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[PODCAST EP10] Video Technician Training for Live Events with Bob Murdock

Bob Murdock
Bob Murdock

This week on The Production Channel, we explore the educational side of live event work. In Episode 10, Stephen and Clem interview Bob Murdock, the National Director of Education for the Evolve Media Group in Orlando, Florida. Evolve Media Group is a video equipment rental house specializing in short and long-term leases, however, the company also has a successful learning academy. Bob, a 37-year veteran of broadcast news and live events, currently leads the creation and development of the video technician training curriculum at EMG’s learning centers in both Orlando and Las Vegas.

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Bob and his instructors all have extensive live show experience, and together they have instituted classes in basic projection and projection warping and blending. Their team also administers manufacturer-certified training classes for Barco and Analog Way. Bob says he’s really excited about a new offering that started earlier this year called the Trailhead Program. He states, “I really wanted to start a program where we could take somebody, maybe perhaps right out of high school, or right out of a two-year degree college program or maybe someone who’s gotten out of the military, and they need a direction.” The program is essentially designed to give young people a career path or to provide additional training to technicians wanting to learn a new discipline. Bob’s team also provides training in one of the most important skills to learn as an event tech–the proper way to troubleshoot. He says, “Nowadays, that’s just not learned, and it’s not taught so we target troubleshooting as a main part of our instruction.” Knowing just what to do when things go wrong saves time onsite for the crew, and in turn, saves money for the client.

Join the conversation to learn Bob Murdock’s plans to continue attracting young blood into the live event industry, his number one rule for freelancers, and that “teaching old dogs new tricks” can actually be done with proper instruction and a good work ethic.

Full Podcast Transcript

Stephen Bowles:
All right, everybody. Welcome again to the Production Channel where we bring you the latest and greatest going on around this amazing industry, which is the production industry. And we bring you audio, video, broadcast, worship, sports news, the whole thing. And today, I’m really, really excited to have our guest, Bob Murdock. Bob, welcome.

Bob Murdock:
Thank you. Glad to be here.

Stephen Bowles:
Bob’s background is really 20 years in broadcast news, 17 years in live events. So he’s certainly seen some stuff. But before we get into that, again, I’m always co-hosting with Clem Harrod. Clem, my friend. Welcome, buddy.

Clem Harrod:
Yo. What’s going on, Bowlesy?

Stephen Bowles:
Not too much, man. We’re getting the hang of this now, aren’t we? This is now like number four or five I think.

Clem Harrod:
I mean, we are rolling through them. We are rolling through them, having a good time, bringing the voice of our industry out to the public. It’s such a niche industry that we’re in. And we see each other so few and far between. Why not allow an opportunity for all of us to get together in one common area to share our stories, share our lives, talk about how we got started, talk about where we want our lives and our careers to go, where we would like the industry to go. Just, so much is discussed on the Production Channel.

Stephen Bowles:
That’s it, man. And honestly, today’s cool because it’s different; it’s something we haven’t done yet before. Bob has got really just an extended history playing more in that sort of like vendor, supplier, and manager role. Not to say that he hasn’t slung some road cases around and loaded in some shows himself. But that’s what’s really exciting today is we’ve talked with audio techs, we’ve talked with lighting designers, video and projection, and even show callers. But today, really bringing in someone who’s seeing this a little bit more from that kind of higher view of … I see hundreds, if not thousands of events go through a year. I’ve been on the rental and logistics side. I’ve been on the manufacturing side. So-

Clem Harrod:
And now on the training side.

Stephen Bowles:
That’s right. And now, even on the training side, which is awesome. So-

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Stephen Bowles:
I’ll get us going here. Bob, again, welcome. And yeah, so, specifically talk to us a little bit about where you are right now. Talk to us about Evolve Media Group and your role there as the national director of education. What does that even mean?

Bob Murdock:
Well, Evolve Media Group is a company. It’s not a very old company; only been up around probably six, seven, eight years. But it’s dedicated to very high-end video equipment rentals. We also do long-term leases on video equipment. And then the third part of what the owner calls the Trifecta is the academy. And the academy is what I’m mostly involved in. I do throw in my two cents when we’re buying new equipment or we’re gonna go down a direction such as laser projectors or whatever.
But my main focus is the academy, which is training for video technicians in the live event industry. We have our main training center is in Orlando, but we also now have a training center set up in Las Vegas. Pretty much an identical match for what we’re doing in Orlando.
And like I said, we’re just training high-end video technicians for the industry, for a live event industry on pieces of equipment that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to learn except for on-the-job training in a ballroom. And-

Stephen Bowles:
That’s awesome.

