February 02, 2006

Room Service

Well, this will be a slightly different gig report, since I wasn't working it, but here goes anyway. The Bryan Adams concert last night was really good. At first the crowd seemed small but as the opener finished and it got closer to showtime I think there were at least 2000 people seated and another 3000 or so standing.

The concert was held in a beautiful new stadium set up for football (soccer for the American audience). I was surprised to find that the equipment was mostly local. The sound system was about half the size of what I wuold have expected for a show in Canada, but it sounded fairly good. I'm not sure how much of the sound was determined by the acoustics of the stadium, so I won't critisize too much. The band was really good, and they played pretty much all of Bryan's hits for the last 25 years. I was really surprised at the amount of audience participation, too. Since western musicians are a somewhat more rare event here, the crowd was a wider cross-section than you would normally see at a rock show. Lots of couples and older folks came, and in that sense the slightly underpowered PA system worked to advantage. The volume stayed pretty consistent throughout the Bryan Adams set, and didn't very too much from field to stands either. I would guess it was just around 100 dbA SPL peaks all night. The audio crew did a great job keeping everything sounding clean, too, considering that the system was probably at close to 100% output from the first song.

The most interesting part of the night, however, was who I met. While I was wandering around front of house to see where the production company was based, I asked the light crew chief where they were from. He said Canada (no surprise, Bryan Adams road crew). Turns out, though, he's from Halifax and used to work for ABI and Brad before moving on to other things. It was Dan Brooker, a name I have heard before and so we introduced ourselves and marvelled at the small world. After the next few weeks in this part of the world, he's headed back to the maritimes for the ECMAs, then back to South Africa with Bryan Adams, then back to Halifax for the Junos.

Anyway, read on for the gory technical details (pictures at the bottom).

Continue reading "Room Service" »

September 26, 2005

Sloan University Tour

Just got back from four days with Sloan around the Maritimes. Wow, my rock lighting chops definitely needed the rust shaken off. By the end, I was starting to feel like I was in the groove a little.

The days were long and hard, but the most surprising thing about the run was the opening act. The Stills from Montreal were really great guys, and very interesting musically. I really meant to get a CD before the last show was over, but I forgot. Hope to run across them again sometime.

As far as the light rig went, it was pretty simple. I did four 8' uprights of 12" truss on floor bases, with a pipe clamped across at the top. 4 bars of VNSP pars two top hung between the uprights left and right, and the other two clamped vertically down the middle two truss sticks. This sortof made a T shape. I had a 250 spot on each truss, and four more on the deck. I also had two blinders hanging from the pipe behind the drum kit. A small rig, but it looked interesting and it had the advantage of being compact and ground supported, which was essential since the venues were all very different.

Anyway, I think it will be a while before I do another run like that. 20 hour days are no fun.

July 10, 2005


Too bad jazz isn't more marketable. The last show of the Charlottetown Jazz and Blues fest was absolutely fantastic. Since I work in the music business, there aren't many shows I would pay to see, but this was one of them.

June 28, 2005

Cable Mats

It's amazing how many people trip over cable mats at gigs.

We have this plastic trays about 40cm wide and 100cm long and 4 cm thick. They are designed to link together and they have channels so that cables can be run through them and people won't trip over the cables. They also allow heavy vehicles (up to tractor trailers) to drive over them without damaging the cables. They are extremely bright yellow and orange. One would think that it would be difficult to not notice these in your path, yet it is amazing how regularly I see audience members at shows trip and sometimes fall when crossing over cable mats.

June 17, 2005

Multicultural Festival

I had an entry about this weekend's multicultural festival - I'm doing sound. Unfortunatly, I got distracted with some important email and now I don't have time to re-write it. If any friends or family are at the festival at Alderney landing, enjoy the great food and come by and visit me at the sound board!

September 19, 2004

Keith's Fest - Sum41

I just finished the strike from Keith's Fest on Citadel Hill here in Halifax. I don't have time to do a full gig report, but I'll post two pictures and just mention that it was the messiest, rainiest show I've ever done. Wow.

Cheers to the audience that toughed it out and stayed for the show, and the same for the band who played with borrowed gear, no soundcheck, and practically right off the plane. Thanks to Phil and Paddy for their help with the stage and PA. Considering the weather, I think the show went rather well.

June 05, 2004

Nashville Idol

Off to New Glasgow to do lights for George Canyon, Nashville Idol runner up. Pics to follow on Monday...

Finger 11

Last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I did three shows with the Canadian band Finger 11. Nice guys, great crew, good shows. I had a lot of fun, even though on one of the shows I had to take a PM4000 out of a club at 2:30 while the club was still open.

