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Computer Messaging in theatre...

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by Oobleck1441, May 24, 2007.

  1. Oobleck1441

    Oobleck1441 Member

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    Hello Everyone!
    Our High School Auditorium is going to be going under construction with a current bond from the state.
    We have made our plans with our seating, air conditions, equipment, and all that jazz but one area we need some input on is communication!
    We Currently have a wired.. 50 year old or so intercom which works so great.. We plan on still keep that but we were wondering, is there any programs out there on the market or that have a free trial for messaging between multiple stations
    Sort of like Aol instant messanger but instead or running of the internet through networking cable or the police in my area instead using laptops but instead of being wireless it could be wired..
    Just a couple stations would be all we need. Lighting deck, sound booth, maybe small LCD monitors by Follow Spot stations and our calling area for shows..
    I haven't seen any posts or news about this ANYWHERE aroudn the internet but I was jsut wondering.. Any input would eb greatly appriciated.
    Thanks again, Oobleck1441
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    do you want it to be voice or text? I think you are trying to re-invent the wheel when the product you need is already out there.
     
  3. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    The quick answer to your question is: yes. Apple's Bonjour networking service provides local network IM services. It can also provide video and audio chat services. This does not require an internet connection, only a wired and/or wireless local network.

    As Footer said though, why would you want such a thing? This is exactly the reason you can get com systems (Clear-Com, Telex, etc.) and/or cue light systems. No one really has time to type out cues or responses during a show, it is just too cumbersome. Besides, if you had any form of computer messaging set up it would only be a matter of time before you want it connected to the internet and that is just distracting. Also computer messaging in any form will probably end up getting abused by the people using it, sending useless messages to eachother.

    Why do you need this?
     
  4. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    and for the PC there are several different apps available for chatting between stations. Buried deep inside the bowels of windows is a program called winpopup.exe which send IMs between different comps on a network. there are also several gaming "chat" Programs for real time voice over the network. I'd also echo the other guys here as well. why would you want more chatter? if you've got a good comm system use it so there is good control over the comms chatter. the last thing you need during a production is a bunch of guys < girls, whatever> chatting away and missing cues. Besides, other than pure text chat programs all versions of voice, whiteboard, vid will use up valuable resources and bandwidth on your network.
     
  5. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Sorry it's a fun idea but a bad idea from the good tech point of view.

    1) First it's faster to talk than it is to type.
    2) Timing a cue is difficult, at what point do you press enter in order for the go cue to get to the person so they can read it at the proper time.
    3) If you are reading and sending text messages you aren't watching the show, your equipment, the prompt book, or whatever you are in charge of. It would be very easy to get distracted and miss the proper placement of your cues.
     
  6. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Gaff hit the nail on the head. It's pointless to have a text system for all of those reasons. Upgrade to a nice new wireless clearcom with four stations, and replace the wired if necessary.
     
  7. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Check out that new Clearcom "Tempest" system. Also have to say that most of the time there's absolutely nothing wrong with wired Clearcom. After weighing all the options we decided to go with wired Clearcom in our new theater. No interference, no battery packs going dead. It's just rock solid technology that works. The majority of your crew stays in one place for the show. It would be nice for one or two people back stage to have wireless, but lights, sound, S.M., follow spot, fly... none of them truly need wireless. So we went wired.
     
  8. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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    You guys have good points, and I think that just a text chat would be counter-productive. On the other hand, one project that I have been pondering over for a little while is a computerized cue light, basically. For example, a client-server setup where the SM is the server, and can setup cues, with different flags that have user-defined labels, colors, and which station the flag is for (and maybe even timings), for each show. Then the different locations being cued would connect with a client program, and when the SM hits a cue, the flags pop up on the client's screen.

    The advantages of this system are that the SM can cue several actions simultaneously, reducing confusion on coms (wait was that my "go" or lights?), as well as tracking of the cues (did I already call house to half?). To make sure people are watching for their cue, there could be a simple standby chime injected into the coms, alerting people to check their screen for standby. Otherwise you could call standby on coms still. In fact, if you so desired, you could use it merely as backup, and still call everything on coms. Think of it not as communications, but as alerts.

    But as far as communications goes, coms will be around for a while. I'm sure they will see upgrades such as starting to run on Ethernet (think of how easy that would make wireless!) but the basic concept really can't be improved much, if at all.
     
  9. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    There are cue light systems that do that, and can also provide operator acknowledgment to the SM that they have received a standby. Systems like this one: http://www.leonaudio.com.au/cuelight.htm from Leon Audio in Australia are digital systems that can be connected using standard mic cable. You can group cues for different stations and you can link multiple master stations together for additional outstations. They also make multiple types of outstations, from standard "Standby/GO" cue lights to relay stations for triggering other devices.
     
  10. Logos

    Logos Well-Known Member

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    That's cool, and it's Australian.
     
  11. harry1989

    harry1989 Member

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    If your planning on sending messages via laptops...search on google for LAN Instant Messenger...saw it a few days ago...no internet connection needed, no need to "add contacts"...seems pretty simple.
     
  12. Oobleck1441

    Oobleck1441 Member

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    Okay In response to this reply...
    Are there any programs ro systems like this out??
    This could somthing better
    Like a system to pull up a cue sheet and are checked off as they go along
    along with cue lights.
    Any Ideas?
     
  13. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Well, the simple solution is to get some computer lighting control software and a DMX interface. Connect to relays that turn cue lights on and off and there you go.


    There are plenty of VOIP services available. Clearcom has a new IP based com system, and Linksys has a product, the IPhone (not to be confused with Apple's iPhone) that is a VOIP device capable of connecting to a wireless network without a computer host and making calls.
     

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