And now for something really, really different -

When you think of audio gear, pro audio installation probably comes to mind.  Theaters, churches, concert venues, board rooms – it’s what we all do as audio professionals.  But what about different applications?  What about those odd little jobs that we don’t normally consider?

I had the privilege to visit the Central Iowa Ghost Society (CIGS) this weekend with Bart Towler from Eatgafftape LLC for their 3rd Anniversary gathering and training seminar.  CIGS is a paranormal investigation team who investigates various sites all around the Midwest.  

CIGS logoParanormal investigation is one of those odd applications.  We watch them on tv while they use handheld recorders and wireless camera systems but many of us don’t consider that in addition to the teams who investigate inside the locations, there’s a second, unseen team outside the location who busily monitors events and communicates with the team inside.  

Audio training with CIGS and Bart Towler

Audio training with CIGS and Bart Towler

As an AV installer, think about the audio requirements for a full orchestra.  This is the scale paranormal investigators are operating on.  And just as each instrument in an orchestra is integral, each microphone used by paranormal teams is as well.  Every mic counts.  If a mic is down, the chance is missed to gather scientific evidence.  

Paranormal investigators use gear from a standard vocal mic to high end shotgun mics, consoles, extensive cabling, wireless audio and video gear, cameras, road cases, IEM’s and editing software. The AV equipment requirements are astronomical for groups of amateur paranormal hobbyists and junkies. 

Not only do they require gear for field work but in order to analyze evidence, they also require full-scale AV lab set-ups.

The CIGS Ghost Lab

The CIGS Ghost Lab

As an avid paranormal junkie and as your friendly inside Administrative Sales rep at Avlex for the last 13 years, I was stunned by the AV requirements of CIGS.  ”Stunned” doesn’t quite cover it, to be honest and candid with our readers.  

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More of the CIGS lab after the video training portion of their seminar.  All of this is used in the field – imagine tear-down at 6am.

Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, you have to admit these groups are serious and passionate about what they do.  CIGS and other teams like them aren’t who we think of when we consider who buys and uses AV gear.  And not only do they use it, they use a lot of it.  

What’s even more impressive than their requirements for scientific paranormal research? They tweak and tailor their gear to suit their needs. They invent gear that those of us inside the industry would never have even thought of.  Many of us could learn a thing or two from visiting one of these groups and spending time with them.  I would highly recommend contacting a local group in your area and paying them a visit.  Not only will you brush up on your knowledge base as an audio professional but you’ll meet some awesome people who want to learn and succeed.

Want to be even more impressed?  CIGS is cross-training their team members on all of their gear.  Audio is being learned by their video crew, video is being learned by their audio crew, their EVP specialists are learning both audio and video and they’re all learning load-in and load-out.  

CIGS and amateur groups like them have little to no corporate sponsorship.  Their accumulation of knowledge is gained by trial and error or talking with other groups.  The accumulation of gear is through personal funds or creative fundraising.  Imagine you and twenty (or fewer) of your friends financing enough AV gear for a mega-church-sized holiday production with a choir and a band, then teaching yourselves how to use all of it.  These groups do this every day and combined with the availability of affordable pro-quality gear and the internet, more and more of them are learning to successfully use it.  

I had a fantastic time with CIGS.  I don’t think they considered that they would be teaching me when they invited us up to help them learn about AV gear.  I wish them much luck when they kick off their fundraising drive and on their future investigations!  I can only hope they invite me to tag along!  I can hold a boom arm, guys – I promise I won’t get in your way!