and looking after each other means a lot. Furthermore, use this time to develop skills you might not have time for otherwise! There have been plenty of times over lockdown when I’ve been reading an article about something in the industry that’s made me think ‘I’d like to know more about that’. There is always a video, website, person, or resource that will answer your question and make you all the more ready for when events return.”

 

This article originally appeared in issue #254 of TPi, which you can read here.