Bob Murdock:
That’s kind of it in a nutshell.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, how do you go about training? Like, what type of specific equipment are people getting trained on? And how do you get the … who’s training them exactly?

Bob Murdock:
Well, I have a team. There’s myself and three other teachers. There’s Tim [Kurshell 00:04:18] who’s a former Barco engineer, and Eli [Lofell 00:04:21] who is our quality control manager here at the Evolve Media Group, and then Sean Sheridan, who’s a long-time freelance technician and is now my instructor for media servers and everything digital media. The way I’ve broken it down is, we have main ares of instruction. I started it all off with just me teaching the classes and it’s gotten so large that I can’t possibly teach all of them. And the way the classes began, is some of them, I came up with the curriculum.
For instance, we have a basic projection class, which is an intro to projection for people who have no experience with projection whatsoever. We give them the basics on how projectors work, what you’re trying to accomplish, how to stack projectors, how to converge projectors, and how to get a good image onto a screen.
Then, another one that I came up with was projection warping and blending. And it’s just a two day intensive course on nothing but blending and warping projectors.

Clem Harrod:
Like a bootcamp.

Bob Murdock:
And then we have … it’s a bootcamp. But it’s a place where, and we limit it to two people at a time, so the whole goal is to get as much hands-on training as possible. I don’t want people to have to go into a ballroom and try to learn how to do these really high level technical jobs, which is the only way that people have been able to do it in the past. Clem, I think you started out doing the same thing. You’d learned your projection skills from trial and error in a ballroom.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah, I remember. Not fun. It’s not fun.

Bob Murdock:
No it’s not. And so we’re trying to give them as much hands-on experience as we can. The other side of that is, we have manufacturer-certified training such as Barco and Analog Way. With Barco, we’re a certified training center for the E2 image processing screen distribution system. And for Analog Way, we’re a certified center for the LiveCore platform, which is all of the Ascender platforms. So we go to an extensive training the trainer with the manufacturer. We learn what they want taught, how they want it taught, so that all of the training is done the same way all the way around the world. And those are the certification trainings.
So it’s a mix of classes that I’ve concocted, and then classes that the manufacturers have come up with.
Stephen Bowles: That’s interesting. I wonder if almost, there’s the technical training that you can get from the manufacturer, but then there’s the experience training that you can get from, I’m assuming yourself and the other guys there. Because it’s one thing to know where in the menu this particular warp setting is, or et cetera. It’s another thing to be in a ballroom, or to have been in a hundred ballrooms, and sort of seeing what the sort of range of options are in terms of edge screens, or what happens if your projector’s hung at the wrong truss, and you’re ten feet off, and how do you fix that, what are your little tips and tricks. I mean, now, are you guys doing that Bob, too? Are you guys essentially …

Bob Murdock:
Yes.

Stephen Bowles:
… also giving that pro-tip experience stuff?

Bob Murdock:
Yeah. All four of us have extensive live event experience. We’ve all been in the show industry, we’ve all done our fair share of shows, and we’ve all had the almost-failures, because we never have an actual failure. I don’t at least. And I don’t think any one of my guys has ever had a complete failure. We always manage to pull it out at the end so that the … the people backstage may know that something’s going on, but the people out there who are the attendees and the end-client, they don’t know anything happened. And that’s the whole goal.
So far we’ve been doing very well. Part of the instruction, as a matter of fact, is … I call them our “little bombs”. We actually build bombs into our training program so people have to troubleshoot.

Clem Harrod:
Nice.

Bob Murdock:
Because troubleshooting is a lost art in my opinion. Young people coming in to this industry do not know how to troubleshoot. And part of that reason is because the digital world has made it so much easier that they just don’t get it anymore. In the analog world where the way we used to have to work, there was a lot more troubleshooting involved, because a lot more things happened. But nowadays, that’s just not learned and it’s not taught, so we target troubleshooting as a main part of our instruction.

