Bill Selak Talks

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Bill Selak Talks About a DIY Apprenticeship

by Bill Selak
October 25th 2021
In your early 20s, you really don’t need to have everything figured out. I’m glad I didn’t. In this episode, I share how following what matters to you–particularly in your 20s, but also throughout you... More
yeah. Mm hmm, mm hmm. Hey there, Welcome to another episode of Bill Select folks. My name is Bill. So look, this is me talking. So my third grader has been asking me most nights what what am I going to do for a job when I grow up, what am I gonna, what's my job, What am I going to do? And like any parent, very obviously I respond with the scott Center for social entrepreneurship prompt. It's not about what your job is. The question I asked her is what matters to you and then what do you want to do about it? Right, So huge shout out right off the top to Annie McCullough who is the director of the Scott Center for Social entrepreneurship. My third grader now, she's just like, I know I know you're going to ask that what matters to me. And then at this point she's like, what matters to me, blah blah blah. It's like, that's, that's a nice reference from hotel Transylvania. But it's true. Like I don't care what your job is, you're gonna have a bunch of jobs, you're like eight. It doesn't matter what your job is, what matters to you. And I'm reflecting on this as my life has happened thus far.

And I realized that my twenties and end up being like a little D I y apprenticeship and as I was doing all these kind of random jobs I have found that they have teed me up to be a director of Technology in like a really, really good way in a way that I never could have planned. Um and if I had followed kind of the traditional, like, you know, let me go to school and pick like a responsible degree like engineering and then got a job that was engineering, which by the way would not have been a good fit, but you know, those are great jobs. Um you know, ended up just following like, what mattered to me. And so my undergrad was in music, studied sound design, classical guitar and you know, in my twenties, and even in my teens, as I'm thinking about what I have to do it at this job as tech director at Millbrook, um where are all these kind of moments and actually see a lot of parallels was talking to john ike's so shout out to john um he heard, you know, kind of, we're just back and forth on boxer.

Yeah, we're still using boxer. Um and it's great for commuting and keeping in touch with people just kind of riffing on ideas like this. He's like, you know what you're describing, it reminds me of Slumdog Millionaire. So I'm gonna just totally like, run with that idea, right? Where um none of the problems and the questions he could have answered in that movie would have been answerable, had it not been for his life skills that happened to tee him up in this really specific way, right? You know, as question one comes up, there's a story where he knows the answer to question one, but it's because of his life. And so I wonder if we dive into that and actually look at a couple different examples of what I do in my role as director of technology and how these jobs that I never would have guessed would have aligned with doing this job. Well actually like teaming up to do a really good job of this. The first one right off the bat was my very first job was at Disneyland. Right? So my very first ride that I got trained on all the attractions east was Captain EO.

All right. So the ability pretty quickly to be able to talk in front of a giant theater full of people. There was a lot in that script by the way. It was like three full pages that we had to memorize before we would get like signed off on being able to actually get scheduled on the show. I wonder if I remember it. I bet I still remember some of it. It's been a while. Good afternoon, Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Magic Eye Theater. Captain Eo is a three D. Science fiction adventure film. Some scenes may be loud for those less sensitive hearing. If you were those in your audience have sensitive hearing, please exercise discretion. Right? And it goes on and on. Um, the ability just to like go up in front of a group, do a spiel like has always felt pretty comfortable for me. And I wonder now is that why? Because 16 year old bill learned how to talk in front of people and got paid, you know, a whopping 5 25 an hour well above minimum wage at the time to do Captain EO. Um and then the one that actually jumped out to me the most I think was actually guest control.

Some people call it crowd control, we we're told to call a guest control and for an entire summer we had fantasmic entrances. This task was mostly getting people Out of the first show and into the second show. So with about 8000 people that would see fantasmic. I say we as though I had that much to do with it, but I kind of did 8000 people would leave and we have them leave through Adventure Land. So if you know Disneyland in Anaheim, you can kind of picture this right past Jungle Cruise, past the Bengal barbecue and out that that South bridge and then you know, try and actually just send them home. But they could also kind of wrap around and like get back into like, you know, fantasy land if they need to uh way up to Toontown. It's a little modern family reference if you remember that one. Um and at the same time at the exact same moment, about 6000 people would come in for the second show and that's normally where I was. So we wrap them into adventure land and would actually build a physical barrier of benches to wrap them around the right like around big Thunder Mountain Railroad and then cut in.

And so for an entire summer my job, You know, halfway through college was to get basically 14,000 people to trade places. And so one of my duties every afternoon, almost every afternoon get Fridays off on the schedule is carpool duty. And did you know what this is where I was going with it. Will you do now? So we have, you know whatever, 100 cars coming in kind of at the same time and I'm there in the parking lot, we have four lanes of you don't know. So I'll tell you some of you might know you've been Tilbrook As you come in and go to the right, there's four lanes queued up and they make like a big U. Turn and there's this nice little overhang where um other colleagues are actually calling the kids, opening the doors, getting them in, sending them home. And I'm queuing up and sending those four rows of people. Um and I have been told either by people rolling down the window, like on the last day of school saying you're so good at this, thank you so much. I'm like you're welcome or when uh the day after I got my my booster shot and if you've not gotten your booster shot or any of your um Covid vaccines, get on it, please keep yourself safe.

