Questions & Answers (Part 1)

(Video transcript) Hi. Paul Donovan here from Thanks for watching my channel. This is the channel where we're giving tips and tricks to AV technicians and those who would like to be an AV Technician.

Today I'd like to celebrate the fact that I have 10 videos on the channel already I've reached about 84 subscribers. I want to say thank you to those who are watching to my videos, and subscribing. It's great encouragement for me to continue to make more videos. I decided today that I would cover a few questions that I get from people. And see what kinds of I can tell you about AV Technician and being an AV technician.

Here's the first question that is usually resounding in a lot of people's minds. Who are you? People are asking me who I am. My name is Paul Donovan. I've been doing something associated with audio and video since I was a teenager. Which is far too many years to want to think about... it's like 40 years ago!! I first started doing sound services at the church I was at basically it was a very simple mixer a lapel microphone that I would hang onto the preacher and hand mics for different people that were singing, and so on. It was very primitive by today's standards but it was pretty much standard in a lot of churches of the day. That's where I got my start.

Then I moved up to working in the local community cable tv system. Our church was invited to produce a show, a weekly show. I got involved with that. I started off in front of the camera playing a bass guitar then I moved behind the camera, operating the camera. Then I moved into the control room where I operated the sound. Then I moved on to the switcher then on to full directorial -- wow, big title. I had intended to go to Mohawk College back then, I'm talking about the late 70's, to join the TV and radio broadcasting program but instead my family decided to pack up and head south to the mission field so I ended up joining them and never did pursue the education.

I started doing more professional AV about 14 years ago. That would be 2002, 2001 era. I started doing audio visual then because I was good at it. So I thought why not get involved. I started doing freelance for one company. I signed up with a couple of others but I ended up focusing most of my attention that I do most of my work for in Vancouver. That's a little bit about who I am. I also started my own video production company producing videos for different corporate needs: award banquets, product releases, press conferences, and things like that. That's questions 1, Who are you?

Question number 2, why are you making YouTube videos? I like making videos. I like teaching. I like to teach people about how to do things. So many times I look on YouTube for how to do things; I said let me contribute back and so when I was trying to find a topic about what maybe I could do to create a YouTube channel. Someone said, why not make videos about what you know how to do well? I like to do AV work so I chose to do AV Technician. There you see that's why I'm doing it. I do hope that this will turn into a profitable venture where people will view my videos and my monetization make it possible for me to get a little compensation for the work that I do to make these videos. Over the last five months this has been a labour of love. It's not been able to generate an income for me. At this point to have to say the sum total of my real income has been five bucks! A lot of it was not from YouTube, it was from Google Adsense.

Number 3 question, Did you go to school to learn how to become an AV Technician. The way to answer that is, No. I did not go to school to become an AV Technician Do I feel it is needed to go to school to become and AV Technician? Maybe not. You do have to have some aptitude for what is happening with AV equipment and working with electronics. A lot of it is working with sound, you have to have decent hearing so you can hear a bit better in the sound things. Even though I was originally hired as a freelancer to do video work, I find that the vast majority of the work that I do is tending to lean on the sound side.

Question 4 When did you start, how did you start up in AV? I think mentioned that in question 1. I got my start in the late 70's. When I joined the community cable television channel and started producing a one-hour show for our church. I ended becoming the director and producer for the show at the ripe age of 17. With no training. It was great.

Question 5. How did you handle the varied schedule, the lack of control, and the lots of time off. I have admit that I don't handle it very well. The bulk of AV work happens in the spring and the fall, with a very large break in the summer period. Between mid-June until mid-September I get almost no work at all That's almost 3 months with no income, at least from the freelance side. Then we get the Christmas time, December and January, pretty much two months of the year off as well. That's pretty much 5 months of the year that I'm generating no freelance income. Pretty sparse and it really makes it ... It would be great for scheduling because you know you're going to have the time off, why not make time to head out and take holidays and so on. Well that also requires money. Unless I've kept up with my bills and expenses on time and put some away, hmmmm I'm probably not going to be traveling or anything serious. But that's a wishful dream.

