Show Production Terms
Control Booth / Lighting Booth: - “The control booth, control room, lighting box, technical booth, tech booth, or just booth to theatre or television technicians is the area designated for the operation of technical equipment (lighting and sound), and is sometimes the location of the deputy stage manager’s (DSM) station as well as the lighting controls and sound board. Often one or two followspots are located in the booth as well. Generally it is an enclosed space with a large sliding window with a good view of the stage. In a proscenium theater, it is centered in the back of the house. It might be on the ground floor, but is sometimes placed at the balcony level.” - Wikipedia
FOH: “In the performing arts, front of house (FOH) is the part of a performance venue that is open to the public. In theatres and live music venues, it consists of the auditorium and foyers, as opposed to the stage and backstage areas. In a theatre, the front of house manager is responsible for ticket sales, refreshments, and making sure the auditorium is set out properly.
Sound operators, excluding the monitor engineers, are normally positioned in a small sectioned-off area front-of-house, surrounded by the audience or at the edge of the audience area. From this position they have unobstructed listening and a clear view of the performance, enabling the operation of the main speaker system, show control consoles and other equipment. In this case ‘front of house’ can refer to both the general audience/public area or to the specific small section from where the show is mixed.” - Wikipedia
Music Venue: “A music venue is any location used for a concert or musical performance. A music venue range in size and location, from an outdoor bandshell or bandstand or a concert hall to an indoor sports stadium. Typically, different types of venues host different genres of music. Opera houses, bandshells, and concert halls host classical music performances, whereas public houses, nightclubs, and discothèques offer music in contemporary genres, such as rock, dance, country and pop.” - Wikipedia
Side of Stage: The ‘Side of Stage’ is the area immediately to the left or right of the visible stage area. Often these areas are used as a space for performers or stagehands to prepare before entering the stage area. Technical equipment, such as audio, lighting and video equipment, and their operators, can often also found in this space.
Theater: “A theater, theatre or playhouse, is a structure where theatrical works or plays are performed, or other performances such as musical concerts may be produced. While a theater is not required for performance (as in environmental theater or street theater), a theater serves to define the performance and audience spaces. The facility is traditionally organized to provide support areas for performers, the technical crew and the audience members.” - Wikipedia
Audio / Video Codecs
Codecs are a way that audio and video data can be encoded to reduce the file size, and decoded for use when they are needed. Some codecs are ‘lossless’ (no loss in quality), while many are ‘lossy’ meaning that they lose some quality as a trade-off in reducing the file size.
Each codec has pros and cons, and the codec to use will vary heavily depending on the use case.
AAC: Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) is a proprietary audio coding standard for lossy digital audio compression. Designed to be the successor of the MP3 format, AAC generally achieves better sound quality than MP3 at the same bit rate.
Apple Lossless: Apple Lossless, also known as Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) is an audio coding format, and its reference audio codec implementation, developed by Apple Inc. for lossless data compression of digital music.
h.264: Smallest file size, low to good quality, fewest number of concurrent movies, maximum specification resolution of 4k. Good codec choice for backup, normal speed playback, mobile device recording, streaming and other low bandwidth situations.
HAP: Optimized for real-time playback, low to good quality, optional alpha channel, medium to large file sizes. Use for smooth playback of HD and ultra-high resolution video files (4k and larger) and to reduce file size when an alpha channel is needed.
Linear PCM: Standard uncompressed audio format.
mp3: A legacy audio codec that is still widely support and commonly used. For its time, a good trade off between quality, file size and playback performance.
PhotoJPEG: A legacy video codec that still widely supported and commonly used. Each frame of video is compressed using JPEG. For its time, a good trade off between quality, file size and playback performance.
ProRes: Very good quality, optional alpha channel, medium to large file sizes. Good choice for video editing, archiving and basic high quality playback.. Requires additional install of Apple Pro Video Formats.
File formats are the wrappers for different types of digital documents used by computers. In the world of show production they often contain some kind of media, such as audio or video, or code that is used for real-time rendering. Typically the type of file format is represented by a 1-4 character file extension after the file name.
.aif / .wav: These are audio only file formats that contain uncompressed audio streams. The quality varies depending on the bit-depth (usually 16, 24, or 32-bit) and the sample rate (usually 44.1 khz or 48 khz).
.avi / .mov: Media files that contain video, sometimes with an attached audio track, will typically contain one of these two file extensions. ‘.avi’ is typically found on Windows whereas ‘.mov’ is typically found on Macs. Despite having different file extensions, these formats can be containers for most popular audio and video codecs such as h.264, PhotoJPEG, HAP and ProRes.
