Do you say anything?


We often attend events that have been lit by our acquaintances. But have you ever attended an event where you have gone “oh my god” but not in a good way. So do you mention your reaction. How do you react when they ask you for an opinion. This can certainly be difficult. Do you say “that was certain a new take on it” or do you try an avoid them for a while, cross to the other side of the street. Or are you the one that will tell that it was crap and maybe they need to find a job in audio. This can be a difficult position for us technicians. We don’t want to discourage people in the industry, but we also want a certain standard.

Now if the designer/tech is starting out, they be very open to criticism as long as it is not derogatory. We have a duty to encourage up and coming technicians, designers etc in this industry. But there are some who are in for the “prestige” and think lighting design is just some cool programming on a console. They don’t understand the basic function of lights, the art of focusing and the use of colour. Often they are more interested in the technology not the creative use of the technology. They could be great system techs but not good designers.

So the next time you see a colleagues lighting and you don’t like -think before you say anything. Design might not be their forte but they might be a great programmer.

What are your thoughts?

Advertisements

CSC – Show control software -a Review


Sample software set up

Sample software set up

This software has been around for a while, so I decided to give it ago. I was looking around at software for Windows that worked in a similar way to Figure 53’s QLab. I stumble across this offering, and since they had a free version I thought I would try it out on a small production I was doing. Well I have been putting it through its paces.Now have used for two productions and it works well. The free version is not really limited and you can actual achieve a very sophisticated show using this version. Obviously if you pay money you then unlock a whole raft of extra features. You do need to read through the instructions in the first instance as you put together your first show. But it does not take long before you have a decent soundtrack for your show up and running. It has a good number of features available. Such as:

Easy to use and read cue-list system
Insert and delete cues at any point in cuelist, at any time
Send cues in order, standby, jump cues or recover any position, any time
Intuitive, modular based workspace

Building a show can start with simply building your cue list and as you obtain the sounds you need you just add them to the cue you need. In the free version you can have up to 8 sound playing in each cue, you can position them where you like, with fades etc. You also have the ability to loop effects and define the in and out positions of the loops.

 

Once you have built your soundtrack you can then nuance each effect, with start and end points, loops level changes. If it is a multi- sound cue you can move each of the tracks start positions and levels, and pan to create a cue that works. This can be changed at any time. There is a wave viewer that allows you to set these loops and start and finish points.

If you need to rearrange your cues that is pretty easy. As with most software packages the more you use it you more you you find out how versatile it is. It does not take long to build complex soundtracks that complement your production. You can also vary levels of the sounds within a cue while operating the show. This is great feature especially if some other element in your show has changed.

If you upgrade by purchasing the various licenses you find you can even control digital mixing consoles etc. The implementation of the midi part is available with purchase of the full package. I was not able to test this, but on reading the instructions it seems that this is a worthwhile addition to the software. According to the website

MIDI control is supported in the form of standard MIDI messages, MIDI Show Control, MIDI Machine Control and customizable strings of System Exclusive commands. MIDI Sequences can be recorded to enable capture of modern digital mixing desk’s fader movements, or for live recording of sound effects sequences using samplers and keyboards.

Also from their website it mentions all the ways events can be triggered.

Events can be triggered by remote control button boxes, MIDI commands, TCP/IP network messages, and triggers can even be based on the system time clock. Multiple computers can be networked together to track a master and send network chat messages to each other.

The External trigger list allows 4 additional cuelists to be constructed allowing event triggers such as switches in props or MD click track start buttons to be integrated into the system with ease. All events are safeguarded to occur at the correct time only through the use of cue regions.

So my thoughts on this software? Well it is a great package to use. It works exceptionally well. I have had two other technicians operate it and they also very impressed. It is easy to use and very easy to make quick changes to your show file on the fly. In fact I have a theatre interested in buying the software. It is certainly cheaper than buying a MAC to use QLAB. So leap over to the website and download a copy and see what you think, as you will be able to use the free version as long as you like. This gives you the opportunity to do a few shows and when you are read go ahead and buy a copy.

For more information and to download go to:

http://www.ctrelectronics.co.uk/csc-show-control.php

Lycian Followspots are back in Australia and New Zealand!


Lexair Entertainment is proud to have been appointed the exclusive Australian and New Zealand distributor for American followspot giant Lycian Stage Lighting.

Lycian followspots are found in venues and production rental houses the world over. As the industry leader with over 50 years’ experience in followspot design and manufacturing, Lycian have a well-earned a reputation for high quality, reliable and robust products. As North America’s largest followspot manufacturer, Lycian also boast the widest range of followspots to suit every venue from the largest stadium to the smallest school hall.

