taking a brief detour
from technical audio
topics to examine
something that could
be key to a sustained
career in the modern
Social media is everywhere
these days. Facebook,
Twitter, LinkedIn, and other Internet
social networks dominate technology and
financial news while their data gathering
tentacles reach deeper into our lives.
Media organizations and television professionals
are required to maintain an online
presence in order to stay competitive
and may be considered out of business if
they can’t be found online. We connect
with friends through Facebook, grow our
business network through LinkedIn and
share insight through Twitter.
Even with all of this activity we may actually
be ignoring the social networks that
can have the most impact on our business.
These networks have not-so-catchy names
like the Audio Engineering Society,
the Society of Broadcast Engineers,
and the Society of Motion Picture and
Television Engineers. Along with
similar organizations, they provide a global
support system that serves the technical
and craft sides of the industry.
What makes them critical to the business
is that these professional networks
are present in physical form all over the
world. They are present in standards and
practices that drive the creation and distribution
of media that eventually crosses
over into the world of the consumer. They
also manifest themselves in the form of
conferences, workshops, conventions,
and local chapters, giving members and
associates opportunities for education, involvement,
and personal connection.
The fact that these groups provide a forum
to actually meet in person is a significant
and often overlooked benefit, because
the face-to-face, real-world connections
made through these groups can be life- and
My first encounter with AES was at an annual national convention.
At the time I was unaware of what happens
behind the scenes at these events or
that AES is a global standards body. Workshops,
papers, tutorials, seminars and
meetings of standards working groups are
going on while attendees cruise the exhibit
floor looking at equipment. The standards
groups are particularly interesting
because they hammer out the technical
details of audio standards that show up in
our cellphones, automobiles, and the tools
we use for audio production.
|An “Acoustic Measurement Workshop” hosted by the AES Atlanta Section. Panelists from left are: Charlie Hughes, Ivan Beaver, Tom Danley, Wayne Lee, Doug Jones
While AES is primarily concerned with
audio, SMPTE is focused on television
and cinema engineering. Like AES, SMPTE
has meetings and seminars
along with an annual conference in
Hollywood where some of the sessions
can be quite complex.
Current standards work from these
organizations include specifications for
audio-over-IP, metadata, file formats and
wrappers, synchronization, equipment
interfaces and facility infrastructure. Participation
in standards working groups is
open to anyone with an interest (SMPTE
also charges a participation fee) and gives
members the satisfaction of being involved
in work with a lasting impact.
SBE was created for the
continuing education and certification of
broadcast engineers and does not publish
standards or have working groups. It does,
however, have a calendar constantly busy
with training sessions and meetings at
both the national and local levels.
ON THE LOCAL LEVEL
While the large events held by these
organizations are important, the local level
is where the majority of engagement and
personal connection takes place. Most
large cities or regions have local chapters
that hold regular meetings, which also happen
to be excellent forums for education
and for meeting other professionals whose
path you might not otherwise cross.
Subject matter for local meetings is
typically decided on by the local section
officers who look to their members for
guidance, which means that even new
members can help shape the section.
Since local sections are able to tap into the
national and global resources of their organization,
it’s possible to encounter professionals
from all over the world at the
meeting happening in your town.
Meetings held by local sections can
be quite varied and include workshops,
demos, tours and even field trips. The local
professional organizations in my city
regularly hold co-sponsored events when
topics of interest overlap, which gives the
members of the different organizations
the opportunity to meet and collaborate.
Attending a local meeting to hear about a
new tool or technology can often result
in connections that last a lifetime, deeper
involvement in the organization, enduring
friendships or the realization of an undiscovered
While building our online presence is
important, building our face-to-face professional
social network can provide more immediate
and also enduring benefits.
In this column we’ve looked at only
three of the professional organizations that
support the television and media industries,
but there are many others, enough
that every television professional should
be able to find one that fits them. Every organization
meeting or workshop provides
the opportunity for education and to meet
other professionals who may help solve a
problem or pave the way for an improvement
in the way we work.
Don’t let these opportunities pass you
by. I encourage you to check out your local
professional organizations to find out
which one best suit you. Then step away
from your computer and attend a meeting
or two. Listen, learn and talk to people. I
think you’ll be glad you went. And don’t be
surprised if, as a curious byproduct of your
professional social network, you one day
find yourself writing a magazine column.
Stranger things have happened.
I want to thank Dave Moulton for spearheading
this column for the last 15 years.
Dave did a remarkable job writing “Inside
Audio” while covering an array of audio-centric
topics. I was a regular reader and
have many of his columns saved in my reference
I didn’t thank him properly when I
took over this space, partly out of surprise
that I was writing it and partly from the
effort to get that first column whipped
into shape and turned in. So this is a much
delayed thank you to Dave for keeping
us all informed, entertained and on the
“Inside Audio” track for so many years.
Jay Yeary is an active member of the
AES and SMPTE organizations and has
participated in many SBE events. He can
often be found in workshops and training
sessions at local meetings and national
conferences. He can be reached through
TV Technology magazine or via Twitter @TVTechJay.