Communication with Sound 2 during live mix performances

techietim

Active Member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Location
England, UK
Hey all!

Slightly odd one here, we are trying to think up a way that we can have Sound 1 with a direct communication/signal link to Sound 2 on stage.

Annoyingly our theatre's comms are all on the same channel for crew, and for shows with larger crews trying to speak to Sound 2 directly through comms can be almost impossible.. (yes we probably should remind tech staff about comms etiquette!)
For obvious reasons stuff like radios are out of the window (noisy/headset obstructs) and we don't have any budget for this so can't even run in a temporary comms circuit for sound.

Previously the solution has been to flash the cue light a few times but this is a little risky and not really professional!

Even if there's a solution whereby Sound 2 (on stage) can signal Sound 1 (operator in auditorium) (and vice versa) to get them on the main comms circuit temporarily, that would do! The signal button on the main comms is forever being pressed though hence it's not a reliable way to communicate between sound ops.

Let me know if I have missed anything. I am reasonably happy with electronics so all suggestions welcomed. :)

Thanks in advance! Tim :)
 

jkowtko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2007
Location
Redwood City, CA
If they can't wear headsets, have open speakers nearby, or flash lights, what else can you do?

My suggestion if you need for the two sound people to be able to hear each other continuously, is to use one input channel and one aux on the board to run sound communications in both directions. Wear a small single ear headset on each side so you can whisper to each other while still listening to the performance.

If you don't want to have a headset on all the time, then the attention light sounds like the way to go.

Unless you want to do something ridiculous like running a string on pulleys to each other, and you can yank the string in either direction.

I still don't understand the restrictions about headset and light.

Thanks. John
 

techietim

Active Member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Location
England, UK
If they can't wear headsets, have open speakers nearby, or flash lights, what else can you do?

My suggestion if you need for the two sound people to be able to hear each other continuously, is to use one input channel and one aux on the board to run sound communications in both directions. Wear a small single ear headset on each side so you can whisper to each other while still listening to the performance.

If you don't want to have a headset on all the time, then the attention light sounds like the way to go.

Unless you want to do something ridiculous like running a string on pulleys to each other, and you can yank the string in either direction.

I still don't understand the restrictions about headset and light.

Thanks. John
Hi John,

Sorry I was unclear, lights are fine I just don't like the DSM/ASM flashing the "standby" light on our cue light as supposed to be for cues only!

Headsets are inconvient when mixing, for me anyway!

Thanks :)
 

jkowtko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2007
Location
Redwood City, CA
Here's a modern idea then ... how about texting each other? Who knows, there may even be a simple to operate notification app like "Yo" that you can use.
 

techietim

Active Member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Location
England, UK
Here's a modern idea then ... how about texting each other? Who knows, there may even be a simple to operate notification app like "Yo" that you can use.
'Yo' is an interesting suggestion...I'll have to try it out! Not a bad suggestion..
 

jkowtko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2007
Location
Redwood City, CA
Quick look around -- couldn't find much other than walkie-talkie apps ... try to find one that has a notification light on it and allows you to turn off the sound.

Even better, find an app that will work on an iWatch ... keep both hands free :)

If there isn't an app specifically for theater production use like this, it may not be too hard to build. Hmmm ...
 

techietim

Active Member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Location
England, UK
Quick look around -- couldn't find much other than walkie-talkie apps ... try to find one that has a notification light on it and allows you to turn off the sound.

Even better, find an app that will work on an iWatch ... keep both hands free :)

If there isn't an app specifically for theater production use like this, it may not be too hard to build. Hmmm ...
iWatch!? I can't afford that! ;)
Be my guest if you're up for building that, definitely be kinda cool.

There's always StageCue (never tried it)
http://stagecue.eu
 

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
Joined
May 28, 2009
Location
Phoenix, Az
I just use iMessage when there is something important but not critical. Can be setup to be hands free too just leave your phone or iPad sitting in front of you and have the message read in the notification.
 

themuzicman

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2007
Location
On Tour
There are two ways we talk to each other on big big musicals. The first is easy, The A1 has a radio on with a biscuit (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005BUACGQ/?tag=controlbooth-20), and their volume turned down. They can whisper into the walkie and the A1 can wear a security earpiece (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G5Z7RAA/?tag=controlbooth-20) to try to get the most out of the quiet communication. The second method is a little more expensive, but can be made cheaper. We usually have the computer showing WSM/WWB on a KVM network to FOH. In a corner of the computer we pop open TextEdit or Notepad which allows urgent messages to be passed clearly. The cheap solution is to get an instant messaging client with resizable text options. I find getting a major note in bold will catch my attention as I mix a lot better than a plain text note.

It's almost always the A2's job to catch problems before they happen, so usually it's the A2 talking to the A1 with things like "Trying to swap Actor X's mic, may not have him in the next scene", but every now and again you'll have the A1 needing to get the A2 to check a placement or blow someone's mic out which works quite well over radio.

Also, flashing the Q Light is 1000% professional. I try to always have 2 Q Lights at FOH with me, 1 from the SM and 1 from the A2 (though usually it's a Blazon on the Sound Private com channel).

