Input Sheet Template

The other day I tweeted a reference to my new semi-automated input sheet. There was a loud enough cry that others may be interested, so I thought I'd write it up here. It started off life as an Excel spreadsheet that a predecessor of mine came up with. While I may have done the basic format a little differently, this one works perfectly fine (and it's a lot of work to create from scratch). I prefer Numbers to Excel, so I opened it there and went to work. What I set out to do is eliminate as much double-entry as possible. I learned this back in my database development days; enter the data once, let the software do the rest. Here are a few highlights.

The first thing I did was standardize our board layout. This was already pretty much in place, but I made some tweaks to it so that the inputs page properly on both the M7 and monitors and the PM5D at FOH. In the past, we've had stereo inputs spread across multiple fader banks, and that didn't make sense to me. I also set it up so that stereo inputs pair odd to even on our $65K FOH board (it's a sad testament to Yamaha that the $20K M7 can pair either way; but I digress...). Once the standard input list was built, it was a matter of pre-populating values in drop-downs.

We have basically 4 drummers, for example. Rather than type their name in, I simply made a drop down for ch. 1. Then, I made ch. 2-10 equal the value of the cell above. Change the value once, software changes it the other 9 times. Sweet!

Ch. 2=Ch. 1, Ch. 3=Ch. 4, etc.

Ch. 2=Ch. 1, Ch. 3=Ch. 4, etc.Next up, we typically have a percussion or woodwinds player. Percussion takes 3 channels, woodwinds takes 2. To make sure things pair properly, I chose the middle channel of the three for my drop-down.

What it looks like in Woodwinds mode.

What it looks like in Woodwinds mode.Select Percussion from the drop-down...

One click away...

One click away...And presto 11 other cells change instantly.

What it looks like in Percussion mode.

What it looks like in Percussion mode.I accomplished this little feat with a series of IF,THEN statements. Here's an example:

Similar formulae populate all these cyan cells.

Similar formulae populate all these cyan cells.

Basically, the Mic Type field of Ch. 22 is looking at the Instrument field. If it sees "Percussion," it enters "e904." If it doesn't, it enters a dash. I have these all over the spreadsheet.

The other thing I did was to auto-enter as many recurring names as possible. For example, in our monitor mix section, I'm trying more and more to use the same mixes for the same things. Once we get there, it's a simple matter to make the musician field look back to a previous field and enter the name, like so:

Mix 9 Name looks back to who's playing drums. And so on...

Mix 9 Name looks back to who's playing drums. And so on...

It's not too hard to do any of this; the hardest part is figuring out the standard layout, then determining what you can automate. Once you get started, it's easy to automate a ton of it. Even making a few tweaks to the template this week, it only took me about 5 minutes to build the entire input list. And who can't use more time in their day?

Here are links to the two files:

Numbers Version (requires iWork '09)

Excel Version (requires Office 1998 or higher)

In a cruel twist of fate, it appears that Excel doesn't support drop-down menus. It does, however, appear to be really easy to insert a clip-art photo of a duck. Just one more reason to like iWork...

Update June 29, 2013: 

I've added to and revised our input sheet pretty significantly in the past few years. I wrote another series of posts, and did a video showing how we use the new versions. You can find them here: 

Input Sheets Pt. 1

Input Sheets Pt. 2