I saw some posts recently talking about what is the most important thing a technical director can know. In my humble opinion troubleshooting is where tech guys earn their pay.
Point of fact not all tech will work all the time. It won’t! And you are kidding yourself if you believe otherwise. While often the solution to tech failures is fairly simple (reconnecting cable, or flipping a switch) it is finding those cables and switches that can be a challenge.
When you look at a tech system as sophisticated as the one at Hope (and trust me ours is not THAT sophisticated, I mean it’s no cakewalk, but it’s not Northpoint either) The problem comes from the fact that there are MANY points of failure. Case in point I don’t have signal in my monitor from cam 4. Well this could something as simple as camera 4 may be off right now, if it’s not I have look at the information and separate facts that point to the failure from facts that have nothing to do with the failure. In the cam 4 example it could be something on the camera end ie off or dead battery, those are easy enough to check. If not that then I have to move up the single chain point by point, isolate what works from what is failing.
Guys who really know their stuff can work it both ends toward the middle at the same time, if you have ever watched Bob Blair or Bill Morrison troubleshot then you know what I am talking about. I can hold my own, but I admittedly I am not much good outside of the video world.
The funny thing about troubleshooting, you can’t really teach it. It’s like an art, you can teach people about it, and how to do it, but there is an extent that you are going to be naturally good at troubleshooting or not.
If you one of those who isn’t, surround yourself with people who are. More importantly make sure they have all the information needed to help you. For example your troubleshooter will not do you much good if you put a DA and a signal converter in line somewhere and didn’t tell him… when you add points of failure make sure everyone knows where they are.
Also line diagrams of signal paths … HAVE them and keep them up to date. If it helps this is a convicting statement for me as well.