# Consulting

#### RickR

##### Well-Known Member
I just noticed your location. Dillon MT is almost my neighborhood. I've been through Missoula several times this year alone, that's right next door by Montana standards isn't it?

You're quite right, but perhaps a bit better off. Rotating faculty brings in people with wider knowledge, but it still requires that they listen. I've heard the 'fancy, big city ideas' comments.

One of my key arguments for hiring me (or any consultant) is that we usually save the price of our fees by avoiding problems. There's a point where the job is so small that 10% won't pay for much, and those mistakes don't cost much. Otherwise, smarter is cheaper!

#### DavidJones

##### Well-Known Member
Then again, and no offense to anyone here, I have been a vendor on projects where a consultant has spec'd discontinued audio processors, and dimmer racks for ALL led fixtures. A lot of consultants don't stay up to date with technology and don't have any real, or recent enough experience to actually provide appropriate specs.

#### RonHebbard

##### Well-Known Member
Then again, and no offense to anyone here, I have been a vendor on projects where a consultant has spec'd discontinued audio processors, and dimmer racks for ALL led fixtures. A lot of consultants don't stay up to date with technology and don't have any real, or recent enough experience to actually provide appropriate specs.
@DavidJones Are you up to date on DMX controlled whale oil wicks including RDM and networked variants???
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard

#### mtodd2qq

##### Member
I just noticed your location. Dillon MT is almost my neighborhood. I've been through Missoula several times this year alone, that's right next door by Montana standards isn't it?

You're quite right, but perhaps a bit better off. Rotating faculty brings in people with wider knowledge, but it still requires that they listen. I've heard the 'fancy, big city ideas' comments.

One of my key arguments for hiring me (or any consultant) is that we usually save the price of our fees by avoiding problems. There's a point where the job is so small that 10% won't pay for much, and those mistakes don't cost much. Otherwise, smarter is cheaper!
How do you work for out of Spokane? I did my undergrad out at EWU and covered Sabbatical for John Hoflond for a Year at GU. Its a nice town. And you hit he nail on the head. Unless its a major renovation, convincing anyone you need outside help is tough. And rotating faculty does have its up points

#### RickR

##### Well-Known Member
Did you ever meet George Lathrop while in town? He and I formed a consulting firm after he sold Silhouette. It's small projects that keep us busy.

#### Catherder

##### Member
I absolutely love utilizing existing hardware in a way that makes it work for the site as opposed to buying all new stuff just for the sake of buying new stuff. New stuff is great. You throw enough money into lighting a stage and anything you put on it will look good, but the art comes from taking what you've got and using it in creative ways. That's where learning happens too. I think once I get too old for this gig I might try my hand at finding a niche in cleaning up these kinda messes.
I'd hire you for that - if you didn't live about as far away from me as is possible within the lower 48. I'd love to find someone to bring into our space, assess what we have on hand, what our primary uses are, what we can use differently and better, and what gaps we should fill. We try to spend money on one small "capital improvement" per show (2 per year). A couple new lights, spending a bit more on lumber to make sturdy platforms that will last instead of using scrap wood, stuff like that. Whatever we have in the budget. What we don't have is a roadmap. Yeah, I can volunteer to do tech on community theater shows and up my game, see what they use (and I am planning to do that because hey, I need more volunteer grunt work in my day), but again - it's not specific to OUR space and use. I definitely see a niche for that sort of thing.

#### Calc

##### Active Member
I think what I was saying is someone who understands audio may be equally qualified to understand and recommend equipment and install for a classroom and theatre alike, but the classroom you'd call an AV company and the theatre you'd call a theatrical place.
But what happens when the principle calls the AV company for the theatre and you get recessed 70v speakers in the ceiling and 12" JBLs for the classroom.
I've seen it happen. And that's the dilemma right?
One of the middle school theatres across town had one of these installed 20 years ago as their PA. Tragedy.

