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Treading Water in the Freelance Pool: A Day in the Life of an A-2 on a Live Sports Broadcast (Part 3)


Hiya Kids! Now it’s time to get to work. Today, we’re going to dive into all the Tips and Tricks you need to do the fun, exciting, yet not so glamorous, job of being an A-2. So, listen up and read on, it’s going to be one wild ride!

Your job is to set up, test and maintain all the audio equipment that will be used for the show. Veteran A-2’s will also help the A-1 with running mults that they might need in the TV compound. The first thing on the agenda is un-packing the truck. Sort things out and pay attention to where everything comes from. Our mantra is “THINK STRIKE”. No, not the stop-work kind, the put-things-away kind of strike. When it comes time to re-pack the truck, you’ll need to put all this junk back in its place, so stay organized. Also, it pays to know where everything is, so when your world is falling apart, you’ll find what you need to save the show quickly and be the hero of the day. It’s also a good idea, time permitting, to test cables and bring in extra boxes and headsets with you. This will save you a walk back to the truck when something doesn’t work……and I guarantee that that WILL happen.

After you pow-wow with the A-1, producer and director, you’ll need to start running mults (fat cables with many…usually 12…mic cables contained within one thick one) to the various positions on the field of play and broadcast booth. Again, “THINK STRIKE”. Don’t run cables in such a fashion that you’ll have trouble removing them. Don’t get overzealous with plastic cable ties and all that, because they are a pain in the neck to remove (unless this is a permanent or semi-permanent install). For sure, mark all your cables at each end. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a bunch of cables and not knowing what they’re supposed to be connected to. In general, the male ends of the XLR connectors are left at the truck end, but consult your A-1 to make sure. You don’t want to run a long cable only to find out that you ran it the wrong way! Get help from the utilities and camera folks to run all the cables together with theirs (if there are common runs), for all of the obvious reasons.

Taking a quick inventory when you unpack is a good idea. No, it’s a great idea. This lets you know what you started with if you come up short at the end of the gig. Sometimes, the last guy in the truck left something behind and nobody noticed. But you’ll be held accountable if a count is taken after your shoot and something is missing. It’s also a good idea to test cables and equipment at the truck before you drag them to the four corners of the universe, only to find out you have a bad connector or faulty box. This saves time if you have the luxury of a “cable day”. Otherwise, you roll the dice and keep your portable soldering iron handy.

When you are going all the way to the field or booth, you want to make sure you bring what you need so you don’t have to make unnecessary trips. Keep a list of what you’ll need in each location and check it twice before leaving the compound. Hopefully, there’s a cart of dollies on the truck that you can use. If you’re lucky, maybe even a golf cart may be used to bring the heavy camera gear to the field. Or, you might have to charm the camera folks into letting you have your gear hitch a ride with theirs. Some folks bring their own little two-wheeled dolly to the gig. It’s a small investment, but you might want to fork over the cash to make your life a little easier.

The first list you should always remember to have is a phone list. Don’t forget to grab the cell phone numbers for anyone at the truck that you may need to reach before all the comms are set up. The A-1, the EIC and maybe the lead utility guy are a good starting point to your phone list. The other important list you should have is the “mult list”. There will probably be more than one place you’ll be required to set up. A booth, the field effects mics and interview area, maybe an interview room or locker room “drops” (a mic, IFB and PL intercom), for starters. You’ll get a mult list (a layout of where everything should be plugged into per your A-1 or tech manager) and  it’s your responsibility to make sure everything is hooked up properly. If there are any questions, it’s best to review the list before starting to get all the gear packed for the trip to their destinations. ASK FIRST. You’ll save time and keep the confusion down to a minimum.

Most of all, remember that there are time honored, unwritten rules about one’s place in the pecking order that must be paid attention to at all times. Take your lumps, because one day, you’ll be on top of the heap!

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about some good ideas for your gig tool kit…..or affectionately known as the zen of the fanny-pack!

written by Rom Rosenblum, Clear-Com Applications Minke