Author Topic: Hello from Northern Virginia  (Read 1310 times)

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stevensrmiller

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Hello from Northern Virginia
« on: Apr 11, 2016, 11:39 am »
Hi all! I'm working on a middle-school (grades 6-8) production of "Aladdin Jr." My son is playing "Iago," the parrot. I'm helping run the lights and sound, so I'm kind of filling the role of technical director. Going to meet the kids actually running the lighting desk and the mixer today.

I've got a load of questions, though I have already had some answered by looking over this site. The Forms section was quite helpful. A long time ago, I did some very simple sound work for my college theater, but that was in the days of reel-to-reel tape decks. Things are somewhat different now. On the general tech side, I'm pretty schooled up. I'm a computer programmer and a life-long electronics hobbiest (WA4LDA, first licensed in 1974). On the specifics of working in a theater, however, I'm learning as I go, and it's kind of like drinking from a fire hose.

We have a Soundcraft GB2 audio mixer, and a Leviton Innovator 24/48 lighting control console. We're also using about 15 Ars Technica wireless microphones. I've downloaded the manuals for all these things and have been studying them nightly. Next rehearsal is in about four hours, so I'm reading as fast as I can.

For sound cues, I've copies the musical numbers to my computer and am using VLCPortable to play them through a TDIBlox unbalanced-to-balanced impedance transformer. It mixes the stereo to mono, but at least I can bring it in on a channel on the GB2. VLCPortable can be set to play a track once and stop (without going to the next track in the playlist). I was never able to figure out a way to get Windows Media Player to do that. I have a Whirlwind PC/DI box on order, but it's lost somewhere in shipping. I ordered up four Hosa Technology gooseneck worklights so we can see the controls during blackouts (and have already sent two back for exchange, having learned from the GB2 of the existence of the XLR4 connector).

I'll be hoping for any advice anyone can give a noob.

First silly question, that came up at the last rehearsal: We have two fixed battens of lights, one over the stage, and one in the front of the house. I've read that the over-the-stage lights are sometimes called "the number one bar." What do you call the other one? (I Googled "number two bar," but all I came up with was list of self-deprecating bistros.)

Thanks, Stevens
« Last Edit: Apr 11, 2016, 12:39 pm by stevensrmiller »

LexieTaylor

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Re: Hello from Northern Virginia
« Reply #1 on: Apr 11, 2016, 01:13 pm »
Hi Steven!
Sounds like you are diving in head first, which can either be really overwhelming or a lot of fun! (maybe both.)

If your battens have lighting instruments on them, we call them "electrics." In your case, I would keep it simple and just call them "over-head electric" and "front of house electric." Normally, we number electrics working away from the proscenium. The downstage-most electric over the stage (closest to the proscenium) would called the "first electric" and then next one upstage from that would be "second electric" and so on.

Hope you enjoy the production!

leastlikely

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Re: Hello from Northern Virginia
« Reply #2 on: Apr 11, 2016, 01:16 pm »
Hello from a NoVA neighbor in Springfield!

This might not be practical for your needs, but you might want to look into show control software for your sound playback. Sounds like you use Windows? Some options to check out are Sound Cue System aka SCS (EDIT: Apparently they've changed the name to Show Cue System, my bad!), or Multiplay. Most theatrical sound these days uses QLab, which is a Mac-only show control software.

I've never heard "number one bar." I would call a lighting batten an electric. They're generally numbered starting from 1 closest to the proscenium. So if you only have one, it would be called the first electric. And then an electric over the audience is a front of house or FOH electric. Again, numbered from 1 closest to the proscenium.

While some of our members may have helpful info regarding lights and sound, our focus here is really stage management. You might have better luck checking out controlbooth.com, which has forums for all tech disciplines.
« Last Edit: Apr 11, 2016, 01:18 pm by leastlikely »

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stevensrmiller

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Re: Hello from Northern Virginia
« Reply #3 on: Apr 11, 2016, 02:04 pm »
Thanks for the helpful replies, both of you. I'll check out controlbooth.com, too.

Cheers!

KMC

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Re: Hello from Northern Virginia
« Reply #4 on: Apr 12, 2016, 02:58 am »
Welcome Steven!

I imagine your budget is small to non-existent - but two ideas that may make your life easier if you have any budget to spend:

1) Without looking at the impedance transformer you have, I am going to assume it is not actively summing the two stereo channels into a single mono channel.  Most DI boxes are intended to take an unbalanced mono signal (e.g. guitar) using a two conductor 1/4" TIP/SLEEVE connector (tip +, sleeve G) and convert it into a balanced mono signal using a either a three conductor TIP/RING/SLEEVE connector (tip +, ring -, sleeve G) or an XLR connector (pin 1 G, pin 2 +, pin 3 -).  A headphone connector uses a 1/8" three conductor TRS connector for unbalanced stereo (tip L, ring R, sleeve G).  Basically - my guess is the DI box is only lifting the TIP/SLEEVE off of your TIP/RING/SLEEVE connector.  If this is the case you might be missing the right channel of audio entirely. 

If your PCDI box doesn't arrive in time you could DIY with a few basic parts, a soldering iron, and a basic electrical schematic.

2) On the audio playback front - using something like VLC will certainly work, but the possibility of error is extremely high.  If you want to reduce that you could look into a show control software like QLAB by Figure 53.  You can rent a license for something like $3/day.  If you need it for a week it'll cost about $20 and is a commercial grade show control solution. 

If you have any other technical questions I'll be happy to help as my knowledge and time permit.  I lean heavily towards the technical side of entertainment and not as much on the creative.
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

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