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Who's more important?

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by DHSLXOP, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. DHSLXOP

    DHSLXOP Active Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    Although my school's theatre is very high-tech and has many clear com packs, we seem to run out of enough to have both the sound board (in the house) and the conductor (in the pit) on a clear com. So who do you guys think is more important - the conductor or the sound board? I have done shows with both, and it seems to me that having the conductor is more useful than having the sound board - it seems the sound techs just use it to report cameras they see and to tell us to fix mics back stage, while with the Pit, I can actually cue the conductor to start the overture/entr'acte and music cues after scene changes. But, let me know what you guys think!

    -David

    Edit: I put this in stage management because I am the PSM at school, and wanted to know what is the best for calling the show.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2008
  2. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I'd put the sound guy on com, and have the conductor on a cue-light system. The sound guy won't always be on com, but he needs to be able to be on com in case there is a mic issue that the folks backstage need to correct as soon as possible. Just my opinion.
     
  3. Destrox

    Destrox Member

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    I would say the Control Room (sound/lights). Sound will use it during the show. The way we've always run it is the conductor takes cues from the lights/lines. When the House lights dim at the beginning, start the Overture. Simple things like that. Our conductor always has a script though and takes cues from the lines.
     
  4. Wolf

    Wolf Active Member

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    Well lets look at the whole picture. Who has coms. Does each spot have a com (now many spots) How many back stage (Just SL, and SR not even that?).

    but when it comes down to it id put the sound board on com. They would have more issues that would take priority in my opine.
     
  5. Chris Chapman

    Chris Chapman Active Member

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    Occupation:
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    Sound needs Com for emergencies. Not just dead mics, but if a Cue series crashes and burns and you need to slip into a hold, they have to know it. Also if you start running into sound issues backstage (monitor issues for instance) they need to be able to be in the Com loop.

    Lose the Conductor. Cue Lights or an established protocol for Overtures and Entre Acts work fine. OR throw an ASM or Floor Manager into the pit to give the cues, and then they bug out for the rest of the act.

    I'd say keep the spots as well. If you have a great Op that you can depend, on fine, but in general you need that part of the Com loop for dependability for cueing.

    -Chris
    TD, Greenville Performing Arts Center
     
  6. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    No question, the sound operator needs to be on comms. They may need to get cues, be aware of any problems or changes, know when to unmute inputs when somebody is about to go on stage, etc. If you have a lot of beltpacks I find it difficult to believe there isn't somewhere else that you could better go without.

    If nothing else, the sound tech is often the one responsible for the comms system, you might want them on comms in case somebody has a problem with it.
     
  7. Spikesgirl

    Spikesgirl Active Member

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    We always have our sound op on a headset, but never put one on the conductor. We have plenty so that we could, but all of our conductors have refused them since they don't want to have to worry about being distracted by com chatter.
     
  8. DHSLXOP

    DHSLXOP Active Member

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    Ok - first thanks all for the replies - here are couple answers/additional things to keep in mind.

    1) We like to keep our spot ops on headset at all times (see the thread i started a while ago about follow spot cues)
    2) We used to have a lot of beltpacks but many of them have started to break (and the theatre that we rent has refused to repair them) - so now, we have 4 or beltpacks + 1 wireless (we used to have like 3 wireless) - we generally put one on SL one on SR and then the two beltpacks for each follow spot on the catwalk. The wireless is either given to the director backstage (on shows where we don't have a lot of tech time and she wants to make sure we know whats going on) or to sound. This past show, though, the conductor wanted to be in communication with me so I had to give the rail (SL) the wireless and put the wired into the pit (with a phone instead of a headset) because there is no call light on the wireless.
    3) We don't have any cue lights in the theatre - (i hate this so much)

    I think thats it. Again, thanks for your replies & I look forward to others!
     
  9. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    The sound op shoud definately have a headset. Cue lights do not have to be fancy. A simple low wattage colored light, an extension cord, and a powerstrip will suffice in a pinch. For what it's worth, I think spot ops should always have a head set as well, no matter how good they are.

    ~Dave
     
  10. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    In my department we intentionally didn't give the conductor a headset, primarily because he would be the only adult on it. He was an egotistical guy who would try to start the show himself whenever his band was ready, regardless of anyone else, but that's just situation specific.
     
  11. tech2000

    tech2000 Active Member

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    If need be, have a runner from the sm go down and cue the conductor if the conductor cant get a cue from anything besides the headset. My theater is going to run into this problem this year, so basically, have one at each of the vital positions, SL, SR, Sound, Lights, SM (wherever the sm is), and then the conductor if there are enough packs.
    Usually our conductor doesn't even use the headset except for once or twice.
     