Clem Harrod:
You know what I can appreciate about that, Bob? A lot of the times, people feel that if you’re paying for a training, and you’re getting a training, then you don’t have that real-life experience. And by putting these “bombs” in there, as you’re describing them, that allows you to get some of that real life experience. Because when gear messes up, or your computer isn’t speaking with the equipment properly, all these little things can just come your way. And if you just have training, but not troubleshooting experience, then you’re lost.

Bob Murdock:
Absolutely. And as a matter of fact, to that end for several years now, even before I came to work for the Evolve Academy, I saw a real need for young blood in the industry. There is no young blood coming into our industry for many reasons, but I think the most prominent reason is because people just don’t know what we do. I know when my kids were growing up, people would ask, “What does your dad do?” And my kids had no clue what I did. And it’s kind of hard to describe to people what you do. So there’s a definite lack of young blood coming into the industry.
So I really wanted to start a program where we could take somebody, maybe perhaps right out of high school, or right out of a two-year degree college program, or maybe somebody who’s just gotten out of the military and they need a direction. And we’re gonna start a program in January in the Evolve Academy called the Trailhead Program. And if you think of it, the trail head is the beginning of a path. So what we’re gonna try and do is create a path to a career for young people.
And it’ll be broken down into five disciplines that have to do specifically with video in live events. It will be projection, signal flow which will involve image processing and how to get the signal actually to the screen, LED, digital media, that’ll be recording and playback, and then proper camera operations. So, how to build a long lens camera and how to operate it and what to look for. So this is something that actually looks like it’s coming very close to happening. Our target is in January. We’re only gonna have eight people in every class. It’s eight weeks long, it’s two nights a week, three hours a night. And when a person graduates from the Trailhead Program, I fully expect them to be able to step into a job, a position on a gig, up to and including a small single screen show.

Clem Harrod:
Yes.

Bob Murdock:
So that’s kind of the direction we’re looking at right now. This is something I’ve been really working hard for for a long time.

Stephen Bowles:
Wow.

Clem Harrod:
Wow. This is amazing, Bob. As you’re speaking, I’m just thinking about the beginning of my career. I’ve been in the industry for fourteen years and my mom was a still photographer; it was one of her passions in life. That wasn’t her job, but that was her passion. So I kind of fell into television production in middle school, at church. I went to a special high school where I took two television production classes and then went on the Florida State in the College of Communications and learning how to shoot sports. And then in all of that, I just kind of fell into one thing to the next.
I thought I wanted to … Well, I knew I didn’t want to do news. That wasn’t the thing for me. Then I kinda fell into sports even though I never played sports, but I just understood how to shoot sports. And then Steve Almer, who I will forever be grateful, introduced me into our industry. And just kind of found my way into that, and then was pushed into projection; it’s just all those things just kind of fell into place. But to be able to, like you were saying, bring in that young blood and to give them that opportunity, expose them to something that can be great and change their lives, that’s just a whole beautiful process. I’m excited, as you were describing it.

Bob Murdock:
Yeah. Exactly what you just said. You started in high school, and I got a lot of people ask me, “Every high school has a TV studio nowadays, and so these guys and girls can get all the training they need in high school.” And that’s not necessarily the case, because working in a studio, a television studio, is not the same as working in a ballroom. It’s a whole different world. And nobody that I know of teaches how to work in a ballroom. And so that’s our goal.

Stephen Bowles:
Well you know what’s funny about that is … My background is live video director, freelance, all that. But when I first got started working for, well first of all a church as well too, and I shot straight to the top in terms of knowledge of how to direct and switch on like a Pinnacle 9000 video switch or whatever it was at the time.

Clem Harrod:
Old school. I loved the 9000.

Stephen Bowles:
Yeah, and then … Aw, I loved them too. They were doing the DVDs and all that stuff. It was so sweet. But you know what’s funny is, I moved then, finally got introduced to the sort of corporate events and live show side, and I started to work for one of the larger rental and staging companies here in Orlando. And the first show that they throw me on is some breakout room, I dunno, some Disney Hotel, and I’ve got a Barco ScreenPRO-I, like the old school one. And so it’s like, all this knowledge of whatever show, and directing cameras and all this, didn’t even matter. All right? Because I’ve got a, I don’t even know what RGBHV is, right? What is five wire? Which colors go the right way?

