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video monitor of the orchestra conductor

Discussion in 'Multimedia, Projection, and Show Control' started by jneveaux, Apr 16, 2009.

  1. jneveaux

    jneveaux Member

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    Not sure if this is the best thread for this, but ...
    I am working on the set design for Annie Get Your Gun. The design puts the orchestra upstage of the main acting areas, where the performers will not have a direct line of sight to the conductor - unless they face upstage most of the time.
    I have worked in the past with shows where the conductor was put on video camera with a monitor or monitors placed at the lip of the stage or on a (near) balcony face.
    In anticipation of protests from performers and musicians alike, I want to have as much information about the possible set up as possible for my next production meeting.
    Has anyone worked out a set up like this recently that didn't require expensive equipment, but could be done with equipment readily available in a high school environment. (And how well did it work?)
    Any input or suggestions are appreciated.
     
  2. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

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    Hey, yes it's easy to do, you use your normal camcorder, and connect it like you would to your TV (But on record instead of play), but instead of your TV, you connect it through a long RCA/Multicore/XLR (We run ours through our multi core with a simple XLR-RCA adapter) and plug it into the TV screen, projectors don't work great on stage. Make sure you find a camera that doesn't automaticly turn itself off if it doesn't record in X amount of time. I was Vision Mixing a show a while ago, and a camera went down, (long story) long story short, we had a backup, but we hadn't set it to not automaticly turn off, so the feed would constantly drop out. So make sure you have that set. If you want to run it to more than one monitor, you can split it, if your TV's have a TV in and a TV out function, then you can daisy chain them together, if not, then you can split the feed, but splitting it into more than 2 would mean that you loose quality if you don't use something like a distribution amplifier.
    Cheers,
    Nick
     
    jneveaux and (deleted member) like this.
  3. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    A work around for the time out of your camcorder is to put in a tape and actually record. This can be a junk tape that you can rewind and record over and over again. Of course you can pick up security cameras for fairly cheap online or at some big box electronic stores.

    For what it's worth, I don't recommend using audio cables for video purpose. The cables are made differently and do not pass the signal well. Since this is only for performers and not for the audience, you can probably get away with the quality of picture that you get with audio cable.
     
  4. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    I will be SMing a show here in a couple months for which I plan to run a conductor video feed from the pit to SL where I will be calling the show. I am just going to use my home camcorder on a tripod and run composite video through an RCA cable from the camcorder to the back of the television. What do you mean by "on record instead of play"? Wouldn't the television pick up whatever the camera sees, regardless of whether it's actually recording onto a tape or not?

    I'm also curious about how well XLR cables would work running composite video through them, then converting to RCA at each end. Is the image quality good enough for something like a conductor cam, or would it be better to run it through a really long RCA cable?
     
  5. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    I would definitely recommend putting your video monitors on the balcony rail position, as opposed to the front of the stage. As an actor, you have to be keeping an eye on the conductor while still looking out front and not right at him. With the conductor right there, it's fairly easy to watch him out of the corner of your eye, but with a screen I would guess that you'd have to pay a little more attention to it. By keeping them out front and high, you put them around where the actors should be singing to anyways, instead of forcing them to look down at the stage.
     
  6. Raktor

    Raktor Active Member

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    Seconded. We put ours on the lighting rigging positions inside the dress circle.

    Two cheap TVs hooked up to a CCTV camera mounted on the conductor's music stand or nearby, with the TVs set to black and white, and with low brightness (otherwise you'll have a grumpy LD).
     
  7. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

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    Yeah, make sure the audience can't see it though, TV's are always distracting. As for running video through XLR, I know there is a big thread about it, personally, I do it all the time through a 30m Multicore, and it works fine for me, it's amped at both ends and works fine for me. Still, that's just me.
     
  8. Chris Chapman

    Chris Chapman Active Member

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    I did a production of "The Mikado" with a buried Orchestra like this. We got around it by projecting the Conducter against the back wall of the house, above the audience. The image was big enough for the cast to see, and it was inobtrusive so the Audience never caught on.

    That way you are just taking the video out of the cam, running the cable to the projector, and viola, done. You need a good point in your catwalk to project from though.
     
  9. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    When we did this for backstage video monitors as a tempoarary set up, we just used an old camera with an RCA out, ran it through a VCR to boost the signal, then used the coax out on the VCR to run it to the tv's, since we had a really long coax cable lying around. When it got to where we needed it to go, we just used a cheap coax splitter you can find at any story that sells tvs to split it to the three tvs it needed to be run to. Pretty easy and it only cost us $5 or so for the splitter, everything else we had lying around. Check to see what you have lying around that you could make use of.
     
