One of the biggest things we like to push at Lambda Audio Visual is using your equipment to its fullest. Almost every piece of equipment we work with and sell is positioned not only fill your needs but to grow with you. Our tech tip this week is non-other than the equipment user Manual!
We affectionately speak of this amazing tool on our crews as our most important and knowledgeable crew member ‘El Manuel’ (of course we say it with an accent). “Have you checked with Manuel”, is a common day to day saying for us. This is because while our training's do a great job of getting teams started and helping to solve problems, it’s only when you dig in to what the manufacturer has designed the equipment for that you can fully understand it.
So, you’re interested now, and you want to try our idea, but you threw away the box your equipment came in along with that precious little book of knowledge. Never fear, the internet is a treasure trove of manuals and information. Some of our favorites are
Black Magic Support with a constantly updated user manuals for all their products. We also love the Youtube resources for Obsidian control systems, formerly known as Martin Lighting. They have an expansive tutorial set online showing step by step how to become an expert with their products Obsidian Control Systems - YouTube. Yet another incredible catalog of resources is from Boxcast. The have a library of support and tutorials to help you troubleshoot in minutes.
Join us in educating yourselves on the products you own so you can use it to its fullest capability!
A few weeks back we talked about the “Lambda process” for turning your dreams of a new audio, video or lighting system into a reality. Part of that process is all about the gear testing that happens before the equipment ever gets to your location. After the gear has been ordered and has arrived in our shop, we set up all the equipment and each component in the shop just as it will be for the install. This ensures that when we arrive for the install, there aren’t any surprises and there won’t be “that one missing part.” Plus, we have an assurance that each piece of the gear we install will work for you leaving no questions of whether your new parts are faulty.
Nothing can be more frustrating than when you have a piece of gear and it doesn’t seem to be working properly, or even working at all! Here at Lambda AV one of our goals is to not just to help get your current system up and running, or even to replace the gear you already have. It’s to help you to know your system to the best of your ability! Often when you encounter problems in an audio, video or lighting system it can be daunting to try and diagnose where the issue is actually coming from. Often a quick check of signal flow and making sure all the cables are plugged in correctly can save you a lot of time and frustration! There are multiple different ways to go about checking your signal flow. I personally like to start at one end of the system and begin verifying each piece of equipment and cable is working correctly. A piece of gear like this Elite Core Cable Tester, can help you verify that all the cables are working properly. If something like testing gear feels a bit overwhelming to you, not to worry! We would love to schedule a time to do a training on your specific system and gear to help you get to know it better and know the best way to diagnose when equipment isn’t working right! From there, you will be better informed to make the decision to fix something or to plan for a replacement. If you have any questions about what our training's look like, you can check out our Article Here or contact us anytime!
Here’s something new for you to check out! The Superlux IS-103 is a complete wired intercom system that provides clean, clear communication for video, film, broadcasts, house of worship and schools! This Superlux is a great low cost solution for auditorium and church staff communication between positions. It uses simple XLR mic cable and can support up to ten belt packs so you can keep everyone in the loop!
Comfortable, lightweight and easy to use, this could make communication seamless for everyone involved in your project. We love finding and providing affordable options for our clients for all your needs. If you are looking for something in particular, don’t hesitate to ask!
It's time to check out a few different cables and exactly how they can effect your AV systems performance. There are so many different cables and making sure you know the difference and know which fiber to use could make the change you've been looking for.
Let's start with Mic cables! These are one of the two cables that you will come across on a regular basis if you work with audio. Now, mic lines actually consist of two components. The mic cable and the connector. The connector is an XLR connector. The reason this is an important distinction to note is because the XLR connector can be used for different connections, specifically 3-pin DMX. This can become confusing as on many stages you will see both mic lines and DMX cable. Now while these two cables look the same they are doing two completely different jobs. While mic line passes audio signal, DMX passes data and requires a much higher specification cable to perform that task. Because of that you can use a DMX as a mic line, but you should not use an mic cable as a DMX line. If you are in a situation where both mic and DMX 3pin cables are being used close to each other, it’s a good idea to mark or label each cable to ensure you or your volunteers don’t mix them up!
The reason XLR connectors are used on the end of mic lines to pass audio signal is that they allow you to pass shielded, balanced audio. I’m sure if you’ve spent any time in the audio world you hear the terms balanced and unbalanced audio. So, what is balanced audio? Mic line consists of a positive, negative and ground cables. The ground pin allows the signal to be shielded, cutting down on the amount of noise that can be introduced. The positive pin carries the signal and the negative pin carries the same signal with the polarity inversed. When the signal is combined at the other end of the cable anything that is not native to the audio signal will get canceled out. Because of this the final audio signal will have almost no unwanted noise from outside electrical interference. This preserves the original audio signal and gives you the ability to pass audio signal over very long distances.