Clem Harrod:
What is “over under”?

Stephen Bowles:
Do I set … Dude, it was so funny. I was working with Drew, what’s his name, the projectionist, yeah, yeah, yeah. And he’s like, he’s technically on the show, my assistant. And I’m sitting … I’m like totally faking it. And so I’m pretending to know everything, and so I’m setting up the ScreenPRO at like the base of the stage. And he’s going, “What are you doing? You gotta set that up either backstage, or you gotta set it up at the front of house,” or whatever it is. He was just … I didn’t know anything. The basic fundamentals of like, what is the front of house? What is a backstage? What is Video Village? ‘Cause I’ve been working on my own knowledge. And I agree with you on that, Bob. You can go to TV production in school, or you can be working in a different side of the industry like news or something like that. Who cares? Great, you’ve got general knowledge, but if you don’t know the ballroom flow, and that corporate event flow of load in over the course of a couple of days, setting up Video Village, where do you set up your tables, how you’re forward thinking in terms of your backstage arrangement of cable trunks, and all that stuff. It all has this compounding effect on the course of your event.
And often, when we’re on show site and we’re getting tripped up, it’s because either we have people who are new to the industry and they don’t know what they’re doing, and they set something up wrong, or whatever. Also, second entirely, your concept of throwing little bombs into your training and academy, because honestly, when was the last time you had a show, big or small, that didn’t have broken gear? It’s just sort of a fact of life, in terms of whether it’s a fiber transmitter or receiver or it’s the main big primary equipment, which might be the projector itself … One way or another something’s faulting there.

Clem Harrod:
You know what? Hey Bowles, to interrupt you real quick, real quick.

Stephen Bowles:
Yeah.

Clem Harrod:
Sometimes it’s not even the gear. The gear can be perfect. It could just be the scenario.

Stephen Bowles:
Right, exactly.

Clem Harrod:
Something in the room is different. I just did a show at UCF Arena, and we’re warping the whole bottom part of the [bowl 00:17:20]. And we had our projectors aligned. I’m done. I’m done warping, I’m done grayscale, I did my day and a half of load-in, come to find out one of the chains from the motor was in the way. It was in the shot and the client didn’t like it, so what do we have to do? We have to move the projectors all the way over to the side to get the chain out of the cone of light. And now I’ve gotta start my whole process over. So that’s another example of a bomb, too. Not just the gear going bad.
Stephen Bowles: That’s a bomb on your evening, because now you’re working late.

Bob Murdock:
Yeah.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Bob Murdock:
I got the whole idea for wanting to bring young people into this basically from training my son. My son went to college on a football scholarship. When he got to college, he decided football wasn’t any fun anymore, so he lost his scholarship when he quit the college. Came home, worked in a pizza joint, then to give him some extra money I got him on a gig as a breakout technician. And at the end of that week on that show, he said, “Dad, this is what I want to do. You gotta tell me how to do it.”
So I started training him on small pieces of equipment. First thing I ever trained him on was a [Prez Pro 00:18:40]. Anybody remember a Prez Pro?

Clem Harrod:
Oh yeah.

Stephen Bowles:
Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Bob Murdock:
But, one of the very first things I taught him was how to troubleshoot. And now it’s been five or six years and he has to turn down work. I taught him how to run the FSN, he took the E2 classes, and now he’s all over the world doing shows. As a matter of fact, like a third of his 2017 is already booked.

Clem Harrod:
Nice.

Bob Murdock:
So there’s a success story, and I want some more of those success stories.

Stephen Bowles:
Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. And then the problem solving thing’s legit in terms of … I don’t know many times you walk up on somebody and they’re trying to figure out why the TV won’t turn on, and they’re checking the gear, they’re checking the playback, and it’s like, is the TV on itself? Or is it plugged in? Is the power even plugged in? But that sort of thing can consume hours. And you can assign a show tech or someone like that, even just a support guy who’s just helping to load in that day, but without proper knowledge there, they end up wasting their time on projects that are useless. And now you as the video lead, or you as the audio lead, feel this pressure on you because it’s three o’clock, and you want to be out for rehearsals by five, and you’re sitting there going, “Where is everybody?” And they’re all but getting wasted, chasing their tail on stupid stuff.

