View from the top: the audio chief (Angelo Camporese)14 August 2015
Mixing sound fit for an Olympian with the other Pavarotti…
Who are you?
Angelo ‘Pavarotti’ Camporese, born in Borgoricco, the north-eastern province of Padua, Italy, and audio chief on productions by Agorà, Italy’s largest rental company.
What do you do?
In the case of particularly complex events or installations, I’m responsible for the technical/logistic coordination necessary for all members of the production team to carry out their individual jobs in the best possible way, optimising the entire operation’s time schedule and technical set-up.
Where do you do it?
Wherever the events are – more or less worldwide nowadays. I’ve worked in every country in Europe with Italian artists’ tours, plus events in Tunisia, Egypt and an entire year in the UAE, working out of Dubai.
What do you do it with?
A computer, e-mail, meetings and even more meetings, to perfectly understand events’ technical requirements, and the necessary jobs involved, form the team that meets these requirements, allocate individual jobs, train the staff in the event of technical upgrades and draw up the list of equipment required; making certain the rental company can provide it or, where necessary, finding the most appropriate alternatives.
What has given you the most satisfaction?
Every event involves a challenge, hard graft and satisfaction, but having contributed to the realisation of three Olympic Games (Turin’s 2006 Winter Games, Sochi 2014 and the European Games this year in Baku, organised by the European Olympic Committees) with a world-level organisation, offering technical solutions to projects that were definitely complex and very varied, after months of commitment, dedication and intense human interaction the positive results were an enormous satisfaction. On the sports front, I was also system manager and network manager at Hampden Park, Glasgow, for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
What’s your next big challenge?
There are similar events to those already mentioned on the agenda, as well as smaller events with the same technical complexity.
What ‘issue’ that never seems to go away?
Budgets to be respected, appropriate technical solutions, over-tight time frames for planning.
On one hand, choosing the right staff to respond to the need for professionalism regarding the use of the technology required; on the other, paying particular attention to the ability of each member of the team to cooperate in harmony with their colleagues, since large events often involve lengthy work schedules and calm cooperation. Taking great care with the make-up of the team ensures the best results.
As well as being an audio chief, what’s your background in the live event or music world?
I began as a sound engineer in 1986, then progressed to PA management and later system designer. For years I worked on the technical aspects of the audio and lighting divisions of a rental company, which enabled me to accumulate in-depth knowledge of the ‘philosophical’ and design approach to sound reinforcement systems, with a particular focus on new technologies – devices using important technological solutions that frequently integrate audio, lighting and video in the same network. I’ve been working as a sound chief since 2000.
I also work on technical staff training, so that the use of these solutions becomes increasingly normal – at first glance they may seem difficult for their complexity, but in the end they’re they only ones that offer the flexibility necessary to meet clients’ increasingly varied requirements.
How did you become an audio chief?
I started out in situations that were much simpler and are still the norm today, where one of the technical staff had the job of also following the events’ general organization and was the reference point per skill and knowledge, while still continuing to play an operational technical role. In more complex events, this obviously becomes a such an complicated job that all your time and energy goes into coordination, to ensure that all those involved have the necessary means for carrying out their jobs.
How would you rate the standard of Italian audio chiefs with those abroad?
I’d say they have similar roles, even if traditions are different – from the US and northern European world in general we’ve learned a lot regarding organisation and logistics, combining this with the flexibility which distinguishes Italians’ modus operandi. This flexibility was the ‘added value’ we brought to this industry, which requires increasing flexibility and rapid decisions and meets a positive reaction on the international productions we worked on.
What artists would you like to be or have been the audio chief for and why?
Names such as The Wall, Pink Floyd and U2 are without doubt examples of top-grade production in my generation’s imagination, but the Olympic Games are in fact the world’s largest “show” as far as audience numbers are concerned, and the impressive production machine that is part of the ceremonies offers great stimuli from a technical and emotional point of view.
Do you find it frustrating that other technicians involved in live event industry (sound engineers, lighting console ops) often have a higher profile than audio chiefs?
Not at all. If you consider the aim of the operation you’re working on and believe in the team you’re a member of, you realise that there are certain roles that are natural interfaces with the ‘outside world’. In our field, these are normally the people who ‘press the buttons’ – the sound engineer or the production manager, who can give overall insights on the events. The work behind the scenes is carried out by team of highly specialised technicians working with passion, dedication and professionalism, all fundamental for achieving the end result. This is sufficient personal satisfaction for me but, obviously, having the opportunity to express your point of view is without doubt a pleasure.
This is #6 of 10 ‘views from the top’ appearing in PSNLive 2015, PSNEurope‘s 10th annual analysis of the European live sound industry. This year, we quizzed incumbents of key industry roles on the ups and downs of the business. The result is a range of insights (views from the top, no less) from a diverse group of individuals, all of whose careers are inextricably linked to the fabric of live sound.