Chris Zakoor, the FOH guy and production manager was real easy to work with, and Scott McLaughlin, the LD, had some really neat looks with the lighting rig. Apparently the band doesn't want to see any movement, even though they use a fair number of moving head light fixtures. That gave Scott a challenge that resulted in some creative lighting ideas. In a way, the show looked old school, with lots of color bumps. Scott made good use of the movers, despite the fact that you never saw them move.

May 30, 2004

Summer Festival Season is Upon Us

Yesterday I did monitors for the Apple Blossom Festival. It was my first outdoor show of the summer festival season, and despite a few minor glitches, the show went really well.

Continue reading "Summer Festival Season is Upon Us" »

May 15, 2004

Pet Peeve

I'm not real experienced in corporate event production, though I have operated for a respectable number of shows in the past year. One thing that really bugs me is the tendancy for show directors to not know how to use an intercom system. Almost always they turn their mic on and leave it on from beginning of the show until the end. I understand that they need to speak often, but there really is no need for me to have to listen to the racket of an open mic on the intercom line all during the 90-minute dinner service when there is absolutely nothing happening on stage. Perhaps this is normal and considered proper etiquette, I don't know. It surely is not a major problem, but it is annoying, all the same.

May 11, 2004

Gig reports

I've had a string of fun gigs lately, and not enough time to blog about them.

Continue reading "Gig reports" »

January 25, 2004

Eastlink Foodlink Telethon

I'm working on the Eastlink Foodlink Telethon today, so if you have cable and tune in between 3 and 11 this afternoon, you'll see my lighting for the musical acts (such as it is). If you check out the line-up of local bands on the telethon website and see any you like, you can even come out to the Alderney Gate theatre to watch them live. Admission is a food donation, I think.

September 07, 2003

Air Show

This weekend boasts the Nova Scotia International Air Show here in Shearwater, at the old air force base. This year they tried a new add-on to the show - Bruce Guthro in concert, in the afternoon during the breaks in the performances.

Continue reading "Air Show" »

August 28, 2003

Rock Camp Car Blues

Last weekend I did a fun gig: lighting for the taping of the final episode of CBC's Rock Camp, airing next April. The downside was an unfortunate meeting of my car with a production van.

Continue reading "Rock Camp Car Blues" »

Sound Advice

Tom Young wrote this today on the Syn Aud Con mailing list:

The Zen of mixing monitors is to try to please the user while not doing
things that one has learned (and therefore intuitively knows) will be
counterproductive. At the same time, you must give them the benefit of the
doubt and at least listen to what they are "hearing". Often times, logic
flies out the window.

How true, how true.

August 08, 2003

Def Leppard at the Halifax Metro Centre

Monday past saw one of the bigger concert acts of the year at the Metro Centre. Def Leppard played to a small but appreciative crowd in support of their X tour. I was on the IATSE call for the load in and out. I felt fortunate to be on the audio crew and I worked with Ted from Sound Image to set up the FOH PA. The rig was JBL Vertec, and lots of it. 10 4889s per side with 8 4880 subs, and 6 more 4889s for side fill. There were 4 4880 ground subs a side and 10 smaller center fill speakers. Way more than enough for the lower bowl of the Metro Centre.

It was the first time that I've worked with Vertec, and I have to say that the system rigs and flies exceptionally well. It was even easier than v-DOSC, which had been the easiest I had worked with until now. I can see why they are popular on tours. The system sounded very good, although I didn't hear enough of it to be able to form a strong opinion of Vertec's sound vs other rigs that I'm more familiar with.

The monitor console was Midas Heritage, but FOH was the real treat: a Digico D5. Again, a first hand-on for me. I only had a few minutes to look over the shoulder of Ted and the Def Leppard FOH tech while they were testing and tuning the rig, but it was definitely cool. I kind of prefer the way that the Innovason boards have all of the channels laid out more like an analog board, but the D5 seems to have a lot more configurability with the touch screens. Hope to be able to see one again soon.

