Sound Cue Programs; Are they useful and feasible for a play?

m4g1cky

Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2004
This is my first post. Warning recieved? Awesome. Commencing post now.

As I was referred here by fello techie and board member Zac850, I 've gone against my better judgement and made my first post here.

I run sound at my school. For plays, assemblies and pretty much any "event" that happens. Simply speaking, no one has any real knowledge of sound equipment. At the moment we have a PA amp, Sony MD player, and 2 5-CD disc changers collecting dust and god knows what in our closet.

A play is coming up that is in need of sound and sound cues. The problems that we are facing are the sound cues. There are not that many in a short span of time, and getting the sounds is not an issue [Though if you know of any free places, feel free to share ;)], the problem we face is organizing them in such a way that they are instantly available, and can be controlled in a very simple UI. At the moment we are using a G3 iBook with iTunes to control, but the main problem is, I have no clue how the UI operates on that program. Zac850 does but he is focused on lights. Lucky him.

Now as I am thinking, there are a few questions I need answered as soon as possible [Tech week starts today]:

1. Is using a program such as iTunes, Foobar, Winamp, or something similar feasible for near-instant sound playing with exstensive control?

2. Are MDs lossless? Meaning, if I press play at the time the sound is needed, will it be instantly played? I have never used MDs before. And as it is a failing market, MDs are fairly cheap.

3. Are sound cue programs such as these feasible for a live play? Or would it be better to have them mapped out in time with the actors' "acting" [So to speak :p]?

I hope you guys live up to zac850's praise, he said to come here for help. Thanks in advance. [/b]
 

spiwak2005

Active Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2004
Location
Utica, NY
Go for the MD

My vote is for the MD.

Controls for recording are virtually the same as recording to a cassette.

Controls for playback are virtually the same as a CD. To "cue" up a sound, play/pause and go to the track you will need next. As soon as you hit play again, the sound will be there. You asked if it was lossless - lossless refers to sound quality, not the ability to cue up the next track you will need. MD is NOT lossless - unless you are sending a digital source digitally into the MD (ie: using an optical cable from a CD player) it's not true digital. This should not be a problem for you guys though - sound quality should be plenty fine for playback. Make sure when you record the sounds to the MD, you leave a few seconds of silence at the end of the track. That way when you playback, you will have a couple seconds to hit pause again before the next track begins. If you have a "pro" model player, it may even have a function to play just the selected track, then stop. I use my portable MD all the time for this very purpose...it does NOT automatically stop, but it's not too hard to hit pause yourself, then just move to the next track you need and it's already paused and cued up for that track. Any other questions, PM or e-mail me anytime.

Chris Spiwak
 

OldGrover

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2004
Location
Ontario, Canada
I know we've gone completely to sound cue programs using laptops - various people around here use different ones. They're pretty easy, especially if other people are running sound then set it up - for Caesar, they just stuck sticky notes '1' '2' '3' over the keys, corresponding to
the cue numbers in the script. Press the number when you see it in the script - programmable people :)

-OG
 

m4g1cky

Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2004
Well, we decided to go with the Minidisc idea for the music tracks, but for now we are sticking with the iTunes for sound effects. As of now, recording and testing each track from Cd to Md is a little over-the-top, the final quality is great, and it seems to be perfect for what we need.

As for the cue programs you mentioned OldGrover, is it free?
 

ccfan213

Active Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2004
Location
Maryland
what i do is i either get an unsuspecting tech, or for the last show i had the teacher who was the assistant director sitting next to me doing effects. basically i just put them on a CD in order of how they go and just hit the play button. when i have time to rehearse, i will do it myself and just have someone by me doing "standby" basically someone to hit cues for me if i need it or fix a wireless mic problem etc. if i dont have enough rehearsal time i have someone just do cues for me. anyway i have never felt the need to use a cue program, especially if your cd player has a remote and you have time to make a cd with the effects in the order you need them.
 

mbenonis

Wireless Guy
Administrator
Premium Member
Joined
Sep 1, 2003
Location
Chicago, IL
For our last show, I burned all cues to CD (two CD's that could be used in parallel, actually), and had operators cue and run them. This was the most reliable system (CD players don't crash) and it also delivered really good sound quality. And it's not complicated to press play. :)
 

Calc

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2004
Location
Mid-Michigan
Go with the dual players (CD, MD), if you can. This is what i did for our last show. I made 2 CD's: one with music, and one with sound effects. I ran the board, and did the levels for them, along with the mics we were using.

