Theater Tech with Live-Streaming?

zwilliamson22

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New Haven, CT
Does anyone have any suggestions for how to run a show behind the scenes if the show is live-streamed? I stage manage for my high school drama association, and am looking for a solution if my show is live-streamed amid this coronavirus pandemic. Our rehearsals were scheduled to start tomorrow, but now school is running online for a couple of weeks and could (and probably will) go even longer. If we aren't pushed to online school longer than the planned two weeks, the show will run in the theater as planned, but if we are, the show will go up via Zoom, live-streamed to an online audience. How would I, as the stage manager, go about my job? How would light and sound cues work? I'm sure there are other SMs navigating the same space with this pandemic, and I would love to get some advice on what others have done/are planning to do in this difficult time.
 

Jay Ashworth

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St Pete FL USA
Well, if you're just using a fixed-wide camera, it shouldn't affect your production or crewing. You just make sure the camera will feed Zoom, in a test, and then launch it at Places.

If you're doing actual multicam production, you might need to put your Technical Director and production gear in a different room, and put the TD on comms. Less important if your shots are all still fixed. Always a good idea to treat the live production and the broadcast separately. If your A1 is sharp enough, have him do a separate mix on a post-fade aux, to feed the encoder.

More important is making sure you have whatever emergency copyright licensure is necessary...
 

DrewE

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Vermont
Do a dry-run (taping/recording) your show, or at least your scenes, with the camera and modify the lighting design as needed. Generally speaking, cameras have less dynamic range than the human eye, so the lighting needs to be flatter to avoid blowing out the highlights too much and/or making the shadow areas all black. Cameras are also relatively unforgiving of variations of white balance within the scene. This is also a good opportunity to experiment with different camera settings--manual focus vs. auto, manual exposure vs. auto, etc. Maybe the cues won't need much or any editing but it's also possible they may need substantial reworking.

If the show is only live-streamed, with no live audience, the sound of course should be mixed solely for that (and for whatever monitoring is needed). The house sound mix need not even exist, really.
 

Ben Stiegler

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One question is whether your show would need to be re-blocked to allow social distancing between actors - and also consider dressing room distances, etc. A school I teach at has a musical on freeze (we were a week from opening) and I'm quite interested to see if/how we'll get that back on track as well. one can imagine a messy video presentation with each actor at home, the music sound track arriving via a separate stream for audience and actors to hear, and someone functioning as video director perhaps choosing shots among many thumbnail tiles of the actors ... eek!
 
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Jay Ashworth

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Well, if you're just using a fixed-wide camera, it shouldn't affect your production or crewing. You just make sure the camera will feed Zoom, in a test, and then launch it at Places.

If you're doing actual multicam production, you might need to put your Technical Director and production gear in a different room, and put the TD on comms. Less important if your shots are all still fixed. Always a good idea to treat the live production and the broadcast separately. If your A1 is sharp enough, have him do a separate mix on a post-fade aux, to feed the encoder. { Wasn't thinking here; of course the broadcast would be your main mix in this environment... Thanks, Drew. }

More important is making sure you have whatever emergency copyright licensure is necessary...
It's not clear to me why that's what the forum did, when I told it to *edit* my original posting to let me add the side comment to Drew, but that's what it did alright. :-}
 
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Jay Ashworth

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No, that was the Forum getting it wrong. You'll note the second posting has an extra sentence that I edited in to the first posting - or at least that's what it told me it was doing. Sorry. [ Separately from my clarifying sentence, edited into the second posting later than that. My, but that's unnecessarily complicated, isn't it? ]
 
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MNicolai

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Unpopular opinion, but if you are in a position where you cannot have an audience attend, you should not put on the show at all. It's one thing with professionals electing to take a risk of their own accord. It's an entirely different matter to do that with students. And you are not only taking a risk with the students, but with every person those students interact with for the following 4-5 days. I have a hard time imagining most schools will return to business as usual, but even if they do it is at least a little easier to social distance in a classroom environment than in a theatrical environment where people are singing, sweating, and running around through hallways and dressing rooms faster than surfaces can be kept sanitized.