#### BillConnerFASTC

##### Well-Known Member
Then again, and no offense to anyone here, I have been a vendor on projects where a consultant has spec'd discontinued audio processors, and dimmer racks for ALL led fixtures. A lot of consultants don't stay up to date with technology and don't have any real, or recent enough experience to actually provide appropriate specs.
I would have to know names to comment. First, are they professional consultants earning a living at it or part timers that do it on the side. Second, I think this is more common in AV than rigging and lighting because the product cycle is so short, coupled with designs having to be complete so far in advance of purchase. I believe having a discontinued component in a design happens even for the best AV design consultants occasionally. As far as a dimmer rack for LED, was the system and the fixture package designed at same time or fixtures selected afterwards; and was it a dimmer rack with relays (or dimmers with air gap shunts). Just too many unknowns to judge validity of the claim. But mostly who you consider a theatre consultant, who I would deem to be a theatre consultant, and what others say is probably at the heart of this.

##### Custom Title
Fight Leukemia
I'd hire you for that - if you didn't live about as far away from me as is possible within the lower 48.
My goal is to retire as the wise and ubiquitous "old guy" you find in the corner of Lowes, but instead of telling you how to rewire your sprinkler pump, I'll tell you where to put your subs and how tie a bowline. But yeah I can help with that pump too. My cousin actually lives up in Oregon though and loves it a whole lot more than Florida.

#### microstar

##### Well-Known Member
One of the middle school theatres across town had one of these installed 20 years ago as their PA. Tragedy.
A case of wrong product for the application. I installed several of these in a large fairgrounds show barn in about 1999 and they've survived all kinds of dust and dirt, square dances, paging, bad singing of the national anthem, you name it and they are still sounding great today.

#### RonHebbard

##### Well-Known Member
A case of wrong product for the application. I installed several of these in a large fairgrounds show barn in about 1999 and they've survived all kinds of dust and dirt, square dances, paging, bad singing of the national anthem, you name it and they are still sounding great today.
Uh . . . Still sounding, I'll believe. Still sounding GREAT! Not so much.
Anybody care to join me? After we exhaust both sides of the Soundsphere phenomenon we could move on to BOSE.
@TimMc Care to join me??
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard

##### Custom Title
Fight Leukemia
A case of wrong product for the application. I installed several of these in a large fairgrounds show barn in about 1999 and they've survived all kinds of dust and dirt, square dances, paging, bad singing of the national anthem, you name it and they are still sounding great today.
I had a gig in high school that sometimes involved installing paging horns on PBX systems. Learned a lot about 70v systems and the important difference between series and parallel in electrical wiring. There are quite a few warehouses in the central Florida area that also still have these systems and they work fine. Our lobby and backstage feeds are 70v ceiling speakers and they do great too, circa 1995.

RonHebbard

#### mtodd2qq

##### Member
Did you ever meet George Lathrop while in town? He and I formed a consulting firm after he sold Silhouette. It's small projects that keep us busy.
I think I ran into him once or twice while he still had Silhouette.

#### TimMc

##### Well-Known Member
Uh . . . Still sounding, I'll believe. Still sounding GREAT! Not so much.
Anybody care to join me? After we exhaust both sides of the Soundsphere phenomenon we could move on to BOSE.
@TimMc Care to join me??
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
Join you? Why, are you coming apart? (with a big nod to Groucho Marx).

#### RonHebbard

##### Well-Known Member
Join you? Why, are you coming apart? (with a big nod to Groucho Marx).
@TimMc I'll admit to coming unglued but neither unhinged nor fragmented, yet.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard

#### ACTSTech

##### Member
Twice in the last few years, local high schools have had “massive” renovations where they’ve redesigned their auditoriums. Both times, I was asked my opinion as an outside bystander. Both times, the architects had beautiful drawings and sold the school on potential but had no real insight into the performing arts.

One school had zero wing space on stage right, the wall was three feet off stage. I pointed this out immediately, and the people made copious notes. When I asked where the sound equipment was going to be located, would it be dead hung or flown or will it sit on the deck, they made copious notes. When I asked were they getting new lighting or reusing the old system as much as possible, they made copious notes. Then after they met with the architect, they were assured all of that would be taken care of. And they were sold a bill of goods.

