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Macbook

QLab – 02 – Preparing a Mac

Background Tasks

A Mac, like every other computer, has things going on in the background. Even when you are scrolling through facebook, the Mac OS will be busy in the background checking for updates, syncing to iCloud etc. If you are using your Mac to play back audio cues that need to be played back flawlessly on time, you don’t want your Mac to be thinking about doing something else. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to minimise this happening.

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QLab 4 Screenshot

QLab – 01 – Introduction

What is QLab?

Qlab is an application that runs on Apple Macs. It is a playback engine designed for the entertainment industry. This series will go through Qlab being used in a theatrical settings, but it can just as easily be used in other live event and broadcast situations. QLab is designed to be highly customisable and programable, enabling you to run complex shows from a simple push of a ‘go’ button. This tutorial series will be using QLab 4.

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Speaker Systems

Introduction to Speaker Systems

Most speaker systems will use a simple “Stereo” system. A speaker on the left, and on the right of the performance area. This has the effect of making the sound come from between the two sources. Sounds like a good plan? Well, only when you are the same distance from each speaker. If you are off to the side, sound will arrive at different times from each speaker. This coupled with being closer to one making it sound louder means the stereo effect is lost on most positions apart from directly between them. Sometimes the fact that there is one on each side is for coverage purposes. If you have a stereo audio track with instruments or voices panned hard left and right, you may not hear the intended track if you are not in the firing line of both speakers.

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Microphone Pickup Patterns

Where to point the microphone?

Different microphones have different pickup patterns. These patterns are 3D but can be represented on a type of graph called a polar plot. This type of graph lets you see a slice of the pickup pattern from different angles to give you an idea of what the pattern looks like. The other issue is that the pickup pattern often varies with frequency – so there will be multiple traces on the polar plots to show you what shape its pickup pattern will be at different frequencies. Why have different pickup patterns? Because different microphones can be used for different things. You might want to only pickup sound from a certain direction, and reject sound form others. You might want to put the microphone further away from a sound source and still pickup a good level from the source.

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Number 1’s 2’s 3’s and beyond

Sound Team in a Theatre setting

It takes a lot of people working together to successfully put on a large show. On a musical where the majority of the cast are mic’d and there is a band of some sort, you would expect to find at least 2 people working on the show day to day; Sometimes a third on a busy show.

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Midi, Qlab & ETC Eos

Overview

Recently I have been working on a show at a theatre that is basically a game installation. There is a game that has been developed that runs in the space. The audience generate data and at the end of the game it gets displayed on the screens. This part of the show uses OSC commands to communicate between various macs dotted around.

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The Ins and Out of Audio Signal Paths

One of the most important things to understand if you are operating any kind of sound desk whether in a live or studio environment is the Audio Signal Path.

It took me a good while to see the significance of understanding the signal path on the sound desk I was using. I thought that, because there was a button for everything, I could just wing it. I could always find what I wanted and away I went. Until it goes wrong, and you can’t understand why you’re not getting the results you want from the desk.

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Fault Finding

Fault finding is a brilliant skill to have. The best at it are those who take a step back and think outside the box – so as not to waste time on something that is less likely to have a fault. Oh and btw, it’s always the jack lead. (that the guitarist has bought with him) Read More