The White House keeps toting this "15 Days" nonsense, but there's no way this thing blows over in 7-8 more days. If people go back to business as usual in 2 weeks from now, the virus is just going to peak a little later than it would have originally. It is necessary for the preservation of human life that social distancing remain active for a good stretch of time until the virus is largely limited to regional pockets here or there that can be contained on a regional basis.

Might be a little different if we had the testing capacity to check for asymptomatic hosts but even that's a laughable idea for these next few weeks.

If it's a small play that's largely stationary like Beckett's Endgame, that might be a little different -- but most high school shows are designed to maximize the amount of students who get to participate.

I understand that it's going to make a lot of kids and parents upset who have been working on this for however long but holding a performance in the couple months borders on gross negligence. Remember -- we have only begun to see the tip of this iceberg and the response in the United States has been tragically insufficient. It is going to be much worse in 4-6 weeks from now than it is already.

The USA now ranks #1 in daily new cases, and we are barely testing people compared to other countries. We have risen to #2 in active confirmed cases and to #3 in daily new deaths.
 
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StradivariusBone

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We are developing a setup for doing this at the church I run tech for. They purchased an HD camera and a bunch of gear from Blackmagic. An ATEM Switcher, another box that captures the output of the switcher to an SD card, and a capture device that takes SDI in and allows the computer to use it as a source for OBS. We tried a few things to get audio to the mix. We have an M32 with the dante card to drive an Aviom IEM setup, so I took a MacBook with the dante soundcard installed and tried capturing it with StudioOne. I'm having a lot of latency issues and audio glitching as a result, so I need to troubleshoot that more. However, the best method was to just use a mixbus from the M32 and run the mix live with really good over-ear headphones. Eventually, I want to get the dante working right so as to mix audio isolated from the live sound.

All that said, I agree with Mike. For our school, we are limited to 10 people max anywhere at once and kids are not allowed on campus at least until 4/15. Our show was supposed to open on 4/17. I'm guessing we'll be doing online school through to the end of the school year in May. The other thing to consider is obtaining the rights to do a live streamed show. Most of the MTI kids/jr shows allow for it and I'm hearing a lot of the MTI full shows are starting to roll it out (for a price I'm sure), but you can bet you'll get nailed by the copyright censors if you publish something without the appropriate approval.
 
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MNicolai

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Same as you, JHU. I'm differentiating Active Confirmed Cases from Total Cases though. Right now China is supposedly 81k total, but of those, 72k recovered, 3k dead, net 7k active cases.

So overall, China has been hit the hardest in gross, but the US currently represents much more of a hotspot in active and daily new cases than China. China's isolation and testing procedures were so thorough that they've largely avoided new cases over the last several days. Soon enough, their biggest threat will be outsiders reintroducing it into their borders once people let their guards down again.

This link looks like it's the same data as JHU, but in a nice sortable table.

 
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Jay Ashworth

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Nice get. Myself, I am in the "pushing to pervasive testing, not just people we think are positive already, is Job 2 behind PPE" camp; the statistics are important for driving the response, and USAdian stats are garbage because we're not getting any negatives.

Two separate news items in the last 4 or 5 days give me great hope on that front, as long as the policy people don't get in the way of the medical people anymore.
 

What Rigger?

I'm so fly....I Neverland.
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Does anyone have any suggestions for how to run a show behind the scenes if the show is live-streamed? I stage manage for my high school drama association, and am looking for a solution if my show is live-streamed amid this coronavirus pandemic. Our rehearsals were scheduled to start tomorrow, but now school is running online for a couple of weeks and could (and probably will) go even longer. If we aren't pushed to online school longer than the planned two weeks, the show will run in the theater as planned, but if we are, the show will go up via Zoom, live-streamed to an online audience. How would I, as the stage manager, go about my job? How would light and sound cues work? I'm sure there are other SMs navigating the same space with this pandemic, and I would love to get some advice on what others have done/are planning to do in this difficult time.
Z, I'm gonna go in with what @MNicolai is saying. So, not tryin' to be jerk here, but to paraphrase Grand Moff Tarkin "I think you overestimate your chances".