“Lycian is proud to announce it has established a relationship with Lexair Entertainment to distribute Lycian followspots in Australia and New Zealand” said Steve Lerman, director of sales for Lycian Stage Lighting. “We believe Lexair will aggressively market Lycian followspots and are happy to join their growing stable of entertainment products. I look forward to working with a company that is dedicated to customer service because that is our root belief.”

Lexair is extremely excited to introduce Lycian’s latest product range to the Australian market, and to support their strong base of existing Lycian owners and users in the region.

“Lycian are the most reputable followspot manufacturer in the world, and we’re very happy to be working with them”, stated Alex Mair, Managing Director of Lexair Entertainment. “Their product quality and excellent reputation directly aligns with our ethos of representing only the best brands into the Australian and New Zealand markets.”

For More information contact:

Lexair Entertainment

Tuckwell Place

Macquarie ParkNSW 2113

Australia

The importance of Emergency Procedures by Roderick van Gelder


Thanks to Roderick for allowing to repost his newletter from the Australian Entertainment Safety Resource Guide

One of the most interesting pictures from the Tomorrowland fire in Spain was the one below, it shows the evacuation plan on the huge video screens on stage.
This is a concept I have been promoting for a long time and it is good to see it in use and working well.  All reports show that 22,000 people were evacuated from the site without injuries.  Whilst the cause of the fire may be a much longer investigation, this incident again shows the importance of having solid emergency plans in place for ALL events and productions.For an Emergency Plan to be effective, there are three stages:
1 – Prepare the plan.  This should involve as many stakeholders as possible to make sure that all instructions are practical, realistic and understood.  For larger events it may be advisable to include the Emergency Response Services.  And obviously if the venue has an implemented emergency plan then that will be the template for the event plan.  Clause 43 in the WHS Regulation outlines the details you need to address.
2 – Explain the plan to all staff and contractors to make sure that everyone on site is aware of their responsibilities within their work area.
Make sure everyone understands the Emergency Colour Codes as defined in Australian Standard 3745. Don’t be tempted to make up your own set of unique codes.  These colour codes are also used by the Emergency Response Services and using different codes could lead to confusion.
3 – Make sure you can show the Emergency Procedures to your audience if needed.
This is where the huge video screens can be of great help.  Whether permanently installed in large stadia, as part of the stage design for concerts or even the screen for your PowerPoint presentation, all can be used for getting the Emergency message across.But always make sure you have an Emergency Plan for your event.  Often that can be the venue plan, you still have to make sure all your staff and contractors understand it and know what to do.  It saves lives, it is worth looking into.Further reading: http://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/health-and-safety/manage-workplace-safety/emergency-plans
Reference: AS3745-2010 https://infostore.saiglobal.com/preview/as/as3000/3700/3745-2010(%2ba1).pdf?sku=1439257
Note that this is a preview only, unfortunately you have to purchase the Australian Standard to meet your legal obligations under the WHS legislation.

On the subject of emergencies, I recently came across this article by Steve Adelman.  Just posting the link here as ‘food for thought’.  I have just received the book and will comment further in a future newsletter.
http://www.adelmanlawgroup.com/2017/07/12/event-security-black-swans/

Other emergencies

Often people think that emergencies evacuations are the only thing to worry about but there are many other situations which are classified as emergencies that need planning and a thought out response.
Here are just a few pointers of things to look at.
A – Medical Emergencies.
When you have large crowds of people in your workplace it is only a matter of time that someone needs medical attention.
Clause 42 requires you to provide First Aid for your workplace and that can include calling an ambulance.
Do you and your staff have all the required information handy when you call ‘000’?
Information such as the full address INCLUDING the nearest cross street?
If in a large complex or a temporary site, do you have someone who will meet the Emergency Responders at the entrance to take them to where help is needed?  For you ‘Blue Stage’ may be very clear, for an Emergency Response Team not so much.  In an emergency every second counts so it is important to make sure they can find you.  For more remote locations, have map references or GPS coordinates ready.
B – Weather
When running outdoor events weather becomes a very important part of your emergency planning.  Not just wind gusts that can play havoc with your structures on site, rain, hail and thunderstorms will require well planned responses.  And again, communication is important to avoid panic and take people to safety in an orderly manner.  Use the video screens to post warnings whilst the music is still playing.  Make sure someone is in contact with the Bureau of Meteorology or a specialist weather service for updates on forecasts.  Again, time is the difference between success and failure.
C – Bomb threats
Maybe unlikely but you still have a duty to consider the response to a bomb threat at a mass gathering.
Do your research, make sure all listed contact phone number holders have received instructions on what to do if they receive a bomb threat phonecall.  Have clear systems in place to determine who responds to the threat, who takes command and decides what actions to take.

These are just some of the things we need to think about and plan for.  Talk to your team, discuss what is covered and what isn’t.  Check who knows the plans and actions and who may need a refresher.  Put is on the next meeting agenda and discuss.

