Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Room Setup

This one isn't strictly sound related but it's something many of us have had to deal with. A sound guy's duties often extend beyond just mixing and gear maintenance. Some of us are production and stage managers, lighting people, and last but not least... janitors. This one is for those of you who are in charge of moving the seats in a multi use venue.

Many churches, schools and of course banquet halls have spaces that are designed to handle different seating arrangements. Someone has to move the seats though and depending on the standards and requirements it can be quite a pain. Churches are a little more particular than most and this trick might be easiest for them to implement.

This all started with a call from a friend who wanted to know if there was an easier way to get straight rows without using strings or lasers. The idea we came up with still used lasers but on a robotic gimbal in the ceiling. Once a layout was programmed in, a seat could be selected on a tablet and the laser would point to where it goes. R & D was looking pretty expensive as well as figuring out how to make the software easy to use and have enough features.

I was just about to bag the idea when another one came to me. Instead of mounting a robot laser pointer in the ceiling, why not just park a wifi enabled security camera? Get the room set up the hard way, snap a pic and save it. Then next time just pull up the setup you want, set the live view from the cam to half transparency and start lining things up. In a church these days there's bound to be a projector and a screen. With the image ten feet across you could have as many people as you want lining up chairs and checking on the big screen.

There may be a couple tweaks needed such as changing the original images to a monochrome to make it easier to tell what's a real chair and what's on the layout. A web cam should be able to provide images to many computers at once though so even if a big screen wasn't available, two or more laptops on the scene could make the job easier.

There you go Brethren of the Knob and Fader. We don't just take care of your ears and your mixes, we're looking out for your spine and your patience too.

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