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Author Topic: aggravation
Film Handler

Posts: 28

Registered: Aug 1999

 - posted 08-17-1999 10:32 PM      Profile for RICK HAMILTON   Email RICK HAMILTON   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is an attempt to explain the way that I feel about an earlier subject that I replied to. It was about inexperienced projectionists who might attempt to make adjustments when they have no idea what the results will be. I had an arguement about some advice given, that I thought was too technical. Hopefully this story will shed some light on the subject and the reason I feel the way that I do.

Last night I got a page from a manager at one of our theatres. He explained to me that he had no sound and that the little red light was out. The supply is not connected to our automation, so I had him double check the breakers. After this was checked, I told him that I have never had an L.E.D. power supply fail and that I would look at it first thing in the morning as it was already about 10:30 and I knew by the time I got there it would be too late.

He then told me that he had just gotten off the phone with the complex manager right before I called, and he instructed him to loosen the L.E.D. and try to move it up and down to see if the sound came back. I told him not to mess with any adjustments and that i would be there first thing in the morn. The manager who told him to adjust the optics would be there in the morning and I told him that I planned on a heated discussion with that manager.

He called me back about 10 minutes later and told me that he got the sound back on. I asked how, and he informed me that he moved the L.E.D.! First of all he had to explain why he told me the L.E.D. wasn't lit. This is one of the first L.E.D.'s and not one of the visible ones. He was used to the bright ones and didn't notice this one being lit. After a little inappropriate language on my part, I informed him that I would be there in the A.M. to perform an a-chain and make sure that everything was o.k.

This morning I found a a couple of the L.E.D.'s on different projectors were out of alignment by pretty much. I ended up replacing one of the L.E.D.'s because there was no way to achieve dolby tone. The new L.E.D. solved that. The other houses, I set dolby tone. The manager never showed up, so I made plans to show up after the doors opened.

A couple of hours later I got a call from said manager. The house with the new L.E.D. had problems. As soon as he started the projector, the L.E.D. went out. This is not the same house as last night! I told him that I didn't realize this sound rack had an outlet that was hooked up to shut off when the projector started. This chain used to do that to shut off tape decks before they started getting distribution amps. I accidentally plugged the power supply into this outlet as it was not marked. I talked him through this problem and told him that I was on my way, and would check on this problem(with my own agenda of finding out why he would try to adjust any optics or instruct any others to do so).

When I got there he was in a meeting, so I went upstairs to see what was going on. I opened the front panel of the CP500, the projectionist (who had no idea who I was) said that the manager already did that.????
I was looking at the cat.222 to see if there was any signal, I don't know what the manager or projectionist was doing. Then I noticed tools on the wire trough in front of the projector. I asked the projectionist and she said that the manager started to mess with it before he called me. This is the house that I just put in a new L.E.D. an did an a-chain on about 3 hours earlier.

What's a guy to do???????

I know this is long, but I just need to vent my frustrations!!

Yes the manager last night got the show running for the two people in the auditorium, but did he go about it the right way?

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Bruce McGee
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1776
From: Asheville, NC USA... Nowhere in Particular.
Registered: Aug 1999

 - posted 08-17-1999 11:07 PM      Profile for Bruce McGee   Email Bruce McGee   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
When I was reading your posts earlier I was wondering what had happened to you to make you vent this way. After what I just read, I would have gone postal, too. Just setting a coarse adjustment is a long slow process.
If I had received the lens in place and un-adjusted, I probably woudnt have adjusted it at all. There are plenty of things that cause rotton sound before you tweak fixed settings.


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Brad Miller

Posts: 17688
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 08-17-1999 11:29 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Welcome to the real world!

You've basically got 2 options as I see it...

#1 You can try and create all the hell you possibly can over this situation (making sure to yell at everyone real good) and hope you can scare some respect out of them to listen to you...


#2 You can try and earn that respect.

Now the second won't be as satisfying as the first and will obviously be harder on your part, but the only advice I can offer you here is that in this day and age respect is not given based upon age, years with the company, years in the field, or status in the corporate food chain. It is earned. Those "given" respect days are long gone.

Here are some tips I can offer personally. Remember, these are just my opinions.

