Q Media: Audio Tour Experts

Delivering your goals, to your visitors, within your budget.

Archive for Audio Tour Content

Q Media in Rome!

We realize we haven’t updated our blog since September.  Many things have happened since then and we’d like to share with you what they have been and what we’ve been up to.

First off October 2011 found Mike and Stasha attending the Orpheo Partners Meeting in Rome, Italy. Q Media is an Orpheo partner and every two years Orpheo invites their partners from around the world to attend a meeting to catch up on what’s new with Orpheo and each other. This year’s meeting in Rome had attendees from Italy, Hungary, Russia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, France, Austria, Japan, Malta, Poland, Sardinia, Greece and Portugal. It was great to see folks we hadn’t seen in a few years and hear what other members of the Orpheo Network are doing with audio tours in their countries.  One great aspect of being an Orpheo Partner is that we are involved with a world-wide network of skilled, experienced audio tour producers and our combined strengths allow us all to prosper by assisting each other.  When you hire Q Media you don’t just get a team of award-winning audio tour producers with 10 years experience producing tours: you also get the benefit of many others who assist us in many ways in producing and equipping audio tours.

Besides the experience of traveling to Europe and seeing our partner members we also found out what Orpheo has been up to with developing their equipment. One of the exciting new things we learned about was the MyOrpheo App for both iPhone and Android. We’re now adding that as an option for our clients.

As for Q Media projects the end of last year and the beginning of this one have been busy times for us. We completed the audio tour pilot program for apartment rental industry leader Aimco and Q Media produced tours are now operating at apartment complexes in Denver, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Also a project for The Kingsley Plantation in Jacksonville, FL is soon to be launched. This project was written and produced by Q Media and is being offered on iPhones that will be GPS triggered. One of the exciting aspects about this tour is that the visitor will always be immersed into a sonic environment and the audio tour stops will trigger automatically as they wander the grounds. A new, novel approach for tours and we’re really excited to be a part of this new application of technology.  But it isn’t all ‘sets and lights’.  The Kingsley Plantation allowed us to tell a story of slavery in the American South that is compelling, moving and novel.  We’re really proud of this one and the telling of the Kingsley story allowed us to touch upon greater human themes.  There are some wonderful performances from character actors in the production that really help to bring a sense of the people who lived there to the listener to allow them to imagine what life at Kingsley was like for them.

We’ve also been busy continuing to produce visually described audio tours for the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers.  More Q Media visually described tours are now operational at facilities in Wyoming, New Mexico, New York City and Missouri.

This winter also had us updating the MillerCoors Brewery tour in Golden, CO in English, Spanish and Mandarin.  MillerCoors likes to be sure that they are staying current in their tour with developments and improvements to their facility and products and Q Media is happy to be a part of making the audio tour at the largest single site brewery in the world the best it can be.

For other repeat clients we’re busy this Spring producing the audio tour for Mt. Rushmore into French to be launched and we’re also working again with Friends of A1A to add another component to their cell phone driving tour with a tour of Bird Island in Ponte Vedra, FL

Lastly there’s BIG news coming from Q Media and we’ll need to let you know about that in another post dedicated to it.  We promise we won’t make you wait as long as it took up to update our blog from our last post in September and we’re REALLY excited about it.

Until then!

Mike and Stasha


It’s been a busy year so far for Q Media!

Hello Q Media blog readers. So far its been quite a year for us and we’d like to keep you updated on what we’ve been doing.

Q Media has been working with US Fish and Wildlife and National Park Service facilities all over the US this year doing Audio Described Audio Tours for the Visually Impaired. From New Mexico to New York, Texas to North Dakota we have been traveling the land producing tours. Some of these tours are strictly audio described tours and others are what we call ‘Combo’ tours – two separately produced tours that can be taken by both sighted and visually impaired visitors. You can find out more about this in our previous post ‘Audio Tours for the Visually Impaired’.

We’ve also branched out on providing audio tours for a new industry for us – apartment complexes. Q Media has been hired to produce seven audio tours for seven different properties throughout the US as a pilot program to see if the apartment leasing sales process can be augmented with audio tours. From what we know this is a new application for audio tours and a type of facility that we haven’t produced tours for in the past. The apartment complexes are in Denver, Philadelphia and San Francisco and the tours are cell phone distributed.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed with this one and hope that it takes off – a whole new market could be opening up for us and we’re excited about the possibilities.

