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Monday, March 16, 2015

It's been a while...

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Five years ago I ended my last entry on this page by saying I would update it more frequently. Well, that didn’t happen. Although the steady stream of shows continued and quite a bit of great things happened I just never sat down to write it all down. So, I’ll attempt to get caught up with telling you some of the really cool stuff that’s been going on.

The last Super Bowl halftime show that I wrote about was The Who in Miami. That show was a huge undertaking and the crew that I get to work with made it happen. Some of us have been doing the Super Bowl for nineteen years and since The Who halftime show the monitor crew has remained the same and the shows have grown in size and complexity. The Black Eye Peas, Beyonce, Madonna, Bruno Mars and Katy Perry, in that order in Super Bowls XLV through XLIX, all brought new levels of creativity and complexity. Without my comrades, Jim “Redford” Sanders, George Schwartz, Dave Ingels, John Protzko and Danny Lane it would not be possible to make the show happen. It’s not just the size of the show but also the size of the event that adds to the magnitude of the job. The amount of RF microphones and in ear monitors are always challenging to coordinate into the usable wireless spectrum and can only be done officially with the NFL. To put it in perspective, three thousand or more frequencies are in operation on Super Bowl game day. We need approximately twelve wireless microphones and ten wireless in ear monitors to operate in this overly congested RF environment during pre game for the National anthem and at Halftime. There is no room for error and nothing less than 100% perfect operation. It was great to have James Stoffo back this year handling our entertainment frequency coordination and the process he created years ago is still in use by everyone today. We continue to have a great track record with making both production and performers happy with some amazing shows. The technology that grows by leaps each year that we get to work with is a welcomed asset. In my niche of mixing monitors for performers on these shows the last few years has ushered in the use of DigiCo mixing consoles. These digital mixing systems maintain the standard of fully recalling every setting used during a performance but have created a new benchmark in my opinion of how things sound. Mixing primarily on in ear monitors is a very critical listening environment and I enjoy very much the end result of how my mixes sound with DigiCo. And on the topic of critical listening, I still love my Future Sonics mg6 Pro ear monitors but have recently added their mg5 Pro ear monitors, as well. I go between the two on different shows and although they have their own signature sound, they both sound incredible and have uninterrupted perfect dynamic range. I can’t say enough about their product and support. Thank you , Marty Garcia and the gang at Future Sonics.

After Super Bowl each year the following show is always The Grammy Awards. Grammy week, as we call it, is a blurry sprint nonstop until show day, Grammy Sunday. The week gives me the opportunity to work with some of the audio industry’s greatest talents. The audio crew is an allstar cast of heavyweights who are responsible for making every Grammy performance come to life. The show always has a list of top artists who put together big performances, which means big bands, lots of players and large quantities of inputs. The A2’s, or the audio technicians on stage, are responsible for not only patching all of these inputs during soundchecks and rehearsals but also guaranteeing that they get patched correctly when they return days later for the show. The monitor crew that works with me for the Grammy’s is another set of amazing individuals. Making sure every performer has the right in ear mix and relaying all of the info and requests during soundchecks is no small task. There is also the staging of how a band fits on the stage, any monitor speakers and all of the power needed for the equipment and instruments. There is a small army led by the monitor crew that plans this and makes sure it comes back the same way on show day. The amount of performers on the Grammy Awards also brings a great number of the industry’s best and brightest guest monitor engineers. I have had the pleasure of continually working with a lot of these band engineers and we have formed a great relationship of how to approach the performance, make artists happy at soundcheck and quickly create mixes that they rely on for great performances. We have definitely gotten to the point where they allow me to create mixes based on their preference and how they know their artists want to hear and then we fine tune it from there. There is a lot of mutual respect and admiration involved that gives us this trust. I have always been a fan of having the band engineer on stage having face time with an artist while I mix at the console. I get to continue mixing and do my work while the band engineer is on stage making sure everyone is happy and calm. The Grammy Awards is the best show I do all year. The 2015 Grammy’s this year allowed me to mix for AC/DC, ELO, Hozier, Annie Lennox and others. Some of these brought me back to being a kid remembering their music and it was a highlight to be able to work with them. The people, the performances and even the pressure make it one of the most gratifying experiences. I watch the show back the next day at home, usually loud, and realize how every person doing their job is necessary to create all of the shows special moments.

