CORONAVIRUS & WORKING FROM HOME IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY – ONLINE TRAINING ADVICE
Each of these is relevant to our work, and it is better to be doing something proactive and engaging your minds on positive stuff if/when we have to self-isolate and work from home.
Some are free; some are not. It may seem counter-intuitive to spend money when you don’t have much coming in, but this should allow you to hit the ground running when the crisis is over.
We would recommend the Harman and Dante courses, and perhaps start on the CompTIA+, or pick a discipline and work your way through.
Neuron is also looking into generating some video content, covering our approach to AV, system design, tutorials or walkthroughs of our equipment and assets in the coming weeks. Watch this space for more information on those!
Harman Core Curriculum – Audio, Cabling, Control, Networking, PC, Video – max 40 minutes each https://pro.harman.com/training/core-curriculum
Harman also has BSS London Architect / Audio Architect training, as well as guides on how to make sound predictions for JBL systems with their Line Array Calculator v3.2 video series. These skills carry over nicely to non-Harman stuff too, so are worth doing:
DANTE BY AUDINATE
Audio over IP, and the industry-standard way to do so. Probably the single most useful skill you can have in the events industry right now. Level 1 is quick and easy, and while Level 2 & 3 usually take place in class, you can complete them online:
SHURE – WIRELESS & RF
With radio frequency bands becoming ever more congested, while more performers move to in-ear monitoring systems or wireless pickups, it’s more vital than ever to have a good understanding of wireless transmitters & receivers. Shure has some great courses, starting with the very basics. If you’ve ever wondered what ‘squelch’ really means, or why you can hear ghosts in your wedges, this is the place to start:
BIAMP – MODULAR DSP
Biamp certification and training is 100% free and teaches you good practices for designing modular DSP as used in venue installations. In essence, these skills translate to BSS, Xilica, and suchlike:
This is excellent, and cheap. They offer a range of courses in all sorts of stuff, from maths, solar energy, programming, scientific thinking, classical mechanics (think Einstein stuff), geometry, probability, logic, to computer science. Instead of just watching lectures, you get lots of neat little games or problems to solve.
We’d recommend this to keep your brain active, and generally keep you fresh and learning.
It’s £8 a month if you sign up for a year:
SYSTEM TECH / ADVANCED AUDIO ENGINEERING
SOUND DESIGN LIVE / PHASE INVADERS BY NATHAN LIVELY
A great podcast by a nice guy, and some training and tools that we helped put together. Phase Invaders lets you practice doing phase alignment without any kit to hand, and makes the process more like a game, so it’s a bit more fun. We have some SMAART measurements in the library from Glastonbury and such too if you want a go with real-world data.
There is proper training in the forms of ebooks about getting on tour, as well as courses on RF and wireless, mixing on digital consoles, good EQ for speakers, introduction to the phase graph & audio analysers, tuning without SMAART, and of course. This full Seeing Sound course is an end to end process for system design.
All of this is online, with direct chat to Nathan for help and support:
Probably the longest-running online and pro audio training out there. Pat Brown is an industry legend and a lovely guy. The courses range from overview to deep, deep dive, and teaches you the real stuff like gain staging, electronics, how stuff actually works.
You can cover:
Transformer based distributed speaker systems (70v / 100v line)
DSP including tuning, crossover filters, FIR & IIR
Gain structure, power amplifier and speaker ratings, loudspeaker physics
Designing a system to a room, the listeners, and with the tools that you have at hand
You choose how far down the rabbit hole you go, but all of this can make you a better engineer:
REDDIT USER IHATETYPINGINBOXES
This guy has an excellent series of posts that cover all sorts of system tuning how-tos, in a nice, ordered fashion. His YouTube streams are also archived, and give a great visual look at the tools we use day in, day out to tune & tone a sound system.
