Author Topic: Calling shows: Calling a HUGE Show... HELP!!!!!  (Read 11268 times)

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KC_SM_0807

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Calling shows: Calling a HUGE Show... HELP!!!!!
« on: Apr 07, 2006, 09:24 pm »
I'm really lucky because I'm pretty much the only SM at my University, so I really get the experience on a variety of shows.  I just took on Footloose for a  huge theatre company here in town (where the house the touring Broadway shows, etc.), and this is the first shows that I have actually been scared to call.  We are working a fly system where there will be 1-2 drops flown in during each scene, and the director is looking for about 500+ lighting cues, a lot of them overlapping/right behind each other.   I work the Warning, Stand By, Go procedure for cues, and also use different color glow dots to represent each cue and each area (lights, sound, backdrops).  I was just wondering if anyone has any suggestions about calling all of these cues right behind the next, and what works well for everyone else?  This is a show that could make me or a break me for this company, and I really don't want to screw anything up, so any advice would be great!  Thanks =)
« Last Edit: Feb 11, 2008, 12:35 pm by PSMKay »
"Perhaps, therefore, Stage Managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds."

SingingPixie

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« Reply #1 on: Apr 07, 2006, 10:09 pm »
if you're comfortable, it might help cut the verbage if you don't warn every cue- for example, your light op might not need one if he's hitting the button every 2 secs and it's only a "go" button. If necessary, standby groups of cues (ie LXQs 3-7). I find it helps keep my mind clear if I can streamline what's coming out of my mouth. Also, "call" the show as often as you can by yourself, visualizing everything as it happens so you can get into a rhythm. It helps if you're very specific about where everything happens so you don't have to guess in the moment. just make sure everything you write makes sense to you and then practice- it'll become natural. Also, until you're comfortable keep all the other headset dialogue to a minimum- anything that helps you focus. Once you get into a rhythm it'll be as easy to call as other shows you have. And maybe you'll stay awake all the way through the run without struggling!

Mac Calder

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Calling a HUGE Show... HELP!!!!!
« Reply #2 on: Apr 07, 2006, 10:31 pm »
Here is "MC's 10 simple steps to streamlined calling"

1) Drop the warning. It is unnecessary. Most ops hardly need the Standby, a warning just gets ignored.

2) Create groups. ie "Standby LX 1-5, Sound 3-5" It makes things a lot faster.

3) Create sequences. ie "Standby LX, Sound, flys, Sequence 1." "Sequence one, count 10, go...1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10" The way these work takes a bit of planning. Say you have a part that over 20 seconds has many different cues for lighting, flys and sound. Before the show, you hand out a sequence sheet, and under sequence 1, there may be something like this:

Code: [Select]
Sequence 1:
01: LX13
      SD8
      FY10
02: LX14
03: LX15
04: SD9
05: FY11
06: LX16
07: SD10
08: LX17
09: LX18
10: SD11
      FY12


I use them with complex sections, and they work.

4) Ensure that there is NO CANS CHATTER.

5) Don't leave long pauses. 2 seconds between the end of LX 15 and Go when you are going a cue is about the max.

6) Never false call (ie "LX 15.. G.... LX 15... Go!") Ops will anticipate the go. If you false call, you will have screw ups

7) Never stand by a cue more than 30 seconds in advance if you can avoid it. If you are going into a long sequence, say 2 minutes with no room to standby (for example) a fly cue, THEN you "Warn Flys 15"

8) Make sure your ops know your calling syntax. Things like the warning above, let them know that that means it is coming up but you wont have time to stand then by.

9) Practice.

10) Practice More!  The cues NEED to roll off your tongue. Spluttering can throw off a sequence and can lead to major stuffups.

Some other things you may want to consider. Softdrinks and juices can play havolk with your vocal chords - avoid them pre show, only drink water.

Gargling salt water is also meant to be good for your throat.

Ensure you have decent light.

I don't like dots - in fact I HATE dots, I think they make life harder. Especially if you dont write department prefixes on them (which a lot  of people don't). The setup of your book really does impact on how you call. The format I have found works best is this:


But as I said above, practice!