  12. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Your venue allows you to use their headset system? When we rent out our facilities, the headset system is not part of the rental. This is a very expensive system which sees plenty of use and abuse just during the Pageant. This year, for instance, we have 14 people on wireless Clearcom. I have enough trouble trying to get our crew to treat their coms gently. I don't need people who don't give a crap about my equipment screwing it up in the off season too.

    You might consider looking into renting a com system when you use your usual venue. While it will add some expense to your shows, I think you'll find having the ability to call up your rental company and say, "Hey! Only 7 of the 8 headsets I rented from you work. Get me another one!" will make it worth the added expense.
     
  13. Serendipity

    Serendipity Active Member Premium Member

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    So she was spot-on with her cues? :lol:
    Sorry, I really am... I couldn't resist!

    As what everyone has said, the audio engineer should be on com. If you have the ability, a telephone-style com system would be better. (When I was A1 on a dance concert last year, I rigged up my own cue light system, which instead of signaling when I should execute a cue, was a signal for me to pick up the cans, so I could focus on listening to the show, as opposed to the lighting cues (of which there were at least 20x the amount of audio cues. I stole the idea from a local road house who I saw doing this years ago, except with a traditional com telephone and attached LED that showed when he was being "rung". I think it's a fairly common practice.)

    As for your lack of cue light system, it does not have to be difficult. I found an extension cable with a switch, and left the switch with the SM. I ran the cable down from the balcony (where the SM was; there was a convenient curtain from the balcony to the ground, so by running the cable behind the curtain it was invisible), across the aisle (properly taped down) to the FOH position where some blue rope light that had already been underneath the raised console became my cue light.
     
  14. Dustincoc

    Dustincoc Active Member

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    This may have worked also in that situation although anyone on cans could trigger it. The call lamps on the Beltpacks in my experience are just used to annoy everybody and for one person to make sure all the cans can talk to each other(just set them all in locations where the lights can be seen from one of the packs and then go to that pack, press the button and make sure all the lights flash).
     
  15. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    The telephone style com is called a handset.

    As for running your own cue light system, if your cable crosses a walkway, it must be SO type cable or equivalent or be protected by other means, such as a cable ramp. The protective jacket on standard extension cord cable, SJO type, is not thick enough to protect the wires from damage when people walk on them. Zip cord is even worse.
     
  16. Serendipity

    Serendipity Active Member Premium Member

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    I take it back, it wasn't me! :p
    I actually don't know what type of cable it was... It's struck now, so I don't think I'll ever know. Thanks for the warning.
     
  17. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Most power cables for stage lighting are made with 12/3 SO type cable. That's 12 gauge, 3 conductor SO. Most of my cables in Pageantland are SOOW, which is SO cable that's also rated for exposure to oil and water. The extension cords you buy at your local hardware store are typically 16/3 SJO cable. As they use a smaller gauge wire, they are rated for less amperage, but the cable jacket on the SJO cable is fairly thin and prone to damage, which is why it should never be used where it may be walked on. All the pertinent information on your cable should be printed on or stamped into the jacket.
     
  18. Serendipity

    Serendipity Active Member Premium Member

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    Yes, but I don't remember which cable I used, is the issue.
    I'll keep that in mind for next year though, as I highly doubt the school has decided to purchase us a clearcom system, or pondered putting a handset FOH this summer.

    What does SO stand for? I caught SOOW was with "Oil" and "Water" at the end...
     
  19. philhaney

    philhaney CBMod CB Mods

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    S = Service Grade

    SO—Same as S but with oil resistant jacket. (thermoset)

    SOO—Same as S but both conductor insulation and jacket are oil resistant. (thermoset)

    SOOW—Same as SOO except outdoor rated. (thermoset)

    I got this from North American Cable Types


    Ditto.

    I say not all spot ops are that good, and you need them on coms. ;)

    It's not that hard to rig up your own, bearing in mind cdub260's
    post on cable requirements...
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2008
    cdub260 and (deleted member) like this.
  20. Serendipity

    Serendipity Active Member Premium Member

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    I take it back, I take it back! The new TD wants to get us a ClearCom system for the large theater, and the rumor about the new genie is partially true, he thinks our Cotterman is very unsafe, and thinks the school should supply the funds for a new one. :mrgreen:
    To quote Radiant, "Hallelujah, praise the lawd!".
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2008

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