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Record Cue Lights, Talkback to Stage, Network audio DAW Software
Old 16th July 2017
  #1
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Thread Starter
Record Cue Lights, Talkback to Stage, Network audio

Revisiting this due to some sessions coming up and being dissatisfied with what I have, which is basically nothing, except the talkback mic and switchbox CR side. Its the stage side that is lacking.

One option is the Yellowtec Litt modules.
Yellowtec: Modules

There is a little speaker module that only seems to have siren sounds, it would be great if one could send talkback to it, I have contacted the dealer about it. Also not sure how USB switching would work and if that can be connected to Pyramix record status.

A small DIY LED solution might be in order as well. Have to get all this working with Horus on stage and Hapi in CR.

Any other elegant solutions yet?
Old 16th July 2017
  #2
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Those Litt modules are CUTE--they look very Neumann-esque, very nice looking. Very elegant how they attach to each other. As you say--there is no info on the sound module at all, just that it emits a signal. It would be very sweet if there was a way to send signal to it, or if they would sell you an empty sound module you could mount a little speaker inside of. Even if you still have to have a separate TB speaker deal, the lights alone are worth checking out.
Old 16th July 2017
  #3
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tourtelot's Avatar
On my last session, I started out with a small cue speaker in the room but quickly discovered that the musicians couldn't really hear the producer's articulation. Ended up with a bigger self-powered Yamaha which worked well. Little speakers are just, well, too little.

What is the intended purpose of the light? I haven't really used lights on the recording stage. Only outside to warn folks that "tape" was rolling and not to come in. Some old-skool Radio Shack red gum-ball rotators worked for me for many years. Professional Sound Corp still makes dedicated warning bells and lights that run around on XLR cable. Here is a link to their updated (maybe wireless) systems.

Bell & Light System

D.
Old 16th July 2017
  #4
0VU
Gear Addict
 

The Yellowtec/Litt things look really smart but are quite expensive. (I'm also not aware of them offering a really easily portable/demountable way to fit them onto stands or other temporary rigs so maybe not ideal for frequent rig/derig on location sessions.)

There are similar (variably attractive and often similarly expensive) systems available from several industrial electrical manufacturers - the kind of thing you often see on computer controlled machines as alarm indicators or (in the UK at least) over supermarket checkouts/self op checkouts to indicate their status or call assistance). A search for stacking indicators / stack lights / stacking beacons or some such combination of words will usually find something. Again, some kind of mount might need to be sourced/bodged.

There are loads of commercially made options from companies catering to the conference/presentation and theatrical markets; systems like Interspace's Master Cue, and PCL's MicroCue or the PSL comms and light kit being quite well known in those sectors. Also, several radio studio/theatrical installer/builders have systems available in various complexities. All of these tend to be quite costly and arguably over-spec for a simple red light and anouncing a few take numbers.

Some of the large talkback system makers like Prospect Electronics, RTW, TecPro, etc. do useful comms and cues bits and pieces - at a price.

For some automation of lights, there's quite a neat but not cheap system available from a company called Punchlight.com who make a variety of displays for timecode/counters and cue lights which integrate with various DAWs. I noticed recently that there are also some pretty cheap USB switcher kits suitable for DIY setups from chinese sources on eBay. They might need some coding skills to write drivers or there may be downloadable things available online. Dunno.

And of course, there's always good ol' DIY.

My own session cue light setups include light units ranging from home made ones with a single large multi-chip LED indicator that clips onto music stands or a conductor's podium, or XLR barrel lights which plug into any 3 pin XLR socket, though to commercially available table and stand mounted versions, including an RF controlled setup for cueing remote locations, for example when doing a radio show with a presenter who needs cueing or a session with offstage performers who are following things on CCTV and welcome their own red light rather than squinting at a monitor. (Though I've been using the red "Tally" light fitted above the screen on a couple of my CCTV monitors for that too - saves a bit of extra clutter around the musicians.)

These include: stand and table mounted Studio Cue Lights from Canford Audio and some , "Recording" and "No Entry" signs (also from Canford) e.g. for putting outside doors with a polite notice (at least it starts off as a polite one!) asking people not to come in when the light is on. These all have LED bulbs and are controlled by mains opto switchers (e.g. CANFORD OPTO SWITCHER Mk.2) via DC signals or contact closures from the talkback boxes, mixers or DAWs in the control room.

I have a couple of bits from the Punchlights range - a couple of their little ice-cream sandwich thingies that can go on the producer's talkback mic to indicate mic live or just local red light echo, and one of their USB switchers which allows a DAW to switch the lights (though this goes via a manual over-ride as it's often nice to do sneaky recording with the light off or to pop it on to keep people's attention without going into record on the DAW).