I wasn't on the show call but I managed to get in to see most of the show. The lighting was very well done. I don't remember the name of the tech, but he was a fairly young Japanese fellow. He was using an Avolites console. I guess that was because the rig was a hybrid between a modern moving light show and a classic rock-n-roll massive PAR can rig. There were 17 sections of pre-rig truss with 2 bars of 6 each, as well as a handful of additional bars and about 16 racks of ACLs. The front truss was an arch of pre-rig (without PARs) , with 10 Mac600s, some lekos, and 4 blinders with color scrollers. The mid truss was a similar arch but with PARs (10 bars of 6) and ACLs. There were 5 Mac2000s hung off the upstage edge with pipe. The upstage truss was a semi-circle arching upstage, and it had 4 sections of pre-rig spansetted off the upstage edge. Each section of pre-rig was really 3 sticks spanset together, so the effect was 4 squares, each with 6 bars of 6. There were 5 pipes each with a pair of Mac2000s below the 4 PAR grids. On the floor there were another 9 Mac2000s and 6 Mac 600s upstage. All of this was provided by Bandit Lites.

I'm pretty sure that the color wheels in the moving heads were modified to contain only yellow, blue, red and green. This allowed the LD to do a really neat effect where all the lights did a fast color scroll, with each fixture slightly offset in the scroll, and the color was mostly white, but with random flashes of blue, red, green and yellow, matching the colors in the conventional lights.

I learned a couple of things from that show, and one was that you can use green effectively in a rock and roll show. The opening look was a green random strobe with all the moving lights in a crowd blind position. The other notable element was the kibuki drop. They had a really nice shimmery kibuki that rigged off the mid truss hiding most of the lighting rig and the drum riser. Just when the house lights went down the curtain was dropped during the green strobe effect. You wouldn't even know it happened if you weren't looking for it. When the lights came up the stage was just there.

I guess I've said about enough for now, or at least about as much as I can remember. Don't know when the next gig will be (Sum 41 plays at the Metro Centre in early September) but I'll soon post a report on my gig at the New Glasgow Jubilee last weekend.

July 01, 2003

Working the long weekend

So that brings us to the long weekend. One of the big weekends for production work, and I think I made the most of it. I worked about 10 hours Wednesday for the IATSE local building the roof system and stage for the concert on the hill (Nickelback, Sum 41, Default, Crush etc). On Thursday I was supposed to light Snow at the Forum. It was a small system (24k PARs and 6 ProSpot 250s) but it would have been fun enough. Instead it was cancelled, and I spent the day in the shop prepping for the HarborFest setup. The HarborFest setup was Friday. It was supposed to be 3 or 4 hours in the shop and then 4 or 5 hours on site, but because of a long delay by the stage people, I didn't get out of there until 11:30 pm.

HarborFest is a cute little Canada Day weekend, right down on Queen's Landing just down from the historic properties and right on the harbor. The stage was covered with this really small tent, though. I could only put in a bit of VersaTruss on Manfrottoe stands, and even then my trim was only about 5 feet. I had 18 narrow PARs upstage with scrollers, 4 blinders, 4 ACLs, and 12 medium PARs on stands for front wash.

Saturday I lit Colin James and Charlie A'Court with that rig, but between finishing wiring and fighting with the scrollers, I didn't really get much programming prepared, so it wasn't my best work. Sunday I did 14 hours taking down the scaffolding and stage on the hill with the IATSE again, then Monday I was back at HarborFest for The Mahones and Bif Naked. I started from scratch and reprogrammed my show, and I had a much better time of it. Bif is a pretty loud rockish show anyway, which made it easy to just pound away with the lights, too, and I think that show came off much better than the first night.

So that brings us to now. I slept in this morning, then emptied and reloaded the dishwasher. Read a bit of stuff on the net and did this blog. Gotta put in a load of laundry and grab a quick shower, so I can go spend some time with Kerry (before she kills me) and enjoy some of the nice Canada Day weather.

June 18, 2003

For Tommy

I think I already mentioned that I worked at Christie on Monday in the shop cleaning up. I ended up working for CBC on Tuesday helping to clear out the last of the set at Electropolis from Drum. While I was back at the studio, I found a copy of the light plot: 19 Studio Colors, 4 Mac2k Wash, 8 Mac 2k Profile, 13 Mac 500, 13 Mac 600, 12 Mac 250 plus assorted ACLs, Source4s, spares, etc. Can't wait to see what it looks like on TV.

The main truss was a large circle (about 40' I'm guessing) and most of the SCs were around that. The half of the 2k pros were on the back of the circle and the rest were with the 2k washes out front. There was also a diamond shaped truss inside the circle, and there were 8 600s and 4 500s on that, with the rest of the 600s on the small front truss. The rest of the 500s were on the back half of the circle and on two small side trusses. There were a few SCs on the sides trusses and on the floor, and the 250s were under grates all around the stage.

Tommy, I also thought that you would appreciate what I was doing all of Monday. I recoiled all the cable to fit in their cases, and I took out all of the 500s and 600s and ran each one through it's test mode. The 2ks and SCs went back to Toronto right after the show. I would have done the 250s as well, except I ran out of time.

