11 May 2012

Training: State of the Art; or ‘Real’ equipment?

Currently I’m working on a story about a GREAT school trade training venue with a fantastically well equipped learning venue – containing a studio / theatre space with seats for 450 audience.

This venue has a Digico SD8 audio console, and a Grand MA 2 lighting desk. The consultant says these were chosen to give the students ‘real world’ experience – and they are great choices, akin to what we hopefully find in commercial venues.

My personal training experience (up to end 2010) was somewhat different – the VET course we ran at Julius College was at Diploma level and we chose a generalist focus. We reasoned a broad basket of skills took precedence over really ‘knowing’ an operating system. We did analogue audio console training, working up from a little 8 channel Yamaha, and building to something with 1,000 knobs and another 600 buttons. We avoided digital, because once you really know the bus structure of analog,


In lighting land, the push was to get lights hung safely, powered, patched, and pointed – with a MaXim level console, regular dimmer racks, and DMX drama’s with LED pars. Pop quizzes about mains loading, proper bolting of trusses, and repetition, repetition, repetition.

Over at the church I visit, there is the most fantastic array of modern everything – audio desks by Avid (Digidesign), Yamaha, Soundcraft, lighting consoles from Jands and MA, and all kinds of (again) state-of-art equipment.

Both the establishments we talk about here are available for commercial hire, and both do a lot of shows of all complexions. So the modern fit-out is entirely appropriate.


My view on training sits askew – to make a real live production technician, theatre, AV or installations – you need to have a lot of repetition, plug, patch, troubleshoot and basic knowledge of signal flow and console operation.

Whatever the specification of the venue, being able to equalise a wedge, fast program a lighting desk, and do a show ‘on the fly’ is mission critical. Isn’t it?

Here’s the kicker: the current CUE 03 and the proposed new package for VET training will only see (on average) 10 hours training for ‘Apply a general knowledge of audio’ or ‘Apply a general knowledge of lighting’ or ‘Vision’.

No matter how well-intentioned the school, college, RTO or TAFE, the various Certificate 3, Certificate 4 and Diploma offerings will be and are loaded down with hundreds of hours of core units, OH&S, and teamwork dicdac that will choke the creative life from most kids who enrol. The national completion rate for CUE 03, indeed any VET course, is low.

For our industry (entertainment and AV) it’s time to discard Nationally Recognized Training (training packages, qualifications, accredited courses, skill sets and units of competency); and agree on INDUSTRY RECOGNIZED TRAINING that cuts to the chase.

That’s where I’d like to put my energy.

What do YOU think?

– Julius


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