Bob Murdock:
Right. And the blame always goes on the most expensive piece of equipment on the show. It’s gotta be the E2, it’s gotta be the Spider, it’s gotta be one of those things. And it rarely is.

Clem Harrod:
No, it’s the D8.

Bob Murdock:
It’s usually, you know, there’s a cable that hasn’t been … How many air gaps have you gotten-

Clem Harrod:
That’s exactly right.

Stephen Bowles:
Right.

Bob Murdock:
… where somebody just forgot to plug in the cable, or somebody kicked the power on a downstage monitor, and it won’t come on, and you guys are chasing around, but, “Oh, it’s gotta be the E2’s fault.” Or, “It’s gotta be the Spider, it’s not sending the proper signal.”
So those are some of the very important things that can be addressed and they can be taken care of very quickly if you just know what to look for.

Clem Harrod:
Bob, I want to address something, because you mentioned your son, and training him, and that joy, that success story, and allowing people the opportunity to see more than they can imagine. You know? I would have never thought that this industry would’ve taken me to Barcelona for a nine-day show, and to the Bahamas, and all across the country, and just the experience that I’ve had and meeting so many different people … How do you encourage people, or how do you help people to see that by receiving training, by investing in yourself, you’re investing in your future, you’re investing in your life?

Bob Murdock:
Well, I think what it comes down to is, you have to identify what kind of work ethic a person has first. If somebody has a good strong work ethic, I can teach them everything they need to know. And I found, without fail, that if somebody’s got a really good strong work ethic, and I show them what we do and how we do it and all the opportunities that this whole industry provides, that it’s something that they’re very interested in and they want to move forward in … Not to say that somebody with a good strong work ethic can’t go in a different direction, I’m not saying that. But what I’m saying is, the first thing that I have to identify in somebody that I know is gonna be a real success story, is somebody that’s gonna work hard. They’re gonna be pushing those cases in the beginning, and they’re gonna be pushing those cases when they’re really far into their career. They’re not just gonna stand around and let somebody else do all the work. Those are the people that are the most successful in the industry, I think.

Clem Harrod:
So understanding that the work never stops, the drive never stops, the will to learn should never stop.

Bob Murdock:
Right. And you know, such little things in training help out so much. Like, when I tell people, “Okay. If you want to be a freelancer, then the number one rule is ‘Don’t ever say no.’ Because there’s a right way and a wrong way to say no, but you don’t ever want to say ‘no’. If somebody calls you and you’ve got a vacation planned, the right way to say it is, ‘I’m sorry, I’m booked.'”

Stephen Bowles:
Yeah. That’s a classic.

Bob Murdock:
You can’t say, “I’m sorry, I’m going on vacation,” because you’ll never get called back. So it’s the little things that I think somebody needs to teach people that they’re not getting at this point.

Clem Harrod:
Now, in regards to that. ‘Cause I used to be of the “I’m booked” or say, “No I can’t, because …” and that. Sometimes I’d get into personal stuff. But I’ve just kinda learned to say, “I’m not available.”

Bob Murdock:
Exactly.

Clem Harrod:
I’m just not available. It doesn’t matter what it is. I could be sitting on my back patio having a drink, just relaxing. I needed a day off because I’ve been working my butt off. I’m just not available. I would love to do your show, thank you for calling me, I’m sorry that I can’t help you out, but I’m just not available.

Bob Murdock:
Yeah. And what you’ve learned is you don’t say “no.” You say, “I’m not available.” That’s a polite way of saying no that that labor coordinator out there is going to say, “Okay, well if he’s not available, that means he’s already working on something else. I understand that, I’m gonna move on to the next person. But I’m gonna come back to him because he still wants to work.”

Clem Harrod:
Right.

Bob Murdock:
If you just say, “No. I can’t do it,” then you’re not gonna get called back again.

Clem Harrod:
Right, right. Yeah, its a different mindset, having the … I want to say younger generation, but just people who are newer to the industry versus the seasoned veterans, if you will. I’ve been, like I said, 14 years, but you’ve been, what? 17 years in this industry and then 20 years in news before that. There’s something to learn from everybody. What would you tell somebody to help them with that work-life balance?