Look around at what's going on. Have you noticed the "2-week closure" thing is all but a memory?

How many people in the cast? You REALLY think a group of high school kids are going to maintain disciplined social distancing? You think any district isn't gonna squash a chance to have kids avoid exposure? I'll bet my mortgage payment on "no".

And other than essential services like breakfast and lunch TO GO... school closures especially now, are a hardcore thing. I can't imagine a school district worth anything will allow this. A lot of people here are teachers, or like me, are married to one. If I'm wrong, I'll get called out. But I kinda doubt it.

I know you all want to do this for the school, and your cast and crew. I get that you're bored. But now's not a time to do what you- as an individual or a group- want to do. It is a time to step up and do what MUST be done. Look at it as your first real world exercise in risk management, and start getting hip to something that will serve you well (and is still missing in many parts of the industry, and especially schools): the show does not have to go on. Especially in light of a pandemic. Especially at your level. Let go of the lie that "SM's do WHATEVER it takes to get the show on". Part of what the arts do right now is entertain/distract in a safe fashion. But we as a whole have shut down every theatre and cinema in the country. Full stop, no questions asked.

Does your teacher know you're out here sniffing around like this? Because, again, indefinite school closures in your area, right?

I implore you to have the courage to seriously question yourself and your teachers about whether you're about to put your community and yourself at further risk over an entirely disposable activity.
 

What Rigger?

I'm so fly....I Neverland.
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Z, I'm gonna go in with what @MNicolai is saying. So, not tryin' to be jerk here, but to paraphrase Grand Moff Tarkin "I think you overestimate your chances".

Look around at what's going on. Have you noticed the "2-week closure" thing is all but a memory?

How many people in the cast? You REALLY think a group of high school kids are going to maintain disciplined social distancing? You think any district isn't gonna squash a chance to have kids avoid exposure? I'll bet my mortgage payment on "no".

And other than essential services like breakfast and lunch TO GO... school closures especially now, are a hardcore thing. I can't imagine a school district worth anything will allow this. A lot of people here are teachers, or like me, are married to one. If I'm wrong, I'll get called out. But I kinda doubt it.

I know you all want to do this for the school, and your cast and crew. I get that you're bored. But now's not a time to do what you- as an individual or a group- want to do. It is a time to step up and do what MUST be done. Look at it as your first real world exercise in risk management, and start getting hip to something that will serve you well (and is still missing in many parts of the industry, and especially schools): the show does not have to go on. Especially in light of a pandemic. Especially at your level. Let go of the lie that "SM's do WHATEVER it takes to get the show on". Part of what the arts do right now is entertain/distract in a safe fashion. But we as a whole have shut down every theatre and cinema in the country. Full stop, no questions asked.

Does your teacher know you're out here sniffing around like this? Because, again, indefinite school closures in your area, right?

I implore you to have the courage to seriously question yourself and your teachers about whether you're about to put your community and yourself at further risk over an entirely disposable activity.
Okay, now I know for sure you aren't getting this show off. Sorry. I know it's not cool, but remember that this industry is a marathon not a sprint. Play the long game.

 
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Ben Stiegler

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Now this is not for the faint of heart, or weak musicians, but this beautiful performance by members of the Rotterdam Symphony - all playing from home - shows what *can* be done. A click track was sent out to each musician, who self-recorded video and audio in their homes. Presumably with careful specs re frame rate and format provided. Then someone spent some serious time in edit mode ... and the result is really stunning (even if the chorus is dubbed). Not to be outdone, the Toronto Symphony tried one of their own! 4 minute watch/listen ... lifted my spirits, hope it does yours!

https://slippedisc.com/2020/03/believe-it-orchestra-plays-beethoven-9th-from-their-homes/
 

zwilliamson22

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Mar 22, 2020
Location
New Haven, CT
Thank you all for the replies! I realized a clarification should be made from my initial post: for live-streaming the show, as of now we're planning to have actors in their homes broadcasting through Zoom so as not to endanger them and the audience and ignore social distancing guidelines. There's some talk of moving the show to a podcast format, but for now we're thinking of having actors in their homes and the audience somehow brought in, muted.
 
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