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AVI Systems Battle of the Bands 2017 Winner Announced

Blog October 2, 2017

Congratulations to San Diego!

Fourteen teams came together to compete for the renown first place title at this year's Battle of the Bands.

We saw insane drum solos, some seriously brilliant visuals and editing, and, most importantly, true comradery among the folks at AVI Systems. Based on an internal poll of AVI employees, the San Diego team came out on top this year, garnering 31 percent of the vote.

AVI Systems Battle of the Bands 2017 leaderboard shows that San Diego came out on top as this year's winner, garnering 31 percent of the vote.

The team gets to enjoy a party at the venue or restaurant of their choosing, along with the retention of the Battle of the Bands trophy.

"This year was all kinds of fun," said James Garcia, lead vocals and AVI Systems service technician II. "It was really cool to see how our branch came together and put together the video excellently."

Garcia took over vocals this year at the San Diego branch, helping lead the team toward a consecutive victory. But, it was a collective effort, he said.

"Paul [Balcombe], he’s amazing at rewriting lyrics to songs, and he made it completely pertain to our values, what we do, communication, integration," Garcia said. "He was great at getting all of the values into words and have it make it sense." 

The San Diego team wanted to stay consistent with a fast-paced, rock song. They narrowed it down to roughly five songs before it clicked for Paul Balcombe, lyricist and sales manager at AVI Systems. They decided on The Offspring's "Come Out and Play."

"When I started writing, I saw that there was a lot we could do," Balcombe said. "If you pulled up the lyrics side by side, it kind of writes itself."

Much like last year, Balcombe used the song's hook to start plugging in lyrics. From there, he continued writing in lyrics that fit with AVI's mission and values, while still keeping up with the song's natural flow. He finished the song in about 15 minutes -- believe it or not -- and he attributes much of his ability to adapt songs to his upbringing.

Growing up, some of his family members improvised lines to Christmas carols and other songs. "I remember specifically this one time and being blown away at how good my uncle was at it," he said. 

After having the song written, Josh Ladwig, senior account manager, went to work with the band to start recording the song in a local church. Once the audio sounded good, Ladwig, who has prior experience shooting music videos, worked with the team to storyboard.

They spent an entire day recording after finishing the storyboard, going back and forth on shots. At one point, they ended up scrapping roughly three hours of footage. "We had all these ideas," Ladwig said. "Nothing went according to plan."

But, in the end, it all worked out. "The whole thing was a blast, super fun," he said.

Area Vice President Brian Yandell said this year's competition was a fun time, creating a team atmosphere, while also keeping the office rivalries going. Employees in the Denver and Milwaukee offices shared those thoughts as well.

Aaron Stoneberger, design engineer II in Denver, Colo., took charge of the office's effort. The Denver office made a spoof video of "What does the fox say?" by Ylvis, replacing the word "fox" with "boss." Internally, it came close to taking home the first place trophy on Friday before the polls closed, jumping ahead of San Diego for some time.

"It was a great way for me to strengthen the bonds here and a great way to bond with the other colleagues here in the Denver office."


The Denver office chose to rewrite the lyrics to "What does the fox say?" by replacing the word "fox" with "boss." Pictured: "What does the boss say?" - Denver



"It was great. We had a lot of volunteers," Stoneberger said. "I had a lot of fun. Not a lot of people can come home from work and say they recorded a Battle of the Bands video. It was a great way for me to strengthen the bonds here."

Even though their video was a hit, Stoneberger said that they plan to start earlier, so they have more time to plan and execute. In Milwaukee, Jason Francois, design engineer III, said that they plan to start earlier too. Given the busy summer months, it was difficult to wrangle everybody, but he managed to capture excellent participation.

Francois led the behind-the-scenes operations for the Milwaukee office's music video, which took HDBaseT, global standard for the transmission of ultra-high-definition video and audio, and roped it into the widely known song, "I Want You To Want Me" by Cheap Trick. The title of Milwaukee's song: "I Want HD to Base T." (Go ahead, sing it to yourself.)


The Milwaukee office came up with "I Want to HD Base T" for their Battle of the Bands entry. Pictured: "I Want to HD Base T" - Milwaukee



"We didn’t just want to lip sync a song, and here’s a song that’s ingrained in pop culture," Francois said. "From my perspective, it was finding that earworm and using that, something that everybody knows."

This strategy hit home internally, and the numbers show that. But, part of what Battle of the Bands is all about is bringing people together and creating something fun, silly, or even weird -- but in a good way.

"The main thing I wanted to get across to the office is that this is a team building thing and it’s supposed to be fun and enjoyable," Francois said. "Sometimes you have to let your hair down and get to know the people you work with."

"It makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger."

AVI Systems started Battle of the Bands in 2016 as a part of Oneness Week, an internal initiative to connect and engage employees and create a culture of oneness.

The idea of a battle of the bands came up in part because many of AVI Systems' employees are also talented musicians, artists and producers. (In San Diego alone, there are like four drummers in the office.) Battle of the Bands was a way to bring employees' passion for music together with shared company goals and values.

Garcia, with the San Diego office, said, "Just the fact we spent a whole day recording the vocals and then another whole day doing the video itself and getting paid to do it is amazing. It makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger."




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