Pretty neat, right? Cabling may seem insignificant, but it can really effect the quality of your production in the end. Make sure you have the right cables for your equipment and the right connections to create a flawless performance! Stay tuned for more info on other cabling coming up!
I have taken it upon myself this Christmas to bring you a Christmas card! After all, seeing as I’m the one who proudly bares and displays the sheep, I mean lamb-(duh!)-it seemed appropriate for me to be in charge of the Christmas letter! Let me introduce myself: My name is Kirby, the immaculate Trailer. That is, I was, until Ryan recently decided to give me a piercing with a 2x4. It hurt just a little.
We started out the year on the run as we finished a 21 room upgrade with Center for Creative Leadership. Ryan, my proud owner, was more than busy. Training new staff, managing Trevor, bidding jobs, managing Trevor, traveling for installs and conferences, managing Trevor…you get the idea! It’s true, there is no rest for a small business owner. Ryan and Trevor have also have added many more audio, video and lighting trainings to help churches get the most from their equipment. It’s exciting to get new equipment and information into your hands! We love to see you succeed. We also added several more corporate jobs this year. We all loved the work and fun install at Air Academy Federal Credit Union and the video install we did at Air Academy High School
Elizabeth, our Accounting Manager and HR, had a busy year as well. Let’s be real, working with a certain new employee has brought an increased work load to her plate. But she’s a Boss and handled it like a pro! She even planned for the team to make it to Florida for Gather Church’s new building install and back without dying! It was a miracle! Trust me, Trevor almost pulled out the Batman mask one too many times! I had the privilege to carry her well organized snacks and meals for our two week job and even got a security upgrade to help guard the fruit snacks.
Trevor, our Shop Manager and Sound expert, is becoming my new best friend. He takes care of me the best and is in charge of loading up my friends Inigo Montoya, Fezik and Vizzini. Those guys are quite impressive to the clients. They carry all the tools and Lambda tech tip secrets! That is, unless Ryan borrowed something and forgets to put it back… Did you hear? Trevor got SMAART trained this summer! I’m not sure what it did for him, but they say it’s good for the company. We’ve had fun doing audio jobs and SMAART tunes for Lander Church, Clayhouse Church, Austin Bluffs Evangelical Free church and Summit church! Great sound always makes you look more professional. We even created a traveling audio system for Front Range Alliance Church East who rents a gym on Sundays.
Jewell, our Admin Assistant, is enjoying working with the company. Usually I just see her run by on her way to morning meeting, but I hear she keeps things a little better organized in the office now days. Somehow, she even managed to do ordering and communication for our biggest job this year all the way from Italy. Good thing our blog and News Letter didn’t get sent out in Italian. She also has lots of fun working with our vendors and updating the blog and newsletters. I hear the Fun Gear and Tech Tips posted on Social media is an easy way to learn about AV the simple way.
Darcy the Ridiculous Dog chases Hank the squirrel every day. She should just give up. Hank will live on forever! Her other main job is to attend staff meetings and make sure Ryan gets his exercise opening the door for her to go in and out. Yeah, it’s fun to watch
We’ve done a lot of exciting things at Lambda this year! We expanded a lot! Trevor, Jewell, Tych, Anigo, Fezik, Vizzini and myself all joined Lambda this year! And we couldn’t be happier! We have a lot of fun here at Lambda and we hope you've had fun working with us too! We are excited to keep working together and we are excited to work with each one of you in the coming year!
May God bless you richly and may your Christmas filled with much Joy!
From our Family to Yours!
Kirby, and Everyone at Lambda!
PS Could someone stop Darcy from chewing on my tires?
Equipping You To Be the Best!
Have you ever wondered how some of those special features work on your AV equipment? Here at Lambda AV we are dedicated to making your AV experience the best it can be! In our efforts to do this, did you know that Lambda offers classes and training sessions at your convenience? Yes! We do! We would love to help you and your volunteers better understand any AV equipment you have. From lighting and video to sound systems we've got you covered!
Training sessions are created for your specific needs. Lambda offers training for a few hours on any system. We also offer half day training and full day training with a free lunch provided! If a full day of training and a tasty meal isn't enough we also offer training with a checkup beforehand. This includes updating your system and fixing any connection issues you might have. Sound specific training can include your band or we can come set up multi-track recording, if your system is compatible, and practice using those tracks. The opportunities and options are limitless! There is no point in having new gear if you don't know how to use it to it's best ability. Let us show you all the tips and tricks we know!
If you are interested in knowing more about our classes and training, give us a call for a free consult.
In the audio/visual world one of our biggest fears is that something might go wrong or not work at the worst possible time. One of the ways we have found to minimize the chances of this happening is through a pre-event checklist. Whether producing or directing an event, mixing audio, or even just operating a camera, having a checklist to confirm everything is working properly can save headaches during the event.