June 15, 2003


I did a light setup, operate and teardown for the Senior's Expo at Exhibition Park between Thursday and Sunday for TTE. That was good experience for me, but not that exciting. On Thursday night, though I got a call from the IATSE local for the out at Electropolis. That's Salter Street's studio in a converted power plant on Halifax's waterfront. I hadn't been there before and it was really quite cool. The show was Drum which was taped by CBC, apparently to air next February. The set was quite cool, and the lighting rig was nice. I didn't get to see any of the taping, so I'm looking forward to catching the show on TV.

The out was for Christie Lites, since a bunch of gear had to be in Toronto for some other show this weekend. There were about a dozen 2ks, some 2k washes, maybe two dozen Studio Colors, 18 Mac500s, and 6 Mac 600s, plus a few lekos and PAR38 ACLs. I didn't really count the fixtures carefully, so those numbers are really only rough. The out was from 11PM to 6AM, so I was pretty tired at the end, but Alfred got me to come back on Friday at 11AM for Christie to finish getting the remaining gear to the Halifax shop. I'm also going to work Monday and Tuesday in the Christie shop cleaning up. Should be some other work coming up for the rest of next week, but nothing is finalized yet.

June 10, 2003

Saturday June 7: The Stampeders at the Forum

This was my first call as moving light operator since I've been here. I may be doing a little more work with ABI since it seems they may need more people who can program movers. The show was actually only a 36k conventional rig, but ABI wanted to see what I could do and give Steve a chance to do a show with movers too. Steve is a lighting guy and works in the ABI shop.

We decided to take a dozen fixtures and ground stack, to keep it easy. The stage was really small so we ended putting some on top of double-stacked empties behind the drummer, but it worked out. I alternated between 6 Coemar ProWash and 4 iSpot575 fixtures across the back, with a pair of ProSpots, one on each downstage corner. ABI's moving light board is a Jands Event 416, which is similar to the old LP3000 in that it's a conventional board with a moving light programmer attached to it. That's where the similarity ends, though. It actually has a decent facility for recording moving light palettes for position, color, beam and group. There are a few quirks with recording looks to the assignable submasters and changing pages. I also haven't yet mastered the timing and control of moving light p/t speed, but we had enough for the show to go smoothly. My big complaint with the Jands is that the effects generator only works for position effects, not dimmer or color. I also don't see how it is possible to create and store your own effects without resorting to building traditional chases and sequences in the cue memories and controlling it from assign submasters.

Anyway, for those who aren't familiar with the Stampeders, they're a seventies-era Canadian country rock band. It was a small crowd, and Steve and I traded operator duties back and forth between songs. We mostly just built moving light looks on the fly using just the programmer palettes. I'd like to have been more sophisticated, but maybe next time. I also wish that I had a digital camera so I could have taken some pictures. I think now that the summer is coming on, I'm going to have to set some money aside for at least a cheap digicam so I can get some gig pics on the site.

That's all for now. Since my apartment sublet is now taken care of, I need to be on the ball looking at apartments and making up my mind, so I must go and do that. I'm also working a setup for TTE at the WTCC this afternoon, for a JA event. Note to self: need to do laundry this evening...

May 17, 2003


Yesterday I did a load in and load out for an aboriginal awards banquet at the WTCC. The band and the client didn't show up until 4ish, and doors were at 5:15, so needless to say there was some last minute flailing. I didn't work the show, but it took the whole day to do the setup, so I got a fair number of hours.

In the break between setup and tear down, I invited Kerry over to my place. We indulged in Pizza Hut breadsticks with cheese and potato skins from Kempster's. We also watched the movie About a Boy. We usually like Hugh Grant's movies and Kerry always likes british accents, but we were still surprised at how much we enjoyed this film. It wasn't typically Hollywood. Several times I found myself expecting an irritating plot turn as a result of some stupid thing the protagonist does, but the writers managed to resolve the tension in ways that were enjoyable. The cliche I hate is "lead character does something incredibly stupid that could damage the relationship with the love interest, the error is revealed in the most embarrassing way, several misunderstandings compound the hurt feelings, the love interest turns to hate, and finally the protagonist is humbled, and does something very sweet or very humiliating to win back the love interest, and all is well again." I confess that I expected some variation on that theme, and thought I saw it coming several times, but this movie avoids the usual trap by, well, being about the boy. Not Hugh Grant, but the young protagonist. Well, sort of about him.