For example, if you’ve always wondered what those graphs on a laptop you see at front-of-house are, start with this introduction to audio analysers:
MERLIJN VAN VEEN’S STUDY HALL
Plenty of articles covering the tricks and tools of advanced system design. Predictions, maths, and real-world results converge here, in an easy-to-follow writing style. We have been fortunate enough to train with Merlijn in person, and this website is an invaluable resource for cardioid bass arrays, correct aiming of speaker systems, and more:
BOB MCCARTHY’S SOUND SYSTEMS: DESIGN AND OPTIMISATION BOOK
Lovingly dubbed the ‘green bible’ this old-school paper guide has tons of illustrations, and covers everything you ever wanted to know about audio system design. It’s a bit of a beast and might make you cross-eyed to start with, but anyone who owns this will tell you that it’s one of the most valuable tools on their bookshelf:
MOTHERCLASS ON MIXING CLASSICAL MUSIC LIVE
For those of us who are more used to noisy stages and high sound pressure levels, the prospect of mixing orchestral or classical music can be very daunting. Luckily, there’s an amazing masterclass – or in this case, Motherclass – on how to do just that with a guy who’s got a serious bit of experience behind him.
Carsten Kümmel is a specialist for live sound in classical music with a breathtaking list of references: He’s touring with live productions like Disney in concert or The World Of Hans Zimmer. In this series of videos he allows a deep insight into his work, from the microphones to setting up the console and working with conductors and orchestras. Some tips are as simple as standing up an applauding when the orchestra enters the stage to make sure the audience will start applauding too – a way better start for a concert than if they’d remain silent. But Carsten Kümmel also offers a share of his highly developed skills concerning work with a high end audio console like the Stage Tec Aurus.
CHAMSYS MAGICQ BASICS
While most lighting study requires you to have fixtures, software, and hardware at your fingertips, plus a space to play in, the ChamSys MagicQ software can be downloaded for free to experiment. They also have some easy to follow videos on their YouTube channel, that teach you the fundamentals of lighting programming, with a simple 3D visualiser that allows you to experiment with different fixture types, and create looks or try out ideas.
You don’t need a monster of a PC to do it either, and it runs equally well on macOS and Windows operating systems. If you’ve ever wanted to mock up the club or stage of your dreams, now is the time:
3D MODELLING & VISUALISATION
SketchUp is the easiest way to get started with CAD. It’s cheap to do the course, you can use SketchUp online for free, and while it’s a little clunky, the principles are the same for Vectorworks, WYSIWG and many others. Currently, this is 6 hours of video, on-demand, for £15:
There’s infinitely more stuff on SketchUp online, and once you start on this, you can move onto ‘proper’ within a few years which can earn you good money. In the meantime, you can mock up any event or design quickly to win clients, as well as start doodling out things to make, 3D print, or CNC.
CAPTURE LIGHTING VISUALISATION
The friendly Swedes at Capture kindly offer some brilliant sample projects, alongside a free-to-use Student Version of their excellent Capture 2020 visualisation software. This one is a little more advanced, and we would recommend trying it only if you already have a good understanding of DMX patching and working in 3D – however, it’s an excellent tool to mock up realistic representations of lighting designs. They also have some excellent tutorials online:
Loads of stuff, for a flat fee. You want to be a software or web developer? Do graphic design or photography? Make videos? Become a better leader or manager? It’s here:
We almost can’t believe that all of this stuff is free – it covers a huge range of skills, and reaches far farther than our own industry. There are however also courses on how to prevent disease outbreak, and courses that may help you develop your business or management skills, or enter a new career entirely:
AVIXA AKA INFOCOMM
While this applies directly to the USA more than the UK, it’s still of interest, especially if you work or want to work in the corporate side of events or installations. They call their people Certified Technology Specialists hence “CTS”. These courses cover audio, lighting and video stuff. There is also a lot of projector info in these.