.mp4: The ‘.mp4’ extension is an crossplatform format specifically for media that uses a variant of the mp4 specification; this includes the popular h.264 codec.
.mp3: Used to hold mp3 audio data as described above.
Audio/Video Digitizers: These devices can be used to connect various kinds of analog and digital audio/video cables to software running on a computer, making it possible to record, process, mix and re-output the signals.
Lighting Console: “A lighting control console (also called a lightboard, lighting board, or lighting desk) is an electronic device used in theatrical lighting design to control multiple lights at once. They are used throughout the entertainment industry and are normally placed at the Front of House (FOH) position or in a control booth.” - Wikipedia
MIDI Instrument / Controller: “MIDI was invented so that electronic or digital musical instruments could communicate with each other and so that one instrument can control another. For example, a MIDI-compatible sequencer can trigger beats produced by a drum sound module. Analog synthesizers that have no digital component and were built prior to MIDI’s development can be retrofit with kits that convert MIDI messages into analog control voltages. When a note is played on a MIDI instrument, it generates a digital signal that can be used to trigger a note on another instrument. The capability for remote control allows full-sized instruments to be replaced with smaller sound modules, and allows musicians to combine instruments to achieve a fuller sound, or to create combinations of synthesized instrument sounds, such as acoustic piano and strings. MIDI also enables other instrument parameters (volume, effects, etc.) to be controlled remotely.” – Wikipedia
Tablet Computer: “A tablet computer, commonly shortened to tablet, is a mobile device, typically with a mobile operating system and LCD touchscreen display processing circuitry, and a rechargeable battery in a single thin, flat package. Tablets, being computers, do what other personal computers do, but lack some I/O capabilities that others have. Modern tablets largely resemble modern smartphones, the only differences being that tablets are relatively larger than smartphones, with screens 7 inches (18 cm) or larger, measured diagonally, and may not support access to a cellular network.” – Wikipedia
Protocols are used to pass information such as audio, video and control data from one system to another. Within the world of show production there are several commonly used protocols, several of which are demonstrated in the various sections of this course.
ArtNet: “DMX was designed to control up to 512 channels (a universe) of lighting values over a single cable. It worked well for many years but eventually outgrew its 512 channel limit, and lighting desks supporting several DMX universes began to appear. Soon, even this was not enough as the development of channel hungry fixtures progressed and designers needed more channels than DMX could offer.
Art-Net was created by Artistic Licence to overcome the channel restriction of DMX while still utilizing its structure. It allows multiple DMX universes to be transported over a single Cat5 cable using ethernet technology.” - https://art-net.org.uk/
DMX: - “DMX512 (Digital Multiplex) is a standard for digital communication networks that are commonly used to control stage lighting and effects. It was originally intended as a standardized method for controlling light dimmers, which, prior to DMX512, had employed various incompatible proprietary protocols. It soon became the primary method for linking controllers (such as a lighting console) to dimmers and special effects devices such as fog machines and intelligent lights. DMX has also expanded to uses in non-theatrical interior and architectural lighting, at scales ranging from strings of Christmas lights to electronic billboards. DMX can now be used to control almost anything, reflecting its popularity in theaters and venues.” - Wikipedia
MIDI: “MIDI is an industry standard music technology protocol that connects products from many different companies including digital musical instruments, computers, tablets, and smartphones. MIDI is used every day around the world by musicians, DJs, producers, educators, artists, and hobbyists to create, perform, learn, and share music and artistic works.” - MIDI.org
NDI®: “NDI® (Network Device Interface) is a free protocol for Audio and Video over IP, developed by NewTek. It is designed to allow distribution of live professional a/v streams over existing IP infrastructure, freeing users from hardware constraints and gives the benefits of reduced cost and deployment time.” - https://www.newtek.com/ndi/
OSC: “Open Sound Control (OSC) is a protocol for communication among computers, sound synthesizers, and other multimedia devices that is optimized for modern networking technology. Bringing the benefits of modern networking technology to the world of electronic musical instruments, OSC’s advantages include interoperability, accuracy, flexibility, and enhanced organization and documentation.
This simple yet powerful protocol provides everything needed for real-time control of sound and other media processing while remaining flexible and easy to implement.” - http://opensoundcontrol.org/
OSCQuery: An extension to OSC that adds the ability for applications to remotely browse and access parameters of other software. Read more on the OSCQuery homepage.