Lastly we are going to attend the Orpheo Partners meeting this year in Rome, Italy. Partners attend from all over the world and we’re excited to see some friends whom we haven’t seen in years.  It’s always good to hear what other Orpheo Partners are doing in their countries!

Well that’s about it for now and a big thank you to all of the writers, voice over talent and technicians who have worked with us on projects this year – we couldn’t do what we do without you!   Here’s hoping that you are also doing well too.  We are thankful to be so busy in these economic times and we love what do, treasure the opportunities to go to new places and enjoy who we meet along the way in our pursuit to provide stellar audio tour experiences for our clients and their visitors.


Mike and Stasha

Audio Tours for the Visually Impaired

Institutions are using audio guides to comply with government mandated ADA requirements to provide interpretation of their information for all visitors.  Recently Q Media has been producing audio tours to allow some US Fish and Wildlife and National Park Service facilities meet their ADA requirements by providing visually described audio tours of their facilities.

Visually described audio tours are just that – an audio tour where the script is written to describe what is there for the visitor to experience and to also provide directions and other information that the sighted world sees and they may not.  Visually impaired individuals better experience a facility with these types of productions and they also allow a facility meet ADA requirements by providing interpretive experiences that are produced to directly serve their needs.

Stasha Boyd – Q Media’s president, primary writer and producer – is certified to write visually described tours and she has been using her skills, in combination with Q Media’s  award-winning production capabilities, to create meaningful audio experiences for visually impaired visitors.  When we produce a visually described tour we usually produce two tours –  one for sighted visitors and a visually described tour.  This way both sighted and visually impaired visitors get to experience a facility with audio and both tours incorporate high production standards to create a rich sonic experience for the listener.  We go on site to gather research, interview subject matter experts and record natural sounds that are specific to the location.  We produce tours that accomplish what a facility wants to convey so all of its visitors, sighted and visually impaired, will have the opportunity to experience the interpretation that leadership desires.

One visually described audio tour that Q Media recently produced was for the visitor center at The Audubon National Wildlife Refuge in Coleharbor, ND.  According to Jackie Jacobson, Director of Audubon It has been a pleasure to work with you… seriously, it was so nice to work with professionals on this task, as I had never used or seen one of these devices before. Thank you for all your patience! In working with clients Q Media strives to make sure that all facets of a production are equally cared for and that includes extensive communication with decision makers.  Many times they’ve never been involved in producing an audio tour and we pride ourselves in effectively communicating what it is that we do so everyone is aware of our process and how we achieve their goals.

Look for many more productions this year from Q Media producing visually described audio tours.  If you are a facility that is required to meet these ADA requirements, or cares to serve this facet of your visitors, please contact us so we can produce and equip a visually described tour for your location.

Q Tours – Q Media’s new iPhone app

Q Media is proud to announce our new iPhone application for Audio Tours Q Tours.   As you probably already know, the mobile device revolution is changing the way we interact with our world;  and now Q Media offers our clients this new technology option.

If you’ve read our blog posts, you know we always say an audio tour has two components — what you’re listening to (the content) and how you’re listening to it (the delivery method).  In the past, the technology standard for audio tours has been audio guides.  These dedicated audio tour devices have many great features and are still an outstanding option for facilities who want to offer a point-of-purchase revenue generating tour or who need advanced features like infrared, GPS, or radio frequency triggering (especially to provide devices for ADA compliance) and quality audio fidelity. However, the expense, staffing, and maintenance required for these devices can be a hindrance for some organizations.

Recently, cell phone distribution has become a popular way for organizations to offer tours. Some of the benefits of this distribution is that a facility no longer needs to invest in dedicated hardware like audio guides nor the maintenance they require.  But setup and monthly service fees to cell phone tour providers can become expensive (especially for large volume tours) and there are still issues at some locations with reception and visitors not wanting to use their minutes to listen to a tour.  Also because cell phones operate at limited sonic bandwidth the audio quality suffers from compression.  Furthermore, in most instances, cell phone tours are often only offered as value added (free to the visitor) tours and not as revenue generating enterprises.