There are two types:
CTS-I (Installation) – a specialist in installing and maintaining audiovisual systems
CTS-D (Design) – a specialist in designing and documenting audio visual systems
DIGITAL SIGNAGE EXPERTS GROUP
This series of courses covers things related to deploying screens & signage in installs, conferences and places of education or hotels. They have several levels:
DSCE (Certified Expert) – General overview of digital signage systems
DSDE (Display Expert) – Deep dive into screens and projector systems
DSNE (Network Expert) – Deep dive into media servers and display multicasting
DCME (Content & Media Expert) – More design and creative focus, covers how to produce good quality content – images and video – for digital signage
Lots of video and signage basics as well as product-specific training videos. Walls of pre-recorded webinars to peruse:
COMPUTERS & NETWORKING
These courses may seem tedious at first, especially if you’re used to mixing bands. However, these qualifications allow you to work outside of the entertainment industry and teach good general practices in day-to-day computer and networking use.
These cover a vast range of aspects of computing and come with substantial online support in forums, videos and similar to make it easier to follow.
CompTIA A+ – Basic computer troubleshooting – this one is useful in everyday life, and not just for computers
CompTIA Network+ – Deep dive into TCP/IP, which is the backbone of the Internet
CompTIA Security+ – Best security practices (a requirement for working for defence contractors or services)
CompTIA Linux+ – Fundamentals of being a Linux server admin
CompTIA Cloud+ – Fundamentals of administering services and storage in the cloud, Amazon Web Services, S3, the kind of stuff that is the backend to many major websites
Professor Messer has excellent video guides with course notes for all of these CompTIA courses, for a low fee of $25:
He also has a great YouTube channel for free, covering general computing education:
CCNA makes you a Cisco Certified Network Associate. It is an IT certification that shows you can set up and manage small to mid-size TCP/IP networks such as those found at events or in office buildings.
It is not an entry-level certification, and you should have current IT experience, or have completed at least up to the level of CompTIA Network+.
It also is not quick; typically, it can take up to 6 months of study to take the exam. However, it’s a massive plus for any audio tech who wants to make the switch into integration or design or get out entirely and become a network consultant when life in a literal field is less attractive because you’re old and no fun any more.
If you’re serious about this, we would suggest using an agency with a support team such as these:
Telecoms. Polycom provides services that are the backbone of comms around a building, or an event site, or even VoIP worldwide. You finish this, and you end up as a Polycom Certified Videoconferencing Engineer (PCVE):
COMPLETE AV ECOSYSTEMS
Your gigs and touring calendar might be looking a little threadbare due to coronavirus, Brexit or other reasons, but people always need conference technology.
QSYS is, in our opinion, the best in this field. The kit is easy to use and integrates very well. The two guys that do training and trade shows are funny, and it makes the training much less dry than you’d think – you may also not realise how powerful and flexible it can be! All of this can be done online:
HARMAN PROFESSIONAL AMX
Harman has a whole host of stuff focused on their AMX system, but a lot of this also is useful elsewhere as a cross-skill or fundamental technique. Learning how to make a building look pretty with lighting is a skill that’ll carry you into whole new sectors, for example. They have a bunch of titles you can earn:
Audio Certified Professional – Design
Audio Certified Professional – Programming
Certified Control Solutions Master (AMX)
Networked AV Certified Professional
Architectural Lighting Design Associate
All of these can be found here:
Most Crestron skills require you to go via authorised Crestron dealers, but they offer the basics on their website for free. These core skills are super useful if you’re looking to work with AV integrators:
CEDIA – HOME AV & SECURITY
Think home theatres, smart homes, CCTV. These courses are more focused on end-users than a business to business sales approach, and there are several levels:
CEDIA ESC – Basics of Home Theater / Security / Technology
CEDIA ESC-T – Advanced training for technicians and installers
CEDIA ESC-D – Advanced training for designers and PMs
CEDIA ESC-N – Advanced training for networking engineers
There have been several edits to this post since it originally went live – normally we would make a new post, but since this link seems to be doing the rounds we have chosen to add the extras here.
