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Articles May-June 2021

Pursuing the Pro Audio Trail

In conversation with Caroline Moss and Sue Gould

PT got in touch with the Pro AVL Asia magazine core team of Editor - Caroline Moss and Sales Director - Sue Gould, who between them boast of over three decades of experience in the pro audio industry..... read more

NJSM Marks a Milestone in the Business of Sound

From Rental Company to manufacturer and innovator, Nixon Johnny has guided and grown NJSM from a two-person company to a fifty-person company, continuing to expand into virtual events with NJSM Virtual Studio..... read more

Tech Savvy Environment for T-Systems

Eyte Technologies installs high-tech AV Solution at T-System’s Experience Center facilitating brand value and delivering superior customer experience..... read more

Conversations with SudeepAudio

Sudeep Audio, one of India’s first pro audio web store selling studio software and equipment online commenced its YouTube Channel, ConverSAtions, in 2011 to share the journey of Indian Sound Engineers..... read more

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Customize My Desk Please!

Viraf Pocha

Gotta Stay Active.

I have been active my whole life. Broken Bones, Malaria, this trouble, that distraction. You get out of bed and get on with it.  Reflect, Introspect, Meditate.  You’re on your butt for a bit and then something calls and you’re off. Mindfully choosing between acting and reacting.

Now for the first time in my Life I wake up wondering ‘what the hell do I wake up and do?’

Every news channel is screaming wild stuff at you. Mostly irrelevant just a few minutes after engaging. Social media is a merry mix of dire predictions, warm sentimentality and mindless musti.

I’ve finished reading most of the books I had kept aside – and that was a huge stack.

Evening walks have been fun. People-watching the aggressive, committed, bored, the extremely fit, the comfortably flabby and the strugglers just getting along.

It’s been hard to keep a positive mind. To focus on progress. I’m the guy who thinks of many things – but I got to implement them immediately. Action the thoughts.  Be Tactile. See how it plays out.  Adopt some practices, change some routines.

Even that engagement is getting harder and harder as people are drawn away into their own circumstances. I hear about some amazing experiences. People who have discovered some unique paths to good health, both mental and physical.  It’s been fun listening and learning from their experiences. 

Somehow I always find a way to bring the conversation around to theatre and events. My Love and passion that have been shelved for far too long.

Inevitably I get pulled away into a ‘what If’ mode. Somebody told me that in the great Azim Premji’s offices there is a sign that reads – ‘If People are not laughing at your goals – They not High Enough’

I liked that.  Idiot that I am, when I started my career my goal was to simply be a better lighting designer.  People laughed at even that seemingly modest goal. Some are still laughing. Sometimes I’m tempted to join them. Ridiculous Idea.

Mr. Premji used that laughter to propel himself to be a billionaire. What the hell did I do?

Had a huge amount of fun – that’s what. Met some really interesting, crazy people. I believe – I have led a hugely rich and entertaining life.  My Bank balance shows scars of both the fun and the accomplishment.

So with my unsteady legs and my unwillingness to get out of bed unless it’s for anything substantial (I envy Naomi Campbell statement ‘I won’t get out of bed for anything less than $ 15,000’. Of course for me the substantial is Lemon Pancakes – But I’m getting there.....).... I Dream

What If....

What If we could customize our lighting desks?  What If I could arrange all my faders and buttons to be laid out exactly as its intuitive for ME. 

In My View – a Lighting Board operator (holds true for sound and video too) should never take his eye off the stage. Even if you glance at your desk it will take a few seconds for your eyes to re-focus into the distance under dramatically different light levels. That is why I insist on my boards to be lit at a similar intensity to the stage (relatively speaking). It drives director’s nuts who believe that the console should be in blackout – apart from the desk light to read their cue sheets of course.  

Below my Enlarged keyboard – let the processors keep changing. I mean – on a PC. I’ve had the same PC for years.  It gets upgraded and refitted every few months.  My keyboard stays the same.  And when the keys get sticky – I get a new one.  Every key is exactly in the same place. Same for mouse.

Why can’t I do that on my Lighting desk?

Think about It. – My Sound and Video Brothers could add their ideas.

Programing the lighting and playing it back are two totally different functions. To Further segregate –

Playing Back a Tightly Cued show is totally different from Busking a show. We all know that.

A quick review of all the world’s major board designers / architects confirms that very few have actually worked as journeyman board operators.   They all tout some experience behind the board. When I probed and demanded to know about some specific feature that they insisted on incorporating that they missed as operators – I got a lot of hems and haws.  That made me realise that today boards are designed by committee and try to be all things to all people. You know where that approach leads you. 

I understand that with the traditional way of doing things these ideas would be impossible.

But what if we looked at the entire stage as an animated movie with limitless aspect ratios and in a 3D space.  Like a cube whose axis proportion ratios we can customise. Each Block has an address and into each block we place a light fixture or light unit. To give them names ‘Air Stage’ as all the fixtures will be in the air around the stage (Even footlights will take air for the nit pickers) and each block is called air block. Each air block has a preset space of 1 cubic ft. I doubt if any unit is smaller.  Larger units can consume more air blocks.

So now you are commanding air blocks in your air stage and not fixtures.

Note:  For an LED Wall – Routines can break air blocks into smaller blocks.  Some video genius will figure out the algo for this.

As soon as you plug in the unit – your Computer immediately accesses the light fixtures personality file and converts it to the boards standard. So now the board clusters each attribute like Pan / tilt etc. to a single channel number. 

I understand that this necessitates manufacturer to standardise how his scrolling channels will be configured – But my guess is they will all fall in line or they will fall outside the universe. There will be a period while my genius board design will become world standard.  There will be doubters – but we will figure out a way to deal with their issues.

  1. Programing: Now programing becomes like an animated movie. Immediately I hear about the limitations of DMX. Guys we are an industry of the future. In the age of AI we still relying on protocols that were designed to go down telephone wires?

ADAPT if not Re-invent.

  1. Programmers program by writing simple instructions in layered excel type sheets. Expanding cells corresponding to each air block and copy pasting them / exporting them to all the blocks in the group. Then each air block can be edited / modified by macros – familiar to all excel super users.
  2. Movement is traced much like my animation brothers do.
  3. Apps / routines can exist – can be sold / downloaded pretty much like you do apps on your phone. These apps do all the magic shape generators do. Just input time and edit permutations and combinations available.
  4. Then we work out triggers. LIVE for busked shows. Time coded for programmed shows.

Assign to playback triggers on your customised board.

  1. Visualizers are used as they are now.
  2. The much maligned Windows Operating systems had the advantage of bringing everybody down to a common language. Let the big boys fight it out on which operating platform works best. I’d love to see a task force with collaborators from every board manufacturer working on line during lock down.
  3. All of the programing is put into a USB. Plugged into a Playback unit on site. Playback unit can be triggered by board manufactures layouts – From Touch Screens to customised real faders / sliders / wheels that the lighting designer can customise. Think about it.
  4. Of course that on site unit can be used to tweak and program simple shows. For the fussy – the programing unit can be accessed on line from a central resource.
  5. Lighting Operators need not buy programing systems. Just rent them off the cloud form the big Boys. On site they have a board assigned and laid out exactly haw their fingers move.

What’s the response to my What If?

Haters will Hate. Doubters will Doubt. But I’m reaching out to the users who will demand. Calling all Visionary Designers to demand the tech boys to give them the tools to take their work above the visual clutter that screens all around us create.   To Stretch the Live EXPERIENCE.