Explore: Digital and tech

Head of Technical Operations
Sage Gateshead

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Chris D

00:00:02 My name is Chris D and I’m the head of technical operations here at Sage Gateshead. My job is primarily to be responsible for the delivery of all the technical production for events. So that would mean lighting, staging, sound. I’m responsible also for the technical team in terms of the line management of the individuals and they deliver the product on my behalf. My background…I started off as a technician and have kind of made my way up through the ranks of management, and I think the fact that I’ve got a good grasp of the individual roles of all the individual members in the team is very useful and they, you know, they know that I know those things and I know what they’re doing on a daily basis.

00:00:45 My mum and dad were in amateur dramatics when I was a child and we were all involved in that. They worked at Big and Little Theatre where my dad was doing set design and build and my mum was in the wardrobe department doing costumes. So I was sort of exposed to theatre and going to live events from a very, very early age. This is a cardboard set model that my dad did. We used to work together a little bit during school holidays. It’s the influences that started me off on this road to being very passionate and enjoying this work, is being taken to the theatre lots, going to do a lot of music, being exposed to it from a very early age and that’s something that I want to do for my kids as well.

00:01:25 I was very lucky to go to a school that had an arts centre in the grounds and the students, myself included, were responsible for delivering the technical facility for that. There are many, many of my school reports where…there were comments about the fact that I was spending lots of time in the arts centre when I should have been perhaps studying. But, you know, I think in hindsight if I went back to speak to some of my teachers now and said, ‘look what I’m doing now and look how I progressed through, you know, into a career’, I think many of them would agree that the background and the education that I had there, even though it wasn’t official, was actually more useful than some of the education that I had in terms of A levels and GCSEs.

00:02:05 I came up here to Newcastle to do engineering at university. Just about within five minutes of being here I started to get as many casual jobs as I could so I was working at Northern Stage, at the Newcastle Playhouse, I was working at the Students Union as well on the crew and I learned lots and lots by speaking to touring engineers coming in and events technicians and asking them questions and just hovering around and looking and kind of learning through osmosis from the people who were around me. And I didn’t actually finish my course. I decided to finish early because I got the job in the theatre and finished about a year before my course was destined to end. And for me, the practical things that I was doing alongside my degree like working for Northern Stage and working in the Students Union gave the education in this industry more than the course itself.

00:02:51 The letting go of things for me is the worst part of things because I really enjoy being a technician. I think I’m okay at it, you know, I did alright. But letting go of things and not actually being a technician and becoming more of a manager is actually harder than you sometimes might think. That’s the…I think the biggest skill is learning to let go of things and not do them all yourself but to encourage others so that they can improve their skill, improve their education so they can become great technicians and hopefully great leaders in the future as well.

00:03:24 I’ve always really fancied the idea of going on and setting up my own, my own little business doing recording and mixing audio for film or for television. I’d quite like to do that at some point, you know, this isn’t something I hope I’m doing for the rest of my career. I would like to think that, you know, jobs like this give people the opportunity to move through careers and give you the stepping stones to go onto other things.

00:03:46 I’m just going to wait and see what comes up really. You know, there may well be another fantastic opportunity anywhere in the world. You know, we are a world class venue and we’re at the level where any of the technicians here and any of the senior technicians could go on to any of those world class venues and hold their head up and, you know, and be amongst good company. ENDS

Chris D is Head of Technical Operations at the Sage in Gateshead, which is a venue for live music and drama events. He got his passion for the theatre from his parents, who were amateur dramatics enthusiasts. He left his engineering course in university early to take a technical job in the theatre, and has worked his way up the management side.

More information about Photographers, audio-visual and broadcasting equipment operators

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

75%  male 
25%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Workers in this unit group operate and assist with still, cine and television cameras and operate other equipment to record, manipulate and project sound and vision for entertainment, cultural, commercial and industrial purposes.
There are no set academic requirements although entrants usually possess GCSEs/S grades, A levels/H grades and are able to demonstrate proof of pre- entry work experience. A variety of diplomas, degrees and postgraduate qualifications are available. NVQs/SVQs in Photography are available at Levels 2, 3 and 4.
  • Selects subject and conceives composition of picture or discusses composition with colleagues;
  • Arranges subject, lighting, camera equipment and any microphones;
  • Inserts lenses and adjusts aperture and speed settings as necessary;
  • Operates scanning equipment to transfer image to computer and manipulates image to achieve the desired effect;
  • Photographs subject or follows action by moving camera;
  • Takes, records and manipulates digital images and digital video footage;
  • Controls transmission, broadcasting and satellite systems for television and radio programmes, identifies and solves related technical problems;
  • Checks operation and positioning of projectors, vision and sound recording equipment, and mixing and dubbing equipment;
  • Operates equipment to record, edit and play back films and television programmes;
  • Manages health and safety issues;
  • Operates sound mixing and dubbing equipment to obtain desired mix, level and balance of sound.
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