Calling cues

Squeegee

Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2006
For the upcoming show (its tech week this week) the cues are really confusing.
As of now, after every scene there is a blackout and then the scene changes happen behind the main curtain and infront is a small little transition scene so there are stage lights and then there are lights backstage.

The cues are as follows (as I would call them)
Sound go
Lights go
Main go
Lights go
<transition scene>
sound out
lights go
main go
lights go

Are there any suggestions as to how to make this easier, or perhaps I'm doing it right?
How do you guys call cues? Am I just being stressed and paranoid? (this is my first time stage managing)
 

soundlight

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Oct 27, 2005
Location
NJ & NYC
My friend is in almost the same situation. It's her first time SM'ing to, and she's freaked out about it. I'd give "standby" cues as well, that's what we do. "lights x and x, sound x, mains x, standby." Where x is the proper cue number. Then, at the proper time, call it like you have it. Don't be too nervous.
 

Footer

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Senior Team
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Location
Saratoga Springs, NY
First, lay out a few words that make com a bit less chatery. Make all scene changes into a shift #. ie closing the main drape would be shift 14, the scene change would be shift 15, and opening the main again would be shift 16. That way the SM simply has to call the shift number, and not have to call all of the other junk. so the call would go like this.... I am making up cue number here...

Sound 5
LX 10
Shift 14
LX 11 (i would assume this is where you want your autofollow)
Shift 15
Sound 5 to fade
LX 12
Shift 16
LX 13
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2006
If you want sound, lighting, and curtian to all go at once, give them a warning (such as warning on light cue 5, sound cue 3, and main. Then when it's time to call the cue it's just light, sound and main, go.
If curtain is first, then lights and sound, the warning might be more like ( warning on main, warning on light cue 5 and sound cue 3, when it is time the cue would be, main go, light and sound, go)

It is all about communication and timing. Give warnings when you can and give some indication of what the warning is, but keep it as short and precise as possible.
 

cutlunch

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Jan 12, 2005
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
One question. Why are you calling sound cues? If it is for a sound effect that has to occur at precise time to syn with LX then ok. Why I say this is because to have a sound operator on can's means they can't hear the sound from the stage as well for mixing.

A lot of shows I am involved with the sound op looks after their own cues. They only go on cans just before the start and again after interval just to sync with the stage manager. If there is a sound problem the SM calls the LX who gets the sound back on cans. This is why actors also have to treat all wireless mikes they have when in the wings as live.

Also I would probably change calling mains to curtain if that is what actually mains is meant to controll the opening/closing of. It does not take much longer but it makes it clearer. This is also good if you land up having to replace the curtain opener partway through. This is just personal preference.
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2006
You are correct, why are we calling sound cues? With the exception of starting the show with music or a sound effect. I do want the stage manager to call sound cues for a dance recital, though. ( I need to know that the next group of dancers are set and in position before music starts).

I have heard standby, warning, cue alert. As long as everybody is on the same set of terms, I'm OK with what ever the stage manager is used to.

I use main as a specific cue as apposed to fly cue 1 or an unspecified curtain. after the main I usually call a specific line cue or fly cue. The more information you can get across without confusing anyone or without too much wasted chatter, the easier to follow. The longer the show runs, the less standby imformation you need to give.
 
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Van

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Portland, Or.
Okay, Another two cents worth. This subject was sort of dealt with in another thread. Inresponse to the last couple of posts, " Why are we calling sound cues ? " let me hazzard a guess. Because that is the S.M.s job, period. You can do your down mixing and live balancing all you want, if you're doing a concert. If however you are doing theatre, which, I assume, is what is being discussed here, your cues are preset. If you think you need to be listening live, so that you can re-mix a pre-recorded music cue that plays over a scene change, then you need to get out more. I agree with the format several of the ohers have laid out. I would like to point out that a "warning" and a "stand-by" are two seperate entities and should be dealt with as such. A "warning" is issued several pages in advance and usually under the circumstances squeegee is discussing. A "Standby" is issue right before a "go",within 10-15 seconds anyway. I would suggest the following:
2-3 minutes prior to scene change.
SM. " this is a warning for Sound cues 72 through 76, Light cues 301 - 310, Flies 11-12, and Shift 3"
< acknowledgements from all depts then return>
20 seconds prior to cue
SM. "Stand-by Sound 72, LX301 and flies 11"
< everyone says "standing-by>
SM " Lights, sound and flies, Go !"
SM. "Standby Shift 3"
<as soon as flies 3 curtain closing is complete>
SM "Shift 3 , Go!"
SM "Stand-by Sound 73, LX 302, and flies 12"
<floor manager reports scene shift complete>
SM "Sound,LX and Flies, Go"