Listen to the other guys here: If you have the person to do it, it's the easiest way to go with the least hassle.
 

zac850

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2003
Location
New York
Here is an update:
We're using the mini disk for any music, and iTunes for sound effects (xylophone sounds mostly). The mini disk wasn't that horrible, judging by the fact that we learned how to use it in maybe half an hour during tech week. We have 3 Mini disks, one for each act. We will also be using CD's for preset and intermission house music.

iTunes is fairly close to being instant (as long as my laptop hard drive doesn't spin down). One of the problems we were facing was that the guy who recorded the sound effects onto the CD put about 1 second of blank time before the cue, so you would push play and have 1 second of nothing, very annoying. Using iTunes I chopped this off, so it responds much better.
 

tjbaudio

Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2004
Location
WI
I have done many shows on just MD. At this point if I am in a bind and need a show edited and ready to go fast I edit the ques on a computer and burn to CD. The other option (especialy when it is really last minut and the PC just crashed is to use the MD for both editing and play back. The move and edit funtions on an MD are good enough for most cues. Also on the remote look for a button called "A space/ A pause" A pause is "auto pause" it will play a track and que up the next one and sit in pause till you hit play. then it will play it and que up the next track.
 

zachlipton

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2004
Location
San Francisco, CA
If you're on a mac or have access to a mac, I would highly recomend Cricket (http://www.soundcrack.net/cricket/index.html). You can use it for full shows, but you can also build cues and run just the ones you want. Just click the cue and press the space bar to run it. The UI isn't the cleanest out there, but it works very well and is very stable on OS X as well, something really important for live theater. It's built for exactly this use, so it's not like you would be trying to use some tool for it's unintended purpose.
 

zachlipton

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2004
Location
San Francisco, CA
If you're on a Mac or have access to a Mac, I would highly recomend Cricket (http://www.soundcrack.net/cricket/index.html). You can use it for full shows, but you can also build cues and run just the ones you want. Just click the cue and press the space bar to run it. The UI isn't the cleanest out there, but it works very well and is very stable on OS X as well, something really important for live theater. It's built for exactly this use, so it's not like you would be trying to use some tool for it's unintended purpose.
 

tjbaudio

Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2004
Location
WI
I played with it a bit on my mac and I could not get cricket to work. It loaded fine but I oculd not get it to remerber or play a que. What am I missing?
TJB
 

zachlipton

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2004
Location
San Francisco, CA
tjbaudio said:
I played with it a bit on my mac and I could not get cricket to work. It loaded fine but I oculd not get it to remerber or play a que. What am I missing?
TJB
First, make sure you load some tracks with the track loader. Cricket can't play cues if you haven't loaded any tracks.

I think you might be missing Cricket's 3 modes. Make sure you set the mode to 'build' when you are building cues, to 'edit' when you are editing cues, and to 'live' when you are running a show. It seems a bit combersome, but it means you can never start editing a cue by mistake during a show because you have to explictly step out of live mode to make any changes. Once you have some cues built, then click live and use the cue player from there.

Also, make sure you set the levels in the cue builder. Everything could be at negative infinity when you start off.
 
Joined
Aug 23, 2004
Location
Canton, OH
For MD units WITHOUT the APAUSE BUTTON.

Hello ALL,

I'm the Audio Engineer for a TV Station in Ohio. We use both Cd's and MDs for nearly all of our TV shows if we don't have a live band. Mds are great, and to simplify recording your tracks to MDsm if you can, burn your tracks to a CD first, then copy that CD to MD. Since you were looking for as near instant start as possible the beginning of each track should start with no pause, but after every track, add a blank track and label it silence. At least a min of silence if you have other cues to worry about (just don't forget to pause it and cue it to the next track).
MDs are nearly the same quality as CD, but offer a quicker response time to near instant playback.

Jonathan G. Phillips
WDLI - Canton, Ohio
Audio Engineer
 

stuart

Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Location
NB Canada
hey i know its too late now , but i just thought id say this. I did a small production one where i had a limited crew, and my sound guy wasent very good, so what i did was i took all the music i needed and ripped it into mp'3s then i got a copy of the script in a word document.

I took the whole script put it in fronpage converted the entire thing into a big web page. then where the cues for sound were i inserted mini windows media player boxes under each cue, so all my sound guy had to do was click the little play button. it worked flawlessly for three nights. with no lag at all, plus u have your entire script on a screen and its color coded, since i had to do the sound mix, and the lights at the same time so i could tell the cues apart.

Origionaly i tired to put the page and files on a cd and run it on a laptop, however this was not fast enough, i enede up bringing in my machine and lcd monitor.

Dont know if this helps anyone but if you have any questions feel free to send me a message
 

Peter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2004
Location
MA, USA
That is a SWEET idea!!! I had never thought of that, but when I think about it that is a VERY good idea! A LONG time back I made a webpage discribing how to embed WMP into a webpage and if anyone is interested in reading it, it can be found here here at my REALLY old website I am really not sure if it works now, but I dont think much has changed. (one or two of the audio files may nolonger be on my server) Right click on the page and say view source to read the notes I left right next to the little lines of code that make the media files work. This page shows you how to insert windows media player when you are typing your own HTML, but many programs (such as the afore mentioned frontpage) shoud have features that let you do this by clicking an icon in the program or something like that. if you guys have any questions about how to do this or anyting like that, please feel free to ask and I'll see what I remember.
 

bobbyt2012

Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2008
Location
Ohio
I use multiplay, which is freeware from Audio Visual Devices - MultiPlay It is very easy to use, but I think you must put all tracks on the hard drive of the computer. The nice thing about using this program is that the guy that made it, David, will respond to any email that you send him within a day, usually. The cues work instanly, given the processor in a G3 is fast enough. I have little experience with macs.