Author Topic: SM Software  (Read 20463 times)

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D

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SM Software
« on: Jul 31, 2007, 02:01 am »
I am searching for the ultimate SM Software...  After doing a hundred or so internet searches I have realized there is no such thing.  However, I have found a few programs that may be worth a shot and the price.  For years I have used Excel to create and organize paperwork along side a handful of other programs to keep a show efficient.  Like many of you I am very meticulous and outright anal when it comes to my prompt book and show postings.  The slightest thing such as color scheme or format can turn me off, which is partly steering my critique of the software available.  On the other side, the lack of certain forms, functions, and so forth leave me disappointed in the developer's efforts.  So, the question is what programs, specifically written for stage/production managers, are some of you using?  Furthermore, has/does anyone use the GOFER Electronic Stage Manager software?   

Mac Calder

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Re: SM Software
« Reply #1 on: Jul 31, 2007, 09:25 am »
I have beta tested a number of SM and PM toolkits/applications and have never been impressed by one of them. I even tried my hand at writing a stage management application - but after a while, I lost interest in the idea (partly due to the fact that I could not define exactly what the application should do).

Almost any programmer will tell you that the core of good software design is the knowledge of what the software will do. Now - define what goes in a prompt book. It is entirely subjective and is defined differently by each stage manager, and changes based on a number of factors - including but not limited to the show, the director, the crewing situation, the venue and the mood of the SM at the time.

So to make a great stage management appliaction, it needs to be extreamly configurable. But if you make it extreamly configurable, then usability (generally) decreases, and the setup will be more involved - especially when you take into account that it will most likely need to be customised on a show by show basis.

So to approach from the other angle - design a tool that does 'generic' SM stuff. It may work great for one SM on one particular show, but the second the SM wants to do something outside of the box, things start to fragment and data loss becomes a major problem, and in the end you would be better off reverting to the old fashioned way.

The final angle I can see is to create applications that fill a niche in the SM world - however those applications often already exist to fill rather generic needs - timers, calendars, attendance software, report writing tools.

There is also another driving factor. Profitability. You will never make your fortune off of Stage Management software. The market isn't really there, neither stage managers nor theatres have the money to blow on the software either. So there is no incentive to develop commercially.

Most theatres I know manage their inventory in excel, they do their accounting through an off the shelf accounting package (or excel) etc.

 

KMC

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Re: SM Software
« Reply #2 on: Jul 31, 2007, 06:47 pm »
I don't know that we'll ever see a good SM Software Package on the market.  I've beta tested one that was for sale at USITT, it was an absolute joke.  We're all too picky to ever be satisfied by a software package.
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

Loftyguy

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Re: SM Software
« Reply #3 on: Aug 06, 2007, 03:37 pm »
Is there any software that will work on a mac? I have been thinking of  creating a file maker DB, but why reinvent the wheel.... ;D

sourc3

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Re: SM Software
« Reply #4 on: Aug 06, 2007, 07:09 pm »
I suppose it could be done with an Excel spreadsheet, but I would love a piece of software that allows me to have a list of props pieces, then pull them up from a database into which scene changes they're moved in and where they're put, and if the situations warrants it, by whom. Anyone know of anything like that out there? Must work on a Mac though btw, though I'm guessing/hoping anyone who seriously uses a computer for SM work is already on a Mac anyways? :-P
-David

KMC

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Re: SM Software
« Reply #5 on: Aug 06, 2007, 07:45 pm »
I suppose it could be done with an Excel spreadsheet, but I would love a piece of software that allows me to have a list of props pieces, then pull them up from a database into which scene changes they're moved in and where they're put, and if the situations warrants it, by whom. Anyone know of anything like that out there? Must work on a Mac though btw,

I haven't heard of anything like this out there.  Seems like it'd have to be a very  powerful piece of software for an incredibly small market of people.  Not even worth developing in my opinion.


Quote
though I'm guessing/hoping anyone who seriously uses a computer for SM work is already on a Mac anyways? :-P

Kind of hope you're kidding here...  I know there are a good number who do prefer Mac, but I think you'll find the overwhelming majority are still on PC and will be for the foreseeable future, but let's not open this can of worms again.
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

sourc3

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Re: SM Software
« Reply #6 on: Aug 06, 2007, 09:11 pm »
I haven't heard of anything like this out there.  Seems like it'd have to be a very  powerful piece of software for an incredibly small market of people.  Not even worth developing in my opinion.

I don't think it would have to be that powerful or even difficult to develop. It could even be done as a pre-built Excel macro. That would make it easily user-customizable as well. Just a matter of pulling variables from a database and linking them to other variables in a database on a regular and easily manageable basis.

Kind of hope you're kidding here...  I know there are a good number who do prefer Mac, but I think you'll find the overwhelming majority are still on PC and will be for the foreseeable future, but let's not open this can of worms again.