The problem is that the people making the decisions have no idea what they need, and too often the people advocating from inside also don’t know what they need. A band director called because in his renovation, they gave him a “thingie to get rid of feedback” that wasn’t working. After hearing the horrible feedback, I found the very expensive, unnecessary feedback elimination unit that wasn’t even connected, just powered on. No one explained to him what it was or how to operate it, and he said that he had to choose between that unit or new shells for the auditorium, and he knew the shells were still useful, so...

There’s also a lot of salesmen who still operate in the chrony world. The architect gets the job, slaps some half-assed drawings together, hires in his buddies to do the install on sound and lights and they all walk out with a fat check and leave the people using the venue trying to figure out if the renovation was actually worth it.

I have reached out, unfortunately, to a few people to ask questions and pick their brains on some issues, and I’ve been met with resistance. A lot of people, and I understand it is their business so their money, aren’t willing to share their knowledge with you unless they see a dollar sign attached. Others won’t even speak if the project isn’t over a certain figure (one consultant asked if the basic price tag would be over 2 million, because if it wasn’t he was hanging up the phone. I hung up on him.). I’m not asking anyone to donate their time, but if I asked someone who I could have do a safety inspection or rate the floor of the venue for weight additions in renovations, I’d appreciate them saying, “I can do that” or “I’ll point you in the right direction.” If they want me to hire them for a 3 minute phone call, they aren’t advocates for the arts, they’re lining their pockets with cash we could be using to provide the arts to people.

#### RonHebbard

##### Well-Known Member
Twice in the last few years, local high schools have had “massive” renovations where they’ve redesigned their auditoriums. Both times, I was asked my opinion as an outside bystander. Both times, the architects had beautiful drawings and sold the school on potential but had no real insight into the performing arts.

One school had zero wing space on stage right, the wall was three feet off stage. I pointed this out immediately, and the people made copious notes. When I asked where the sound equipment was going to be located, would it be dead hung or flown or will it sit on the deck, they made copious notes. When I asked were they getting new lighting or reusing the old system as much as possible, they made copious notes. Then after they met with the architect, they were assured all of that would be taken care of. And they were sold a bill of goods.

The problem is that the people making the decisions have no idea what they need, and too often the people advocating from inside also don’t know what they need. A band director called because in his renovation, they gave him a “thingie to get rid of feedback” that wasn’t working. After hearing the horrible feedback, I found the very expensive, unnecessary feedback elimination unit that wasn’t even connected, just powered on. No one explained to him what it was or how to operate it, and he said that he had to choose between that unit or new shells for the auditorium, and he knew the shells were still useful, so...

There’s also a lot of salesmen who still operate in the chrony world. The architect gets the job, slaps some half-assed drawings together, hires in his buddies to do the install on sound and lights and they all walk out with a fat check and leave the people using the venue trying to figure out if the renovation was actually worth it.

I have reached out, unfortunately, to a few people to ask questions and pick their brains on some issues, and I’ve been met with resistance. A lot of people, and I understand it is their business so their money, aren’t willing to share their knowledge with you unless they see a dollar sign attached. Others won’t even speak if the project isn’t over a certain figure (one consultant asked if the basic price tag would be over 2 million, because if it wasn’t he was hanging up the phone. I hung up on him.). I’m not asking anyone to donate their time, but if I asked someone who I could have do a safety inspection or rate the floor of the venue for weight additions in renovations, I’d appreciate them saying, “I can do that” or “I’ll point you in the right direction.” If they want me to hire them for a 3 minute phone call, they aren’t advocates for the arts, they’re lining their pockets with cash we could be using to provide the arts to people.
@ACTSTech Two comments worth every penny I'm NOT charging:
a; Posting in agreement and expanding:
Architect is awarded project, chooses from among any of his dealer friends who've done previous favors, has his favorite dealer shadow-write a spec.
The spec' specifies NO ALTERNATES and (surprise, surprise) his buddy, the dealer who wrote the spec', spec's several expensive / essential components for which she / he's the only dealer in the Province or State.

b; The GC (General Contractor) awarded the project has NEVER built a theatre before: Condo's, strip malls, grocery stores, high-rise apartments, steel mills, lots of projects, but nary a theatre. At your first meeting, you hear the GC say: "It's only a theatre; four walls, a roof, and a big HOLE in the middle; how hard can it be?