Anyway, enough about that. I have to go and watch the Senators game. Happily, they just tied the game at 1 with 15 seconds left in the first period. I'm going to try and get a little work done on my MATLAB project, too.

March 11, 2003

On tour with April Wine

About three weeks ago I got a call to do four nights with the Canadian classic rock band April Wine. Tour tech was providing PA, lights and two techs for a mini-tour of the maritimes. Don't know why I got the call, but work is work, so naturally I took it. It was quite the interesting experience. I'll just hit the highlights here:

The budget was low so they only took 24 PARs, and lights were my responsibility. A bit of a challenge since I didn't know their music. I tried to listen to some before hand, but that's a lesson learned: know the music real well if you're going to light a rock show. The first night in Saint John NB was barely passable. But, the band must have had low expectations because nobody really complained as long as I made sure to hit the cop light cue in Ooutanite and the strobe cue during the drum solo.

Speaking of the drum solo, I really enjoyed the band. Sure, they were loud - they are half deaf, but I'm getting ahead of myself. More on that later. I guess it shows my musical ignorance that I hardly knew any of their tunes before working with them, but I really liked their style. Some songs had some really cool, intricate guitar solos, often played in harmony by Myles (lead singer) and Brian (lead guitar).

So, after Saint John Thursday, they played the Savoy Theatre on Friday, which is in Glace Bay, near Sydney, NS. The Savoy also recently installed lots of new gear so I didn't go to that show, nor the Saturday show at the Marquee in Halifax.

The last three shows of the mini-tour were in bustling Liverpool, NS, at the Astor Theatre. Quite a luxury to have three shows in the same spot. The hotel - Lane's Privateer Inn - was actually fairly nice, and had a decent restaurant. Since we were in one spot for three days, there was time to tweak and learn. On Monday afternoon I listened to some CDs and changed some of the programming on the board. Mostly, however, I spent time with Brit Fader, the audio tech that came with the gear from Tour Tech. He's a mixer and guitar tech who's worked in the industry for quite a while. So he knew the band, enjoyed working with them, and he could tell me lots about the history of the band and the local industry.

But back to tweaking. As I mentioned earlier, some of the band members have compromised their hearing from decades of Marshalls on 10 and drum kits played harder that you can possibly imagine. The band brought a Yamaha PM 2000 for FOH, but TTE supplied the rest of the PA, including 2 Xsub, 2 Xcb and 2 Xcn per side- for a 360-seat theatre!

Why such a PA, you asK? Well, a look at the monitor rig explains things a little. The 5-member band has the drummer and guitar player on in-ears. The drummer has a Clair Bros sub as well, but that's small stuff. The bass player has 2 12am wedges for his vocal, and an Ampeg SVT on 10 with an 8x10 cab, so he's covered. The keyboardist gets one Clair wedge. Similarly, one for Brit at the monitor board. We brought 8, so where did the others go? Well, Myles has them! A pair in front and a pair behind him. Oh, but wait! He also has a pair of Meyer MSL4s on each side of the stage, as well. 6 very potent monitors, just to get his voice above his Marshall.

So what did I spend Monday afternoon doing? Yelling into the Beta58 "eeehhh!" and "tsk!" while Brit adjusted the monitor rig, or conversely listening to Brit yell while I twiddled the EQs on each monitor send. We tried our best to cause every possible ring and squeal, and then used the EQs to reduce those runaway frequencies so that we could squeeze the last little bit of volume from that rig before the whole thing exploded in a mess of feedback.

There was other fun associated with the trip, and I'll just pause to say that April Wine guitarist Brian Greenway probably missed his calling as an improv comedian. However, it's probably time to bring this entry to a close and return to more productive real-world tasks. A closing tech note: the Astor has an ETC Express 24/48 which I used instead of the Leprecon LP1600 that Tour Tech sent out. It was quite nice and I very much enjoyed doing lights, once I learned the tunes and felt like I wasn't messing up the show.

February 19, 2003


I was at the arena until 1:30 AM Monday morning, and then back at 10AM for all day to tear down. There was at least 1 trailer, 1 10-ton and 2 5-ton loads of gear sent to the Tour Tech shop yesterday, and more than another 10-ton load of bulky items like truss and motors left in a corner at the Metro centre. Fun Fun.

When the IATSE crew finished at 7 PM on Monday, I walked to Kerry's house and found a wonderful Valentine's dinner. Kerry cooked a really nice pesto chicken and mushroom with linguine. She also made a wonderful dessert called Bananas Foster. When she was shopping for the meal, she also found Valentine's candy on sale at Sobey's, and she bought me a really obscene amount for some ridiculously low price.

