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Parradiddle Productions is Para D1-Live

The Cat Empire’s monitor engineer Tom Allen
The Cat Empire’s monitor engineer Tom Allen

Parradiddle Productions might not be a big name production company in Melbourne, but in Daylesford? Look out! Business owner Tom Allen harks from that part of the world, though his business is really Australia wide. Last time Filter spoke to Tom he had just returned from the WA end of a Shannon Noll tour assisting North Queensland production company Wild Gravity.

Tom recently pole-vaulted onto the big battlefield after buying a DiGiCo D1-Live console, which to the outside observer might seem like a big gamble for a relatively young guy who gets most of his business contracting to other production providers. Since making the jump Tom’s business has really taken off, so it is a worthy case study for anybody interested in young business development and the use of new technology. This especially applies to young guys looking at an audio career building exercise.

As mentioned, Tom mainly contracts to the large production companies such as Johnston Audio, Wild Gravity etc. He also mixes monitors for The Cat Empire and has a few other bands and event operators who contract his intellectual property and box-up-loading-ramp services. It’s fair to say that there are quite a few (but not enough) competent and motivated young guys getting into the industry lately. However the question still begs, “Where is the career path and who will still be here in ten years time”? One thing is for sure, in ten years the equipment landscape and skill set required will be a lot different from the 70s inspired set we see the sun setting on today.

Tom must be planet earth’s youngest DiGiCo owner, and despite the fact that his desk has not stopped working since it hit Aussie soil, (it’s out with Ernie Rose and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at the moment), he didn’t buy it just to get hires.

Tom (Frodo) Allen breaks the analogue Hobbit… err, habit. Seen here picking up his brand new DiGiCo D1-Live.

Tom (Frodo) Allen breaks the analogue Hobbit… err, habit. Seen here picking up his brand new DiGiCo D1-Live.

Within a few years concert sound will be about digital control and the right person doing the programming. Remember the days when lighting guys were called Trogs and Gaffas? That was short for Troglodyte, as in a slow moving dumb dinosaur that lumbers around breaking things.  All of a sudden, in what seemed overnight sensation, Trogs became Lighting Designers, had these funky little digital boards and all the sound guys were out of the lighting operator business. Now all the lighting company car park’s have the newest cars and the only Gaffa to be seen is holding the tail lights on the sound guy’s XC Falcon.

So here we are looking at intellectual property in 2006. A guy named Tom Allen has grabbed the audio digital revolution with both hands. He has set himself up with niche products to go after niche markets, but in the process has set himself up in the top half of where the market is rapidly heading. If the first rule of success is to “be where the action is”, then digital desks and control systems has to be a sure thing. So why did Tom choose DiGiCo?

Paraphrased from Tom’s own words, “I’ve bought this desk at the start of the demand cycle for digital tech desks. The DiGiCo platform is designed to be completely software upgradeable at any time, and with local and stage in/out racks, it’s so multi-functional, there’s no desk configuration or matrixing scenario I can’t do with it”. Tom was also impressed with the ease of syncing the D1 with the D5 and the inter-changeability of saved programs between both desks. Suffice to say, there were a stack of future proofing and gig options the DiGiCo had over the competition–let’s face it, with all the hooha of new products; there is only one other viable choice.

Ease of use was the other big plus. “This is where the DiGiCo stands alone. I have had a couple of analogue engineers who were freaking out at the prospect of using digital, and with only a basic run through, they’ve got it nailed”, said Tom. Needless to say he’s created a few DiGiCo converts, going on to say, “You can use it within an analogue frame of mind, everything’s exposed with no pages of menus, and you can expand a function with the touch screens but the knobs are still the data entry. Like the world’s biggest analogue console but all within easy reach”.

On his last tour he didn’t even get to use his own console as Wild Gravity owns two D1s and his own console was already out on hire. Ernie Rose was using it for the Broadcast feed (and possible also a recording send) as mentioned for the Stevie Nicks and John Farnham orchestral tour.

So aspiring audio industry entrants, there you have it; young guy buys high tech, gets into a network of action and positions his career around emerging technologies. Who ever thought that would be a recipe for success?

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