Get Your Geek On

Geek. It's a descriptor I embrace. I often tell people I need to, "get my geek on." My daughter sings, "geek squad..." whenever I start talking techie stuff at the dinner table. Our office manager, Emilie, is jealous of my geek-ness; "Why do you guys get to do all the cool stuff?!!" Yup, I'm a geek. And proud of it. This past weekend was a veritable celebration of geek-ness. We had some very cool things going on, so I thought I would recount some of them for you (fellow geeks?).

Sunday started with an iChat file transfer of a video. An editor friend in CA had cut together some footage that we were to use as a background for a rendition of "I Wish I Could Go Back To College," from the musical Avenue Q. We're in a series called Generations, and this week was "What I Learned as a Twentysomething." As the file transfer was taking place, I was building the ProPresenter playlist on my MacBook Pro. Multitasking—love it!

When I got to the office, I booted up my MacPro and started synching the click track I had made on Friday with the video. While I was doing that, I transferred the graphics and ProPres info to the iMac in the tech booth. While Compressor was crunching away on the MacPro, I screen-shared into the iMac and made sure all the graphics were good. I also made some setting changes, since it's new.

Once in the sanctuary, things got fun. I took an output from our RGBHV DA and fed it into a scan converter. The resultant composite video out was fed to a tie line to the stage and fed the 3 backdrop projectors. This way, we could feed the video to the 2 main screens and the backdrop from the ProPresenter iMac.

As rehearsal got started, I fired up VMWare's Fusion and got Windows XP running on my MacBook Pro. I launched Yamaha's Studio Manager and then had real-time access to our M7 at front of house. Since we've made our switch to feeding the IEMs from the Aviom card, we now have enough omni-outs to send discreet mixes to the recorder, great room and video booth. The video booth is fed from Matrix 1, and using the Studio Manager, I was able to build a really nice mix in the booth at the same time Nate was mixing FOH. I was also able to diagnose a problem with the keys during the service without leaving the tech booth. That was cool.

Once the service got underway, I tweaked our mix a bit more, then proceeded to screen-share back to the MacPro in my office. During rehearsal, I logged a few clips that I had shot on Friday and batch captured them. During the service, I was able to put those clips on the timeline, add a timecode reader filter and send the timeline out to Compressor to make an MPG2. I mentioned I was sitting in the tech booth, right? After Compressor finished, I launched DVD Studio Pro, built a quick DVD, and burned it to the blank DVD-R I had previously left in the drive. The only thing I couldn't do was use screen-share to deliver the DVD to our creative director.

To recap, as I sat in our tech booth during the service, using my MacBook Pro I was controlling the MacPro in my office to make a timecode DVD, running Windows to control our FOH M7 to tweak our booth mix, and checking my e-mail, reading blogs and updating Twitter—all beautifully organized with Spaces. Getting my geek on? Oh yeah!

After the service, Nate fired up the FTP server on the HD24 recorder and I pulled the sermon audio down to my MBP while we tore down. Since it's a 10Base-T connection, it's the longest part of the sermon audio process. I make some quick edits in Soundtrack Pro, apply compression and export to an aiff. Then an Auomator script compresses two MP3s and ftps them to our website and CD duplicator. Props to our lead audio engineer and fellow geek, Erik, for writing the Automator script!

Clearly this is not a "how-to" for any of this stuff. If anyone is interested, I will write up some more detail. I just find it remarkable that we can utilize technology to this degree. Because the DVD is now done and I have the sermon audio on my MPB, I'm already ahead for Tuesday. Now if I could only find a way to use technology to get the song, "I Wish I Could Go Back to College" out of my head...

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