I also have a couple of stacking beacon units from (iirr) Schneider Electric which have red and green lights (got them for a job where the clients wanted both colours) a white strobe flasher (one flash per second) and a sounder. They did do a little speaker in the range but it was nowhere near loud enough to be useful for talkback even with a string quartet. The flasher and sounder (which makes a really loud warbling noise) are really good for getting attention when you want to stop a take even with an orchestra or organist in full flow when no-one is paying attention to the cue lights, or for acting as an extra 'ringer' on a conductor telephone.

The other one that comes out occasionally on things like solo piano or as on desk cueing for presenters is a neat little vintage Schoeps LS 5 ) which I picked up for 99p on eBay years ago. It fits into a mic clip, runs down an XLR mic cable, albeit via an XLR to DIN/Tuchel adapter, and is usefully small and clear whilst being comparatively discreet when used in publicly visible places.

I've also got an 8 channel portable mains/battery system that was given to me by an old school broadcast engineer, who'd built it for his own use, when he retired. It uses a mixture of powered and passive comms and/or light boxes and some ingenious use of transformers and relays to give two channels of cue lights (normally send and return) plus up to two way simplex talkback down a single mic lead. Times eight! And all fits into a Peli 1600. It also interfaces to the other setups I have via opto isolated switches. It's larger incarnations are more useful on things like live productions but it can be set up as simple as a single switch to lamp.


For talkback I usually use one or more active speakers, ranging in size from a single ASC "Talking Brick" for solo instrumentalists who aren't too loud and where it can be close, to the more powerful Fostex 6301B / XT or ASC Powered Monitor Mk2 or 3 (30W two way active speaker in a die cast box with mic/line inputs, loop line out and built in mic stand mount), or for bigger jobs a Fostex SPA11 or two, and when I need something really loud or which can be used for decent quality playbacks to studio there's always the option of putting a power amp and spare pair of monitor speakers (or pair of active monitors) on a couple of line returns from the C/R monitor controller.

All of these options will run down ordinary balanced lines (as will the conductor's telephone (which has it's own ringer and light signal but can interface to the other kit for more obvious signals) so there are no dedicated cables to forget and the comms can run via installed tie lines in a hall or over a normal audio multicore though I do also have a couple of breakout boxes to let comms and cues go over Cat5 as a 4 pair mini multicore.


A typical chamber music session could be as simple as a stand or other cue light, mains opto switcher controlled via a multicore line, to a simple contact closure switch box with internal battery powered switch illumination, and an ASC powered speaker, again over a multicore line (via an isolation transformer if necessary) from a PTT gooseneck mic in the controlroom, or the ourput of a desk's talkback with remote switch and mic for the producer or from the T/B out of a monitor controller like a Grace m904. Or it could be a lot bigger and more complicated on a big session with orchestra, soloists, off stage musicians, organist in a loft somewhere miles away, choir, conductor wanting a phone and open speaker(s) plus the means to directly talk to the off stage people, etc., etc.. All good fun!

With the Horus and Hapi, GPIO not yet seeming to work over Ravenna (maybe it does if you use Pyramix but I don't on sessions), meant that I built a couple of little boxes which use spare audio inputs on the controlroom Hapi and outputs on the Hapi/Horus in the studio to allow signals over the Ravenna system to control cue lights via DTMF signals and/or continuous tones to audio controlled relay modules from RDL. (Had a few in the drawer looking for a use.)


I know this makes me look obsessed with cue lights and talkback but I've just ended up with a lot of different setups by adding bits and bobs over the years to cover specific situations or jobs needing some kind of dedicated rig and not throwing things away.

Last edited by 0VU; 16th July 2017 at 09:57 PM..
Old 16th July 2017
  #5
0VU
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
....What is the intended purpose of the light? I haven't really used lights on the recording stage. Only outside to warn folks that "tape" was rolling and not to come in. ....
It's usually used to indicate to the musicians that the recorder is running and what they're doing is being recorded (or not).

Typically, with most of the sessions I work on, after a bit of chat from the producer, a take number is given and the 'red light' goes on meaning 'recording - play now!' (or the light goes on and the take is given - depending on what everyone is used to - either way the take number announcement is usually recorded) and then either the take finishes and everyone holds in silence for the light to go out or if the take breaks down or needs to be stopped, the light is put out and someone speaks down the talkback. If turning the light off doesn't stop the take then the light could be flashed to get attention - or one could yell down the talkback! In the unlikely event that that doesn't work, that's where a bright strobe flash or bell/buzzer type signal comes in to say 'OI!!"

