The Bum Clocks

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InnerSpace Crew (Photo: S. Macluskie)

The Bum Clocks Gig January 28th 2010 also known as the Innerspace Project was a first year production students project where the students had to design, create, install, publicise, run and manage a live music event. In the New Athemaeum Theatre. The stdents were officialy given 3 days to work in the venue with the event taking place on the final night however the students worked in the weeks leading up to the project to assign roles and hold production and design meetings.

Steve's Flickr Photoset Here

Crew

Production Manager - Chris Gowling

Stage Management - Samantha Burt, Ross Oliver, Sarah Wilson

TSM - Siobhan MacIntyre, Fiona Nisbet,

LX Design/PLX/Lighting Op - Fraser Walker

Sound - Jonathan Towers, Dougal Gudim

AV - Hannah Nicol

Design/Crewing - Iain Jolly, Simon Legg

Publicity - Ellen Porteous, Juliet Kernohan

Pre-Production

Pre-production for this project started in the first week back after the Christmas holidays. (The actual project week was week 3 of the new term)It was agreed that with very little time on the week on the event, all of the planning had to be done in advance, nothing could be left to the first day or else we may have been arguing over stage designs until the end of the first day. The first major task was to assign roles which are listed above. There was very little discussion over this, most people had an idea of who would be best for certain jobs and luckily everyone has the same ideas. Roles in place, the following evening saw a first design meeting in the PM's flat (pizza and beer were provided!)where a basic stage layout was discussed and a basis for the lighting design which the LD could then go away and work on.

The following week a production meeting was held in the chandler studio theatre. It was attended by all of the first years, the lecturing staff, Kev Robertson the receiving stage manager and Tam Dean Burn (the lead signer and main contact for the band). Here the stage layout was discussed and confirmed by Tam, the first draft of the LX design was approved and Tam was shown the Venue for the gig (The Ath stage) where we were able to show him where the stage would be and where the audience would be etc.

After this meeting, the pace was stepped up. Meetings were being held on an almost daily basis, risk assessments were being filled out, weights calculated equipment booked and the lighting design went into version 6 by the end of week 2. By the Friday of week 2 though, everything was at a stage where we were ready to go into the venue the following Monday for the fit up.

Production

Lighting

(NOTE: All plans and other paperwork are avaliable on request)

Lighting this concert was a very interesting and difficult challenge. For starters the project was taking place at the same time as Opera 1 which was using a lot of the kit, most importantly, the VL1000's. This was particularly frustrating as they were the only movers that were available to us at the time as the TW1's were all undergoing maintenance. This fact was not confirmed to us though until the Friday before we were due to start the rig, so with a late night, a group effort, we were able to re-design the rig to compensate for the lack of movers.

The rig went very well, all things considered. The main challenges were time and the size of the rig vs. the number of lx crew. Also, an oversight on my part was how to rig our Par bars of six on a diagonal. After a quick hunt round the Ath we found some extra G-Clamps that we could attached together, and then on to the IWBs thus creating a "swivel clamp". This could be moved to attach the IWBs diagonally to the floating grid.

Once the rig was up we had the problem of patching. A decision as taken between the PLX and Production Manager to get the rig in the air on time rather that once it was ready as problems could be fixed from the tallescope. It was agreed that it would be more beneficial if the PLX could take extra time to patch not affecting other departments than to spend time on the ground with the rig, labelling every plug with its circuit number. However the patch took longer than required but once complete it was ready to focus . . . except the GrandMA (the lx desk) wasn't working.

No one could figure out what was wrong with it. We had connected it up correctly, taken the DMX from the correct place, through the Demux and into the patch and dimmers but no lights came on. Calls were made to tutors, venue techs were in trying to sort the problem but it wasn't until the following day that we realised that it was the Demux that was faulty. While we waited for a replacement, the Strand 520i was brought in to temporally run the focus (as it outputs D54 as well as DMX 512).

Focus complete, original board working we were ready for the band to come in. When it came to plotting, 2 approaches were used:

  • Plot various chases and states before the band arrive and see what fits.
  • Plot any specific cues that arose from the rehearsal of the set list.


Fraser Walker - PLX

Lighting Equipment

We surprising used alot of equipment for what was meant to be "a small project", the Venue Techs soon learned that we didn't know the meaning of the word!