Question 6. Should I start as a freelancer or start up my own company, like self-employed? That's a tricky question. Freelancing means generally it's used to pick up some spare cash. I know a lot of the guys I work with they all do this on a full-time basis. They get listed with a few different companies. They also have the same cycle busy, busy, busy, busy, then nothing, nothing, nothing. Then busy, busy, busy. They are all like me, they all have the same type of schedule. It is really hard to make any plans and predictions. You really don't know how much work you're going to get. Sometimes you are working 40-50 hours a week, sometimes even more. Sometimes 6 and 7 days a week. It really takes a toll on you. When the down time comes, unless you've been putting away money, things are pretty tight and then your holidays.

As for starting your own company.... I'm sorry. As much as I believe in small business, you really need to assess yourself how that works. To start up your own company does require a lot of bravery. You have to be courageous to do that. You have to figure how it's going to work for you You have to look at the legal aspects of setting up a company. I think you really need to do your own self evaluation on that one.

Question 7. This is one that I have fun with. Have you met any famous people? Probably the most famous person you probably, most of the world might know, is the famous British comedian, John Cleese. I had the privilege of attending an event in downtown Vancouver where I was the AV technician for the event. I got to go up to him, and say hello to him. Put a lavalier microphone on him. Greet him. Alas I didn't have my phone with me to do a selfie, so I can't even show the picture. I was so sad because I forgot (my phone) to get a picture.

I have also put a microphone on governor Sarah Palin. You might remember her. She was a controversial person in the United States. She tried because a presidential or vice-presidential candidate.

I have put microphones on the former president of Pakistan. I have put a microphone on former vice president Chaney when he came to do a conversation.

I attended during the Winter Olympics in 2010 I was the AV technician for an event that was called "to meet the head of state". That's when the Head of State of Canada, Michael Jean, the governor general of Canada came to meet the other heads of state coming to Vancouver for the Winter Olympics. I was in a room with people that were dukes and duchesses, Her royal highnesses, his royal highnesses. All those types of people. I don't believe there were any kings or queens in the room but you never know. There could have been people there of the equivalent type.

There you see I have met a few famous people. I met them but that doesn't mean I had conversation and all that kind of stuff.

Question 8. What happens when you travel for work? Like anything you pack your suitcase and decide you're going to be away. One of the things when you're doing AV work is that you work before the clients come in, all through the event. And you work after the event is over. You really don't have a lot of time to yourself to get out and explore and enjoy the places that you are traveling to.

You tell people you are traveling to some exotic place. I've travelled as far east as Montreal, to Paris, France. I've travelled to Nagoya, Japan. Kobe Japan. All the way to Seattle Washington. I've traveled a fair bit related to work, indirectly for work. The problem is that the work overwhelms you and you just don't have time to get out and enjoy.

Generally when you're hired to go out of town the company is responsible for all your travel costs, your food and meal costs. Your accommodations, transportation at the local area. They are responsible for that. There are guidelines, at least in Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency has guidelines about what an employer is required to pay for meal expenses, transportation and accommodations, and such. You have to work with the company, the client or the company that you are working with to get what you need.

An interesting question, is question 9. How do deal with conflict of interest. What do you mean? I have my own production company. Then I go out and work freelance for other companies. When I'm working freelance I can't be talking about my own company and the work that I do. I certainly can not be out there poaching the client that I'm working for on behalf of the other company. The tight line you have to walk through to be sure that you are not trying to poach the work of the people that are hiring you, in this case the AV company that is hiring you and likewise you want to do your best job possible because if by some chance the client discovers that you are also an independent production company, if on their own, not by anything you say they might eventually say, Wow I really like the service that Paul did maybe I'll hire Paul directly instead of going through the AV company. You have to take very careful attention that you don't steal from the company you are actually representing.

Last question, Question number 10. What's next? In terms of this channel. I want to continue to produce mateiral. To create videos that are useful, timely, informative. But I also want to try and keep my videos a bit shorter I've had the trouble about being a run-on mouth, like this video. I tend to make the videos go a little bit too long I want to try and see if I can't make things work a bit smoother. What I'm going to try and do is create all my next videos coming up to keep them 5-7 minutes in length. Keep the tips short and sweet I want to make a lot more videos, build this channel. I hope you will want to watch my videos. I'm going to stop there, this session has already run far too long. 

This is Paul Donovan from Please check out our website at Subscribe to this channel to keep up with what's happening in the world of AV technicians. Thank you for watching.

Contact Information:

Audio Visual Technician
c/o Living Productions Inc.
28-848 Hockley Ave.
Langford, BC V9B 2N6 CANADA

Tel: 604-837-7953