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Author Topic: Writing an "AV Manual"  (Read 2954 times)

Aiden Garrett

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Writing an "AV Manual"
« on: April 13, 2011, 02:54:52 pm »

Some background: My church is a small, portable church of approximately 50 to 100 people weekly. The Senior Pastors are part time teachers, part time pastors/runners of the church, part time music directors of the church, and probably just about everything else under the sun that happens in a church! The AV system is less than ideal, and the system is run entirely by volunteers with minimal know how. With the exception of the pastor and his son (musicians, for the most part), I think I have the most experience (18yrs old, doing AV for atleast 8 years), but I'm still not happy with my experience doing mostly the same stuff week in, week out, and up until a few weeks ago, i've been kept out of the budgetting :(!

With this in mind, i've decided to rewrite the "AV Manual". I'm not sure who wrote it, but I picked up on a lot of things like "wait until the band start singing the next verse/song etc, before changing the lyrics on screen" which in my oppinion are DEFFINATELY not best practice. I think this needs to be an almost A - Z guide, so that anyone can turn up and set the system up to a satisfactory standard, but i'm not 100% sure!

So, what "must-haves" should I include? Do you have any tips on writing about troubleshooting?

I would be grateful for any suggestions, pointers, resources online, and mostly, stories of experiences.

Thanks,

Aiden
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Mike Spitzer

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Re: Writing an "AV Manual"
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2011, 09:39:19 pm »

"wait until the band start singing the next verse/song etc, before changing the lyrics on screen"

You're right. People read ahead, so you want to change the lyrics before they're actually sung.

As for everything else, here's a small list:

- Diagrams for the stage and FOH positions.
- Sample input lists for "typical" stage and FOH connections.
- A list of cable types and how to identify them. (Goes with the input lists).

The rest gets more complicated. If you're setup doesn't change too much, then you don't need a treatise on gain structure. As long as the inputs don't change, things should be pretty close. At that point, it's mostly a matter of identifying equipment, and in what order it's hooked up and turned on. Other than that, somebody should be able to work the faders if they've sat through it before.

If you're on a digital board (which, based on your size I wouldn't expect or recommend) it becomes even more complicated, since the initial board setup can be a nightmare depending on the console.

In general, I look at an A/V guide like that as a kind of worst-case-scenario-give-the-people-enough-to-get-by kind of guide. Anything more really requires serious training.

-mS
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: Writing an "AV Manual"
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2011, 11:42:08 pm »

Make the first page or two a "Quick Start" guide, a step-by-step listing of the most basic things necessary to do to get sound to come out of the speakers. Keep it very simple and type it up in 14 point or larger. Use pictures. Anyone not trained on the sound system will look to this guide for the most basic operation. Don't go over two pages for this -- save the detail for other pages.
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Stop confusing the issue with facts and logic!

Aiden Garrett

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Re: Writing an "AV Manual"
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2011, 07:36:16 pm »

As for everything else, here's a small list:

- Diagrams for the stage and FOH positions.
- Sample input lists for "typical" stage and FOH connections.
- A list of cable types and how to identify them. (Goes with the input lists).

The rest gets more complicated. If you're setup doesn't change too much, then you don't need a treatise on gain structure. As long as the inputs don't change, things should be pretty close. At that point, it's mostly a matter of identifying equipment, and in what order it's hooked up and turned on. Other than that, somebody should be able to work the faders if they've sat through it before.

If you're on a digital board (which, based on your size I wouldn't expect or recommend) it becomes even more complicated, since the initial board setup can be a nightmare depending on the console.

Thanks for the list, that will deffinately help, and has formed the first part of the to do list!

RE Digital Boards: Currently, we're on an analogue Behringher (heeelllpppp!) which does the job... just! Currently, it sits at the bands feet and has the amp for FOH. I'm pushing for equipment, slowly. Starting with a toolkit so I can fix cables on the fly! I'm highly considering pushing for a rack similar to the GigRig from SKB to minimise the amount of cases we have to lug around, and then there is the concern I have for the limited options we would have in the future for a new desk. Do I want an analogue desk, and have the trouble associated with multicores (not if I can help it) and a limited channel count; or do i persuade the church that a digi desk is the way to go and get a system that uses CAT5 throughout... something to be saved for another post!

Make the first page or two a "Quick Start" guide, a step-by-step listing of the most basic things necessary to do to get sound to come out of the speakers. Keep it very simple and type it up in 14 point or larger. Use pictures. Anyone not trained on the sound system will look to this guide for the most basic operation. Don't go over two pages for this -- save the detail for other pages.


