The Audio Engineering Society is an organisation that needs no introduction. Offering guidance, support and networking opportunities across the full spectrum of professional audio, AES members have benefitted hugely from the Society’s work in the 60 years since it was founded, with tools to help advance professionals throughout their careers.
Having launched in 2013, Up Your Output is an AES event for students and young audio professionals. Taking place this year on March 17-18 at Leeds Beckett University, the free event aims to bring together students, practitioners, academics and pro audio companies to explore the latest developments in audio engineering.
One of the speakers, AES western region vice president, Leslie Gaston-Bird, told PSNEurope: “I am happy to be speaking once again at the 2018 Up Your Output conference. In 2016, I was an invited speaker and very impressed with what the AES student leaders were able to achieve, from sponsorships to organising the activities, which included panels, workshops, tours, and demo rooms. It is so important for students to take ownership of their audio education. I am happy to bring my professional experience, as well as talk about the AES’s newly formed Diversity and Inclusion committee, whose membership includes professionals and students from all areas of the audio world interested in better visibility for underrepresented groups in our field. We are always welcoming new members and hope to demonstrate our principles by listening and acting upon suggestions from anyone who wants to participate.”
Sponsorship from pro audio brands including Solid State Logic, Calrec Audio, Dolby and KEF allows the event to remain free, open to all and able to grow each year. PSNEurope spoke to chair of the event’s committee Benjamin Moseley, who is a senior lecturer in Audio Engineering and Acoustics at Leeds Beckett University, and Dr Mariana Lopez, lecturer in sound design and vice president of the British AES, about what the event can do for audio professionals starting out in their careers.
When was the first Up Your Output event, and why did you feel the need to launch it?
Benjamin Mosley: Up Your Output first took place in 2013 and was founded by AES member and freelance sound engineer Nikolai Georgiev. Previous hosts include London’s SAE Institute, Southampton Solent University and the University of York. The initial aim was to provide an event that supported students on their way to becoming audio professionals. It was felt that students weren’t engaging in the main AES conferences and we needed to provide a bespoke event that targeted students specifically. The lectures and workshops have always had an educational and developmental focus and the event fosters a supportive and friendly atmosphere. The event has grown steadily over the last few years and has become a little more ambitious and wide-reaching, bringing in new sponsors and new venues.
It is free to attend for AES student members, something that’s only possible through the ongoing support of our sponsor companies who come from a wide range of audio and acoustics companies. It’s really important for our sustaining members to engage with the student body as there is a huge amount of talent there who will become the future employees and drivers of the audio industry. We must embrace the next generation in order to drive the industry forwards.
Mariana Lopez: Up Your Output provides students with a great opportunity not just to learn from professionals in the audio industry but also to work on their networking and employability skills. It allows them to go beyond sitting in a lecture theatre listening to someone talk about their experience but it engages them in practical sessions where they can ask for advice from professionals as well as engage with future employers.
How will the 2018 event be different to previous ones?
ML: The field of audio engineering is very vast and we’ve worked very hard this year to make sure that students are exposed to a variety of sub-fields, such as editing, mixing and mastering. The workshops and lectures included over the two days don’t just cover music but they also include film, television and VR.
BM: It’s going to be more of the same great stuff but with a new host, Leeds Beckett University. We have a new mission statement and equality and inclusion are really important to the way we are approaching this year’s event.
How is the two-day event structured?
BM: The event is broadly structured as lectures and keynotes in the mornings with workshops in the afternoons. The workshops will take place in small groups and will give a chance for students to spend time with an experienced practitioner in their field in a real studio environment. Subject areas include mixing, mastering, audio for VR, sound design and broadcast. There will also be recording critique sessions, student posters and career development activities over the weekend.
ML: We are still working on the fine details but we are hoping to kickstart day one with our wonderfully talented guest speaker Kate Hopkins. I’ll be interviewing Kate on her work as a sound editor in nature documentaries. Kate has worked on the most prestigious natural history documentaries, including Blue Planet and Blue Planet II, Planet Earth, and Frozen Planet. On the first day participants will also be treated to two lectures, ‘Broadcast Engineering 101’ delivered by Ann Charles, whose career has included 12 years at the BBC, teaching journalism in New Zealand and training broadcast engineers and producers in South Sudan. The second lecture will be delivered by Dr Gavin Kearney, lecturer in Audio and Music Technology at the University of York and vice-chair of the AES Audio for Games Technical Committee. Gavin will be introducing students to cutting edge research on audio for VR. The second day opens with a lecture by Leslie Gaston-Bird, president for the Audio Engineering Society’s Western Region (USA and Canada) and associate professor of Recording Arts at the University of Colorado.