Lanterns etc.

  • 24x PAR 64's (12x CP61 and 12x CP62)
  • 14x 1.2kw PCs
  • 24x Source 4 PARs
  • 9x SL 23/50 Zoom Profiles (4x with "Paint Dabs" Gobos)
  • 2x 2kw Fresnel
  • 6x PAR 16 birdies
  • 1x Mirror ball (rigged but not used)

Rigging

A Floating grid was created and assembled by TSM after collaboration between the LD and TSMs. In addition, the following was used -

  • 4x IWBs
  • 6x Floor Stands (for S4 PARS)
  • 2x 2m Scaff Bars (to act as booms for the S4 PAR blinders)
  • 12x G-Clamps (as mentioned previously to create the "swivel clamps")

Other Noteworthy Kit

  • 1x GrandMA Full Size (main desk, used for programming and running the show) [1]
  • 1x Strand 520i (used for the focus as the D54 for the GMA was broken)
  • 1x Low Fogger (unable to use the hazers so we used a low fogger with NO ice and placed a fan next to it to help spread the haze quicker)

Cabling

A mix of TRS and Socapex was used for the floating grid. All the IWBs had Soca running from then onto Prompt Side Flys and we used what we had left with some added TRS to try and minimise the cables. However most of the spiders on the socas were to short to reach their patch point so alot of TRS was used to fix this. We also had some TRS running of to the Fly Floor where the Mirror Ball, it's supporting lamps and the 2k's were patched. This was purely because the were closer to the Fly Floor than PS and that there was a 5k circuit available for both the 2ks to be patched into the same channel. We also ran a DMX from the desk to the Low Fogger onstage to give the board op control over haze but we were unable to patch it into the desk. This was possibly due to fixture profile issues, so a member of stage management operated the haze from backstage.

Tips for Programming the Grand MA for live music

The Grand MA is most at home in this kind of environment. It has many tricks that will help make your programming go alot faster but it also has many pitfalls that if your not careful can have you tearing your hair out so here are a few tips based on the experience I had using the MA for The Bum Clocks 2010:

  • Take the time to patch and set up the wire visualiser! Yes this is a very long and time consuming process but is well worth the time and effort. It makes programming so much easier when perhaps you have to work under house lights or are programming off-line at home and can see a basic representation of what you are programming as it will happen live.
  • Get Grand MA on PC and MA 3D! Leading on from the above point, patching and setting up the visualiser can take forever. Save valuable "in venue" time download these FREE programs from the MA website. This will allow you to A) Practice on the desk before have to do it for real and B) to patch, set up the visualiser in your own time then simply have to a USB stick and transfer it onto the desk itself.
  • When setting up the desk use the AUTO CREATE feature which will automatically create effects and presets for any movers saving you time. However you can also still create any other effects or presets as and when you need them.
  • When programming generic chases, ensure the tracking for that sequence is OFF otherwise you will find that the first lamp in your sequence will always remain on!
  • Try to stick to either a page or half a fader page per song even if you don't know what each song will need and you have the same 3 chases and end state in every page, it saves constantly having to jump between pages to get to different sequences.
  • Be careful of the motorized faders, they can catch you out! For example you are running 2 sequences on Page 1 and 3 on Page 2. when you jump between pages the faders will re-adjust themselves to the current levels on that page. If you forget what page you are on then you may find yourself turning on effects you didn't want or forgetting to turn them off because on a different page, it's fader is already at zero.
  • How to play Space Invaders! Hey, you! You should be working not learning how to play games, tut tut.

Control Position

The control position was decided upon fairly early in the venue design process. We knew we wanted to be visible so the band could communicate if required and have easy access to the stage if any of us required to do so. Therefore the obvious answer was to be on the stage floor opposite the stage. it was made up of 2x 8x4 and a single 4x4 piece of steel deck with 200mm legs. Control was then shared out between LX, AV, Sound and a DFTV camera position. It was a tight squeeze. In terms of power - lighting + DFTV ran off the normal ring main, whereas live and recorded sound used the "Tech Earth" ring main. This avoided potential ground loop issues and hummmm.

Live Sound

Live sound for the event was provided using a D&B Audiotechnik and Yamaha touring style sound system. The system was designed by Jonathan Towers, Malcolm Frew and Kev Robertson.

