“Who’s running this thing?” asks Sound Smith Audio Engineer Brett Blandino, running over to the soundboard. A group of bewildered students stare at him. “Dead air is bad,” he says, throwing a CD into the system.
It’s Saturday afternoon at the Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival at Sunset Park, and a crew of audio program students from the International Academy of Design and Technology have been here since 9 a.m., shadowing the pros. The new students have been patiently watching, but now they’ve received the green light from the master himself.
“We trust you,” Blandino says. It’s a moment of validation.
“They prepare you for the pressure,” says 21-year-old Darnell Glenn. For him, running sound has become standard procedure. Now in his final year at IADT, Glenn has volunteered at gigs like Warped Tour, Extreme Thing and Bite of Las Vegas and even landed a job as sound engineer for The Mentalist at Planet Hollywood.
IADT Chair of Technology Vince Casas says there were concerns at first that professional crews wouldn’t want the burden of assisting students. “We actually had the opposite result. They’re taking time to teach students on the boards and consoles,” Casas says.
IADT isn’t the only audio program in Las Vegas—the Art Institute and CSN have audio and music technology programs, and UNLV offers music technology as a minor—but it does have a new draw. The school recently opened a 2,500-square-foot studio, Vegas View, which functions as both a teaching and commercial studio. Designed by studio manager Bobby Ferrari, who served as chief engineer of Studio Vegas (now The Killers’ Battle Born Studios) and co-designed and managed Odds On Records & Studios, Vegas View has hosted local acts like Bobby Meader, Jack Johnson and Rhyme N Rhythm, along with nationally acclaimed musicians like Jeff Young of Megadeth. The studio allows students to work closely with real clients.
Back at the Ren fair, the next band gets ready to play, and Glenn takes off up the stairs, joining the rest of the crew. It’s 5 p.m., but he hasn’t tired yet.
“You’ve got to get your hands dirty,” he says, and within seconds he’s back at the boards, just like a pro.