Yesterday, I slept in until noon. After I finally got up, I picked Kerry up and went with her to Dal to check on some things at the library. Then we came to my house for a late lunch. We went grocery shopping and I really stocked up. I guess I'm a little more inclined to spend money now that I've earned some. We had a second Valentine's dinner, this time my treat at a great Greek place on Quinpool Road called the Athens Restaurant. Good food and reasonable prices. To finish the night off we went to see How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. It was good. Much funnier than I expected, and overall quite enjoyable. Recommended.

ECMA Wrap-up

Well, it's hard to believe the week is over. 7 days of work to pay the bills for a while and then a day of recovery to make up for the missed Valentine's Day. I had a great time working on the show. I learned a few things about big TV productions. Especially how much money they can spend. It was sad to see all the wonderful stages torn up and thrown away on Sunday night.

I guess to recap the week, Tuesday and Wednesday were basically occupied with loading in the PA, hanging and cabling it, and then running the monitors for the stage. By half way through Wednesday the work was really slowing down because we had to wait on the carpenters finishing their work. Wednesday to Friday had a fair bit of space in between bits of work, so I had a chance to spend some time chatting, explore the Metro Centre and play with Smaart Live. It turned out that I was responsible for wedges and in-ears on stages C and D. C was the centre circle stage and D was the big stage with Damhnait Doyle, Ashley MacIssac, Mary-Jane Lemmont, the Ennis Sisters, Denise Djokic, the classical bit and Aselin Debison. It really wasn't too hard; I just had to keep good notes. With the four stages there was plenty of time to move things between acts. The neatest bit was that I was on the floor during the live telecast.

The monitor mix was done by a guy named Terry, but I don't know his whole name. He was great to work with. We had two Innovason Grand Live consoles for monitors, and two for FOH. There was a FOH and monitor console dedicated to the A/B stages, and another pair dedicated to C/D stages. A fifth Innovason, a Compact, did the mixdown from the two FOH consoles, the VTR feeds and announcer mics etc to feed the main PA. I have some pictures, but as usual it will be a while before I get the roll used and developed.

I saw part of the broadcast re-aired on CMT yesterday, and thought it looked pretty good. I had heard differing opinions, but it wasn't as bad as some people said. The show looked REALLY good in the arena. The director obviously knew what she was doing, because the video shots were really cool, although they did miss some of the pyro shots in the Myles Goodwin tribute. Incidentally, the pyro for that segment nearly burned through the coax cable that takes the digital signal from the stage box to the Innovason consoles. If it had burned all the way through, the show would have been toast. Audio would have simply died on the A/B stages. Actually, come to think of it, the only act left was on C/D, so it wouldn't have ruined it, but it was an awful close call.

The on-air audio mix was a little disappointing. Not nearly as impressive as being there (even though I wasn't really in the coverage of the main PA most of the time). I don't hold it against the CBC guys in the truck, though. They only had one board to work with, and it didn't have automation. So, while the house PA and monitor boards could recall their exact rehearsal settings at the touch of a button with motorized faders and everything, the on-air mix had to reset for each act manually. I also thought the air mix was quite dry. I don't know if they didn't have many effect processors in the truck, or they wanted it that way or what.

December 03, 2002

For the gearheads out there

... or more likely just for me (considering the readership of this blog is mainly my mother and girlfriend), here's the equipment list for the lighting rig at the aforementioned Great Big Sea tour:

  • 12 blinders with color scrollers
  • 12 Mac600NT
  • 12 Source4 ellipsoidals
  • 8 Clay Paky Superscan 1200s
  • 6 Mac500s
  • 4 Mac2000s
  • 4 border lights
  • 4 striplights
  • 2 DF50s
  • 2 GrandMA consoles
The Mac 2ks really cut well, even in a large arena. This was the first time I really had a good chance to see how they perform. I also liked the look of 6 Mac500s placed on the outside of a half-circle of 18' truss, oriented vertically on ground plates. But enough gear talk...

I rarely update on weekends

A normal person would think this is a positive indication that I can live without sitting in front of a PC for at least an hour a day. Me, I think, "Boy, I should get on the ball with those updates!"

Well, a busy weekend it was. December is here and lots of plans and preparations must be made. Not to mention the continual research work and so on. I really need to get the siblings on the ball with a gift for mom and dad. No idea how reliable postal service to the middle east is. I also have to reserve the ferry crossing to Nova Scotia, have my car serviced and, perhaps most importantly, find a place to live in January.