After the Grammy week comes the Academy Awards. It is complete decompression compared to the onslaught that Super Bowl into Grammy’s provides. It is a much different show compared to most since the priority is placed on the award presentations and pageantry as opposed to the musical performances. And it is spread out over enough time to have some breathing room between what I do during the week. But, it does have performances that require close attention to detail and in some cases the artist is out of their normal environment on stage. The orchestra is now performing at Capitol Records miles away and sent over to The Dolby Theater via a dedicated signal path. The Oscars is the only show that I still work on stage for the monitor mixer, in this case Mike Parker, who I’ve worked with and respected for over twenty years. My work includes wrangling the in ear monitor packs that performers use and working with them during rehearsals making sure they are hearing what they need to. This year’s Academy Awards employed the use of forty in ear monitor packs over the course of the show, some of which had to be integrated into wardrobe. It is a departure for me being on stage and not behind the console but I love doing that job for Mike as we share a mutual respect and approach in a lot of what we do.

So, on to the rest of the year and a handful of other television award shows that regularly occur including the ACMA’s in Dallas for their 50th Anniversary.  And the MTV Movie Awards, Video Music Awards, Country Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, American Music Awards…and others, will take place like always. And I get to work the usual list of Microsoft shows with my “extended family” that I have had the privilege to work with for the past fifteen years of Microsoft events. These shows have every bit the scale of complexity, size and effort as any large music show. It is a good respite from the music scene, although I do mix ears for the house band and occasional outside special guest performance. But, the Microsoft shows have a different set of audio challenges with stage monitoring for dialog and video playback as well as computer audio interfacing for product demos, etc. It is an exciting time at Microsoft with new products and operating systems and incredible new devices, as well. I have always been a Microsoft user and love the new direction the company is taking.

Well, that’s it for now. I always make the promise to update this page more often and I will make that promise again. I really do want this site to be a resource for some who wish to know what the news is from my side of our industry. I get to see a lot of great mixers and share different approaches and I get to work with people who are creating new methods and equipment that keep our audio industry moving forward and dealing with challenges. Maybe I’ll try and highlight some people I know with an occasional spotlight. Maybe that will be you! Until then…see you around stage.

8:15 am pdt 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2010
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“Well,  we fooled ‘em again.”  Those words came out of Redford’s mouth after the Super Bowl halftime show with The Who.  He says that every year.  I never asked directly where he got the phrase and for all I know he invented it.  He is a legend after all.  But, it always gets a laugh out of me.  I have made my own mind up as to its meaning.  It means we pulled off the impossible and gave everyone a great show and made it look easy.  That’s where we fooled them…because this show is never easy...
Stand by for the rest of the story.  I promise it won't take another half year to update! 

And for more on the Man, the Myth, the Legend that is Redford please visit:
http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/in_profile_jim_redford_sanders_three_decades_in_the_trenches/
4:19 pm pst 