I hadn't thought of this... Thanks!
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Brad Weber

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Re: Writing an "AV Manual"
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2011, 11:29:02 am »

RE Digital Boards: Currently, we're on an analogue Behringher (heeelllpppp!) which does the job... just! Currently, it sits at the bands feet and has the amp for FOH. I'm pushing for equipment, slowly. Starting with a toolkit so I can fix cables on the fly! I'm highly considering pushing for a rack similar to the GigRig from SKB to minimise the amount of cases we have to lug around, and then there is the concern I have for the limited options we would have in the future for a new desk. Do I want an analogue desk, and have the trouble associated with multicores (not if I can help it) and a limited channel count; or do i persuade the church that a digi desk is the way to go and get a system that uses CAT5 throughout... something to be saved for another post!
I would rather have an analog desk out in the listener area than a digital console at the band's feet.  ;)
 
Although some digital consoles can be used with or are based on a digital snake, the two are not inherently part of one another and an analog console with a digital snake or a digital console with an analog snake are not at all uncommon.  And while it may be necessary to push for equipment slowly, it is typically advantageous to do so with an overall plan in place.  Acquiring equipment piecemeal is often a reality but there is usually no reason the concept behind the what you do also has to be approached piecemeal and doing so is rarely effective.
 
 
On the manual, I've found that probably the most critical first step in creating such documents is identifying the intended audience.  What you write for a casual user may be quite different than what you'd write for someone coming into a position like yours which may be different from what you write for someone like a Music Minister or Worship Director which might be different than what you're writing for the musicians and so on.  Trying to create an everything to everyone document usually ends up with something that is not that effective for anyone.
 
You may want to consider splitting it into general topics such as "General Information", "Before a Service", "During a Service", "After a Service", "Troubleshooting", etc.
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Aiden Garrett

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Re: Writing an "AV Manual"
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2011, 06:45:39 pm »

I would rather have an analog desk out in the listener area than a digital console at the band's feet.  ;)
 
Although some digital consoles can be used with or are based on a digital snake, the two are not inherently part of one another and an analog console with a digital snake or a digital console with an analog snake are not at all uncommon.  And while it may be necessary to push for equipment slowly, it is typically advantageous to do so with an overall plan in place.  Acquiring equipment piecemeal is often a reality but there is usually no reason the concept behind the what you do also has to be approached piecemeal and doing so is rarely effective.

Me too! The point I was getting at is that I want to keep the outlay and amount of equipment we have to a minimum. As a portable church, i'd rather not run an analogue desk with a digital multicore (i don't understand the logic if i'm honest), or a digital multicore with an analogue desk (again, I don't follow the logic). I am deffinately in favour of having all digital, as IMO (and experience), it significantly reduces the complexity. Having a digital multicore with a digital desk as it's designed (like Roland's system), seems to keep the amount and weight of equipment to a minimum. A BIG plus for a portable church!

Duly noted for the topics, thanks.
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Brad Weber

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Re: Writing an "AV Manual"
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2011, 07:01:07 pm »

As a portable church, i'd rather not run an analogue desk with a digital multicore (i don't understand the logic if i'm honest), or a digital multicore with an analogue desk (again, I don't follow the logic). I am deffinately in favour of having all digital, as IMO (and experience), it significantly reduces the complexity. Having a digital multicore with a digital desk as it's designed (like Roland's system), seems to keep the amount and weight of equipment to a minimum. A BIG plus for a portable church!
An analog console with a digital snake may make sense for someone that already has a nice analog console and outboard gear but wants to get away from having to deal with a large snake.  A digital console with an analog snake makes sense if you have analog connectivity that works for you but want to add the scene preset capability, onboard effects and dynamics, etc. that a digital console offers.  It all depends on the situation.
 
One thing to keep in mind is that while digital snakes may be easier to use in portable application, you are also somewhat 'putting all your eggs in one basket' in that a problem with a single cable, connector, interface or box may affect multiple or even all of your connectivity rather than just one or two channels.  So having spares of some for some of the most likely problem items often makes sense.
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Kent Thompson

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Re: Writing an "AV Manual"
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2011, 10:00:32 pm »

Using a Good quality touring type of cat5 cable will help as well as having a spare in case one fails. Two cat 5 cables are likely still lighter than a multi core.
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Matthias Heitzer

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Re: Writing an "AV Manual"
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2011, 09:35:27 am »

Wether a digital or an analouge bord is the best for your church depends on a lot of factors.
Search though the old forums, there are tons of information about this topic.

What i would like to see in a AV manual is a complete block diagramm of the system. Every piece of gear and all of the interconnections. Makes setting up and troubleshooting a lot easier.

Last time I put together a small portable system for a church, I adhered quick start guides, drawings and basic troubleshooting instructions into the lids of the cases.
(A lot of people there had some experience with sound systems, so they already knew the names of most of the devices and connectors.)
The use of multipin connectors speeds up the setup.
The stagebox sits in the amprack. Yep, it's rather heavy, but it minimizes the interconnections and therefore the potential mistakes.
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