So back to the busy weekend: I played bass in church on Sunday and also managed to catch the last show of the Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellas Mad Scravel tour after church. It was entertaining.

Saturday was the final concert of the Great Big Sea Sea of No Cares tour. Crush was opening and I went down to Mile One Stadium in the afternoon to see if I would meet anybody I knew (or wanted to know) on the crew. Turns out they were short on setup crew bodies, so I volunteered to work the show. Well, not volunteer as in no pay, but anyway...

Jaye did a great job with the lighting design, and I was impressed to meet Alex from Solotech who was the system tech for the PA (though I'm sure he won't remember me). He has done the Meyer Sim School training. I briefy watched him tune the L'Acoustic V-DOSC rig with SIA Smaart-Live before soundcheck.

I also had the good pleasure of meeting Alfred from Christie Lites Halifax office. I first talked to him regarding some extra lighting for YC 2002 and he remembered my name from those conversations. I will look forward to making contact with him again once I land in Nova Scotia.

The big lesson I learned on Saturday (besides learning to stay away from big columns of V-DOSC being rigged - maybe I'll relate that story another time) is that local crews do a lot of physical labor for not a lot of money. It's ok once or twice, but I wouldn't want to make a living that way. On the other hand, I probably would not need to go to the gym...

November 04, 2002

Monday, 2002-11-04

My long lost bag of cables has been found! Jon and Mark, you will get your guitar stands and pedals asap. Now if I could only track down that drum stool...

My parents said that I could take whatever I wanted from the kitchen, since most of it will be stored for the next three years anyway. That's going to be a big help to me in January, to not have to worry about pots, dishes and small kitchen appliances. I think I'll extend their offer to include towels and some other odds and ends, too.

On the home front, Uncle Geoff and his family are settling in. An amazing number of packing boxes have disappeared, yet a scary number remain. My cousins were registered for school today and uncle Geoff is over at the church today setting up his office.

I was called to sub for Wade Tetford last night at church. I hadn't played bass since well before YC, so even though one service was not really enough to satisfy my craving, it was quite fun.

Tonight I'm going to the library to pick up a few more papers for my research and thesis. Progress is slowly picking up, though I wish I had done more reading a few months ago. Not that I have so much to do now, but it would have been good to have read earlier some of the things I'm reading now.

There was one other interesting thing that happened this weekend: I saw the dress rehearsal of the SK8 with Elvis Stjoko tour kickoff show at Mile One Stadium. Tommy called me down to see if I could get in to see the lighting rig, and boy was it worthwhile. Production was by Fourth Phase, although I think the gear came from their Toronto location, which I heard they acquired by buying Westsun. The rigging was really nice and neat, and that was impressive in itself, but the rig was even more impressive. Four rectangles above the ice, each facing a different side of the bowl, each with a white cyc in the middle and tilted up so that the cyc faced the audience. There was a little circle with a cyc over the DJ at one end of the arena. There were something like 88 Studio Colors and 20 or more Mac2000s. Most were scattered around the truss, but there were pairs of Studios and Macs at intervals on both sides of the ice. I didn't get close enough to ID the lights on the circle truss, but there were also 8 racks of ACLs with scrollers on the sides of the ice surface. All in all, a very nice rig, and the LD put it to very good use. He didn't overuse anything, but had a very tasteful cuelist programmed. With all those wash lights, he could entirely cover the ice surface with a grid of lights (for cool effects like each row in the grid changing color to give the effect of a lit dance floor) and still have all of the 2ks left to blast the audience with a nice rotating gobo/prism look. Nice to see some different gear once in a while...

August 23, 2002

I may become a SuperTramp fan

Well, I probably won't, but I was certainly very, very impressed with their concert at Mile One Stadium this past Tuesday. I think I've mentioned my friend Tommy Dunphy, the freelance lighting designer. He was a spot op on the show, and I wanted to see the lighting and PA rig, so I went down to the stadium with him early. I got in through the crew entrance, and once I was in I really wanted to stay and see the show. I'm sure glad I did!

This concert was the first stop on the North American leg of their world tour, and they are carrying production with them. Not many acts come through here with production, and the different was noticable. Not to disrespect the local companies, but it was really impressive to see a concert with all of the lighting cues timed exactly to the music, and everything so well put together. I heard that the band crew felt it was a substandard show, but I couldn't tell, and I'm pretty musically inclined. They obviously pleased the crowd, and they even added a fourth unplanned encore. I know it was unplanned because the lighting tech didn't have any cues programmed, and the lighting didn't change for nearly the whole song.