If you are using volunteers, who may not work with that piece of equipment regularly, this can also help you empower them to learn that area or piece of equipment. Keep the checklists simple and make sure if the operator doesn’t use that specific equipment regularly that they can still understand it and use it as a guide to help them. Use your checklists as markers of what should be working and what someone should be seeing regularly.
Spending a few minutes to create a checklist for different pieces of your systems can save you lots of time before and during your events!
Recruiting and Keeping Your Volunteers Around
My name is Jewell and if you have ordered anything with Lambda AV you have probably received an email from me as I work to fill orders, schedule installs, and send invoices. If you haven’t heard from me, hopefully you will in the future; I’d love to meet all of you! This article is from the perspective of both a volunteer and as someone who is learning the AV industry from the company I work for. My experiences come from volunteering for my own church in AV, as well as many other volunteer and volunteer management positions working on theater productions and even with being a General Manager to employees in past work related positions in the guest service industry. Hopefully that helps you understand where I have come from and why Ryan asked me to write this article. I hope it brings you a bit of insight and of course I’d be happy to hear from you too about this topic!
Lots of Audio Visual systems are run with the help of a volunteer or could be completely based on volunteers. As an AV person who has made tech a part of your life, your first thought about volunteers may be where to find them and convince them to help you! But there may be more to recruiting volunteers than you might have initially thought.
The first step, naturally, is to find people who are willing to volunteer. More than that, you need to find people who are willing to learn a complicated system. After that “easy” first step, you need to find a way to organized them, be willing and able to work around their schedules and take on the task of training them. Training employees can take an amazing amount of patience and flexibility, but sometimes it can take even more with volunteers. If you don’t take the time to do things well or are unorganized it can be frustrating as a volunteer and…we may just leave. After all, we don’t HAVE to be there. And that will be frustrating to you!
So, how can you make an experience that your volunteers will enjoy, understand and be helpful with the things you need to get done? It’s the age-old question of recruiting free labor.
Where slavery was an option in ancient Egypt, most have resorted to bribery or, in some cases, guilt tripping. Where bribery can be useful, especially in the case of providing food or coffee, there are better options to help you find volunteers and keep them. Options that will create an environment of happy, loyal workers and happy unstressed managers.
1. Be nice. Some of the best volunteer experiences are created by having fun with the people you are working with. I am 90% more likely to volunteer if I know I’ll be working with kind, encouraging people. Hey, we’re all human, just smile and offer a kind word and be willing to answer questions and you’ll have people stick around.
2. Inform. Provide a way to tell people what kind of service you need. Be open about sharing what your end goal is and what you hope to accomplish. From there volunteers are able to tell you, “I can do such and such, but not the other part”. This will leave you opportunity to offer training or for a second person to offer the rest of the service.
3. Offer feedback. I have been on both extremes of this. In some cases there is so much feedback that I might despair that I’ll ever do it well. So, why volunteer to put myself in that situation? I might as well let an expert handle it. On the other hand, if you aren’t willing to offer tips and suggestions, how are your volunteers supposed to learn and grow in their role? How cann you conquer these two extremes? Always, always be HONEST…With a measure of grace. Rule of thumb to follow: Offer a compliment, Give one or two tips and feedback, Finish with Thanks or Compliment. Volunteers will learn and get better. Have the patience for that to happen, but be willing to teach them and they’ll stick around.
4. Stay organized. This is important. There are multiple volunteer aspects this can apply to.
The first point I'll suggest is organized training. Arrange to have specific times for people to come and learn. Saying "Come any Wednesday you want for training" is frustrating when you show up and there is nothing you can do or learn. It would be better to ask them if their is a day they could come or find a way to schedule them into a slot that works for you! They will be less likely to “just show up” whenever they want and willguarantee someone to be there to show them the ropes.
Second, if you can’t stay organized or aren’t sure what to have your volunteers do when they do come, they will wonder why you asked for volunteers in the first place (Unless was a plea to keep you creative types organized!). Most people volunteer for a reason. To help. Let them help and be prepared in advance with starter tasks for them to do. Write lists of things that need to be done and assign according to how much training each volunteer has already received.
5. Schedule. One of the systems that I have enjoyed being a part of is: planning.center. Your volunteers can schedule out days they can’t help and then you can add them to your calendar accordingly. After that, they can accept or refuse your invitation to volunteer on that day. This not only helps you to officially schedule them and automatically gives them reminders, but it will help you from over scheduling your volunteers. The last thing you should ever do is rely on your volunteers so much that you burn them out and make them try to avoid you! Check it out and see if it’d be right for you.
As someone who has never been very involved in working with tech, it’s intimidating to try. But it’s still something I want to do and learn more about. I find it incredibly fun to do and am happy to volunteer. Sometimes just opening up and offering to train someone, an anyone can do this attitude, will be enough to help people take the first step in volunteering and help make your life easier. I am so thankful my church has provided a way for me to learn and help out!
