Recently the college was working on a show where a series of projections had to take place at specific times within an audio track, and so the adventure into timecode began. This idea started as a simple way to ensure that the show run correctly, which was especially important as the show would have no rehearsal time and very limited technical time.
We decided to use QLab, running on two separate iMac’s (One for Video, One for Sound) with the possibility of tying into the lighting desk (ETC Ion) if we had time and the lighting was ready. After a bit of searching we found that the theatre has several audio interfaces available for use. In the end, we used a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB interface for the video Mac, receiving timecode from a Focusrite Saffire LE Firewire device, which was also used as an audio interface for the system. We also experimented with an mBox 2, which we didn’t use due to it no longer being supported, however, after installing old drivers we did have it recognised in QLab and could get timecode out at times.
On the first Mac (Audio), I set up the timecode based songs using groups, with the audio track, timecode start and timecode stop all in the same group. This allowed everything to be triggered correctly at the right time. Each new timecode section started an hour later than the last. This ensure that there is plenty of time for each section and that we can pre-roll from the song if we needed to have set up cues, for example, with the lighting. It is also an easy way to organise the tracks. Below is an example set up for a song.
As the example shows, All of the sub cues are set to auto follow. This allows the entire group to be triggered as one and reduces the need for the operator to press go, it is also the only way to ensure that timecode starts at the correct time and that they are in sync. The stop cue is set to pre-wait longer than the actual length of the track. This ensures that the video Mac receives all of the timecode and has room for exit cues such as a fade out after the song, or returning to a previous projection. It was important to ensure that the timecode is stopped otherwise QLab may have tried to output multiple timecode blocks.
On the second Mac (Video), the projection tech imported and labelled all of the cues. After that, he sat and went through the cues specifying in each cue what the timecode trigger was. This is point in timecode that the cue should trigger and display the slide. This was the longest part of the entire set up process as each song had to be listened to numerous time to get the times and then it had to be tested.
The only problem that we had was when I first started trying to use stop cues on the audio Mac, this was due to the cues having a post-wait not a pre-wait meaning that the timecode never ran, as it was always stopped. After troubleshooting and correcting this problem, we didn’t experience any other problems with timecode, however the show was cancelled last minuet due to cast problems.