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Getting Caught Up
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Updating this site always seems to come with the best intentions of doing it frequently but I actually end up executing it more infrequently.  Basically, I always want to keep it fresh and full of information so it can be the resource I would like it to be for our industry.  Friends and family like to keep track of it also to see if I am actually working..that always rests their minds! Well, there certainly has been no lack of work for the month of July! Being a part of the audio team for the world's largest software company and the massive shows they put on has occupied the entire month.  Between the World Partner Conference in New Orleans earlier this month and the Global Experience in Atlanta the last half of July, there has been no down time.  Both of these shows are as big, or bigger, than any of the large scale arena shows on which I work. But, aside from the installation of these systems, which includes the ten or more JBL VerTec line array clusters, piles of rigging and miles of cables, once settled in I spend my day mixing for two main parties.  First, there is up to forty channels of computer generated audio that I mix to a composite left and right to FOH for the PA and record mix. After all, these shows are a software company's day in the sun, so the demos of all of the new software and devices means they make noise, play music and put out video for the audience. Second, there is always a live band on these shows that plays a part in the theatric opening for the day, as well as walk in music and bumper music for the individuals who speak. In order to keep the sound environment clean and low on too much energy, the agreement was made years ago that these performers be on in ear monitors. Each musician and vocalist has their own individual stereo mix. At times they are not accustomed to this type of listening, possibly coming from a world of stage monitor speakers, studios or even the street. The World Partner Conference this year, for instance, had the Playing For Change Band, whos origins are from the Playing For Change Project, an amazing effort to unite people around the globe by performing from a location in their country, being recorded and ultimately creating a finished piece of music.  The band has now been brought together on stage from around the world, from all different cultures and music styles and most every player is not used to wearing in ear monitors. This poses a challenge of not only creating the right mix for them to hear, but helping to educate them on what to focus on to be comfortable with the whole idea. It is a foreign scene for them, having a director talk into their ears, listening to click tracks and music tracks, all while playing normally. They did extremely well and the crowd was very drawn to the raw energy and sincerity in how they performed. They are all extremely gifted players and vocalists. On to the Global Experience show in Atlanta, I had a far different band assembled by some top Nashville artists.  Although accustomed to wearing in ear monitors, there was still the odd environment of playing small pieces of songs as bumper music and having a director talk in their ear while they played. They performed great and were a pleasure to work with.
These shows pull me away from my usual world of mixing monitors for established big name acts on large television shows. It is a welcomed departure at times as it allows me to create a relationship with an artist from the ground up, rather than with an artist and their mixer who arrive with a preconceived notion of how the mix should be or what equipment to use. Although, plenty of the latter show up with their act together, many do not, and I certainly have the ability to make your day much easier if you allow me to help you, translated as, "do it my way".
As a side note, there is always a "bag of tricks" that a mixer travels with that allow him or her to have a platform to start from that set them up for success. To have a guaranteed allotment of equipment that you are accustomed to that you know and trust can put you way beyond "square one" at the beginning of your day.  So, aside from my starting point of digital mixer types, in ear monitor transmitter and receiver types, I also have to say that the actual earphone that an artist uses is the last piece of the puzzle. I personally use Future Sonics  ear monitors. They were the first and I believe they remain the finest. The ability to have such a true representation of all of the instrumentation in a mix allows for a lower listening level and ultimately a better mix. I cannot say enough about their craftsmanship, support and...sound. So, if you have the time, visit
www.futuresonics.com to see what I am blathering on about.
As always, if you ever need help or even just some information or ideas, please do not hesitate to contact me.

tom@pesasound.com
800.746.1276

www.futuresonics.com
11:51 am pdt 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Some show pictures from this year so far
It isn't easy to find the time to upload pictures from all of these shows that happen.  But, it does offer a glimpse of the family of pros that I work with.  So far this year every show that I have been on has had all of the A List audio heavyweights and no attitude.  Always a pleasure...

James Stoffo and Tom Pesa.  I cannot imagine what the wireless scene at Super Bowl would be like without Stoffo.
Me with James Stoffo, entertainment frequency coordinator and "RF Guy" at Super Bowl. I cannot imagine what the wireless scene at Super Bowl or any of the many shows I work with him on would be like without him.
Please visit James' site at http://rfguystoff.googlepages.com/home to educate yourself on the world of RF and the "white space" politics that will change all of our professional lives. Time well spent! 