Which leads us to the Q Tours iPhone tour and its many benefits. First, the visitor brings their technology with them so there isn’t any dedicated hardware to purchase and maintain.   Second, pictures and text can be displayed as well as maps to help visitors find their way.  Third, quality audio production can be incorporated into the tour allowing a richer sensory experience than other devices.  Fourth the tour is available to the public 24/7 without the need to have a localized distribution point – visitors can access the tour from any location at your facility as long as cell service or wi-fi is available or download it beforehand.    However, the main benefit is revenue. An iPhone tour can be sold to the public to generate revenue. This technology and distribution method combines all of the best features of audio guides and cell phones by offering a potential revenue stream combined with decreased upfront technology investment.

So how does a  Q Tour generate revenue for the facility?   If your facility qualifies with enough annual attendance Q Media will produce a tour, or host your current tour, as a revenue share Q Tour.*  Once the visitor purchases the tour through our Q Tours iPhone app (either through cell  service or wifi) the revenue is split between Apple, us and you.  Many of you reading this are aware of the way Apple sells applications for the iPhone from its App store — the App is offered via iTunes and a percentage is paid to Apple with the remaining percentage distributed between Q Media and the facility.  The visitor accesses the tour through their iPhone (or iPod Touch) and you receive a percentage of every sale with no equipment to purchase, no staffing required to distribute and collect hardware, no hosting fees or other middle-men costs.  It’s that simple. All we require is that the promotion and marketing of the tour is handled by you to your visitors at your location so they are aware the tour is available.

So look for our Q Tours app to soon be available on Apple’s iPhone App Store.  We are ready create outstanding tours for your guests while reaping the benefits of generating revenue that audio tours traditionally provide.  To find out more on how we can produce and host a Q Tour for you please contact Stasha Boyd or Mike Lutz at Q Media.

*For qualified facilities only.

Happy Birthday To Us

Hello Q Media blog reader.  In June 2010 Q Media will celebrate eight years in business producing audio tours so in reflection I’d like to share with you info about the driving personnel here at Q Media, the story of how we came about and why producing audio tours is what we chose to focus on.  I hope you find our journey interesting and happy birthday to us, happy birthday to us, happy birthday Q Media, happy birthday to us.  And many more…  -M

Q Media Productions was started in 2002 by principals and married partners Stasha Boyd and Mike Lutz.  Stasha and Mike always shared an interest in museums and since Mike is an audio engineer he always gravitated to taking the audio tour when one was available.  Both Stasha and Mike had jobs in entertainment before starting their company – Mike as the aforementioned audio engineer and Stasha has a theater degree and made her living as an actor for many years – so they were always interested in experiencing audio tours when they encountered them in their travels.  Some tours were very well produced (both the Alcatraz and Ellis Island tours they took really impressed them) and others, well, not so good.

They found that after they had taken a tour their appreciation and review of it came from two differrent perspectives — being an audio engineer Mike focused on the production aspects of the tour.  What was the ‘feel’ of the production?  How were sound effects and music used to craft the sonic experience?  Being on the writing/performance side Stasha gave focus to the writing and its delivery.  What was the emotional theme and how well was it consistently told?  Did the actors used in the production convey an effective and emotional impact with their performances? And so on.  They would compare their opinions about the tour and what they thought about it and they always looked forward to find an audio tour offered no matter where they were to see how it was produced and how it helped them to appreciate and understand the place they were experiencing.