  • If you're introducing yourself as Mr.Hamilton, start going by Rick instead. Let them call you Mr. and Sir on their own.
  • When you enter a theater, don't grunt away as you walk in but try and fake a good mood, regardless of the fact that a few of those employees should really be running from you for their lives.
  • Remember, every once in a while will come a young employee who actually does know what he/she is doing. Just because he/she is young does not mean they are an idiot.
  • Do NOT go up to the projectionist or manager and start demonstrating your unsurpassed knowledge of the 4 letter words comprising the english language. Go to the machine and check things out calmly and quietly first.
  • If you think someone has tampered with something, after checking to verify things are out of alignment, ask the operator nicely on duty when the problem happened, what was done to attempt to correct the problem and what was the end result of their attempt, etc. Then explain why what they did only made matters worse and how you would appreciate it if they would make a quick call to you before they touch anything in the future behind the Dolby panel and in the sound optics (or whatever the problem was related to).
  • When you're finally finished, take the time to explain how things work to everyone involved. If there is a kid running the booth, talk to him/her directly. Don't talk to the manager and simply allow him/her to overhear. If both are present, make sure to turn your attention back and forth, showing equal interest in both parties. Ignoring the kid shows a complete lack of respect for him/her, and that is the person you want to gain the respect of the most to prevent future tinkering.
  • And remember, whatever you do, NEVER raise your voice or curse. That's what the privacy of the van is for.

Things such as this will ultimately make a world of difference in how people view you and listen to what you have to say. I'm sure there are field engineers-a-plenty who will argue what I've said until the day they die, but after working various management positions for 10 years and doing plenty of field tech work, I've learned you are guaranteed of respect from your employees with these tips. Once you have that, the tinkering will cease, as the employees will consider you more of a friend and listen to your requests.

I hope there's something in here that will assist you put an end to such problems. Let us know if any of these or future suggestions in this thread help.

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12859
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99

 - posted 08-17-1999 11:43 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Wow. That sure would piss me off. Unfortunately, some managers live in their own little world. They have the attitude of "Hey, it's my theatre and I can do what I want!" and then they go mess something up and then blame you for not having it work correctly in the first place. I think that most (not all) projectionists would fear getting into major trouble if they messed with something that they didn't know anything about. Or at least they should. If they are curious, then I usually try to explain things as well as I can, because if a person is going to tinker with something, they might as well have some of the knowledge that you want them to have when they are tinkering. (I am not condoning projectionists fooling around with items which they know nothing about.)

Personally, I always lock up all of my tools if they are "on site" overnight or longer. Not only that, but the soundracks are always locked shut as well, to prevent curious fingers. I actually had one of the Vice Presidents of United Artists (when I worked there) come up to me and point to the external crossover on the back of an amp in the sound rack and say "What would happen if I pulled this out right now?" My response was a pleasant "Well, you'd probably have to buy me a new set of High Frequency drivers, Bruce!" Bruce was confused, but then let out a half smile and then wanted to know where his screening prints were and then blah blah blah blah.....

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Rick Long
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 759
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Nov 1999

 - posted 08-18-1999 12:20 AM      Profile for Rick Long   Email Rick Long   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I certainly understand Rick's fuatration with this situation. Here in Toronto, with the systematic elimination of proffessional projectionists (who know what they should and shouldn't touch), we have had more than a few examples of the old saying "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing".
I must, however, agree with Brad. Another saying goes "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." Often the clue to a quick fix on a service call is information. If the person who screwed around with the equipment knows he can trust you not to report him (or her) to their superior, or to unleash a verbal assault on them, he or she is more apt to reveal what they did.
Above all, please remember that these people tried, at least to restore the performance. That alone says something for their character. They did not simply throw up their hands and say "It's broke. Call the technician and send the audience home."

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Raj Sheth
Film Handler

Posts: 13
From: Indiana
Registered: Aug 1999

 - posted 08-18-1999 03:01 AM      Profile for Raj Sheth   Email Raj Sheth   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Sorry to hear your story Rick.

Unfortunately, This is a growing trend in the Projectionist world. These days we have inexperienced operators in our booths toying with equipment they don't understand.

In the theater I work in some of our Projectionists are 17!!!! hardly old enough to appreciate what they are doing.

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9461
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 08-18-1999 10:50 AM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I am also based in toronto and one must also ask themselves whos equipment is it. It is the owner of the theatres and as such he can do with it as he pleases and can instruct his employees how he wishes it operated, maintained and ultimately destroyed.
The manager of a theatre is the owners representative and unless he has recieved instructions not to do something then it is on his head not the engineer's when he makes an error
The manager should be commended for tryiong to save the show for those few people. Everytime a show is lost do to equipment breakdown it just reinforces the public preseption that this is obselete technology and just stay home and watch the tape where it wont breakdown
Many times I have talked a manager throuh how to realign a cell in a vic 5 that has been bent out of alignment due to a splice to save a show because I couldn't get there in time and then gone in the next day and taken care of it.
If you are being paid by the theatre on time I don't know if you are an inhouse service rep or a outside contractor be thankfull that you are being paid.
A little knowledge is dangerous but when the exchange of knowledge stops then we stagnate and die off
The regretable facts of life are there are inexperienced people operating the equipment in many booths and the service engineers whether we like it or not are to assist them in running it smoothly not just critising the people who sign the cheque. We all get frustrated but it is not a perfect world. I have been in business for over 20 years and I will sometimes tell off an operator or manager but one must remeber they are the ones on the front line dealing with the public

enough said

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Aaron Sisemore
Flaming Ribs beat Reeses Peanut Butter Cups any day!

