Retirement? No, thanks
Reinhard Mann and his team at auvisign GmbH provide their customers with video and sound
New Year’s Eve or the World Cup party at the Brandenburg Gate, large church conventions or the German gymnastics festival – Reinhard Mann, Johannes Raack and their auvisign team provide their customers with the perfect image and excellent sound. The sophisticated and symphonic sounds of the classical music festival in the garden of Schloss Britz was also provided by their company. Everything started with him “tinkering for personal use” and the 750-year-anniversary of Berlin.
Mixing desks, power amps and other stage equipment – Reinhard Mann built it all himself in the 1980s. He never actually made music, he tells us, because as a graduated information electronics technician, he tended to be behind the mixing desk, not in front of it. Many of the things he tinkered with back then are still stored away in his warehouse in Adlershof.
On the same house’s top floors, the company used to build props for the next-door studios or design gigantic billboards for cinemas to advertise new films on the façade. Mann’s warehouse is right underneath of the old painting room, which is filled to the brim: “It’s a high-value collection,” he says in pure Berlin dialect. Red for sound, blue for video: trolleys, canvas fabric, screens and projectors. The cupboards in between are full of microphone equipment, “bass amps that can cause gastric discomfort”, miles and miles of cables and bits and pieces - “other really important stuff”, as he says.
When Berlin celebrated its 750-year-anniversary in 1987, East Berlin legalised a number of self-employed event technicians to create the capacities such a big event required. Back then, Mann focused on events of the youth organisations, the trade unions, youth clubs, private parties as well as musicians and small shows.
What was his biggest problem after the wall came down? “Oh my god, what is a limited liability company?” Or the question: “How do I start a company in the first place?” “Technically,” says Mann, “it really wasn’t that big a deal.” GDR television, which was produced in the studios in Adlershof, provided him with many jobs that put him in charge of a few programmes. He remembers there were a lot of political talk shows and entertainment. They were often live. “Sound is important for live broadcasting, which is where we came into play.”
Those were good times that Mann likes to think back to. He staged a huge multimedia show for the 1,200-year anniversary of the city of Erfurt and he was the narrator of the 1,000-year anniversary of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where he used large-screen projections on historical facades to tell a story. At the commemoration event of the “50th anniversary of the liberation of Brandenburg’s concentration camps, we weren’t limited to sound. We did everything from artist liaison and kosher food to the medical support for the ancient survivors, who travelled long distances to attend the events in Ravensbrück or Sachsenhausen.”
For a long time, the company focused on such large-scale events and the event technology side was just one of the departments. Many large-scale events were established at that time, including the Botanical Night in Berlin or the Night of Castles in Potsdam. Since 2014, auvisign has been focusing on providing the technical equipment for a wider range of events. “Back to the roots,” says Mann.
“We had our share of large events, but equipping small events like seminars, conferences and the like, their diversity makes our work fun.”
At 66, he has already reached retirement age, but he “has to go on working.” Retired life and sitting in the garden is something Mann can’t imagine doing. “In my company, I am surrounded by young people,” he says. This includes his own son, who was an apprentice at the company and is now co-managing director.
By Rico Bigelmann for Adlershof Journal