Kyle Arndt, EideCom’s Production Manager takes time out of his day to sit down with Charles and Lisa. He shares from his perspective, how to create a show that flows and what goes into the details. Kyle has years of experience in the industry and with that comes many must know tips!
We have a special guest. We actually have the pleasure of working with them every single day here at EideCom, Kyle Arndt welcome.
Well the guys, thanks for having me. You know we get to, we get to hang out. We never get to hang out like this.
So I thought I would just start by maybe tell us a little bit about how you got into production in general, how you got into the industry.
So once upon a time I dreamed of being a rock star. So when I was growing up, I played guitar and then, through my first couple of years of college, we played shows every weekend. And then I ended up like realizing that I liked setting up the equipment and dealing with the equipment more than I liked playing shows. So then I started working for my friend’s bands and I traveled the world working for a bunch of different bands. And then, um, when I got sick of traveling, I joined up with a few companies in town. And then about six months after working around town, I found EideCom here. So then I’ve been on the team for the last two and a half years now.
Well, so let’s talk about kind of from the beginning, how do you make a great production that’s well-oiled and turns out to be very successful?
The holy grail to all these things is how we build a quote, how we recognize where stuff might be missing, the holes, where we need content for, how we play stuff, how many microphones we need, how we build; everything is off of any sort of schedule we can get from the client. If you’re putting on an event, make a detailed schedule or a rough schedule to start and we’ll ask questions. You know, that’s one thing we do is look through a schedule with a comb and say, hey, you know, it looks like we’re missing something here. Or it looks like you have this many people talking here. We’re going to add some, some equipment for that. We’re going to add a few microphones for this. Do you plan on having all these people speak at the podium or do you need microphones for them all? So it’s just the schedule is really the key and that kind of needs to outline the obviously the timing of things. Who speaks at what time for how long they’re speaking. If you’re working with a great production team, they’re usually asking these questions upfront. Building the schedule is different, different per scope of work. A lot of times these gala’s we do you get the information the week of or of the day of even the content shows up on a jump drive and then usually just it’s important for you putting on a show to know who your point person is with, with the product.
What are the importance of Comms?
There’s a couple of different kinds of systems. I’m mostly familiar with a product called clear, their newest stuff I think is helix net, which is a wired system. So anybody that’s sitting at the front of House table or anyone sitting backstage where their position doesn’t call them to be roaming around the room, you would just plug in there. They have like a comm unit and they can push talk to the people they need to talk to you. And it can be programmed. It doesn’t sound like a radio, Sounds like us talking right here. It’s super nice. It’s super crisp and clear. You can hear everything they’re saying. It’s super controllable. It’s programmable.
We always have three teams of people on comm. We always have audio, video and lighting. If we add cameras to a show, that’s another set of people. If we add the client to that, that’s another set of people. So a lot of these shows, even the bigger conferences can have up to 50 or 60 people on it.
Tell me about the importance, do you need it?
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean it’s like the last thing I’ll try to take off an estimate. When someone’s trying to cut costs, I’m like, we absolutely need this. Even if we’re all sitting next to each other, say it’s a small show if we’re all sitting next to each other, it’s better for us to be whispering to each other than yelling. The comm is insanely cool technology. We can separate everybody. So it’s these people talk to these people and then everybody connects on one channel everybody can hear this, but only people can talk down this ETC.
The most important things for the stage manager be doing is to make sure everybody on stage can be seen on camera. To me whenever I get to stage manage, I like to remind people, I’m like, hey, you know the cameras straight out in front of you. We have a camera over here and there’s a camera over here.
Like just so they know like they’re always facing forward and you know like in that part of that comes into play. Like some people do panels on stage and okay, then you’re looking at the stage managers usually in charge of setting up those debt furniture, right? So they play a big part and going where it, can this be a pit positioned on stage so we can pick up everybody nicely on camera.
Do rehearse the furniture?
Yeah, so that’s where comm comes into play because then during the setup, because usually it’s a five minute change over, but then you’re the stage manager who’s helping them set up, you’re connected on comm to the video director who’s watching, who’s physically looking at the camera shots. You got a camera operator and moving around and making sure you can see everything and they’re going, yeah that furniture needs to move. It’s not like somebody’s running back and forth and it takes more time.
