Archive for the ‘Tips and Tricks’ Category

Mostly fixed…

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Hey gang, after lots of “life getting in the way”, I managed to fix all the broken links and formatting in all the posts. There are still some errant / marks in the post titles, but I’ll deal with that later :-)

It’ll still be a bit until I have a pretty layout back up, and regular posting, but OFTR isn’t dead yet!


Protecting Yourself from Airport Thieves

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

This one’s just a quick link to the “Flying With Fish” blog that I’ve become a big fan of, where today Fish posted a piece on how professional thieves operate in airports, and how you can protect yourself from them. Great tips for my touring brethren, or anybody else who travels in an airport!

More OmniGraffle Stencils

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

I just made a quick stop by Graffletopia to see what was new, and found three new stencil sets of interest to the sound and props guys doing pit layouts and system diagrams in OmniGraffle:

Yamaha Gear

Musical Instruments

Stage Sound

The first and last are a little two photo-realistic for my tastes for system diagrams, but they may be of use to others, and the instruments would do really well for pit diagrams!


Quick Tip for Notating Scripts in Microsoft Word

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Hey guys,
This is actually two in one. First, a little known Word fact–if you add in lines, arrows, etc as drawing elements in Word, they’ll maintain their relationship to the text you place them near, even if they’re floating above the text, and not in-line with the text.

A Great Article on Perspectives

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

I’ve linked to Jason Pritchard’s great site, Bright and Loud, in the blogroll for a long time, but I realized I’ve never actually linked to any of his articles before. I just came across this article browsing around his site, and wanted to call attention to it. A huge amount of this business, especially sound (althought truly all disciplines) comes down to people skills and psychology, and not technical skills. Jason provides some great examples, including a detailed examination of something I’ve run into many times, in translating actor-speak to sound-guy-speak*.


Some Tips for Airport Security Safety

Friday, December 19th, 2008

I’ve lately been reading “Flying With Fish”, a blog by professional photographer Stephen Frischling; it’s aimed primarily at travelling photographers, but is also of interest to anybody who travels regularly. Recently, he posted this article on avoiding theft at the airport security checkpoints, and this one on the anatomy of a security check point. I think both are must-reads for all my touring and travelling friends.


Another Quick ClearCom Tip

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Since these tips seem to be pretty popular, here’s a little known tip for those with ClearCom RS-502 two-channel beltpacks.

As some of you may have discovered, default from the factory, these packs came set so you could only talk to one channel at a time; activitating the other channel deactivates the current one. Much to the frustration of many a user. What you may not know, however, is that a quick minute or two modification–that’s factory authorized and doesn’t even involve a soldering iron–can fix this and allow simultaneous use of both channels.

Intercom Troubleshooting Case Study

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

I just posted a “question of the day” over at Control Booth, a message board aimed at high school and college students interested in theatre tech, with a case study from a service call I did earlier this afternoon troubleshooting some “awful buzz” on a client’s intercom system. Since there’s been such good receipt of my past ClearCom tips and advice here on OFTR, I thought some of you might be interested in checking it out, too.


Two awesome Mac utilities (and one for Windows)

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

In an attempt to finally start posting more frequently, here are two OS X utilities I’ve stumbled across or been pointed to recently that have made my life on various shows measurably easier:

First, there’s Martian LifeBoat, which lets you define a thumbdrive (or any removable drive) as a “lifeboat”, with a predetermined backup set. From then on, any time you plug that drive into the computer, it automatically backs that set of files/folders up onto the drive (with an option to skip the update if you desire) and then (again optionally) unmounts the drive. When you need it, the data’s there as a disk image, ready to be restored or transferred. During tech, I’ve found it useful for keeping offsite backups of my QLab files and cues. I’d love to find something (or see an update to Lifeboat) that can sync the copy on the removable media instead of just a one-way backup, but the price is right, and it’s incredibly useful as is.

Putting the E back in E-Tickets

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

This was a much longer post, but I hit the wrong tab in the browser and made it vanish into the ethers, so here’s a more concise (to your benefit, I suppose) take 2:

I discovered a neat trick on a recent trip to Syn-Aud-Con’s “Hums, Buzzes, and Things That Go Zap!” workshop in Salt Lake City. If you take the barcode your airline (well, Delta, anyway, can’t speak for others) sends you in your e-ticket confirmation and copy the photo into your cellphone (I’ve got a Treo, which works great for this), you can bring that photo up on the phone and hold the screen under the barcode scanner on the check-in kiosk to log in super quick.