In addition to the lectures, both days will include workshops on mastering with Katie Tavini, mixing with Marta Salogni and recording with Ian Corbett. We are also working on the possibility of including sessions on career advice and career speed dating.
What do you hope students/young audio professionals will get from the experience?
ML: I think it’s a great opportunity for students to get acquainted with a variety of research and practice in the field of audio and it’s a great way to complement their studies. Also, we offer a great number of opportunities throughout the event for students to approach professionals, ask for advice, and even the possibility of shadowing or internship opportunities, demonstrating the importance of being pro-active.
BM: We obviously hope students will learn things from the lectures and workshops, but we think the most important thing is the chance to meet students from other institutions and to meet practitioners and companies that are active in the industry. The event always features plenty of networking time and a Saturday night social event to get to know people. The planned sessions will also try and introduce students to some of the more recent developments and practices in the industry and to give them ideas for possible career directions and how to get where they want to be.
You say Up Your Output is a flagship event for equality and diversity, how will the event champion this?
BM: It’s really important to us that our students are provided with as wide a range as possible of positive role models. We recognise that there is a certain amount of male dominance in the audio industry but it really doesn’t have to be that way. Our student members are the future of the industry and our best chance to carry forward any required changes in attitude. We would like to normalise talented women doing great things in the audio industry.
ML: The Audio Engineering Society UK is committed to gender equality and has aligned itself to the United Nations’ HeforShe campaign. We are committed to tackling issues of inequality within the audio industries and we invite our members and the audio community in general to support us through signing a free pledge to the HeforShe campaign online, sending us a screenshot of their confirmation e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We then share it through our social media channels to keep the campaign alive and to encourage others to think about how their actions can have an impact on equality.
We believe that it’s crucial that students have a diverse range of inspiring role models and that they can attend an event that encourages positivity and good practice within the industry. There is sadly a trend in audio events to have a majority of male speakers, in some cases 100% of the speakers being male. I was taken aback recently when I questioned this regarding an event which had described its line-up as ‘gender neutral’. Surely they must have noticed that they hadn’t invited any female audio engineers to speak? We are working to make sure that this type of behaviour isn’t replicated in our events. There are wonderful female engineers out there that are never invited to events because male professionals are – intentionally or not – favoured, and we want to end this bad practice.
How does the Audio Engineering Society support young audio professionals throughout the year?
ML: The AES UK has regular events throughout the country, with sections in London, Scotland, the north of England, the Midlands and the south of England. It’s only the start of 2018 and we already have five events planned for the next couple of months, with many more to be advertised in the next few months. The AES also offers some wonderful benefits to student members – one of them being that Up Your Output is completely free! AES student members can also participate in the recording competitions held at the annual conventions, the next one being in May 2018 in Milan. Students can also get special discounts when signing up for the conventions, as well as free plug-ins, the possibility of applying for funding for their studies, network connections, and the ability to advertise their professional profile in the Community section of our website.
Why are events like this important for young people working in the audio industry to attend?
ML: I think it’s crucial to learn from a diverse range of professionals, not just about their skills but also how they got to where they are. The routes to success in an audio career are multiple and it’s of the utmost importance for aspiring professionals to know that, otherwise one can fall into the trap of thinking that there’s only one path that leads to a successful career. This kind of event shows them that is not true.
Events of this kind also show how many different things someone specialising in audio can do. Many students start their courses thinking that they want to, for example, specialise in mixing but they might find through being exposed to a variety of fields that they are skilled and passionate about a different field of audio.
Who is the event open to, and how can you get tickets?
BM: The event is free to attend for all student members of the AES whether they are in further, higher or postgraduate education (the event will also welcome recent graduates). Event booking is available through the Up Your Output website. Student membership of the AES is just £38 a year.