I often film parties as part of the events I cover. Parties have bands and acts, and bands and acts have PA stacks, and PA (Public Address – speaker) stacks make a good place to get shots because not many people are stupid enough to stand in the veritable breeze of moving air beside these things. That’s right, I’m stupid.
So here’s a plea to fellow videographers: think about your hearing, and look after it.
Ever been in a loud environment to shoot, then later feel that your ears are still a bit numb or ringing a bit? That’s damage. That’s permanent hearing damage. So says any hearing specialist.
I didn’t believe it. I thought that hearing was like vision. We may get an afterimage from having accidentally got an eyeful of 2K or caught a glint of the sun in a windscreen or even found ourselves blinking away a green and pink version of that email (no wonder pro-apps have switched to a grey background). Soon it’s gone and life goes on. Hey, tastebuds only last (on average) 11 days, so a couple of weeks after a Scotch Bonnet Salsa, you’re good to go.
But hearing is a little different. Apparently.
Please don’t take my word for it. Go out now and get a hearing test. Find out what you’ve got and how to protect it. Before you accidentally scrape off valuable hearing range.
As you can tell, today I’ve had the lecture from Stuart Roberts of Leightons HearingCare, whilst he tests my hearing and prepares moulds to create the special sleeves that will be made to fit my ear canal. Basically taking a mould of my middle ear following a hearing test. Stuart is usually a Hearing Aid consultant, but works with Advanced Communications Solutions – purveyors of “cutting edge in-ear technology”.
ACS will make custom-fit earplugs and sleeves for in-ear monitoring and protection. Very common in the music industry. We all take hearing for granted until it’s suddenly not as good as we remember it and suddenly it’s too late. If we only recognised the warning signs, knew what was likely to do damage, maybe we’d have less damage to work around later on.
Luckily Stuart doesn’t need to read (or shout out) the riot act as my natural hypochondriac tendencies have kicked in before I’ve lost anything too crucial. My Etymotic earphones will be good for in-ear monitoring and noise protection once I get the custom middle ear moulds for my ear buds – a snip at £90 (on top of the cost of the earphones themselves).
But I am now very aware of how lackadaisical I have been, and I recognise the trait in many of my colleagues. We may have a laugh at the stereotypical aging rocker who wears ear plugs to concerts, but likes-o-lordy, we really need to be risk averse to hearing damage.
Please do look at the ACS earplug range, or at least find some earplugs that work for you. And I wish you freedom from that ringing numb feeling. You never know a good thing ‘til you lose it.
PS: Once you have custom molded earplugs, they become effective and battery free noise abatement devices as well as cool earphones.