If volunteers are an important part of running your AV system, take a few minutes to think over your process and see if there are ways you can improve it. It could make a world of difference in who volunteers and who sticks around to keep helping. Have fun!!
How to get volunteers and keep them volunteering You might be asking yourself what does Pizza, ACDC, and JJ Abrams have to do with church tech? We will get to that. But for as long as I can remember I have volunteered at my home church and enjoyed every second of it because of things like these.
As a Church tech director, worship pastor or pastor you know that volunteers are the most crucial and sometimes most complicated part of any area of church. Volunteers are needed because its just not possible nor a great idea to have a full time staff member for everything that is needed on Sunday morning. With that said it can be frustrating to work with people who aren’t paid to be there and many times especially in tech areas are not experienced in ways that a professional might be. It can also be frustrating when, for no apparent reason, volunteers start to drop of and no longer volunteer, or even leave the church. Then again maybe you are a volunteer yourself and you feel undervalued, or burnt out or maybe feel like you are just there to fill a spot and no one would really miss you. Maybe we need to really think about what the bible says about the purpose for volunteers is.
Ephesisans 4:15-16 we see that as we are saved and grow in Him, we become one body of Christ “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
So we are one body and then in Ephesisans 2:19 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household” we are one household.
So as one body and one household and in Romans 8:9 “ You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” we are also one in spirit.
In 1 Corinthians 12:12 it talks about that this body one in spirit in the same household is made of many parts “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” and that all these parts are one body with Christ
So lets just start again on volunteers with this attitude that we are all a part of the body of Christ, we are all in this one sometimes carpeted, folding chair, hymnal filled, coffee and juice stained household, we are one in Spirit and we all are different parts of the body united with Christ. So yes every person can have and should have a valued place somewhere serving in the church I am talking to leadership and volunteers here.
Now just for leadership, we are finally getting back to the title here. J. J. Abrams is one of my favorite film directors. He is my favorite not because of the specific movies he has made or how empty I felt at the end of LOST but because of something he does with his stories. He makes us feel like we are all a part of something much bigger than ourselves. This is what takes a boring volunteer job or group of volunteers and makes them a team that can conquer the world for Christ. When I was in college I directed a small quiz show for PBS. The crew of the show was not a bunch of seasoned professionals paid to be there but instead a group of new to TV volunteers. Early on, a fellow director taught me something called “The walk”. Every day before we started I made it my personal goal to greet every person on the crew at their position. I would talk to them, ask them about their job, tell them what they were doing well and give them some fun ideas on how to do their job even better. I connected with them and I built community. Usually, by the second or third week everyone was excited for me to come around and many times everyone would be in a group waving and talking when I entered the studio. This is not because I was a particularly great director but because I cared about them and I worked with them and took them from feeling like just a camera person to feeling like a crew and feeling like they had a common task I needed them all for. Notice I focused on three things, each person, their relationship together, and the importance of continually improving their skills.
Here is another idea for building community; its called pizza! Really lots of food works and actually I get tired of pizza and even Jimmy Johns sometime. A meal together really isn’t that expensive and helps community a lot. The church I serve in feeds us every time we walk in the building and wow we have certainly had some fun… the “hop scotch in the kitchen” Easter incident of 2010. The lesson here is pour into your volunteers, give them friendship, knowledge, food, and most importantly make it all about something bigger than just tech or greeting.
For the volunteers out there, I personally believe not only should we tithe of our finances but we should tithe of our other gifts and knowledge that God has given us. So, here it is… If you are reading this and you aren’t volunteering to serve in the church, you need to! Get in there and be a part of the body. If you don’t feel connected it may be that you aren’t doing what gamblers call “Putting skin in the game.” You aren’t connecting yourself in a way that gives you some ownership in the body. Jump in and serve to serve. When my wife and I joined our church one of the first things I did was call and ask how I could serve in my area of skill on the tech team. Within a few weeks I was running camera and the presentation computer, and most importantly, getting to know the worship team. One other thing I want to stress with volunteers is “YOU ARE A VOLUNTEER” don’t work as a volunteer simply because you want to be payed eventually, don’t complain that you aren’t payed and don’t give the job anything less than your best because you aren’t payed. Remember this verse in Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,”. Why would you give service to God that is anything less than your best?
Last of all we are called to worship Psalms 99:5 “Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; He is Holy.” Part of worship is service and living as Jesus would and part of living as Jesus would is serving others so get in there have some fun and encourage the band to play ACDC every time the worship pastor turns around to talk during practice it’s hilarious! Comment bellow with some fun memories you have of volunteering or working with volunteers and be sure share your daily volunteer and worship team fun with @orangehatryan with the hashtag #volunteermoments .