Tell us about the show flow…
There’s a few things I like to do when I gather the information and this information is key. When I talk to a presenter, whether that’s a CEO, an auctioneer, or a keynote, whoever it is, I just like to say, you know, you’re supposed to speak for about this amount of time. How are you wrapping up your speech? Like what are you saying to end it, right? Cause there’s a lot of times I’m looking for a cue. I’m looking for, somebody is going to press a button at the end of this that’s going to start music, the lights are going to move and that has to happen all at the same time. So we’re looking for a vocal cue.
Some keynote, CEO’s, and speakers they’re very, very good about what they’re going to say. . And then at the same time, some people literally haven’t thought about it yet. They’re planning on winging it, I’m just going to go up there and talk for a little while. So I’m like, well, it would be helpful for us to just kind of know how you’re going to wrap up. How do you, how do you plan on ending this speech? Like who name five people you’re going to say thank you to or something to get to get them thinking about it because that’ll help them glue it together as well to just kind of bundle it up.
So that leads me to the question about rehearsals before we talk about transitions and other things like that. Like tell me about rehearsals.
We get the opportunity of doing a show in all different situations. When we have short rehearsal time or no rehearsal time, we can pick our team based on that. I think the most important part of rehearsal is how somebody is getting on and off stage. Because once they’re on stage, they’re going, if it’s a performance piece, it’s a little bit more involved. But if it’s a keynote, it’s like they want to know how they’re going on and off stage, what the lights are doing, where they’re walking from. We get the opportunity to figure out like how long they’re going to take to get onstage.Everyone’s walks at a different speed, if they get the opportunity to do it twice, that’s kind of in their mind like this is how I’m going to do it. Now if we cycled to a performance, they’ve got dancers and they have singers and they’re on this stage and they’re gonna move to this stage. We have the opportunity of setting up the day before for this particular gala and we’re going to run through that for probably about three hours from the night before and we’re going to get the performance piece rehearsed the night before. That way we have time to walk through anything the next day if needed, and then we get it. And then we’ll take the rest of that time the next day before the event starts to go through all the the keynote speeches.
From a production standpoint, we love the venue the day before. Now we understand that it increases costs and we take steps to try to minimize that. We’ll go in with a reduced crew just to get some stuff in place. Try to do a half day there. There’s ways that it doesn’t double the labor costs. There’s creative ways to figure that out. If you’re a client and you feel like you’re always running around with your head cut off an hour before the show starts, trying to get in the night before the day is going to help your show immensely.
We were talking about the show flow and it going well. Are there softwares or tools or do you just use a spreadsheet?
There is a web based program called show shoflo. It’s more or less just a spreadsheet that you update on the web so everybody can see it on their device or whatever. They can log into it and they can even follow along. So as the show goes, the timings on there and there’s a person in charge of pressing next, so you can see, okay, we did that, this is what’s coming up next.
When we get the opportunity to help build the show flow we tend to use a spreadsheet. That’s how a lot of our show callers have always done it.
How do you make sure that weird stuff doesn’t happen?
I just talk through a show so many times before the show. With the team, with myself, with the, with the client, with everybody. Just to make sure we got everything okay. Every piece of the transition, how something ends, what happens in between, how that person gets on stage every detail is talked through. Those small points speed everything up. They make it so it’s not awkward because it can’t cause the second it’s awkward you’re sitting at the tech table and back, everybody’s turning around looking at you and you’re like, oh, I guess it is our fault because we are running the production.
Tell me about like having an MC?
The best mcs they kind of show up and they go, Yup, I’ll go on stage whenever you guys need me. Uh, looks like there’s a script printed out. Let me know if I’m needed for anything else. The news casters around town, they’re all very good. I think the quality of a person is how involved they are in the project. That speaks with how our team works here. We try to be very involved with everything we’re doing. And then we’re invested. Same thing goes with an MC. It’s like, you know, how much are they involved with your organization, if at all?
You’ve done some of our shows repeatedly, do you have a level of comfortability once you’ve done it before?
Oh, absolutely. Every time we do a show, the second year the show goes well. The second year it’s like, we did this last year, how is it different? We’re familiar. We know the people involved. We go, okay that person’s speaking for sure they’re involved with the organization at this level so there’ll be on stage. We get to the opportunity to go into a little bit more detail. We know where are the most important people sitting.