Keep your students safe, keep your family safe. Um, You know, I was just, I was out for the count the day after my booster shot, I slept for like 16 hours maybe. Um, and so we had a substitute for that afternoon carpool duty telling which cars were to go when and apparently on WhatsApp, the third of the fourth grade parents were like, yeah, messaging my wife, they're like Isabel, where's bill things are not going as smoothly as they normally are. Um, and she's like, yeah, he's asleep right now, booster shot and, and they're like, we miss him. It's so good when he's here. Um, and I really credit a lot of that too. You know, the 14,000 people that we managed when I was 16, 17, 18. Um, working at Disneyland, right? Like all these kind of random jobs who would have known that working at Disneyland would um, would make me good at being a tech director and helping out with carpool. And yet it very much did um, sound is the second thing to talk about.

I'm gonna give you two examples of this and how it has absolutely saved the day for me. So a mixer, you're gonna learn a little bit here, even if you know how to use a mixer for live sound or even recording sound. Um, you can use it in ways that people don't think you can use them. And I actually learned this very, very quickly and I think part of how I learned this is that um you know I do have a degree in music, right? Emphasis and sound design. So I really learned a lot. Like I remember there was like an article that our professor printed for us about mixers and about bussing and about channels and the whole idea about a mixer is that you get sound in and you get sound out right? So there's labels of like really suggestions of how to use it. So If you plug something in the back on channel one than that fader and the pre amp on channel one will control that sound right? Which is pretty obvious. And then most people have like the main speakers, the front of house speakers going out.

Main left in maine, right? So then that fader that says L. R. Will control your front of house volume, right? Like that's simple enough. If you have like a fancy reverb you might go like output of auxiliary one to the reverb and then return auxiliary one. So that when you turn that dogs one button you get reverb right? Like this is how most normal humans set up a mixer Senator like thunder. That was not thunder. That was me hitting the spring on the boom. Should we do that again, truce? Pretend it's thunderous outside. Let's try it again. Quick tangent. The star wars lasers that you do is actually Ben Burt going up into a hike outside of uh I think around Moran right, he had to be up up north kind of in this area Skywalker sound at the time went on a hike and there's that giant cable that attach is to like big towers, I don't know like electricity towers or something or whatever, but like a giant thick, like you know, maybe a Diameter of like one thick like spun wire to hold up these massive towers.

If you strike it, it actually bounces the sound all the way up and all the way back and makes you got it like a laser sound due to like those are actually ban bert, the sound designer who's a brilliant human just hitting, hitting the wire that goes up to the big tower and recording it. Um anyway, I was just gesturing with my hands and happen to hit that spring and just a man, there's quite a storm. Well that actually is more of a pitch to it. That almost sounds like a piano. Anyway, not the point. Um, the point is as you were routing sound, You can go in and out anywhere you want. And so you know, uh in 2002 I helped to build a recording studio. Um actually pretty close to Anaheim and uh and actually had, you know like measure. We were measuring cabling and like running it underneath the floor and like as you're actually building a studio, you realize it's just one thing connecting from here to there, right? It plugs into the thing, it goes underneath and connects to the vocal booth.

Like there's nothing magical about it. And so here's where I'm going with this. I learned that you can rewire aboard however you want. Um, when we're at Magic Mountain, a couple of friends were performing was the matt Maher band and, and my friend Francis was like, hey, like they're flying in there hoping to just use some gears. They don't have to travel with all the gear. I was like, sure. So I brought my amp, we got to go like underneath the roller coasters and uh, and that was pretty cool. I got to get there early, got to go to Magic Mountain for free, although we're busy. Um, and you're gonna find out why I only got to go on one ride, but it was awesome. And it was free free concert. They got to use my amp um, you know, which is just a fantastic amp, but we don't need to talk about that today. Uh, and as they're sound checking happened to be back by the board. Um, because they were kind of plugging stuff in before the sound person arrived and um, once they started playing, I looked down at the board and literally a puff of snow. Smoke comes up like out of a cartoon, a puff of smoke. I was like, that's not good.

So very quickly call down a. V. And they're like yeah we don't, we don't keep extra sound boards. Um I guess we're canceling and I was like hang on and so figure out what was working, what wasn't working. Enough of the channels were working. But actually the left and the right were broken, write something got fried, like literally got fried and went up in smoke literally up in smoke. I don't say literally often but an actual puff of smoke. I can still picture it. Um and realize that auxiliary one was working and not all the channels were working, but enough of them were working. The means weren't working, none of the failures were working, but auxiliary one was working. So I think I ended up either setting up or running the live sound the front of house sound um for the concert. And the only way we could actually adjust the volume, which is like all of life sound, right? Like the vocals are this loud. The guitars are this loud, Every mic on the drum is this loud? Um It's really complicated. All of that was run on auxiliary one and then the front of house speakers were connected to auxiliary one out because the left and right were broken.