All these sequences can be adjusted for different shows to accomodate for "Auto-follows", Visuals, Audios. etc. As per the other thread " called vs. uncalled shows", there is one person running the show. Board ops are on thier own recognizances ONLY when taking a visual or Auditory que. EVERYBODY Acknowledges "Warnings" & "Stand-bys", unless pre-determined that there is too much traffic on the comms during a given moment, if you don't then the SM has no way to know that you haven't nodded off cause you were up all night cramming for that Final in Basket weaving.

Break it down. Say as much as you need to and no more, Does this process sound too Anal Retentive for you ? Well all I can say is it has worked for me for years, My crews don't miss cues, My SM's feel in control. The audience enjoys the show
Have Fun.
 

propmonkey

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Jul 22, 2004
Location
Milwaukee, WI
numbers for light cues, letters for sound cues
 

Van

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Location
Portland, Or.
numbers for light cues, letters for sound cues
I think that's a fine idea, unless of course you have more that 28 sound cues. I prefer, low #'s for lights and High numbers for Sound. Usually starting the sound cues at 300 or 500.
 

Van

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I'm sorry did you say I was standing by for az or ac. If you separate your headset channels using the A/B/C channels select you will never have an issue with LX and sound thinking they are standing by for the wrong cue. In a properly configured headset system, Sound can hear SM, Lights can hear SM and Spots. Backstage can S.M. and the SM can hear everybody. That's why you call them God.
 

saxman0317

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Mar 30, 2006
Location
western NY
Ill talk from both angles here. Ive done S/M and my main thing is running audio, and i try to take cues to a minimum. I prefer having the S/M leave me to myself during a show and just tell me if theres any big changes that need to happen because of specific events that happend at that time (such as a mic change due to freak accedent or what ever), and as S/M, i repspected that for my crews and only did page numbers, and half page calls for referance points for the crew to keep track of where they were to run their own cues off of. Also keeps the intercoms clearer for some important emergancy that always seems to happen.
 

VeeDubTDI

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Nov 13, 2006
Location
Arlington, VA
I'm sorry did you say I was standing by for az or ac. If you separate your headset channels using the A/B/C channels select you will never have an issue with LX and sound thinking they are standing by for the wrong cue. In a properly configured headset system, Sound can hear SM, Lights can hear SM and Spots. Backstage can S.M. and the SM can hear everybody. That's why you call them God.
I usually use numbers for lights and sound, and have lights and sound on Channel A, and the deck on Channel B. Unfortunately most ClearCom systems are only 2 channel. However, our light designer usually skips numbers and makes most of the cues odd numbers, so you're calling high numbers before you even realize it and there is little confusion between LQs and SQs. I number my sound cue numbers according to the CD track numbers, with x.5 being the sound stop cue, and x.1 - x.4 being internal fades if the sound needs to fade up or down within the track.

The Kennedy Center guys seem to like this method of cue numbering, as they never get lost and they always know what is coming up without have to say AD or AB? Also note that they require that ALL cues be called. The sound guy won't run the show without being told what to do, same with the lights, flies, etc. Not sure how other union houses work.
 
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punktech

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Nov 12, 2006
Location
Near NYC
i's SM-ed before and i recently was in my dept's SM class and what i've been taught is lights=numbers sound=letters. the way we take care of the "az/ac" issues is thus: we go though the alphabet and then we do "a.1, b.1, c.1...: and so forth once that is finshed we do "a.2, b.3,..." and just keep going. if need be we also do "a.15" or "b.125" and so on (this is in case things get added, like fade-ups or downs, cut-outs, etc.)
 

herr_highbrau

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Mar 9, 2005
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Glasgow, Scotland
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SocksOnly

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EustaceM

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May 24, 2011
Location
Connecticut
As a Stage Manager who also worked on sound, I talk to my sound crew about the headset. I tell them to place the headset where they wont be bothered by lighting cue, scene shift cues and I would beep them when i need them. Place the headset where the can hear the call beep or the flashing beep light. That way they put more attention on the sound and mixing which they need to hear it. I go over sound cues with them during tech rehearsals and have them work mostly from their notes.
 

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