Additionally, while it is super frowned upon, I tend to text my A2's a lot if the musical allows me the use of a hand for a quick second, though it's almost always quicker to make a radio call, especially because I can't trust that I have reliable cell or WiFi service in 90% of the theaters I work in, old brick and plaster buildings aren't friendly to that.
 

josh88

Remarkably Tired.
Fight Leukemia
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Jan 26, 2010
Location
Ypsilanti, Michigan
'Yo' is an interesting suggestion...I'll have to try it out! Not a bad suggestion..
haven't used it in a critical scenario and probably not great for much in this scenario but something I got from my students and saved to check out is zello. its another walkie app that seems to work fairly well and its free. can't beat that. not the best tool, but at least its another tool to save for the future.
 

Mike R

Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2014
Location
Orange County, CA
The way I have always done it is similar to themuzicman.

A1 has a radio with a biscuit, volume turned all the way down. When I need to tell the A2 something, I talk into the radio, they hear it.
We have a Mac at FOH for QLab and WWB, and also a Mac backstage for WWB. Put both computers on the same network and open a Bonjour Chat through the Messages app. This way, when the A2 has something to say back to A1 at FOH, they type it in the chat message and it pops up on the FOH computer. A1 is easily able to read the messages (may need to adjust the text size to make reading easier).

This gives 2 way communication without having to disrupt the audience in any way.
 

mikeydoesstuff

Active Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Location
Cincinnati OH
If wireless in the space is good I'd use Hangouts or another message-via-internet option. OR if you have a mic line you can go in with a switch and a small power supply, and out to a cable and a small lamp of another color/type. etc as a sound only cue light maybe.
Or I've used a box of multiple switches and some extention cords run to X Y and Z locations to have multiple cue lights.
 

Max Warasila

Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2013
Location
Fairfax
When you have computers at either end and a network, I think the instant messaging solution is a great idea, given you have a reliable (read: wired) show control network. I haven't had the opportunity to do it recently, but it is something I've used in the past.

As far as texting each other, I wouldn't get into that habit. Whenever you have larger shows - especially concerts with people using the cellular network to upload photos or other social networking things, messages can take ages to pass. In Off-Broadway sized theaters, you'll likely be fine. Just know that it's a poor solution going forwards.

Personally, I'd like to remind you that there should be a call light function on your headset system if it is Telex or ClearCom or basically any respectable system. Can definitely be useful - though it is global and sometimes can increase chaos. The old telephones is also worth looking at - would be kick ass.
 

themuzicman

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2007
Location
On Tour
As far as texting each other, I wouldn't get into that habit. Whenever you have larger shows - especially concerts with people using the cellular network to upload photos or other social networking things, messages can take ages to pass. In Off-Broadway sized theaters, you'll likely be fine. Just know that it's a poor solution going forwards.
Having run into this issue on huge shows, there's actually a pretty awesome work-around. Run a closed network with no internet connection, and run FireChat on iPhone/Android or LANMessenger on your computer, or screen share a host computer and type into a shared notepad.
 

Mwchris

Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2013
Location
Kentucky
Having run into this issue on huge shows, there's actually a pretty awesome work-around. Run a closed network with no internet connection, and run FireChat on iPhone/Android or LANMessenger on your computer, or screen share a host computer and type into a shared notepad.
We run a closed network and Mumble just as you describe. I like it because it keeps folks focused as the only app that will work is Mumble and it supports text and voice. Note Mumble needs a server, but I've run it on an old laptop and a router in the sound booth for Wifi and the coverage was great! There is a iOS, android, PC and Mac app. I actually run the server on my qlab machine and have had no ill effects, but the shows have only really had sound cues.
 

Michael K

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Joined
Oct 23, 2015
Location
San Jose, CA
We run a closed network and Mumble just as you describe. I like it because it keeps folks focused as the only app that will work is Mumble and it supports text and voice. Note Mumble needs a server, but I've run it on an old laptop and a router in the sound booth for Wifi and the coverage was great! There is a iOS, android, PC and Mac app. I actually run the server on my qlab machine and have had no ill effects, but the shows have only really had sound cues.
There's also Team Speak, or you could use Skype, which wouldn't need a server, but I think everyone needs a registered account.
 

Mwchris

Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2013
Location
Kentucky
There's also Team Speak, or you could use Skype, which wouldn't need a server, but I think everyone needs a registered account.
You are correct. We had another thread about the various VOIP type of communications a while back.

I would not recommend Skype as there is often too much delay. Mumble, Teamspeak, etc generally have much less delay. Especially if you host your own server on site. Note when I say server I just mean a computer. Nothing fancy. I usually run Mumble on a 10+ year old laptop.
 

Max Warasila

Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2013
Location
Fairfax
IF you're getting really intricate, you can set up teamspeak so different teams can talk to each other, but not outside of their group. Finally - lighting doesn't eat up an entire partyline!

Well I say that but at the moment I can't seem to get it to do so, but you can set a priortiy speaker, so there is that.
 
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Michael K

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2015
Location
San Jose, CA
There is also a way to set up super users in teamspeak that can talk to all rooms on a server at once, think it's the whisper settings that do this, but was never set up to do it myself.