Stoffo with his wireless crew
Shown here is the entire RF crew with no shortage of Helical antennas!
I have to include a shout out to the Bruce Springsteen sound crew.  Bruce was the halftime show for Super Bowl XLIII this year and halftime shows mean massive staging, intense cable and monitor system planning and implementation.  For this reason I have never allowed any other equipment than Audiotek to be a part of the event.  If I have to guarantee the success of the show then all elements of the monitor system have to be in my direct control.  Well, this year was the first departure from that routine.  Bruce had to have his rig that he is accustomed to touring with and that comes from Audio Analysts.  I have to say that Monty J. Carlo and his crew did an outstanding job of blending in with our scene and put all worries and concerns to rest as soon as they got on site.  I thank them for this.  Here they are, happy as usual, no attitude and ready on game day.

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Sadly, I do not have a picture of the Super Bowl monitor crew that works with me each year.  They are the best at what they do and any success that I have had with monitors on the last eleven Super Bowls is due in large part to their constant hard work, planning and foresight.  They are George Schwartz, Jim "Redford" Sanders, Dave Ingels and John Protzko.  Thank you guys for continual great shows.



After Super Bowl it was directly into The Grammy Awards.  This years show included twenty four live performances on three stages.  I shared monitor mix duties with Mike Parker as we ping ponged acts between stage A and stage B.  The show was another, if not the best, example of some of the best audio professionals working together to pull off a massive event.  It is a pleasure working with all of them.


photo courtesy Jeff Peterson of Green Audiophoto courtesy Jeff Peterson of Green Audio
ATK Audiotek provided the equipment for the Grammys, as shown here, as well as Super Bowl, Oscars and, well, pretty much any show I am on.  They are the benchmark in this industry for technologically advanced equipment that is meticulously maintained, well packaged and great sounding.  My job as a monitor mixer is made that much easier with their M2 and M5 wedges.  Aside from their proprietary speakers, the processing that ATK uses on the widely available systems such as JBL VerTec line array truly sets them apart from other companies.

photo courtesy Jeff Peterson of Green Audio
The Oscars came directly after The Grammys, continuing what was a busy start to the year.  Many of the production positions at this years Oscars were filled with new people.  This created a new approach, much of which felt as though it was being realized and changed on site.  Again in reference to the pros that I get to work with, if it weren't for their foresight born from having done the show for so many years, the Oscars would have been a far different event rather than the flawless one it certainly was.  A seen below, Yamaha PM1D and PM5D were at both FOH and monitors.

photo courtesy Jeff Peterson of Green Audio
Seen here are Michael Parker, monitor mixer with Patrick Baltzell, system designer and House Sound Mixer.

photo courtesy Jeff Peterson of Green Audio

James Stoffo and Tom Pesa.  I cannot imagine what the wireless scene would be like without Stoffo at Super Bowl.
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6:00 am pdt 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The New Year Blur

   2009 is off to a fast paced and blurry start.  The Inauguration provided plenty of last minute production elements in Washington DC and this planted The Neighborhood Ball right before the usual Super Bowl run.  This led right into the Grammy Awards, which in and of itself is quite a show, and now I find myself at The Oscars to cap it all off.  We are fortunate in our industry to still be working compared to a lot of fellow Americans.  For that I am grateful.  Stay tuned for photos and stories from Super Bowl, Grammys and Oscars. 

   As always, thanks for visiting and see you down the road.

9:27 pm pst 

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thank you for your support
So, obviously, if you're reading this post I've made my site public and announced my moving on from a 15 year full time gig with ATK.  This move is positive with no reasons other than to better schedule my own time and maximize any down time (like we have any in this industry) for my home and family.  The last few weeks I have had a few conversations with some of you close to me and let you know my plan.  I just wanted to say thanks for the support.  We all lean on each other in this business and hearing your words of encouragement is great.  See you in all the familiar places.  I'm sure wherever it is, it'll be 8 a.m....
3:22 pm pst 

2015.03.01 | 2010.02.01 | 2009.07.01 | 2009.03.01 | 2009.02.01 | 2008.11.01

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www.futuresonics.com