Friday, April 15, 2016

Telematic Project!

This weekend at UCI Sound, we are opening three productions... two of which are part of The Telematic Project, two plays (Smoke Front, performed on the arts campus, and Fire Road, performed on the Engineering campus) both written by Tira Palmquist to be performed simultaneously. While the audience only sees one complete story line, the protagonists of both plays rely on each other to do what they think is the right thing in the face of a challenging emergency response to natural disasters. The interaction between the two plays required some careful planning at every level, including things we often take for granted in theater.  Things like pagination, or communication between designers in tech.

While I was officially the designer, our process necessitated that the associate (Ben) take the lead on one of the productions, and I would take the lead on the other. Our sonic vocabulary and aesthetic lined up, but since the two plays had such disparate sound needs, it was important to have a designer in each space that could dedicate their entire focus to one space's audio.

Our main challenge was in figuring out how to effectively send audio and video over our campus network, since although the two venues are both on campus, they are separated by almost 2 miles.

Having learned about QSys and its power through some work at my internship in Burbank, I reached out to the folks at QSC and they were gracious enough to loan a QSys networked DSP system so that we could send audio back and forth between the spaces with an incredible amount of processing at an extremely low latency.  After some careful network configuring with our incredible IT staff (thank you Jason Valdry and Mike Scott!), we were able to successfully get QSys sending audio across campus reliably.  We added a stage management and designer microphone and headphone amp on each end, also running through QSys, so that we could communicate with each other.

We were also responsible for the video system for this show -- using UltraGrid for sending compressed video between the spaces, and QLab for playback.

From a show control perspective, we used QLab to trigger snapshots via Telnet in QSys for telematic scenes, and QLab triggered telematic video using terminal commands for UltraGrid.  Video playback was triggered by the audio computer over OSC.  We also programmed 2 QSC TCP3 touch panels for the stage managers, and wired custom call button/call light boxes for the SMs and for Ben and me, so that we could catch each others' attention.

.... well... most of the time, we just texted each other.

It's been a great process, and I was able to learn an incredible amount about network management, networked DSP, and video system design through this production. Thanks so much to QSC for their support; it was wonderful getting to work with QSys and integrate it into the production!

Click here for full system paperwork

Always good to have a troubleshooting page!

I built an iPad screen to set levels in QSys, and store them as snapshots.

Another tab on the iPad that allowed me to set delay, adjust
compression settings, and adjust echo canceling settings on the fly.

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