Adventures of an AV guy |

Adventures of an AV guy

Barry Smith

Regular readers of this column know all too well that I occasionally engage in audio visual work; setting up microphones and slide projectors and duct taping stuff together. Here’s a true story from a few years back, too painful to tell until now.It was a solo gig. There was one speaker, one microphone and two trays full of slides which dissolved back and forth. I was positioned in the back of the big room on a small section of staging. This mini-stage was stacked high with tables, and on top of them rested the slide projectors. I called it “AV Island.” You can call it that, too.My job was simply to baby-sit the projectors, to be at the ready in case a bulb blew or a slide was out of focus. Easy.Earlier in the day I dragged a chair from the back row of the audience section and put it next to my little Geek Island. See, the way the projectors were stacked atop the tables – it all has to do with the physics of slide projection and keystone reduction for … WAIT! Don’t turn the page.The point is, and was, I couldn’t sit down on the stage and see the screen. I had to be able to see the screen so I could focus slides, and I had to sit down because, duh, I was at work. So my chair was positioned right next to my AV Island. Good.My chair. MY CHAIR. Who else could it belong to? It was at the back of the room, butted up against MY Island. There were plenty of chairs – hundreds of them – in the rest of the meeting room.As it happened, the slides were the crappy, cheap kind (DO NOT get me started on my feelings about inferior slides) and each one that popped up on the screen needed to be refocused. This meant that I would be tweaking one focus knob or the other for the next hour. This meant that I would not get to sit in my chair.However, it was still MY chair.Well, the guy who was involved in organizing this slide presentation, which was about mountain climbing or fly fishing or monster truck repair or whatever, it really isn’t important … this guy somehow got it in his head that this chair was put there for him. He seemed to think that, just because I wasn’t currently sitting in it, and was clearly busy “working,” that it was HIS chair. I think you can see the ugly turn this tale is about to take.Yeah, he came over and SAT in it. Just like that. Can you believe it? I mean, what do you DO in a situation like that? I threw him some AV Stink Eye, between slide focusings, but the lights were pretty dim and I don’t think he noticed. After a few minutes he whipped his cell phone out of his pocket and left.Well, thank God that didn’t escalate, I thought. I grabbed my jacket and draped it over the back of the chair, just in case anyone else made the mistake of thinking it was free. I begrudgingly turned my attention back to working.Not more than a minute passed and the guy, the same guy, was back in the room. And guess where he sat? Arrrrr!What the…? Who does this guy…? Where does he get off…? Of all the…etc…He popped up after a short sit and was out in the lobby once again. I grabbed my roll of duct tape, quickly tore off two long strips with Ninja-like precision and silence and made a big black “X” on the seat of the chair. MINE!Then he was back. He sat on the chair as if, well… as if there weren’t a jacket over the back and a big black “X” duct taped to the seat. What kind of a man are you?I was about ready to actually say something to him, but was neck deep in a run of particularly blurry slides, so I made a point to crank the focus knob with gritted teeth. Wait, that didn’t sound right. I don’t mean I was actually turning the knob with my teeth, I mean that I was gritting my tee…Oh, now he’s gone again! Punk. I walked over and rested my foot on the chair, pretending to be getting a better view of the screen, then I ran back to focus. I did this a few times. It was terribly inefficient and cardiovascularly challenging, but necessary to make it known that this chair was an important part of my job as an AV Guy. The Producer Dude must not have seen my frantic display of territorialism, because a minute later he was back in the chair. Then he was gone again. Can’t this guy sit still? I’m trying to focus. Literally.Luckily, just as I decided that urinating on the chair was the only reasonable solution, the show was over. The lights came on. Time to pack up and go home. And sit down. VT(Next time: Irrelativity parables continue. Barry does AV in a vineyard.)Contact Barry Smith at or visit his Web page at

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