Posts: 3061
From: Rockwall TX USA
Registered: Sep 1999

 - posted 08-19-1999 01:13 AM      Profile for Aaron Sisemore   Email Aaron Sisemore   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ahh yes, the life us technicians lead

several months ago, I had just gotten home from work and had cracked open a cold beer and was sitting down to relax when i got a 911 page from one of our theatres. I called and they were frantic because they had a sold out show of 'Antz' and there was almost no sound and a very loud humming sound!! I asked the usual questions: threaded right? everything turned on in the rack? does it happen in all formats? Did it happen earlier in the day? etc. and they answered all to my satisfaction. So i told them I would be there soon I got in my truck and drove 40 miles to the theatre, went into the auditorium, which had gone to half-full because of the complaints and refunds, and listened, I heard a very loud 96hz buzzing drowning out the regular sound..Aha! We're reading Perfs! Went into the booth, and looked and discovered the problem- the soundhead gate-roller/lateral assembly was not closed ( this is a Simplex 5-star) causing the perfs to get read by the soundhead. Man, was i hot!... I closed the roller, 'magically' restoring the sound, instructed the projectionist to double, even triple check his threading and rollers/gates before starting a show, got in my truck and cursed and bitched all the way home.


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Lance C. McFetridge
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 134
From: Penn Yan, New York
Registered: Jul 99

 - posted 08-19-1999 03:34 PM      Profile for Lance C. McFetridge   Email Lance C. McFetridge   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I sympathize with the problems that you technicians have regarding "projection booth mechanics" which are slightly lower than shade tree mechanics of which most of us are guilty of being at one time or another. I agree that an operator that tries to get sound on the screen is trying to prevent a loss to the theatre. However naive they may be. I wouldn't know a RTA from an RCA, and don't want to. I have access to a properly trained tech, that will come to the theatre, not only because I pay what they ask, but because we have a good rapport with each other. OK, so I use Gord to do all my sound, and from the start, he has been patient and has explained just exactly what I had better not mess with, and why. But explaining the why is the best thing a tech can do. I know, getting home after a really bad day and getting called out on what the booth deems a really serious problem, only to find it a threading error is frustrating. But, how does the "projectionist feel? I mean, he is trusted to get a picture on a screen, with sound, on time, and most that I have talked to do take a heck of a lot of pride in putting on that great presentation. Taking a little extra time to tell them why the problem occured, and maybe showing them how adjustments can affect the show, will go a long way. I guess if I were made to feel like I was too stupid to be running the projectors by a tech, then I would look for a new tech that wouldn't treat me that way. My tech participates in a seminar yearly, that I like to go to, and have staff go to, to learn what we may be doing wrong. I even have him check over my other projectionists while doing routine work, to be sure that they are not getting into any bad habits. After all, I am paying him to be there, but I am never treated like I owe him anything.
just my opinion

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6426
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 08-19-1999 03:37 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
How 'bout this??

Friday night... Gone With the Wind... Full House...
The first act ran okay. Second act runing when I got called.

No sound but everything running okay, otherwise.

I come to find that the REMOTE/LOCAL switch on the processor on REMOTE. (Ultra-Stereo proc. -- No remote volume control hooked up.)

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Tim Reed
Better Projection Pays

Posts: 5244
From: Northampton, PA
Registered: Sep 1999

 - posted 09-08-1999 10:30 AM      Profile for Tim Reed   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
After I began treating my customers with respect and as EQUALS, the respect shown me magically INCREASED. My reputation also flourished.

Since the customer owns the equipment, and since I cannot dictate how it will be used or treated, I don't worry about it. There's nothing I can say or do that will make the booth people afraid of me anyway, because I don't sign their checks. That's the 90s crowd.

Several years ago, the last time I tried to "pull rank" was with a manager. She was a nice enough lady, but we were like oil and water. I constantly reprimanded her for foolish actions and the resultant down-time. To make a long story short, as she transferred around the region in later years, she related to everyone along the way about how bad a tech I was. Even though I quickly solved all the long-standing problems in her booth and always got her back on the screen in one trip, my condescending attitude made all the difference in her perception of my ability.

I'm being paid for what I know and what I can do. My work day will consist of what it consists of, and when it's done, I'll go home. It's a good way to look at the day and much easier on your blood pressure.

Now, I'll certainly make any apparent misuse of the equipment known, and I'll stand firm if someone is being abusive, but I have learned that treating the customers in a dignified manner reaps greater benefits.

The "idiot" calls will always be a fact of life for the field engineer.

I love this job!

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