Last time, we talked about some reasons to use an input sheet. That post was prompted by a post the previous week on console layouts. The goal with this whole concept is to organize our set up so that it is more productive, efficient and user-friendly. The easier we can make the mixing process for our team, the more successful they can be. We already know mixing is hard, but let’s not make it harder with poor organization.
Today I’m going to show you a few examples of input sheets so you have some ideas on what information to include and how to organize it. This first one is one of the first I did. Looking back on it, I already see some issues that I would address today. But it served it’s purpose back then, and was a huge improvement over what we had (which was nothing).
The Basic Sheet
This input sheet could be divided into three groups of information. The first 3 columns provide the patching information. Here, you find the board channel, the stage input and any sub-snake assignment. The next 3 columns provide application information. What type of input is it, who will be using it and are there any special notes to be aware of. Finally, we see routing, monitoring and bussing information, along with a note on phantom power.
Armed with nothing but this input sheet (and a stage plot), my volunteer set up crew could completely wire the stage for me during the week, and I could quickly verify it on rehearsal night.
Looking back on it, I would change some things if I were doing it today. I would rearrange the console to follow a more conventional layout, and would color code more. But at the time, it worked well. Equipment-wise, we were using a 32-channel analog console and an Aviom system for monitoring.
An Intermediate Sheet
This next sheet was developed by a friend of mine, Tyler Kanishero. He’s using an M7 with a couple of cards, and did a great job of putting all the information you’d need on a single sheet. On the left side, you see all 48 input channels on the console and what plugs into them. Inputs are direct, stage and cards. In the middle you have the mixe and matrix assignments. On the right, the Aviom and output assigns are clearly listed.
This example goes into more detail, but still keeps the information clearly and easy to find. About the only thing I would change on this is to add color. As you can see, he has the same information I had in my basic example, but it’s organized differently. Like a console setup, it doesn’t matter so much how you do it, as long as it makes sense in your context. Of course, there are advantages to doing things similarly to industry standards. But make sure it works for you.
The Advanced Sheet
This is the sheet I developed jointly with Isaiah Franco. I started it, he did a lot of work on it, then I tweaked it some more after he left. I wrote a series of posts on it some time back if you want to know more about how it works (Part 1, Part 2). We use a lot of cool Numbers features for drop down menus, and a ton of if-then statements to auto-fill much of the content.
This sheet is four pages long and presents the information in a few ways. The first two pages are for the stage team. They get all the information for patching and set up through the patch list and stage diagram. All the wireless mic and IEM assignments are also clearly spelled out. The second two pages are for the FOH engineer. In reality, most of that info was already dealt with in the baseline show file, but it’s good to know what is there.
This one was tweaked and massaged over five years, and I’m pretty happy with it. It’s overkill for many situations, however. If you have a smaller set up, you don’t likely need this much information. However, there are principles that should be useful.
Remember, it’s less important how you do the input sheet, and more important that you do it. Figure out what works for you and start. You’ll be glad you did.
Here are the sheets in PDF version. Everyone is going to ask for the originals; I don't have all of the, so just build them yourself in Excel or Numbers. It's good practice.