Bob Murdock:
Well, it truly is a young person’s industry. Once you get to the point where you’ve been in it for a while, you tend to not want to travel as much, because you’ve got a family, you want to see them, or like you said, you just want to relax a little bit. Maybe your day rate’s gone up a little bit, so you don’t need to work as hard as you used to. But if you’re a young person and you’re not tied down, I can’t think of too many better industries to be in than the live event industry, because it takes you all over the world, you get to do cool stuff, you get to see cool stuff, and it really is technically challenging sometimes. So your brain has to work, your body has to work, and then when you get a little older and you get to be my age, just the traveling from site to dite to site is not so important anymore as it was when I was young. And I loved to do that.
Yeah, traveling’s not so bad anymore, but when I get home and my wife says, “Let’s go out to eat.” And I say, “Can I have a home cooked meal?” I’ve eaten out so much now.

Clem Harrod:
I don’t want any chicken.

Bob Murdock:
So that’s another thing that’s actually-

Stephen Bowles:
No more chicken.

Bob Murdock:
Yeah. It’s easy to target young people who aren’t tied down to anything because there is this lure of doing a lot of stuff that’s really cool.

Stephen Bowles:
How much do you travel now, would you say?

Bob Murdock:
Well, I had an accident … I don’t do shows anymore. The only actual shows that I do is if I get a new piece of equipment or even a piece of equipment that I’ve been teaching for a while and it has a new upgrade. I’ll give you for instance, I train E2 and I’m a certified instructor for the E2 specialists and expert. But a show came up and linking has just been added to the E2. If you don’t know what linking is, it’s the ability to tie two E2s together and use them in conjunction with each other; all inputs and all outputs work through both boxes. Well, it was a new process at that time, but we teach how to do linking. I’ve never done a linking show, so I took a show that was a linking show where two boxes had to be linked together to do a show, and I actually asked … It was a rental. A company wanted to rent a couple of E2s from us and I said, “Hey, can I do that show for you?” Because I want to experience it.
That’s really the only time that I do shows anymore. So my traveling is Orlando to Vegas to make sure that the Vegas office is up-and-running. My traveling is pretty might these days.

Stephen Bowles:
Yeah. It’s funny, it’s sort of similar to me, although I didn’t jump out at the very end of my career, but moreso when I stepped away from doing shows and gigging as much, and now I’m entirely focused on show flow. It’s cool because I’m very engaged with the industry. But I actually only travel to gigs when there’s a really new way that they’re trying to use the software and I want to be a part of that, to see that or experience it first hand. Or even, honestly more like, when they come into Orlando and I’ll just go visit people when they come on show site.
And then actually, thinking about that from your academy side, I really, and I know Clem … Actually all three of us on this call, that really resonates with us because for teaching this industry how to change its behavior, how to think differently. And I think often, that’s what you’re talking about, right? In terms of not just knowing the pattern and the behavior is not just to show up and figure the gear … Well, A, figure out what gear’s coming out on show site when I get there, and then sending it back, or learning or calling a buddy on show site to figure out how to run it … But actually being forward-thinking, being prepared, going and getting properly trained or equipped and knowledge on how to handle that.
That’s huge; that’s a big shift in terms of the way the industry traditionally has run. I run into that every single day. We do four, five software demonstrations every single day of ShoFlo, and it’s purely just in the aspect of training, equipping, letting people know that there’s even another way to do this. So that’s actually a big … It’s about the responsibility that you have to take on if you want to get to where you want to go. And for you guys, you want to, I’m sure at Evolve, have go-to freelance and show techs that you know are properly trained and equipped on your own gear, but then also on how to handle the type of shows in the way that you want them to handle. So that’s a question back to you: do you guys see as that sort of a self-equipping where you’re almost filling your own freelance list with epic people that you know have gone through the Bob Murdock or the Evolve vetting process?

Bob Murdock:
Well, sort of. We don’t provide labor, unless … When we do a rental that is kind of like everything video on this show is coming from us, we’ll send one position, one person, to oversee everything. Or if there’s major server presence where we’re running a lot of servers, but they don’t really have the expertise or the experience to run the servers, we’ll send somebody out for that. But we’re not a labor provider.
But what I do keep is a list of people that I know are … Not everybody that comes to an E2 class is of the same caliber, so I keep a list of the top 15 or 20 people that I think will do an outstanding job on an E2 if somebody calls, ’cause we get calls just about every day for recommendations for different people in different positions, and I can’t put my mark on that if I don’t truly believe that those people are up to doing it.
I can’t just take a list of everybody that’s gone through a projection warping and blending class, and say, “Here’s everybody that’s taken the class. Here, go ahead and try and find somebody.” I’m gonna take the top 10 or 15 people that I think are the best, and then I’m gonna send that list to them. Now as people start to get more experience and start working up, maybe I can add them to that list. But in the beginning, if I don’t know that they’re really good at what they’re doing, I’m not gonna recommend them to anybody and put my name on it.