On to the gear report. The provider was Upstaging, though I've never heard of the company (shows my ignorance I guess). On the audio side they had a V-DOSC PA with Midas boards. I think FOH was an XL4, and I could clearly see the meter bridge from my perch with the spots way up in the ceiling. The audio was very, very good, and pleasantly not too loud for a change. I was really excited to hear a V-DOSC rig for the first time, and Supertramp's audio crew used their tools well.

Lighting wise the show was run on a Whole Hog II, with about 14 Mac2000s and 25 HES Studio Colors, some blinders, strobes, 8 or 12 source 4s and maybe two dozen ETC Pars. The hang was simple with a front, mid and rear truss. There were two FOH spots, and one spot truss upstage. The front truss had the source4s and pars, and two Cyberlights that I think were only used to project a couple of gobos on the stage floor. The mid truss had 9 Studios and 7 2ks. There was a vertical truss coming down from either end of the mid truss with a Studio and 2k on the bottom. The mid truss had about 8 dataflashes, a dozen egg strobes and a dozen smaller blinders on it as well. The upstage truss had 7 studios, 5 2ks, plus some blinders and egg strobes. There was a Par with a scroller on a tripod on each side of the stage, and 6 studios and 5 blinders along the upstage edge of the stage behind the band. There were also some footlights downstage.

The lighting was really well done, with good use made of the color mixing in all of the moving heads. The guy liked using dimmer waves from the effect generator, especially on the ground row of studios. The flown lights almost always pointed down in straight lines, never cross patterns. He was spare with movement, though he did do a few crowd sweeps towards the end of the show. The way the intels were hung made for some really nice looks when he'd pick up a solist, especially at the grand piano. The lights on the mid and upstage truss were staggered, so the nearest 2k on the mid truss could pick up the soloist in open white, while the 2ks to either side and behind could make a triangle pattern in a darker color. He also had a nice look with the 2ks at the bottom of the midstage side pieces picking up the pianist.

Speaking of the piano, at the end of the show, they took the legs off the 9' grand piano and packed it in a massive road case. It's a good thing they had three semis with them. All in all I was really impressed with the show, and I hope that local promoters bring in more shows of this calibre. Someday, I'll be responsible for a show like that.

July 28, 2002

I'm a professional lighting tech

It's 0930 and I have been up for 28 hours. I just got back from going my first paid lighting gig, and when I finish typing this, I think I will fall asleep for a very, very long time.

The gig was The Fables at the Glovertown Folk Festival. Eastern audio had their mobile stage out for the festival, and added six Mac500s, I think because the headliners requested intelligent lighting. There are only a few lighting techs around who are familiar with operating moving heads, and especially the Leprecon LP3000. Tommy was busy but he recommended me since I've been with him on a few of his shows, and spent some time with him bashing my head against the LP3000. It was a fun day to finally have the opportunity to program a show from scratch on my own. The downside was the strike at 1 AM that lasted until the mobile stage rolled out at 4:00 and the 5-ton truck was loaded at 4:30. Not to mention the joy of having a Soundcraft 8000 roadcase rolled over my hand on the loading ramp. My own stupid fault.

It was a long, LONG day, but at the end I had postive comments all round. I feel like I did an OK job considering my inexperience. I took a few pictures for posterity which I will post as I have the opportunity.

Apartment-hunting blues, Part II

There is no sequel to the apartment-hunting blues, because Kerry has got a really nice bachelor apartment downtown. A little pricey, but it's a new building, the location is great, and it has a dishwasher!

June 24, 2002

Weekend update

On Friday I did sound for the AYM end-of-school park party for the high school crowd. Jon Anderson did most of the organization and we took Bethesda's portable PA. I was pleasantly surprised with the amphitheatre in Bowring Park, Prince Edward Plaza. There seemed to be some resonances in the 300 Hz region, but other than that fairly well behaved for sound. I thought that the Bethesda portable system performed really well in the low end, too.

Saturday morning I was supposed to go on a light hike on the North Head Trail around Signal Hill with the folks from my lab - CERL - but I wasn't up to it because of a slightly sore back and allergy symptoms that I blame on Friday night's outdoor work.

Yesterday we had the first of the farewell events for the youth pastor at Bethesda. There were a few presentations at the end of the PM service, then there was a social time and BBQ at Sunshine Camp. It was really great to have so many people from the church hanging out together in one spot. It was sad that it had to be on the occasion of Pastor Dean and Kelly's resignation. You know that we will all miss you, Pastor Dean. Pics to follow later - I have 29 of 40 shots taken now, so I'll get to develop that roll soon.