Once you get the musos trained to respond to the light it can simplify session communication and save quite a lot of time. It also makes a good way to keep them paying attention sometimes if you leave it on even when not running - they tend to stay focussed when the light is on so less time is wasted with aimless chattering between takes. It can also be turned off to let them think you're not recording even when you are - e.g. on rehearse-record sessions where they decide to run a cue a few times to try alternatives or where they're getting wound up by a poor producer who makes them record a section over and over again 'til they're self conscious about it and unable to perform! Then, turning off the light but leaving the recorders running can help. The musos relax as they're off the record, do a couple of lovely runs and then say 'ok we're ready to take it' and you can reply, "it's ok, we just got that" and move on whilst they call you a sneaky ******* and sigh in relief!

It's also common to have a red light in the control room too - partly to confrim that the lights are on/off, and partly so that the producer knows when the engineer/tape op is in record so bits of take don't get missed accidentally because someone wasn't paying attention. Also useful to indicate to visitors that they need to shut up when people are trying to work!

Last edited by 0VU; 16th July 2017 at 10:28 PM..
Old 17th July 2017
  #6
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I look at these as two different issues. My monitor controller is one of the Studio Technologies controllers. I have both Cue boxes as well as a line level box that I use for talkback speakers. As for the speakers- I have a small Yamha MSP5 that I use for solo/chamber sessions. For large ensemble sessions, I'll swap that out for either the house PA speaker or for something like a pair of QSC K8/K10/K12

I don't use a record light often, but one of the studios that I work in has a punchlight system. It's interfaced with our Pro Tools system so that whenever we are in record, a light goes on in the studio and recording light signs outside go on.

Punchlight: https://www.punchlight.com/products

--Ben
Old 17th July 2017
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fifthcircle View Post
I don't use a record light often, but one of the studios that I work in has a punchlight system. It's interfaced with our Pro Tools system so that whenever we are in record, a light goes on in the studio and recording light signs outside go on.

Punchlight: https://www.punchlight.com/products

--Ben
Thanks Ben, this looks like a great asset, tied into the USB system of a computer (presumably it would work off a hub also ?) Price is 89 euros direct from the makers in Prague, or through a worldwide dealership

https://www.punchlight.com/recording_lamp_usb

This video shows it being configured and in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6V1x7apTrM
Old 18th July 2017
  #8
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by 0VU View Post
For some automation of lights, there's quite a neat but not cheap system available from a company called Punchlight.com who make a variety of displays for timecode/counters and cue lights which integrate with various DAWs. I noticed recently that there are also some pretty cheap USB switcher kits suitable for DIY setups from chinese sources on eBay. They might need some coding skills to write drivers or there may be downloadable things available online. Dunno.

And of course, there's always good ol' DIY.

My own session cue light setups include light units ranging from home made ones with a single large multi-chip LED indicator that clips onto music stands or a conductor's podium, or XLR barrel lights which plug into any 3 pin XLR socket, though to commercially available table and stand mounted versions, including an RF controlled setup for cueing remote locations, for example when doing a radio show with a presenter who needs cueing or a session with offstage performers who are following things on CCTV and welcome their own red light rather than squinting at a monitor. (Though I've been using the red "Tally" light fitted above the screen on a couple of my CCTV monitors for that too - saves a bit of extra clutter around the musicians.)

These include: stand and table mounted Studio Cue Lights from Canford Audio and some , "Recording" and "No Entry" signs (also from Canford) e.g. for putting outside doors with a polite notice (at least it starts off as a polite one!) asking people not to come in when the light is on. These all have LED bulbs and are controlled by mains opto switchers (e.g. CANFORD OPTO SWITCHER Mk.2) via DC signals or contact closures from the talkback boxes, mixers or DAWs in the control room.

I have a couple of bits from the Punchlights range - a couple of their little ice-cream sandwich thingies that can go on the producer's talkback mic to indicate mic live or just local red light echo, and one of their USB switchers which allows a DAW to switch the lights (though this goes via a manual over-ride as it's often nice to do sneaky recording with the light off or to pop it on to keep people's attention without going into record on the DAW).
Great info OVU, a wealth of nuggets, many thanks. At present I have a custom talkback box that can send line level audio from a mic to the stage, and it switches and superimposes some 15V phantom over the audio signal to control a light on stage when a button is pushed on the talkback box, apart from the talk to speak button. But in the heat of the session, score following, take annotating, etc I keep forgetting to switch on the light because its manual. The sneaky record is something I do all the time because one can get life saving patches occasionally, but I would like to have some sort of automatic ability to switch on the light when PMX is put into record. The USB switching seems like the way to go here. The manual button might be able to be an override perhaps. Still thinking this through.
Old 19th July 2017
  #9
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Old 19th July 2017
  #10
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PuebloAudio's Avatar
 

A colleague worked with me on a midi controlled system for controlling various peripherals via USB relay gizmos. When the transport goes into record the record light goes on, stop = off, etc. Also have midi controllers and wireless remotes for controlling other aspects.