  10. jneveaux

    jneveaux Member

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    Thanks for all the suggestions. Now I'm off to see what cabling and equipment I can scrounge up to put one of these methods to work.
    JN
     
  11. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Now no one has yet suggested it, but there might be those who think of using a digital solution for this. Don't. Worse would be an IP based idea. Basically you cannot afford to have delay in a conductor cam. Digital inherently adds delay. If you are to be dedicated to keeping latency down (which will be more relevant the higher the calibre of performer I suspect), then avoid LCD or plasma displays and stick with CRTs, again a lack of processing thing... Thanks to my friends at ABC OB Sydney for noting these things...

    Running video down twisted pair without a balun would be done at own risk. Ditto splitting video without regard for impedance issues.
     
  12. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    We're running I Love You, Your Perfect Now Change right now with a slightly different approach. The conductor stands behind a set piece set at the SL edge of the apron, built for the purpose. Kind of an extension of the proscenium. He can see and hear and be seen by the entire stage, but not from the house. The band watches him on a video monitor.
    We went like this for 2 reasons
    1 because it was easier for the cast to see the director himself than the monitor once the FOH lights came on. Looking downstage into the FOH lights is a little blinding at times and the cast had trouble seeing a little monitor, let alone making out what was happening.
    2 It made it much easier for the conductor to hear what was going on onstage.

    Hardware included a borrowed baby monitor camera and a borrowed tv. cost us nothing.
     
  13. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Some cameras go to sleep and stop transmitting if left in the wrong mode. You'll have to experiment with what is best for your camera.

    I'm using a Sony Handycam in Nightshot mode for a Nightvision monitor to the booth. As long as it has media in it to record on, I'm able to leave it on in the record position and it's ready to go. I press a button remotely to send power to the outlet and the camera's on. Other cameras will not be happy doing this. You'll have to experiment.
     
  14. jneveaux

    jneveaux Member

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    Here's another thought: has anyone used one of those wireless baby monitor systems? The ones I've seen have a low-light camera (some even with infra-red), wireless signal from camera to monitor, they can be powered from battery or 120v and the video can be cabled out from the handheld monitor to a tv. I wonder about the reliability of the wireless signal (especially where we are using multiple wireless mics) and the quality of the video.
    Even if you haven't tried this, what do you think?
     
  15. Chris Chapman

    Chris Chapman Active Member

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    Lots of the Baby Monitor gear can't kick a signal through all of the steel in a performance venue. Low powered signals are fine in a house, but generally don't have the guts to punch through in a theatre.
     
  16. jneveaux

    jneveaux Member

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    I worry about that too. We only need the signal to reach from one point on stage to the stage apron I think, so no real physical barriers to pass through. RF and other magnetic ambients might be a problem...as I start to answer my own question and talk myself out of it. Looking for input from anyone else with real life stage experience with it though.
     
  17. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

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    If you can get your hands on one go for it, I have a few security cameras that let me see in the dark, they can be useful, but don't go and buy it without prior knowledge that its going to work. Wireless video is not great, it can be good for some applications, but for the short run of video you are going to have to go, its easier, and cheaper, to just run lead.
    Nick
     
  18. kiwitechgirl

    kiwitechgirl Well-Known Member

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    Wireless video can work - I did a production of Guys and Dolls where the band (2 keyboards, bass and drums) were completely mobile - the two keyboards and drums were on trucks, being pushed around the stage, with the bassist just kinda following them around! Given that the conductor/MD was one of the keyboard players, we got ourselves a decent quality wireless video kit and mounted camera and transmitter on his truck, and it worked incredibly well for us - it was an 11-week season and we never had any major problems. We did have some weirdness where the picture would go a bit fuzzy, you move the keyboard truck three inches one way and it would come right, but aside from that the only time we had any issues at all was during tech when the lighting designer hooked his laptop up to the Strand wirelessly and the conductor cam stopped working altogether. We were using about 25 radio mics on the gig (mostly Sennheisers) and they weren't affected at all. Add to that that we were running everything on the trucks off deep-cycle batteries and inverters (which made one of the keyboards go very odd - switch it on and it sounded very tinny, five minutes later it would make a noise like the Concorde taking off, and would then be fine!), I think we were probably fairly lucky not to have had any big problems (also probably due to my fantastic chief LX who can fix anything!). Generally speaking, if I can run a cable rather than go wireless for video, I will, just for peace of mind!
     
  19. jneveaux

    jneveaux Member

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    thanks very much for the "hands on" insights.
    I'd like to wire it, but am concerned that cabling will get in the way of set pieces (on "trucks") shifting off and on. we have a very narrow stage and no basement/trap space, so can't "bury" the cable.
    can you tell me anymore about the specs for your wireless cam/receiver - 2.4ghz? signal strength? image sensor? (cmos, ccd?)
     
  20. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    LISTEN TO THESE WORDS

    If you buy it only kinda sure that it will work, you will regret it.
     

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