RATIONAL ACOUSTICS SMAART
You’ve all heard of someone ‘SMAARTing’ the room. Well, sadly, that’s not quite right. SMAART is a tool, that skilled engineers use to produce data. Think of it more like a magic wand – without the right spells inside the wizard’s brain, it’s worse than useless, and can do more harm than good!
If you’ve ever wondered what those graphs are that sound guys and gals like to look at, and want to feel like a wizard, then you should check out the SMAART Operator Fundamentals webinars. They’re being hosted on YouTube, from the software developers and lead trainers, giving you a rundown of what SMAART is, what it does – and doesn’t – do, and when you should use it. They run live at 7pm GMT Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and take questions from the audience – but you can always catch up at your own pace.
BUILDING YOUR OWN SPEAKERS WITH DIYRM
Everyone’s looked at a speaker and thought “well it’s just some paper, wood and glue, I can do that” – now’s your chance. There must be plenty of yards, sheds or garages just itching for some pencil & paper, caffeine-induced maths lightbulb moments, and sawdust. However, it’s useful to have some guidance, because whatever you’re thinking of doing, chances are someone’s done it before and can save you a little trouble. One such gentleman is the inimitable Scott Hinson, who has somehow found the time to make an incredible amount of speakers between wrestling megawatts and children – not at the same time – and he’s been kind enough to document and explore many of the quirks and questions that you’re likely to encounter.
His Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/DIYRM/ is a goldmine, with complete start to finish projects including lists of fully costed components. The real treasure though, is found in this spreadsheet, which he kindly put together after I griped about how awful FB is for finding archival diamonds:
That cumbersome URL will whisk you off to a land of some of the most insightful and entertaining papers on speaker design that exist on the internet. I consider it required reading for any aspiring engineer who likes to get their hands dirty!
Martin Audio are possibly the longest running PA manufacturer in the business, and more or less invented touring sound along with TurboSound. More recently, they showed the world how beam steering can be done at an individual driver level to improve the consistency of line array sound. are hosting a series of webinars on topics such as low frequency system design, using EASE Focus to design your system before the gig, and a whole host of other topics. Check out their list and register here:
There are also catch up videos hosted on YouTube for those that can’t make the live sessions.
The infamous French company that started the whole line array thing way back in the mid-90s have always had an excellent education arm. They’ve put forward a great chunk of easy to follow tutorials on line array behaviour and how to optimise it right through to soundsystem design in their SoundVision prediction software – with a specific focus on certain types of event or venues.
Ever wondered what all that clanging and banging on an event site is about? Do you want to know what a podger is? Maybe rigging is for you, and the guys at Area Four Industries have a whole host of videos on truss, staging, hoists, and the most important thing of all – how to tie a damn good knot!
We recommend getting going on the Rigging Basics & Product Basics courses to start.
Computer aided design is one of the best tools in our belt. It helps us show you what we’re going to do, and revise it, without us having to actually get in the truck. It’s a lot easier to just move something over a few metres, or add an extra span of lighting when it’s just pixels on a screen!
Vectorworks is used by architects to make buildings, so is ideal for installations, but it is also a staple in the event world – with a ready to use asset library of trussing, lighting fixtures, speaker cabinets and more, you can accurately visualise and plot an event or installation out. Best of all, you can then easily generate documentation or 3D renders from these drawings, ensuring that everyone is on the same page, and things are done correctly when the big day comes.
Usually, these seminars are locked up behind a pricey Vectorworks Service Select membership, but until June 30th you can access a bunch of them for free! They run on a rolling schedule, and you can check the calendar here:
There’s also a 30 day trial of the software available so you can follow along!
Some lovely people have also collated a massive spreadsheet, with far more choice and information than we could ever hope to write or list here. Some free, some paid, some manufacturer-specific, but worth a rummage:
If you keep your head above water and take the free time to finally learn that thing you’ve been thinking about for ages, then we can be in an even better place once the crisis passes. We here at Neuron are committed to giving our staff, permanent and temporary, the chance to develop their skills, at any time.