ReyYaySM

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« Reply #3 on: Apr 08, 2006, 01:10 am »
I have to agree with the above, but the one thing not yet mentioned is cue lights.  Will you be calling the entire show over headset, or will you have cue lights at your disposal?  This can help simplify complicated cueing sequences and take fly and deck moves out of the equation so that you are only calling lights and sound over the headset.  It also keeps your rail ops hands on the ropes and not fiddling with a headset.  Depending on the cue light system, it could be a flick of a switch, hitting a button, or sliding down a fader.  So as long as you can talk and hit a button at the same time, you're all set!

On my current show, I'm only calling warnings for the transitions, which are fairly complex.  I then call the entire transition as "Transition GO" because I don't have enough time to call each part of the shift.  And during the big musical numbers, I stand lights by for the entire number because I can't talk fast enough (and would lose my place in the music during the dance breaks) if I tried standing lights by every few cues.  

When I've got tons of cues back to back, I say "Lights GO" or "Sound GO" without the numbers because one syllable is faster than two or three (especially when you get up into the three digit cues).  Just make sure your ops are on board with your calling style.

I also make my crew ask for a clear to speak and control the talking over headset.  

Hope your show goes well!

nmno

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Calling a HUGE Show... HELP!!!!!
« Reply #4 on: Apr 08, 2006, 04:50 am »
Just because there are 500 LQs doesn't mean you have to CALL 500 cues.  LQ's that reliably occur right after another can be linked.  If you have a SQ and then have a LQ that would need to be called right after a wait can be built in so you can call the LQ & SQ together.

I also drop the number as necessary. (Just make sure they're in there along the way so the ops know they are still with you.)

I've used dots as reinforcement.  I had a quick series of cues  that were all lights and sound together, except for the 5th cue, which was just sound...  and I often found myself starting to say "lights..." out of habit. So I added a blue dot (which in my system means sound) so I didn't have to think about it as much.

Arrows draw my eye down to the next cue; I write FAST or LOOK or draw a TV to tell me to look at the monitor.  I'll space the way I write the cues to visually represent how close they are to each other...  (If I have 3 cues right in a row, then a few beats and then a cue, I'll leave a little extra space between q's 3 & 4 so I don't start saying q 4 and leave a big gap before the go.)

Yes to cue lights; perhaps different colors...  Unfortunately I'm doing a show right now where I've got a lot of "X on the 2nd cue light" I wish I could do "W on the red, X on the blue."

And yes to practice, practice, practice.  If you can get a recording, that can be extremely helpful.  Of course, if it is an equity show you have recording rules to deal with...

KC_SM_0807

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« Reply #5 on: Apr 08, 2006, 11:17 am »
Awesome, thank all of you sooo much.  In response to your questions, one of my flymen is also the scene designer and a great friend, so he is going to try get cue lights because he does not want to be tied down by a headset.   Also, I have a great lighting designer that I have worked with before, and she usually does all odd LXQ's for the ones you have to call, then records even follow cues that aren't called.  Hopefully she will do that and make it easier.  I've just never called a show of this caliber before and am a little nervous about it, so thanks so much for all of the imput, I appreciate it!   :D
"Perhaps, therefore, Stage Managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds."

Mac Calder

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Calling a HUGE Show... HELP!!!!!
« Reply #6 on: Apr 08, 2006, 11:37 am »
Q-lights are not a complete replacement for cans. In the fly galley, you REALLY need someone on cans. BIG time! If something happens, you need instant contact, or if that fails, you need a number of big red lights with a big red button with STOP written on it at your desk. Because flys are damn dangerous.
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centaura

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« Reply #7 on: Apr 10, 2006, 04:26 pm »
I agree with the suggestions posted here, and will only add a 'make sure your book is clean'.  Right before tech I will always go through my book and erase any extra verbage, anything that is maybe too small or unclear, or anything that was quickly crossed out.  So that my cues read in a clean column just as I'll call them.  Also adding a few quick notes to yourself, like some cue for yourself that there are cues immediately at the top of the next page.  Or if there is a gap on a page between where you have cues written, but the actual time between the cue sequences is fast, I will write *quick* for myself, to remember that there isn't a significant gap.  I also agree with dropping the warning.  If its that active a show, you shouldn't have to worry about your board ops attentions' wandering.

