Re: [Frameworks] The Digital Video Exhibition Problem: And An Offer To Address It

From: Flick Harrison (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Dec 04 2010 - 22:04:11 PST

I'm glad this discussion has popped up again as a result of my query. Thanks for the responses.

I prefer files over blu-ray, because I want to mess with timing etc right down to tech, and so burning a blu-ray disk three times a day seems like a waste of time and money (and nail-biting). Plus buying a PC, lots of software, 2 blu-ray decks and learn the ins and outs of that format. Steve Jobs hates blu ray. And then I'll have to bin it in 2 years when the format dies, as well it should, falling to netflix on one side and 3D on the other.

There's also a number of reasons why I'm leaning against computer-based solutions for my show.

(DVD is fine in all categories except resolution. Need something tastier - projecting on THIS: ).

1. Cost... to rent two computers for a week and have them running side by side, in synch, is much less inviting than buying two, say, Lacie Lacinema boxes and owning them after the show.

2. Simplicity. I want something the sound tech or stage manager or lighting operator can cue in the booth without special training. I don't want to VJ, I want to be in the audience watching, or more likely shooting the documentation. Budgeting for an operator seems frivolous when the cue is play, wait five minutes, pause, wait five minutes, play, etc.

Plus installing software on both macbooks, and cuing each one manually if it's modul8 or whatever. Also, one remote could reliably cue two dedicated boxes simultaneously - no need for them to run in perfect crystal synch, just one as a cued-up backup in case the other box goes down during a live show, a slight hiccup and back on track. This is standard with CD players in live dance shows. This is considered rock-solid reliable 100%, especially with a backup system in place.

3. Dedicated machines. I don't want to leave my main workhorse computer in the theatre for a week during tech and run (I need it!), whereas taking it home after each tech day or show means running a full battery of tests every night. Brrrr. And what if something changes in my system during that week? Something so subtle that it isn't evident until it's sitting idle during audience coming in etc, acts 1 and 2, then when it's time to cue the video - oops! The HD went to sleep, 10 second pause and spinny beach ball on stage. Fired.

Would you let the projectionist take home the video deck from the cinema every night and watch movies or make his own dubs? Then bring it back and plug it in again before the paying audience shows up? Isn't that just asking for something to go wrong?

4. Reliability. The one in a hundred, or a thousand chance of a computer glitch is too much for a live ballet show. One in zero is the odds we want. It's not like a film that you can rewind and start again, apologize to the audience and get going again. If there's a fatal glitch in the video system, someone will dowse the projector, and the dance will continue without it, the end.

I dunno, maybe I'm just chicken - lots of folks perform with computers these days.

Testing a DVD in a player, from beginning to end, and running tech on the show with the live cues a few times, then a dress rehearsal, satisfies me.

I've been in the audience for a few theatre shows where the actors had to play their lines to a bright blue tv screen which declared only "NO SIGNAL!" in response. Not going to happen on my watch.

5. Random BS. I just tech'ed a video projection for dance, and my macbook pro wouldn't talk to that projector. Just send wiggly lines. Rebooted, and then it sent a very yellow signal. Fiddled with every setting, couldn't figure it out. Other macs worked fine on that projector, and my mac worked fine on other projectors with the same adapter. Scratching head, googling, etc. Much discussion. Came in the next day, plugged it, worked fine. No thank you, system. Used a DVD for that one.


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