An unscripted collaboration between various disciplines, teachers, staff members and students at the CTN branch's Training Academy this week, made even the most exhausted of the busy technical team remember exactly why they became involved in the Live events industry.

Now in their final month of the annual Technical Production Services course, the students are nearing graduation and grabbed the opportunity to execute an impromptu show at the Gearhouse premises in Parow Industria.

The students spent two days in the Structures department under the supervision of senior stage builder and passionate lecturer, Tony Sanger, who not only covered the basics of structures building and the stringent health and safety requirements required, but also shared the sort of tips for prepping, building and striking equipment that only come from years of experience in the field.

The students gained invaluable insight into time management and the importance of the pre-planning process for every build. They were then tasked with using their skills to build a podium stage on both even and uneven ground surfaces to achieve equally level and safe staging. They also built a 2m x 2m camera tower enabling Sanger to give in-depth training on bracing, decking and weather related safety precautions.

They decided to cover one of the Audio practical's at the same time - building a PA Tower and "flying" a PA. Although the build was restricted to 4m for safety reasons, it was high enough for demonstration purposes. The students were guided through the process by Manie Ziervogel of the rigging department and Rodney Beukes from Audio, both of whom command the greatest respect from the student body. The students were very proud of their achievement and their growing enthusiasm galvanised all around them to take it further.

One thing led to another and once the PA was flown, the students set up a comprehensive audio system including backline equipment, microphones, monitors and FOH with effects racks. In short -all the bells and whistles of a full Audio set up!

Audio Operations Manager, Tom Gordon, assisted by Jonathan Mathese and Lourens Steyn, has been training this particular student group over past months and finally the "newbies" got the chance to demonstrate what they have learnt and at the same time stretch their fault-finding capabilities, a process which, as every technician knows, is a most generous teacher. They were given time to diagnose and fix the faults by themselves and a short while later came out on top!

Of course, a sound system is nothing without power to drive it and the group also set-up a Generator to power rigging and audio under the supervision of Charl le Roux.

However, the bonus for the week was the appearance of a live band whose members are friends of one of the students. The Mysticcs, a 3-piece Blues Rock band based in Cape Town, generously gave of their time to perform and jam on the stage while the students got the opportunity to mix at FOH in a live situation.

"I don't know who was having more fun, the band or the students!" enthused Training Facilitator, Lisa Smit. "We shared an amazing experience and to top it all - the excitement was so infectious that many of the other staff members who stopped by to observe, ended up becoming involved in the process."

The band's presence and the staff buy-in was greatly appreciated by the students. "Everyone got involved in the teaching process and the "Gearhouse gees" was felt branch wide," said Cape Town Branch Manager Charl Smit. "We are looking forward to a new generation of technicians who are driven by passion for this industry."

Story and photos Lisa Smit

Nov 8, 2011

The Gearhouse Group of Companies