The other thing that I'll do, in combination with the 'keep quiet on headset' is I will tell folks of breaks in cueing.  Just a simple "Okay folks, we have two pages free here".  I've trained folks that, for me, that's the time to ask me questions or bring up issues.  Unless the sets on fire, things can usually wait until I have a break to listen to it.  And, once the show is up, having a moment when you can be free to tell an odd joke over headset does relieve tension, as long as they respect the " Okay, the break's over".  My crew really appreciated it the one show I did were there were 5 total pages in the script that were without cues.  They would only be minute or so long breaks - but you could get a deep breath, a swallow of water, maybe a short chuckle.  They always respected the 'breaks over' and were ready for the next sequences, so we kept it going the whole run.  It just made things feel more relaxed, even though in reality we were frantically busy.

-Centaura

KC_SM_0807

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« Reply #8 on: Apr 10, 2006, 05:37 pm »
Thanks for all the feedback! I definitely agree with the clean script thing.  I'm one to keep two scripts, a blocking script and then a call script, so that I have no additional notes to distract me.  Thanks to all for the advice, I'll let you all know how it goes when we open. =)
"Perhaps, therefore, Stage Managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds."

amylee

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« Reply #9 on: Apr 11, 2006, 04:27 pm »
i'll second the recommendation to call "breaks"

especially when a show has long stretches with no cues, i keep a running "pages to go" count in my call script and usually call the count down. it's just enough to keep everyone's head in the game, as it were, while still allowing them to not be on "full alert" when it's not necessary.
amy lee
:)  :(

isha

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« Reply #10 on: Apr 15, 2006, 06:49 pm »
somes shows won't have any breaks.....
my last show had 1, 3 page break, everything else there was only about 2 or 3 lines between cues ..... I went crazy...
-isha
~isha

hbelden

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« Reply #11 on: Apr 15, 2006, 08:10 pm »
One calling tip I learned from my friend Monica is to sketch in a carat on the word in the script that you start talking.  That is, once the cast has settled into a standard rhythm, you mark the word on which you start saying "LX 12, Sound 3...Go" so that you control the pace at which you call the cues.  After a couple of times through the script, your calls are very standardized and easy to listen to.  The "..." becomes a standard amount of time - an inhale - that helps a crew anticipate the "Go" better.

Before I learned this, there were times when I would wait too long to start talking and I'd rush the "elextwelvesoundGO"; or I'd stretch things out - "Elex ... tweeelve... Sound .. three .... .... .... Go" and I felt bad when the crew messed up because of my calling.
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sm88

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« Reply #12 on: Apr 22, 2006, 07:43 pm »
One thing that I've gotten used to, as I'm also a musician and studying conducting, is to give gestures with my hands as well as the verbal cues, just as if I were giving cues to a music ensemble. The last show I did, which was a musical, worked out great since the conductor could see me (because of where the pit was facing and where it was located) and we'd watch eachother for cutting songs and cutting transition music, amounting for perfect light changes with the music. So, if possible, it may be helpful to get a video feed of the conductor.

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« Reply #13 on: Apr 23, 2006, 12:10 pm »
AMEN to that!
So much of a musical is cued with the Maestro that a conductor monitor (if he/she is not visible) is a must in my book.
Ordo ab chao

KC_SM_0807

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« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2006, 12:01 am »
So... the show that I posted this about opens tomorrow night.  I just made it home from final dress, and I have to say THANK YOU to all of you who wrote comments.  I called every single rail, light, and sound cue almost perfectly tonight with only a few miniscule problems...which is good considering that most of the time if you have a fabulous dress then there are problems on opening night!  It wouldn't have been possible without the help and guidance I've received from here.  So thanks so much everyone, I feel so amazingly calm and confident with calling this show now and I can't wait to open tomorrow night.
"Perhaps, therefore, Stage Managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds."

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