I'm only partially kidding. I've just used both PCs and Macs over the years, and grew up entirely on Windows (dad is a database developer for windows clients.) There are just certain functions on the Mac that I would have an extremely hard time going without on a windows machine for doing anything of the SMing variety. And other things that are coming out in Leopard that I'll be utilizing even more and will definitely help with organization and workflow. (i.e. stacks and spaces)

Yes, the overwhelming majority of 25yr old+ SMs are on Macs. But more and more colleges (in my area and experience) are switching over to Macs, so the 'next generation' so to speak I think will be much more Mac-heavy. I have a lot of respect for windows, and as long as you're not using Vista, can see it being perfectly usable and even beneficial in some respects. Windows Vista is just a joke, and is more what I was aiming my chiding of Windows towards.

*closes the can*
-David

dramabrit58

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Re: SM Software
« Reply #7 on: Aug 07, 2007, 09:59 pm »
Has anybody tried using Access?  That is a relationship data base and might work for some people.  It is also compatible with Excel and Word due to the fact that it is Microsoft. You can also create forms and such with Access.  I know enough about Access to be dangerous but probably not enough to be useful, at least at this point.
:)

KMC

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Re: SM Software
« Reply #8 on: Aug 07, 2007, 10:34 pm »
Has anybody tried using Access?  That is a relationship data base and might work for some people.  It is also compatible with Excel and Word due to the fact that it is Microsoft. You can also create forms and such with Access.  I know enough about Access to be dangerous but probably not enough to be useful, at least at this point.

This is actually one of the SM "Software Packages" I've seen.  It was basically someone selling a template for Microsoft access.  I had the chance to play with it a bit at USITT, but when I asked him if he was sending out any beta test copies at all he said no; presumably because he didn't want people to realize it was nothing more than a template in Microsoft Access. 

The were two major downfalls I noticed in my short time using it.  One, it wasn't able to be customized.  Basically, if you didn't like the way his paperwork was formatted, you were out of luck.  Also it was not a standalone software package, meaning you had to have Microsoft Access to use it. 

My conclusion is basically that with access (at least from the "software package" I saw), you'd basically be paying for someone else's paperwork format.  I'm not discounting access as a powerful tool, and I think potentially it could be great if you're doing something just for you; but knowing how picky we all are in our own little ways, especially with paperwork, I think we'll all agree that one standard form isn't going to cut it!  :)
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

DiabolicalSquirrels

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Re: SM Software
« Reply #9 on: Sep 26, 2007, 02:57 pm »
I am trying out Celtx as an "organizer" for production notes, calendar, schedules, props, lights, actor, set, etc notes. Its not what I would use as the 'bible' of my notes but its still very helpful and clear. Celtx is actually a free screenwriting/playwriting program you can download. ;)

Sarah

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Re: SM Software
« Reply #10 on: Sep 27, 2007, 12:19 am »
While I wholeheartedly embrace the information age and technical revolution, I still feel that no SM software will ever compare to a #2 and a good Pink Pearl.

KMC

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Re: SM Software
« Reply #11 on: Sep 27, 2007, 11:18 am »
Sarah not sure I agree with you here!  :P

10 years ago cell phones would never replace land lines and email would never replace snail mail.  Both are well on their way!  It's only a matter of time before someone is able to create an effective SM package.
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

Scott

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Re: SM Software
« Reply #12 on: Sep 27, 2007, 11:37 am »
Sarah not sure I agree with you here!  :P

10 years ago cell phones would never replace land lines and email would never replace snail mail.  Both are well on their way!  It's only a matter of time before someone is able to create an effective SM package.

Cell phones were useless during 9/11 -- only landlines were working.  Just saying...

KMC

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Re: SM Software
« Reply #13 on: Sep 27, 2007, 12:44 pm »
Sarah not sure I agree with you here!  :P

10 years ago cell phones would never replace land lines and email would never replace snail mail.  Both are well on their way!  It's only a matter of time before someone is able to create an effective SM package.

Cell phones were useless during 9/11 -- only landlines were working.  Just saying...

And landlines are useless during a hurricane -- only cell phones work when phone lines go down.  Just saying...

There is a give and take with any technology.
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

avkid

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Re: SM Software
« Reply #14 on: Sep 27, 2007, 04:55 pm »
Sarah not sure I agree with you here!  :P

10 years ago cell phones would never replace land lines and email would never replace snail mail.  Both are well on their way!  It's only a matter of time before someone is able to create an effective SM package.

Cell phones were useless during 9/11 -- only landlines were working.  Just saying...

And landlines are useless during a hurricane -- only cell phones work when phone lines go down.  Just saying...

There is a give and take with any technology.
Until a natural gas line ruptures and the gennys die that is.
Philip LaDue
Shore Production Group LLC
IATSE Local #21 Newark, NJ

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