In the words of the immortal / immoral @TimMc Rant off.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard

Last edited:
macsound

#### BillConnerFASTC

##### Well-Known Member
Twice in the last few years, local high schools have had “massive” renovations where they’ve redesigned their auditoriums. Both times, I was asked my opinion as an outside bystander. Both times, the architects had beautiful drawings and sold the school on potential but had no real insight into the performing arts.

One school had zero wing space on stage right, the wall was three feet off stage. I pointed this out immediately, and the people made copious notes. When I asked where the sound equipment was going to be located, would it be dead hung or flown or will it sit on the deck, they made copious notes. When I asked were they getting new lighting or reusing the old system as much as possible, they made copious notes. Then after they met with the architect, they were assured all of that would be taken care of. And they were sold a bill of goods.

The problem is that the people making the decisions have no idea what they need, and too often the people advocating from inside also don’t know what they need. A band director called because in his renovation, they gave him a “thingie to get rid of feedback” that wasn’t working. After hearing the horrible feedback, I found the very expensive, unnecessary feedback elimination unit that wasn’t even connected, just powered on. No one explained to him what it was or how to operate it, and he said that he had to choose between that unit or new shells for the auditorium, and he knew the shells were still useful, so...

There’s also a lot of salesmen who still operate in the chrony world. The architect gets the job, slaps some half-assed drawings together, hires in his buddies to do the install on sound and lights and they all walk out with a fat check and leave the people using the venue trying to figure out if the renovation was actually worth it.

I have reached out, unfortunately, to a few people to ask questions and pick their brains on some issues, and I’ve been met with resistance. A lot of people, and I understand it is their business so their money, aren’t willing to share their knowledge with you unless they see a dollar sign attached. Others won’t even speak if the project isn’t over a certain figure (one consultant asked if the basic price tag would be over 2 million, because if it wasn’t he was hanging up the phone. I hung up on him.). I’m not asking anyone to donate their time, but if I asked someone who I could have do a safety inspection or rate the floor of the venue for weight additions in renovations, I’d appreciate them saying, “I can do that” or “I’ll point you in the right direction.” If they want me to hire them for a 3 minute phone call, they aren’t advocates for the arts, they’re lining their pockets with cash we could be using to provide the arts to people.
I'm lucky. I'm not involved in projects like that. And I've worked on projects from $15,000 to$100,000,000.

RonHebbard

#### ACTSTech

##### Member
Architect is awarded project, chooses from among any of his dealer friends who've done previous favors, has his favorite dealer shadow-write a spec.
The spec' specifies NO ALTERNATES and (surprise, surprise) his buddy, the dealer who wrote the spec', spec's several expensive / essential components for which she / he's the only dealer in the Province or State.
I’ll one up you, how about the bid which called for brand new Colortran 30 and 40 degree ellipsoidals, approved because it was the low bid (among other reasons) even though Colortran went bankrupt what 20 years ago and there’s no way these weren’t in someone’s basement or warehouse. The vendor said he’d personally recommend them. Alas, the school has those fixtures now.

#### ACTSTech

##### Member
I'm lucky. I'm not involved in projects like that. And I've worked on projects from $15,000 to$100,000,000.
What really gets me (since most of the time, it’s schools which means tax dollars) is the price that the architect is paid for their designs, and there’s no liability after the fact. I’m not a professional by any means, but if someone wants me to Work for them, I want to stand by my work. When poorly made, unnecessary acoustic tile falls off walls and the builder installed it “to spec” and the architect can’t explain why it was there in the first place, it looks bad. When the consultant really thinks that a church needs a Yamaha PM5D to replace the 16-channel POS mixer because he “won’t work with less” but the problem is not the board, it’s the acoustics, I get upset. When the designer wants to create his dream space and not listen to what the needs of the group are, like we really need a 25’ curved glass wall when the stage is starting to splinter, I get upset.

Professionals deserve to be paid for their work and their time, but just because they have a job title does not always mean they are professional.

Which is probably why I don’t have a job title, just some electronic gizmos.