You do need an active speak with adequate size and watts behind it to project to an entire orchestra. Elevating the speaker also helps.

I don't use pmx or Ravenna, but I expect a similar solution could be cobbled to suit.
Old 21st July 2017
  #11
Gear Maniac
I modified a Neumann CF35i signal lamp with LEDs, these are controlled by a Midi Solution Relay, via a selfmade Xbee Pro wireless Midi connection. Xbee Receiver, relay and lamp can be powered by a USB powerbank. So i can put it whereever needed (my stagebox doesn't have Midi I/O, that's why i decided to go wireless here).
For talkback, i use the K+H MM201 speaker via stagebox, controlled by the RME remote control unit 'ARC' for the UFX.
Old 21st July 2017
  #12
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Seems like every thread on this topic almost immediately devolves into a hackathon of DIY. I continue to be amazed at the lack of turn-key solutions. Is the market really that small? Or is there some other reason a company like PSC doesn't offer a turn-key "lights and talkback" product?
Old 21st July 2017
  #13
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Seems like every thread on this topic almost immediately devolves into a hackathon of DIY. I continue to be amazed at the lack of turn-key solutions. Is the market really that small? Or is there some other reason a company like PSC doesn't offer a turn-key "lights and talkback" product?
Yes I agree completely. Especially now, a Ravenna or Dante system would be desirable.
Old 19th August 2017
  #14
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Old 20th August 2017
  #15
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Like any control system, there needs to be feedback for assurance that it is working correctly.

Back in the bad old student theatre days of my youth, the stage manager's cue light system (lights for silent cueing) was designed by the theatre's resident electrician, a former engineering student who decided he liked theatre better. It was very much based on telephone engineering thinking (telephone relays, keys and all), and worked off telephony 48V dc. The cue light in Prompt Corner was in series with the one at the target destination. If the light came on when giving the cue, it meant (with a high degree of confidence) that the light at the other end was also lit (whether it was observed, as far as feedback is concerned, is beyond the scope of this discussion). If an acknowledgement of cue was needed (usually for the green 'standby' light, the key at the destination end could be used to momentarily break the circuit and flash both lights briefly for acknowledgement. This is very much live performance oriented thinking, which of course is governed by reliable communication.

Of course, for the systems discussed here, the belt and braces approach may be out of place. But if anyone is thinking about the design of such as system, then making it reliable in situations where the performance is isolated from the recordist may be important. Where a non-dc system is the only choice, there are no doubt useful ways of being pedantic about the feedback. However, with increasing use in such situations of video observation, just make sure the cue light is in the video field of view ...

But there are many ways to kill a cat other than stuffing it with cream ...
Old 11th October 2017
  #16
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tourtelot's Avatar
Sorry to re-open this thread but. . .

I now see the usefulness of a cue lamp on the stage and I am looking for a DIY (hopefully) easy way to trip a relay on the stage via a switch (not a computer keystroke) over my Dante network. There are a ton of relays controlled over ethernet on eBay but I am not familiar enough with the process to uderstand what I need at both ends. The light could be a simple AC lamp turned on or off via the ethernet relay, but I can't wrap my head around what would be needed to control the on-stage relay from the control room.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

D.
Old 11th October 2017
  #17
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Could it perhaps be run off 48v phantom...or is that to be discouraged since it could cause supply sag in phantom powered mics, say in a mixer with 'globally on' phantom shared for a number of channels ? If the talkback mic were itself phantom powered, could the light tap into this mic's power circuit ?
Old 11th October 2017
  #18
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Powering is not the problem. I plan on using AC wall power for the light. I have 45vdc PoE if needed to run the ethernet relay. I just am not coming up with a clear thought on how to trip the relay over the network from the control room.

D.
Old 11th October 2017
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

In order to send light and talkback communication via a network system, I would imagine a spare channel in a given network system could be used with multiplex technique. Say, you use audio bandwidth from 50-10000Hz for talkback, but use different tones below and above the allocated audio band to do other functionalities, such as turning on and off the lights and buzzer. You do have to DIY interfaces on both ends, however.
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