By Simon Byrne.

This should be an easily answered question but as I travel from venue to venue, I’m constantly amazed how good house event IT infrastructure is thwarted by terrible design and implementation. Let me give you a few examples:

Example One

I’m doing a corporate event for a thousand people in an upstairs ballroom of a major hotel in Melbourne. The house AV tech provides us with an iPad to control the recently upgraded houselights. This was particularly important for our video rolls in our tightly scripted show.

The first issue is that the iPad needs to be woken, have a passcode entered, then there is a delay before it reconnects to the house WiFi network, and there is another three second delay between when you push the button and the fade starts, which takes eight seconds!

Less than ideal when you are running a tight show and cannot synchronise the house light fade with the video rolls. But it gets worse.

During the show we go to black, and twenty seconds later the house lights come back up! We put to black again, and it comes up again! This happened three times. It turned out that the iPad which controlled the house lighting network not only controlled our ballroom, but also the foyer as well as the entire conferencing floor below us.

Every time we turned the lights down, we killed the lights in the entire building’s wing, and someone on the floor below us who was running their own event and wanted light turned the lights back on!

This is dumb design.

Why would the people on the first floor ever need control of the houselights on the floor below them?

They don’t. But because someone thought it was clever to be able to control everything from multiple locations, problems are bound to arise.

Example Two

The load out for ENTECH 2019 commences in a major convention centre. The room is somewhat dim and we need more working light to load out safely. Our exhibitors are complaining! We make the request and it turns out that we cannot get more room light “because that is a lighting scene and we’ll have to get a lighting person in to get that happening”.

No lighting operator with the equipment and skills are on duty at that time to do the necessary soft patching so we are forced to load out with a less than ideal amount of working light.

Example Three

In this most extreme example, another major convention centre completed a huge systems upgrade which included venue-wide Dante and ArtNet networks. Once again, someone thought it was a good idea for operators to be able to access everything in the building from any location.

Picture this; a show running in Hall G and a crew setting up for another event in Hall A at the same time.

The event in Hall G is going great until the crew in Hall A plug their Yamaha CL5 desk into the house Dante network. Suddenly the setup crew in Hall A have control of the audio in Hall G and their faders are down!

This actually happened… several times. The ArtNet network did this too!

I’m told that on many occasions several Grand MA desks are plugged into the network throughout the building, with roughly the same addressing. “Interesting control problems” did arise during shows.

This high tech stuff should make things easier, not the opposite. We need standards because apparently simple house control problems have become overly complex, with surprising and poor outcomes.

CX Magazine – June 2019 Entertainment technology news and issues for Australia and New Zealand – in print and free online