Author Topic: Minidisc Mania  (Read 3235 times)

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Minidisc Mania
« on: Sep 25, 2007, 08:59 am »

A new horror story for you guys from the show I closed on Sunday.  Moral: a quick phone call to your stage manager during the day could save you tons of hassle.

Through sheer chance of luck, I got to the theatre about half an hour before my 6:15pm call time for an 8pm curtain.  I walked into the office, and was greeted by my PM and the Associate Artistic Director sitting and chatting.  I overhear them saying something about "minidisc" and "Loan" as I walk in.

The PM turns to me, and says, "Oh, Kay!  You guys use only one minidisc player for the show, right?"

I say, "no, we use two."

Their faces fall.

"I thought you used a minidisc player and a CD player.  That's what we told the sound designer to use for media."

"Nope," I reply. "Nobody mentioned to me that we needed to use a CD, so we've got two minidisc players so that we can use the autopause function."

"Dammit!" says the AAD.  "I told Chris (the sound designer) to use only one minidisc!  I told him that the other player wasn't going to be available for the whole run."

At this point, I get a reeeeally bad feeling.  "Is it already gone?" I ask.

"Do you really need two minidisc players?" asks the PM.

"Yup.  We've got simultaneous cues from both sources through at least half of the show."

"Alex, start calling." says the PM.  The AAD goes into his office and starts calling around looking for a replacement minidisc player.

"It's gone, isn't it." I say.  "Did they think to leave the minidisc that was inside the player?"

The PM looks a little shaky.  "Don't you have a spare?"

"Um, no.  Chris didn't think to leave one for me."

"Well, you'd better go check and see if they left it."

I dash up two stories to the booth, and check on the minidisc.  It's sitting on top of the sound rack, happy as a clam, but the player is glaringly gone.  I wonder why I didn't hear from them about this earlier in the day when the owner of the machine came to take it back home.  I'm wondering why I didn't know that the player had to go back before the end of the run in the first place.  I'm wondering why the sound designer ignored the PM's request and had us running off of two minidiscs.  I'm wondering how I'm gonna cue the damned show tonight.

We finally scored a replacement player for the night, a portable running off of batteries.  Of course, all of our remaining AA batteries were going into the lavs that night, and so we didn't have a fresh backup, and had to run off of whatever juice was in the battery that came with the loaner player.  Tiny buttons, an unlit LCD screen, and no autopause function.  Nearly impossible to work with in the pitch dark booth.  The sound board op had no clue how long any of the tracks were, so he had to go through and write them all down preshow.  All levels had to be bumped up to adjust for lower output from the portable.  And for about the last half our, the board op had to be on deck for a massive shift, so I was running the thing for six cues while running light board and calling deck.  While praying that the battery wouldn't die on us in the middle of a cue, or start sounding a warning beep as the battery gave up its last gasp.  Actors were thrown, cues came in late due to the player taking longer to find tracks, and it was just a general anxiety disaster.

We got a loaner component the next day for the rest of the run that looked remarkably like our old one.  Things pretty much got back to normal.  Of course, I never got an apology from the staff or even an admission of error--they foisted most of that off onto the sound designer for ignoring their instructions.  However, a phone call at 10am on that day would have made it possible to completely avoid the entire four hour long mess.