Which leads us to how Q Media came about.  In October 2001 Mike and Stasha decided to celebrate their wedding anniversary at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, FL which is located near where they live in Florida.  Fantasy of Flight has the largest privately held collection of vintage aircraft in the world and many of the airplanes on display there are kept in flying condition.  You may think Fantasy of Flight is a strange place to celebrate a wedding anniversary but truth be told Mike has been an aviation enthusiast since he was young and even at one point suggested they get married there “between the propellers of some of the planes with a 40’s theme and a jumping swing band!”  Sorry to say that vision didn’t quit sit right with many persons involved (especially his future mother-in-law who was writing the check for the whole she-bang) so sadly it didn’t come to pass.  Anyway, going to Fantasy of Flight that day was the catalyst that started them on their journey.  You see while Mike and Stasha were touring the facility Mike was letting her know some of the things he knew about the planes.  “That’s a P-51 Mustang painted in the marking of Maj. George Preddy, he was the leading Mustang ace of the war only to be shot down by friendly fire on Christmas Day, 1944”.  Or “…that’s a B-25 Mitchell – a land-based bomber.  Gen. James Doolittle modified and flew one like that off the carrier USS Hornet to bomb Tokyo in 1942”.  After a while of this Mike turned to Stasha and said “you know what this place needs is an audio tour.”  At that point Mike and Stasha looked at each other and thought out loud  “who produces them anyway?”  That’s how they got the notion to get into producing audio tours and have been doing so ever since.

In the past eight years Q Media has gone on to produce audio tours for many types of facilities.  Whether it’s an art museum like The Ringling Museum in Sarasota, FL, or an iconic structure like Mount Rushmore or even Fantasy of Flight (Q Media eventually produced an audio tour for them in 2006), plus many more, Mike and Stasha have been the main, driving force behind Q Media and their talents have been on each and every one of Q Media’s productions.  Stasha has written most of their tours.  Mike has recorded and produced the audio.  They take pride in the fact that when a tour is completed it was from their hands-on creative choices and endeavors that made it so:   When a contract is signed for a tour to be produced by Q Media it is them that have not just the oversight of the tour’s success but their sweat, toil and care go into each one because ultimately they are the ones crafting the tour with their talents for their clients.

So there you have the Reader’s Digest story of Q Media on this anniversary of its conception and inception. Mike and Stasha love what they do and as Mike says “…each time we produce a tour is like taking a class.  Beer Making.  American History.  Aviation.  Japanese Garden Design.  Nature and Wildlife.  Our projects have exposed us to new things and have taken us all over the country.   We always look forward to what is next on the horizon to learn about.”

So please contact Q Media if you are considering providing or upgrading the audio tour at your facility.  Mike and Stasha would love to be the company you choose to provide you with our award-winning approach and capabilities to bring your vision ‘to ear’.

What we’ve been up to lately

Well we realized that we hadn’t updated our blog in some time and we wanted to write a post to let the world know what Q Media has been up to these last several months.  We like keeping you up to date on what our recent past projects have been and what are current projects are.  Maybe the next project we produce will be yours! 

Here are some of our recent past projects:

We produced and equipped an audio tour of the Seedskadee Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Green River, WY.  This area of Wyoming is beautiful with its wide open lands and wildlife and Q Media was hired to write and produce two tours – an audio tour of the visitor center and another audio tour for the visually impaired.  Q Media executive producer and main writer Stasha Boyd recently received her certification from the American Association for the Blind to write visually described tours and the National Park Service and The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Association are organizations who are striving to make their facilities compliant to the ADA requirements by offering interpretative content to the visually and hearing impaired.  The tour is presented to the public on Infrared triggered Orpheo Classic audio guides so the content plays automatically when a visitor enters each audio stop area.  Special thanks to Formations, Inc who designed and built the exhibit areas and provided the installation services to install the audio guide equipment.  Client – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Green River, WY.

We produced and equipped an audio tour for the Miller Brewery in Milwaukee, WI.  Miller and Coors merged in 2009 and the Miller Brewery also offers tours like the Coors Brewery in Golden, CO which Q Media produced an audio tour for in 2008 .  Q Media was contracted to produce a Spanish audio tour of the facility and we worked with the Miller Brewery staff who provided the script and we provided the translation, voiceover production and audio guide equipment.  A good example of how audio guides can be incorporated to enhance, not replace , live docents by providing foreign language translations so foreign visitors can hear and receive the story too.  The tour is provided to the public on Orpheo Classic audio guides.  Client – The MillerCoors Brewing Company.  Milwaukee, WI.

We produced the Coors Brewery tour in Golden, CO in Mandarin.  Q Media already had produced the Coors brewery audio tour in three languages – English, Spanish and Japanese – but their research showed that they were getting many Mandarin speaking visitors so they decided they wanted to tell their story to them too.  Client – The MillerCoors Brewing Company.  Golden, CO.