Cool DIY MIDI Toy (Not for the Faint of Heart)

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Hey gang,
In doing some research on something last night (I honestly can’t remember what!), I came across a really cool project for the motivated DIY’ers out there who work with MIDI, or with those who do. It’s Paul Paul Messick and John Battle’s MIDI Viewport, and it’s a really kicking little handheld MIDI analyzer. If you’re familiar with the old Studiomaster MA-36, it’s kinda like that, but on steroids. The MA-36 would just show you what channel was active, and what the type of signal being sent was, with an LED indicator–it couldn’t tell you the actual value of the data.

Shure + Mac + Ram = Happy

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

So, I just discovered by sheer chance of leaving my precision screwdriver set at the shop, that the little Phillips head Shure tweaker is the right size for the case screws on a MacBook Pro. Just in case somebody else might find it useful…

–Andy, who just maxed out the RAM in his MacBook Pro (hey, sometimes a guy’s gotta run Fusion)

MacGyver meets LifeHacker

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

Hey gang,
For those who aren’t familiar with it, my tip today is actually a link to hundreds (thousands?) of tips, courtesy of Lifehacker. If you’re not familiar with it already, you could get lost there for hours, reading all sorts of tips for everyday life–work, computers, productivity, sleep, health, etc.

What made me think of it today was coming across a link to their “MacGyver” category, something I figure is up the alley of many an OFTR reader. So be sure to check these MacGyver-esque tips when you have a spare minute or 20, and then browse the rest of the site!

ClearCom Redundancy

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

At the Broadway Sound Master Class a while back, I had the chance to finally meet Ed Fitzgerald, the Director of Customer Satisfaction for ClearCom, who I’ve known in passing through his posts to the Theatre-Sound List for a few years. We talked for a bit, and traded some thoughts about troubleshooting and common issues people run into with ClearCom, and Ed passed on the following simple suggestion.

OmniGraffle Sound Drawing Templates

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

For the Mac-owning sound designers out there, I recently created a set of templates/stencils for creating rack drawings in OmniGraffle. There’s a template with a generic plate border and title block, and a stencil set with rack units/blanks and racks of all sorts. If it’s of use, it’s yours for the taking, download the 52k zip file here.

Preview of Rack Stencils

(Click for a bigger/better preview image of the stencil set)

I may eventually expand it with a set of symbols for signal flow diagrams as well, so keep posted for updates.

I See it All So Clearly Now!

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

This tip’s primarily aimed at those who use Smaart and XTA’s AudioCore, although it’s also useful with any of the other system processor controllers.

For a while, there have been issues with XTA products that have recent firmware versions not playing nice with the available drivers that are supposed to allow Smaart to control them (not terribly surprising, since the drivers are, oh, 6 years old). They just don’t even recognize that a device is connected (this is with the serial port, I haven’t had a chance to try with MIDI).

Hack your DM2000

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

Hey gang,
I’m working on a design using a DM2000 as the FOH console, and in trying to get it to do a few things I’d like it to do that it officially doesn’t have the capability to do, I’ve discovered a few neat tricks that I’ll share here over the next month or so (I’m still sorting out some of them).

On a recent post at Dave Stevens’s “Barking Dog Forum“, Mac Kerr posted a bit about some of the reasons he’s taken the digital 2-track outputs of the console and brought them back into the digital inputs of the console (most often to get more levels of delay/delay in places the console doesn’t normally have delay).

It\'s Learn to Solder Month!

Monday, January 15th, 2007

Apparently, the folks at Instructables have deemed this month “Learn to Solder Month”, and if you contribute, you can get your own patch for participating. Worth checking out is the Instructable “Guide to Field Soldering”, which features an $8 kit that fits in an Altoids tin (seriously, what’s the deal with Altoids tins on all the DIY sites, anyway?) to help you do quick solders in the field. Not necessarily a guide to a true perfect solder, as its more aimed at quick and dirty field fixes, but worth reading, and the small solder dispenser is worth the price of admission.

Petzl Carabiner Recall

Monday, November 27th, 2006

Just came across a post on the Stagecraft Mailing List pointing out this Petzl recall from about a month ago. If you use Petzl locking ‘biners (the ones with the green button on the lock), be sure to check it out–seems like the safety locks on certain of these models aren’t locking!

Great Online Knot Reference

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

By way of Kevin Kelly’s great blog, Cool Tools, comes Animated Knots, a great site featuring photo animations of all sorts of useful knots.

What’s really cool is that the photos are animated in sync with the text instructions, and you can play them automatically at two different speeds, or manually frame-by-frame by mousing over the timeline.