Clem Harrod:
Bob, as you say that, I love where you were going there. As a projectionist, I think about how I was trained. People took me under their wing and they saw something in me, they appreciated my work ethic, and they were happy when I was on a show with them. One thing that I tell [a assist 00:32:12] that I’m working with and a little projectionist that I might be training to be better is that you have to be a great projection assist before you can be a projectionist. You have to be able to anticipate what I need before I ask you for it. That shows me that you’re already thinking as a projectionist. You’re already forward-thinking, you’re looking at the show completely different. You’re looking at our task, what we need to accomplish, completely different in a completely different mindset, and you’re meeting me where I already am.
And once you have somebody that you know is taking those extra efforts to understand what’s going on and why we do things and how it can be done, maybe even more efficiently, that’s when you can say, “I trust this person to go out on a show and to do this job. I can recommend, I can put my name on this person because I’ve seen them work. They’ve worked under me; I know they’ll do a good job for you.”
Bob Murdock: And that’s the key. You’re putting your name on the line. You’re recommending somebody and if you don’t have the … If you really aren’t comfortable with that, then you shouldn’t be doing it, because I’m not gonna put my name on anybody that I don’t know for a fact is gonna do a good job.
And on the flip side of that, I’ve taken people off my list too, because they got a little bit too comfortable and I’ve heard some bad things about them. They’re getting a bit lax. And I don’t just take them off the list, I call them and I tell them, because I don’t think it’s fair for me to take them off of my recommendation list unless I let them know why.
Stephen Bowles: That’s huge actually, having some accountability for what people do. I think often, I would see … I wouldn’t be honest if I wasn’t saying it myself. There are gigs sometimes you snooze through, or you just kind of do your best, or maybe the minimum amount. And that’s cool, I mean people get into funks and that does happen and that comes with the whole deal. But honestly, there should be some accountability to that. Just because I saw you do one big arena show four years ago doesn’t mean you’re at the caliber still today.
So, really right now that’s sort of sourced through the community. “Have you heard that what’s-his-name has been a little sluggish or he shows up unprepared often?” or whatever, and it’s like, “I wonder what’s going on with him.” But I could see that, certainly in your role. I actually get it all the time; at ShoFlo, we’ve got like seven or eight thousand freelance show techs that are in our system. We’re always getting asked, “Hey, who would you recommend for this? Who would you recommend for that?” And I’m sitting there going, “All right, when was the last time I actually worked with Clem? Maybe the word on the street is Clem’s showing up drunk every day. Maybe I don’t want to be recommending-”

Clem Harrod:
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Don’t put that on me. Don’t you put that on me.

Stephen Bowles:
Don’t put that … Ricky Bobby.

Bob Murdock:
Clem, I thought you were gonna stop that.

Stephen Bowles:
Yeah, shame on you, Clem. But I guess you guys understand a little bit what I’m saying there. Technically, you could say someone knows or has done the role, but are they really abreast on either the latest technology, right? Just ’cause you’re a projectionist doesn’t mean you can handle a warp show, et cetera. I don’t know. I think whether or not ShoFlo solves it or a combination of everybody one day, I do think this industry is jonesing for some sort of … maybe some sort of measurement-based system to where you could be like, “All right, here. I’ve been vetted by these 16 different sources or places. So yeah, I can claim that I’m a warp projectionist who’s at X level,” as far as experience. And that’s sort of qualified through these different places.
And I think what you’re doing there at Evolve is basically one of those first passes, where it’s like, “Listen. I’ve got the stamp of Evolve’s class A, B, C, and D. So right there, that’s good, I’m going into the industry with that level of accreditation already.” Does that make sense?