Mics used included the Studiospares drum mic set (which performed well), AKG Blue Linemics (C391 carthoid and SE300 + CK92 omidirectional versions), SM57s, SM58s, and a Sennheiser Wireless Hand Held system.

Mics

We miced up the drum kit using -

  • Kick
  • Snare Top (Studiospares snare/tom mic)
  • Snare Bottom
  • Floor Tom
  • Rack Tom
  • Hi Hat (CK92)
  • Overhead (CK92)

Overall this system worked well. Originally there were to be 2 overhead mics however one was removed to be used as a harmonium mic. Shame really . . .

Harmonium

The harmonium was miced up using a C391 microphone. The instrument was placed next to the drummer, and the mic was pointed straight at the grate. This was found to have suitable quality although gain before feedback was a problem. If the resources were available a pair of carthoid condensers would be more suitable, and ringing out the drummers monitor should have been done using the harmonium mics.

Backline

The guitar amps were miced using SM57s slightly off axis. Problems were had with buzz with one of the guitar amps despite being fed from the technical earth. It was eventually decided this was due to the guitarists equipment.

The harmonica was miced with an SM58 held in the players hands. This had a tendency to feed back during performance (although not during soundcheck). It was thought that a change in technique might have caused the problem, as nothing else had really changed.

Vocals

Tam was given a G1 Hand Held Carthoid radio microphone to allow freedom of movement across the stage. He seemed to like using it. The transmitter was located onstage next to the guitar amps, and although this meant it couldn't be monitored by the engineer it meant that a clear signal was virtually guaranteed. It's also good practice. The battery was also swapped just before the show to ensure it wouldn't run out unexpectedly.

Cabling

The academy's 24/4 Peavey multicore was used. We ran it through the dip traps, through the void and back through the dips to the FOH position. It was just long enough and no more. Power was supplied via the technical earth 16a socket promptside, and cabling to the wedge monitors came from promptside upstage and downstage facilities panels.

Control

Control was a Yamaha LS9 32. This was extensively pre-programmed using Studio Manager software. In retrospect this was a really bad idea as when it came to fault finding/sound check that there was uncertainty as to what had been programmed and what hadn't. It's much easier to start with a blank canvas and take it from there. Programming was also slowed down by the lack of some of the knobs on the console necessitating extensive use of the navigation buttons and wheel. Still, we got by eh?

On a more positive note - pre show music was played using a USB key and the LS9's built in media player. This worked well, although for some reason the player signal runs exceedingly hot. We ran it at something silly like -25 on the faders. We also set it up so the faders were on Layer 2, thereby not taking up any spare channels with preamps.

FOH PA and Monitors

The FOH PA consisted of one E9 and one C7 sub a side. These were powered by E-Pacs. As the E9s were being used with subs CUT was enabled on their amps to ensure optimum processing was used. The CUT setting was the only one used on the amps (apart from speaker selection), the rest of the processing was done in the LS9.

The monitors were run using the Ath's in house amplifiers. We ran 3 mixes with one D&B Max wedge each on the Backline and Drum mixes and 2 wedges on the vocals. This reflected the space we thought Tam would use. The DSR facility panel just happens to have 3 XLR ins (used for sends to the monitor amps from the desk) and a technical earth outlet next to it.

Recorded Sound

A recording of the gig was made for the benefit of the DFTV folks making the DVD. This was originally going to be done by pro-tools although in the end a live mix was made using a wee Spirit mixer thing and a 2 track digital recorder. A number of auxes and direct outs were sent from the desk using the omni-outs (which are incredibly flexible and useful) -

  1. Drum Mix L
  2. Drum Mix R
  3. Random Stuff L
  4. Random Stuff R
  5. Lead Guitar
  6. Tam Vox

These were then mixed down live using headphones. If time and resources were available then it would be beneficial to locate the mixer away from the FOH position (where it was for this gig). This allows a mix to be created without distraction from the front of house sound. Even more beneficial would have been using the multitrack recorder currently sitting in the AGOS control room which would have allowed a proper mix down after the event. Still, hindsight's a wonderful thing isn't it?

Overall the recording was successful considering the technical challenges. Hopefully it'll be available soon.

Jonathan Towers 10:49, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

TSM

Stage Management

Marketing

Production Management