Archive for May, 2011

Future projects

May 26th, 2011 No comments

Write a sound cue application

This has been on my to-do list for aeons. Up until now I’ve used a couple of applications (free and paid) for playing back sound cues during theatre shows, but they’ve all had their problems. The paid app has actually been more problematic, but it does have very useful features.

Now I can live with the problems, but I’d quite like to roll my own app largely as an excuse to learn C# and .net. I was initially hesitant about how well .net could handle playing back multiple audio streams in real-time, but the tests that I’ve done so far indicate that it should be fine.

Install new overhead mics

Microphone over stage area

The Little Theatre has a single overhead mic located above the stage area, that feeds the show relay and induction loop system. It serves its purpose as it is, but it’s far from ideal. It picks up a lot of unwanted background noise (the stage rigging mostly), and doesn’t have wide enough coverage to pick-up voices from anywhere but near the centre of the stage.

The plan is to purchase a couple of cheap mini shotgun mics (Pulse NPCD664) and hang these as low as possible a metre or so in front of the main curtain. These mics may not be a big name brand, but a lot of people use them for this purpose and find them perfectly acceptable. All I need now is to get the okay at the next committee meeting.

Redesign control box

Sound and lighting control box

Another project that needs done at The Little Theatre, is to completely redesign the layout of the control-box, since it is far from the most comfortable place to work in. The main problem is that the desk level and seating aren’t compatible, so I usually end up standing for most of the shows. Another problem is that the control box is also home to two noisy amplifiers, so there has to be a window isolating the box from the auditorium. This is far from ideal when trying to judge sound levels, or simply communicating with people on stage during a rehearsal.

So what I need to do is adjust the level of the existing worktop and floor riser, to allow people to sit comfortably. It sounds simple enough, but there are 13A sockets to move, racking to adjust, findind new locations for the DVD player, VHS player and the intercom PSU. Move the amplifiers to the cupboard underneath the control box, and extend all the cables to fit. So there’s lots of little things to do, but firstly I just need to draw up a new layout, and figure out where I can place everything in this small space.

Installing backstage ‘blues’ lighting

May 16th, 2011 No comments

A project that I recently completed, was to install ‘blues’ around the stage area at The Little Theatre in Nairn. In case you don’t know, ‘blues’ is simply the name given to the low level working lights for the cast and crew working in the wings. Typically these are just low wattage lights with a dark blue filter on them, hence then name.

So The Little Theatre up until now got blues lighting from whatever stage lanterns I had spare, which was a struggle at times since we haven’t a massive stock of lanterns. It also relied on there being a dimmer channel spare, which is sometimes also a struggle. I decided after last year’s panto that we should consider putting in a permanent set of lights, and after pricing it I found that it could be done for about £150.

After getting the okay from the committee, I ordered up the various parts, which was basically some birdies (PAR16‘s), bulbs, conduit, cable, and miscellaneous other bits and pieces to join it altogether. I think it took about 5 afternoons in total to get everything installed. The biggest challenge was drilling about 50 holes in the concrete block wall, as it just seemed to eat drill bits!

The end result of all this work is three independent sets of lights controlled from a triple gang switch in the prompt corner. There are 3 lights in the stage-left wing, 3 upstage on the back wall, and 2 in the stage-right wing, all with 35w bulbs and a dark blue filter. After a quick test it looks like I may need to need to reduce the wattage of some of the bulbs, because there is a bit of light spilling onto the stage, but I have some 20w bulbs spare anyway. In the future I plan to swap the tungsten bulbs for the blue LED equivalent.

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May 2nd, 2011 No comments

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