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Author Topic: RF Count - Reality Check  (Read 486 times)

Bruce Colgate

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RF Count - Reality Check
« on: January 13, 2020, 05:46:13 pm »

Howdy.  Please, a quick reality check for me.  Been mixing for 40+ years, but I wonder if my lack of travel lately is affecting my perception.  I help a small local school with their musical production that they do once a year.  I've helped them build up their sound department such that they now have 24 EW100 G3 systems in the 470 - 558mHz range (and a few 600 units).  No intermod or dropout issues for whole run of show, & other issues are rare, using a 3 person volunteer department (A1, A2 & Cueing student (Palladium)).

New director arrives, and seems surprised I'm reluctant to deploy more than 24 systems for the show (it's actually 25 including VOG HH).

Stuff changes, and new things become normal.  Is it normal for high schools to run much more than 24 systems for musicals in 2020?  An unvarnished answer would be most appreciated.

Best,

-Bruce (noob to LAB) Colgate
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Mike Locke

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Re: RF Count - Reality Check
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2020, 07:08:27 pm »

Is it normal for high schools to run much more than 24 systems for musicals in 2020? 

Yes, if they can get away with it.  32 for one high school here, and the community theatre as well.  It takes the right knowledge, the right gear, and a team to make it happen.  But it happens. 
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: RF Count - Reality Check
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2020, 09:42:21 pm »

Hi Bruce, welcome to the Live Audio Board wireless and comms forum.

Last week I was working with a Thespian Conference and the first main stage production was Pippin.  32 channels of wireless.  Not certain of the details as I was flyman but were all Shure.  They did their own frequency coordination, AFAIK.

A few years ago a private school brought me in to be the ghost A-1 (some student got program credit for sound design, I never saw him until dress rehearsal) and they had 16 channels of wireless and hired in another 8 before I was brought in; I added 1 more, for a kid with 2 sentences of dialog that proved impossible for him to project.  So yes, high schools are using lots of wireless.

Now since we're both curmudgeonly, {rant} I think teachers are relying too much on technology.  In fairness, those teaching now have always been around wireless mics in some way, shape or form.  Parents have fewer aesthetic objections to seeing mics on performers than has been customary.  Perhaps I'm just an old fart but I remember when only actors with big parts and small voices got wireless mics, and much effort was expended to localize that actor's voice to the stage and not above the proscenium.  But it would be easier if the skill and technique of vocal projection were still taught as part of the craft of acting. {/rant}
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Erik Jerde

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Re: RF Count - Reality Check
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2020, 10:31:20 pm »

I remember when only actors with big parts and small voices got wireless mics

Man, I remember doing HS theater in the early 90's and there was zero wireless.  It was a fairly sizeable program at a large wealthy school too.  We just cast talent that could get the job done and the ones who couldn't learned.
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Steve-White

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Re: RF Count - Reality Check
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2020, 11:35:59 pm »

Man, I remember doing HS theater in the early 90's and there was zero wireless.  It was a fairly sizeable program at a large wealthy school too.  We just cast talent that could get the job done and the ones who couldn't learned.

I remember rigging the set with duct taped PZM's & a couple of shotgun mic's up behind the proscenium.  :)
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Brian Adams

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Re: RF Count - Reality Check
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2020, 09:03:33 am »

I remember rigging the set with duct taped PZM's & a couple of shotgun mic's up behind the proscenium.  :)

And everyone thought it was great!

Ah, the good old days..
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Scott Helmke

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Re: RF Count - Reality Check
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2020, 11:05:58 am »

Big wireless rigs are the modern curse for school music programs. Often the equipment is accumulated, borrowed, donated, with no plan for making it work together.  It's a fairly regular thing every autumn for me to go rescue some local high school's big production, because this level of production is generally outside a theatre teacher's skill set.
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Benjamin Krumholz

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Re: RF Count - Reality Check
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2020, 11:36:26 am »

Whats Your ZIP Code?


New director arrives, and seems surprised I'm reluctant to deploy more than 24 systems for the show (it's actually 25 including VOG HH).


-Bruce (noob to LAB) Colgate
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Bruce Colgate

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Re: RF Count - Reality Check
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2020, 04:47:20 pm »

Yes, if they can get away with it.  32 for one high school here, and the community theatre as well.  It takes the right knowledge, the right gear, and a team to make it happen.  But it happens.

Thanks Mike.  I'm gonna try to hold the line as long as I can, as I do feel it's in the production's best interest to contain costs, and have to make upstream decisions that don't necessarily result in "more must be better".

Thank you Tim McCulloch and Scott Helmke; I and those near me agree that a better performance from the actor is far more important than "how many channels ya got."

Steven White, I remember those days, and I do NOT want to time travel back there!

Benjamin, my zip is 06606.

Thanks everyone for the barometer reading; much appreciated!

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Jordan Wolf

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Re: RF Count - Reality Check
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2020, 09:23:07 pm »

Yeah...Iíve seen the increase over the last decade, and not just in theatrical performances.

Iíve done a number of choir & a cappella concerts and competitions where they seem to feel the need to have everyone micíd with a handheld.
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Ike Zimbel

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Re: RF Count - Reality Check
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2020, 10:57:44 pm »

Yeah...Iíve seen the increase over the last decade, and not just in theatrical performances.

Iíve done a number of choir & a cappella concerts and competitions where they seem to feel the need to have everyone micíd with a handheld.
My theory about this is that pretty much every member of the public have seen some version of a Broadway Mega Musical, or a Stars on Ice, or a Vegas mega show or whatever and therefore have gotten used to the idea of many performers on stage, all on wireless mics. So then...the high school (or elementary school) play, the Easter Pageant etc. comes along and they just automatically think they need the same thing for their kids. The fact that the mega shows are out there on the cutting edge of technology and have all kinds of know-how and expertise poured into them to make them work (and millions of dollars) doesn't seem to stop anyone thinking that they can do the same with $98.50 and a You-Tube video :'(
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John Sulek

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Re: RF Count - Reality Check
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2020, 11:52:21 pm »

My theory about this is that pretty much every member of the public have seen some version of a Broadway Mega Musical, or a Stars on Ice, or a Vegas mega show or whatever and therefore have gotten used to the idea of many performers on stage, all on wireless mics. So then...the high school (or elementary school) play, the Easter Pageant etc. comes along and they just automatically think they need the same thing for their kids. The fact that the mega shows are out there on the cutting edge of technology and have all kinds of know-how and expertise poured into them to make them work (and millions of dollars) doesn't seem to stop anyone thinking that they can do the same with $98.50 and a You-Tube video :'(

But my phone works everywhere!
Great...give my their budget for infrastructure and problem solved.
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Russell Ault

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Re: RF Count - Reality Check
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2020, 12:13:08 am »

Iíve done a number of choir & a cappella concerts and competitions where they seem to feel the need to have everyone micíd with a handheld.

In fairness, close-mic'ed vocal jazz and vocal a cappella is often about achieving a particular sound as opposed to a particular volume, and even at the high school level it's been around for a long time (I started working in the genre about 15 years ago, and it was well established back then).

That being said, in my neck of the woods any ensemble with more than about six singers would typically be using wired mics.

-Russ
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Re: RF Count - Reality Check
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