Suggestions?

Any suggestions for topics in future newsletters or comments about this one will be much appreciated.
Please send me an email here: AESRG@stagessafety.com

 Copyright © 2017 Australian Entertainment Safety Resource Guide, All rights reserved.
At some point in time you expressed an interest in the Australian Entertainment Safety Resource Guide. This newsletter is to keep you up to date with development.

ARX’s new Network DI Dante Network audio interface: press release


The new Network DI from ARX is an analog breakout box using the popular Dante network protocol to extract audio from a network and convert it to Transformer isolated analog audio, suitable for connecting to mixing consoles and other devices requiring an analog source.

The new Network DI from ARX is an analog breakout box using the popular Dante network protocol to extract audio from a network and convert it to Transformer isolated analog audio, suitable for connecting to mixing consoles and other devices requiring an analog source

A Mono switch on the front panel provides Left and Right analog summation for applications requirig a mono signal

The Network DI is housed in a heavy duty all-steel chassis finished in attractive matt textured polyurethane, with hardwearing epoxy screen printing and slip resistant rubber base pad.

Security features include an optional bracket kit for under-table mounting.

Dante Overview: A look at how the Dante Network system and protocols are changing the world of Audio Networking is here

The Network DI is designed to receive audio channels from a Dante network and provide studio quality, low latency audio via balanced XLR output connectors to analog audio equipment.

Thus any audio available on the network can be converted to Analog and routed via the Network DI to, for example. an amplifier, or powered speaker(s), mixing console, digital signal processor and many other analog audio devices.

Dante Audio In

  • Input Connector 1 x RJ45 Ethernet
  • Sample Rate 44.1KHz, 48 KHz (default), 96KHz
  • Bit Depth 24 Bits
  • Network Speed 100 Mbps
  • Power Consumption 2 Watts max.
  • Power over Ethernet Class 1 802.3af POE PD compliant

Analog audio out

  • Output Connectors 2 x Male XLR connectors, Pin 1 Chassis ground, Pin 2+, Pin 3-
  • Output impedance 150 ohm balanced, 75 ohm unbalanced
  • Output Level +4dBu @ 0dBFS
  • Frequency Response 20Hz – 20 kHZ +- .5dB
  • Dynamic range < 100dB
  • Signal to noise < 100dB
  • THD <.01% at +4dBu
  • Features: Mono Switch L & R summation
  • Construction: All-steel chassis, fibreglass PCB, epoxy printing, slip-resistant rubber base pad
  • Precision engineered
    With a couple of exceptions, all products in the Audibox range share a common footprint and manufacturing platform. Offset lid screws enable close side-by-side mounting of multiple units.

Meanwhile, Back in the USA.

The Walt Disney Company recently took delivery of several ARX products including the BSX-16 Broadcast Splitter, Blue DI, USB-DI, USB-I/O and the USB-I/O VSR Direct Boxes.

ABC Television in New York just took delivery of ARX Iso Splitters to add to their production resources.

ARX products are distributed in Australia by:

The Resource Corporation P/L
www.trc.com.au
sales@trc.com.au
PH: 03 9874 5988

The Brolga Theatre goes multi-Platinum with Elation


The Brolga Theatre in Queensland’s Maryborough is a typical regional venue – its 900 seat proscenium arch theatre hosts an international ballet troupe one night, Jimmy Barnes the next, and a local dance school the day after. Though the venue is just 17 years old, changes in technology mean replacement lamps are no longer available for their wash lights, leading the staff to assess how to upgrade for the future. The future, as they see it, is Elation’s Platinum Seven RGBWAC-UV LED wash.

“We knew we have to move to LED and intelligent fixtures,” said Robert Haigh, Operations Technician at the Brolga. “We could afford to replace our wash, but not our profiles, so it was an easy decision to go to a moving fixture that could provide a wash, and in the case of Elation’s Platinum Seven, work as a profile in many senses.”

Twelve Elation Platinum Sevens have now replaced an amazing 48 fresnels in the Brolga’s rig, leading to big changes in the crew’s workflow. “Since we’ve installed the Platinum Sevens, we haven’t had to focus a profile,” reported Robert. “We can focus the Platinum Sevens down to an 800mm circle on the floor from our wash position, so we can quite happily use them as a drum or lead singer profile. For a rock band, for example, we get all of the benefits of movers from the bling point of view, but when we turn off the wash, we can refocus as a profile.”

The Elation Platinum Seven uses 19 25W LEDs in red, green, blue, white, amber, cyan, and UV to provide lighting techs with incredible flexibility. Its 5 to 50 degree zoom angle and ‘silent mode’ make it a workhorse built for theatres. “Having the amber LED is critical for a good white,” observed Robert. “The market talks about RGB or CYM, but the Platinum Seven is a mix of both; whichever you prefer, you’ve got. The UV is also one of the big selling points. We finally have a good UV wash on stage, and we’ve also been using it to make our colours ‘pop’ a bit more.”

