If you’ve ever been to a professional theatrical production, it is probably safe to say that you came away from the experience very impressed with what you just saw, and even what you just heard. That is because professional shows usually have a pretty high budget with and highly qualified technicians, not to mention very talented actors and musicians. That’s why it’s called professional! If you have ever had to engineer sound for an amateur production, you may have had a very different experience with the final results. Any number of reasons could contribute to this problem; a low budget prohibits having an appropriate sound system or quality microphones, time restraints don’t allow enough opportunities for proper rehearsal, maybe the actors aren’t cooperating the way they should. Whatever the reasons, it can be frustrating trying to perform your best and get the results that you feel the audience deserves.
While I can’t necessarily help improve budgetary conditions or any of the other issues I mentioned earlier, I can provide some suggestions that could make the job of actually running the show a little bit easier. Let me introduce 2 programs from CH Sound Design called MicPlot and Palladium. These programs were designed by Chris Hubbard and are intended to aid the sound engineer with developing a detailed mic plot and cue list that will ease the entire process of running a show. Let’s first take a look at MicPlot.
MicPlot is a program that will generate a detailed mic plot for the user that outlines how many microphones are needed for the show, who will be using those mics, how many mic swaps are needed, when those mic swaps need to occur and many other beneficial tools that can be used during rehearsals and shows to better manage the microphones.
It will also build the foundation for a cue list that can be used by Palladium to operate the sound board during rehearsals and show. Inputting your show information into the pages of MicPlot will allow the program to evaluate that information and create a well-organized mic plot in a fraction of the time it would take to do manually.
Palladium then takes that information and will create a cue list that will allow the user to control their sound system with the push of a button. For so many of us who have run shows on analog boards by hand; manually muting and unmuting channels or riding faders up and down, this is a welcome change and a tremendous improvement over the old methods. One great feature about Palladium is the simplicity with which you can create, edit and save cues.
Working in real time, Palladium will automatically save any of your work the instant you proceed to the next cue. You no longer need to perform several operations just to save your cues and move on. By placing the program in LEARN mode, any changes you might make on your console in a given cue will translate to Palladium and be saved as soon as you move to the next cue. This allows you to work from the console and edit cues instead of needing to work on a computer, which for most sound guys is much preferred!
If you are in the business of running sound for theatrical productions and you're looking for a better method than you are currently using, please take a look at these 2 programs. You can check out our instructional videos as well that help to demonstrate how the programs work and how to create your show files. Enjoy!