As for our recent projects:

We are currently producing an audio tour for The Mennello Musuem of American Art in Orlando, FL.  This is the third audio tour that Q Media has produced for the Mennello.  This tour will focus on early 20th century American art and the collection of Edward Wales Root – a patron of American artists in the early to mid-twentieth century and the audio tour covers selected pieces from Root’s collection and stories of his relationship to the artists.  Client – The Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando, FL

We are currently producing an audio tour of the Miami Circle in Miami, Florida.  Unearthed in 1998 the Miami Circle is an enigmatic ruin dating back over 2000 years ago when the Tequesta Indians inhabited that area of Florida.  A 38-foot circle of holes cut into the limestone bedrock where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay, the Miami Circle is considered a sacred place by Native Americans and revered by scholars as an important artifact of Miami’s past.  The Miami Circle site is being preserved and cared for by History Miami for future generations to experience a part of Miami’s history and they are providing tours of the site in both English and Spanish as a downloadable mp3 audio tour.   Q Media was hired to both script and produce the tour.  Client – History of Miami.  Miami, FL.

We’ve just received notice that we have been rewarded the contract to produce a driving tour of historic highway A1A in both English and Spanish.  This 45-stop cell phone driving tour will cover the 75-mile stretch of A1A from St. Augustine north to Ponte Vedra and will incorporate archival oral histories and interviews with local luminaries.  Q Media is scripting the tour, designing and installing the byway signage and designing and producing the tour’s rack cards.  Production is set to begin the beginning of March and the tour will be launched October 1, 2010.  Client – Friends of A1A.  St. Augustine, FL.

Hope you enjoyed catching up on what Q Media has been up to lately.  We have proposals out for many more projects so please check back to see our next update to find out what’s on our horizon.  Maybe the project we will telling the world about will be yours!

Knowing how to swing a hammer doesn’t make you a psychologist…

                                 Hammer                  We recently lost a bid to a competitor. After asking for feedback why so we could be better in the future , criticism was offered and was fair and was provided with the utmost respect and objectivity. The feedback we received regarding why we didn’t get the project was the tour sample we sent (the one closest in subject matter to the project we were bidding on) didn’t reflect their perceptions of how they envisioned the creative direction for their audio tour. Fair enough; but I wanted to add something I thought was missing from the equation when they evaluated our sample: the fact that we produced that tour in collaboration with that client. That tour reflected the vision of the previous client; it is what they wanted and achieves what they wanted to say. It delivers the goals they defined for how they wanted their visitors to interact with their space. Not to say it’s perfect – I can think of small things in any tour we’ve produced that afterwards I thought a change could improve – but the point is that working closely with the client was how that tour came to be. If we had won this recent proposal, we would have pursued the same spirit of collaboration with our new client because that is how we operate with ALL of our clients. At the end of the day, it is their vision and goals that need to be communicated through the audio tour. Of course we offer our learned perspective based on our experience and know-how, but in the end, the client is always right and we produce the tour they want.

And that brings me to the weird title of this post. Being able to drive a nail doesn’t mean you can build a house, or coordinate effectively with all the other folks needed to achieve that complicated goal. And like construction, skill sets need to be available for many aspects of audio tour production. Working with the people aspect — the group dynamics, the creative team, the psychology, if you will — of how a tour comes together is, indeed, the best thing that we know we bring to any project. Is the staff at the facility on the same page when it comes to the approach and content? If not, who brings about the cohesion to make that happen? Are the goals being defined and refined to meet what the theme of what the tour should be? Who facilitates the compromises when there are different viewpoints? Is there good working chemistry between the front-end creative team (writer, producer, and director) and the experts assigned to the project by the facility? If not, how can this be overcome and adapted to bring about excellence?

These factors are just some of the challenges that need to be addressed and they change each time we produce a tour. So in the future, we suggest that when you evaluate a proposal, or a bid, don’t simply ask yourself if the tour sample is similar in style or tone to what you want. Call and ask the previous client if the tour sample reflects what they wanted. Find out if the production team brought something to the table that improved on the vision they had at the start. Ask if the production process created a better outcome than they started with. That’s the key to producing a good audio tour – listening to the client and delivering the result they want.