Producing 38,500 Lux at one metre on five degrees minimum zoom, the Brolga’s Platinum Sevens have more than enough power to handle any production thrown at them. “They are, literally, brilliant,” commented Robert. “We now have more brightness on stage than we used to get from our 2K white wash, but we’re getting it across all colours. There’s good coverage with no holes as you walk across stage, and, while it’s not a shuttered fixture, there’s still no spill.”

The Brolga Theatre was introduced to the Elation Platinum Seven by Graeme Hicks of Entertainment Production Supplies, whose regular visits to The Brolga to demonstrate new equipment were often accompanied by staff from Australian Elation distributor Lexair. “Lexair and EPS have been great at keeping us up-to-date on what’s in the market” said Robert. “We have had great technical support from both of them, though we haven’t needed much because the products have been so intuitive and reliable.”

Lexair Entertainment Pty Ltd

ABN: 16 126 585 028

Phone: +61 418 691 509

I wonder about some


Facebook throws up some interesting feeds. The one I am following on a couple of techie pages is certain fun, but worrying. It is all about using microphone cable for DMX. A lot of people seem quite happy to use mic cable. They do not realise that if something goes wrong with the DMX system it is most likely that one audio or 2 audio cables. A lot of the admitted to using audio cables instead of DMX cable, and it giving problems until they switched out the cable. We are a professional industry, should we not act like it and use the correct tools to make sure that the event goes without a hitch and we are seemed to be professionals. It seems if they can get away with this cost cutting idea they will. I hope though if it fails they will man up to the error and at least compensate the client whose event they have stuffed up. I know I would not be happy as a client if something went wrong that the service provider had some control over, by using the correct materials.

These guys seem get the gigs constantly and they are bringing the industry down. So read some of the Facebook comments below and let me know what you do – I dare.

Below are the two questions asked on the two different Facebook pages, and some samples of the comments. Quite a lot were trying to do the right thing and adhere to the standard. Plenty were using mics cables and just getting away with it. You will also notice that some people referring to XLR as if that is a audio cable and not a connector.

Also there arose questions about terminating DMX, which also lead to a variety of unusual answers.

Below the quotes I have provided 2 links for those that want more info about DMX.

The First Question: 

Can someone help settle a debate… can you use sound XLR cables as DMX cables for your lighting in a theatre that has over 20 intelligent fixtures? Would anyone trust it?

The Second Question:

Ok guys. I’ve been told that XLR and DMX cables are interchangeable with zero negative results. I’ve read otherwise. I know for a fact they can be used interchangeably in a pinch. Thought it’s certainly not my choice to do so. Has anyone actually experienced a problem themselves by swapping them? Not looking for theory, but real world experience. (EDIT) I mistakenly used the terms XLR vs DMX referring to the cable itself when clearly XLR is a connector. The question is 3 wire mic cable vs 3 wire DMX cable.

 

Some of the comments:

  • Alot of entry level fixtures (fixtures at what I consider to be the community theater level) are getting better at including 5 pin ports. If you’re buying new cable: go for five pin. If you have existing, quality pro audio cable stockpiled use that.
  • The worst reason for doing something wrong is “we have always done it that way”.
  • Yess no problem if the are good quality…
  • I’ve done it for multiple tours in big theaters with no problem.
  • Can you? Yes. Should you? No.
  • in new zealand 3 pin xlr and dmx are the same
  • I patch DMX via my mic/tie lines in a 18K hockey arena all the time and never had an issue with runs upwards of 700+’.
    Can you have issues? Sure but in most situations, no. YMMV.
  • Ive been using mic cables for dmx a while now and hemave zero negatives
  • The fact that doing it wrong has not bit you in the ass yet does not make you correct.

Best Reply (Similar to my own) :

Way to many people using the “it’s never failed me yet so it must be correct”.

Even when corrected.

Weak argument and only serves your ego, rather than look at your practices and improve where lacking.

if I walk into your stage and see mic cable used as dmx, I WILL think less of you and the company you represent.

When I ask for proper cable, and am rebuffed with that weak sauce excuse, I will make a note to avoid you and your company.

It will also raise my awareness and I’m gonna start looking for other hack issues. I.E. removed ground pins on stingers, burnt gel, proper cross bracing on decks, correct gauge on cables for load and run.

Do it right.
Be a professional.
It’s not hard.

LINKS

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DMX512

The second link talks about RS – 485 which is what DMX is based on.

https://www.maximintegrated.com/en/app-notes/index.mvp/id/763

Termination or not. A diagram.