Um And so like very quickly learned that and and kind of save the day, you know, let's just let's take a moment and like kind of drink that in because I was, that was good stuff. Um so how does this come into play? So last friday we have our all school assembly, we call it flag because there's usually a flag there. So for whatever reason we call it flag and it was raining on friday. So instead of being outside where we have half the school in person, half a remote, so using stream yard to actually live stream that to uh not only families that can watch it from anywhere in the world these days, but also to the other classes that aren't in person, but we're in the gym. So it's a completely different sound system, completely different setup and I had to find a way to get sound out of the sound system into our live stream setup. Otherwise it's just like the built in computer, speaker grabbing, whatever is available sound there was um and that's going to be just super river be, it would have sounded so bad as it was a solution.

The tv wasn't grounded and so in and out buzzing but I think I have a fix for that for the next time it rains and we have flag indoors but how I ended up getting sound into our livestream computer, are you ready for this? Uh you know you have the main left and right out um in this case in our gym we had like an eight channel thing, so like one and two went to a power amp, Those like on the right side of the gym. Um the output three and four went to a different power up that went to the gym on the other half of the gym, like different power ups powering different speakers. Um and so when you're having four of them and you know, this was like way behind, there's cobwebs everywhere. No one has used this since it was set up like 20 years ago and I see that channel eight is available. It's like, all right, so I get an XLR cable, that's the microphone cable with like the three dots plug a female XLR cable in this particular one has a quarter inch like a guitar cable on the end of it.

It's like cool, I can work with this. Then I get a quarter inch adapter to an eighth inch adapter. That was like the headphone one, right? Um The old school headphone before his lightning eighth inch headphone jack. Then I have that. And then I still have to get it to our livestream computer. So what do I do? I get a female eighth inch, two female eighth inch And then I get A wireless guitar transmitter that's 8th inch and connect that. And so there's this kind of ridiculous chain. And then I can go through this. Yes, a one rack. If that means anything to you. You can picture it like a one rack um piece of hardware that's you know, maybe 2" tall. Hit the number eight, went through all the menus ended up turning up the volume on just eight because it was it and minus infinity, which is no sound going out. Um, ended up going back and forth and finally found a way to get sound out of the 20 year old sound system wirelessly into our laptop for the live stream. So again, there's a grounding issue and I'm going to fix that for next week.

But right, how cool is that set up? Were you able to follow me a little bit with it? And so had I not Help build a studio in the early 2000's or helped rewire the magic mountain sound system for live sound going out of auxiliary one. Um, I never would have thought like, hey, let's actually kind of see how we can get sound out into a more interesting place. Uh, and so moving forward, we actually have a decent system now forgetting sound into a computer which was never really in need before and yet here we are. And so what I encourage you to do just in general in your life, definitely with your students. If you have younger kids. Absolutely. Like I strongly recommend this approach and I could go on and on. There's all kinds of examples of how these random things in my life have led to like just the right skill set at just the right time that I never could have predicted. I encourage you to continue to, I encourage you to encourage your students to encourage you to encourage your own kids too, if you got them to just follow what matters to you, what you're going to end up doing is making a difference in the world.

First of all right. Second thing, you're gonna actually like enjoy it because you're following your passions, your, following your curiosities and then finally, what I'm hoping you were picking up that I am trying to put down today is that you're able to actually like build these skills, build your own kind of apprenticeship if you will, will you will you you're not responding out loud, That's okay, I'll give you one more chance, will you? Yeah, All right, all right. Um you're building your own apprenticeship in your twenties and really like through your entire life by doing this kind of, random passions of yours that are going to at some point, possibly come in handy and when they come in handy years, like what, like, I never imagined that working, You know, fantasmic when I was 17 is going to come in handy when I'm in my, you know, early forties now doing carpool at my school as an admin and yet it does, or that, you know, like helping build a studio when um you know, in my early twenties would come in handy when I was trying to do a livestream at Hill rook as I'm director of technology and yet all these random things end up actually coming into play and making such a difference.

So the challenge for you as we start our outro music, the challenge for you is to continue to think what matters to you and then do something about it. And because you're an educator, you're not going to just do that for yourself. Right. Do that for your students when they ask, you know, what are you gonna be when you grow up or what should I be when I grow up? Which my major be just ask what matters to them and encourage them to just pursue whatever, Right? Because they're gonna end up building there ship. We're going to end up doing their own thing at some point. That's going through. Mhm. So, thanks. My name is Bill Cela. This has been re talking

Bill Selak Talks About a DIY Apprenticeship
Bill Selak Talks About a DIY Apprenticeship
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