Bob Murdock:
Yeah, oh yeah. And we’re … In our certification classes, we have to give tests. So we make sure that we test everybody to find out … A written test and a practical test to make sure that they know what they’ve learned in the last two or three days. And with the Trailhead program, it’s gonna be the same way. If they can pass a test at the end of the course, and the test will be setting up an entire single screen show on their own, if they can do that, then they’ll get their diploma and they’ll graduate from the Evolve Trailhead program. If not, then they’re not gonna be certified by the Evolve Academy as having completed the course. It’s plain and simple. I don’t think people should be able to just say, “Hey, I took the course at the Evolve Academy. So here, I can do it.”

Clem Harrod:
Yeah. Yeah.

Stephen Bowles:
Yep.

Bob Murdock:
I have a responsibility on this end to make sure that they just didn’t sit there and read their telephone for the two days that they were here, and they don’t have anything … and they have no clue how to operate the equipment. So testing is a huge part of what we do.
Clem Harrod: Bob, one last question. How would you … If somebody’s been in the industry, should they then consider taking a class, or something like that? If they’ve already quote-unquote feel like they’re certified, they’re working, they’re good. Why would they maybe consider a class?

Bob Murdock:
Most of the people who are in the industry and have been working in it for a long time come to specific classes to learn either new pieces of equipment or get trained on maybe some things that they don’t really know what it can do. We have a class going on today in the LiveCore for Analog Way and the Ascender program. There’s a guy in there that’s been working on an Ascender for several years, but he came to the class so he could learn stuff that he didn’t know that it would do.
So we get that kind of stuff, but then, the majority of the people who’ve been in this industry for a while … I just had a whole class of projectionists that were sound guys, and they’re like, “I don’t want to do sound anymore. I want to get into the video side of it. I think projection is what I want to do. I think I want to take that projection class.” And then at the end of that class, all four of them were really good and they had a lot of experience in the audio side of it, so I knew that they’ve done shows, and they know what they’re doing.
And when they could show me that they actually learned from the class, so at the end of the class they were able to do everything that I showed them how to do, I actually recommended all four of them to a gig. I got a call from a local company that needed three projectionists, each one would only have to do … They have three rooms each, not really breakout rooms, but small meeting rooms, single screen, set up the projector, and that would be their job. It’s in Austin, Texas. So I gave all four of those guys’ names to the company and they booked three of them.

Clem Harrod:
Nice.

Bob Murdock:
It’s a progression type of thing, and those kind of guys that I know that are really gonna take it seriously, and they want to change direction of what they’re doing, or just learn something new, I’m happy to try and help them out in any way I can.
Stephen Bowles: Well, Bob, we gotta wrap. This has been amazing, man. This is fun. I’m just highly impressed, A, with how much you’re owning this. It’s something that matters. So I think, A, just congratulations and thank you to you, and to your team over there at Evolve. This is absolutely what this industry needs. And also, just again speaking from Clem and I personally, I just know that this is something that we care a lot about. How do you not just show up for another gig, but how do you actually help influence, how do you pass on knowledge to the next round of people, how do you help move yourself personally into different roles throughout this industry? Because I think often people get burned out if they’re slugging road cases around at 19 and then maybe 50 years later, they’re still doing that. That’s not realistic; that’s not fun, and I don’t think anybody is actually aiming for that and wants that. And so being able to show us the different ways that you’ve moved around that, that’s been cool. So I appreciate you Bob, thanks to you so much for joining us today.

Bob Murdock:
Thank you, happy to be here.

Stephen Bowles:
Well Clem, dude, thank you. This is another one, another Production Channel podcast, and it’s just been a blast. For anyone out there, again, reminder, we’re gonna be doing these all the time. And so if you know of somebody, if you know of a story, yourself, if there’s a way that you interact with this industry that’s unique or awesome, please reach out to Clem or myself.
Really these things are for the industry; it’s to help enlighten show techs in corporate events, what it looks like to do broadcast news, for people in sports production, to know what it looks like to do corporate events [inaudible 00:42:05] So this thing’s really built for us and for the industry and so … But with that, we’ll wrap for today, and tune in next week. But thank you so much for tuning in to the Production Channel.

Clem Harrod:
Peace.


Learn more about Evolve Media Group by going to their website! Or follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook!

Learn more about Evolve Academy by going to their website or follow them on Instagram.


Learn more about Shoflo at https://shoflo.tv

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