I've been designing the sound system for this fun event since 2004. This year, it's three fun films, starting next Thursday, more details here. If you come out, be sure and stop by the mix position, I'll be there!
It's been pretty busy recently, but here's a few random photos from things that didn't warrant an entire posting.
My old friend Jamie Anderson taught Rational Acoustics SMAART school at City Tech (more photos here):
This dock floated into Plumb Beach from somewhere and it's not going to be easy to remove it:
And the Sugar Hill Gang made a surprise appearance:
I'm back from the USITT conference and a little spring break road trip. This was my first time back in Milwaukee since 1990 (when I attended USITT the last time it was there), and this city has really come a long way since then. I was happy with the way our sessions went (although, of course, I forgot to take any pictures), all my books sold out, and all in all it was a great time. One cool thing was a tour of Rockwell Automation, including their high current testing lab, where they do full load testing of electrical gear up to 100,000 amps (!). As you can see from the char marks in the photo below, not all of the gear survives this testing.
Jamie A, John A and I also went to several cool bars, including the fun and dive-y Y Not II:
After the conference ended I stopped by the Midwest Gaming Classic, where my friend Maya N had competed the day before:
I also went to see the excellent Harley-Davidson museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum in a beautiful building on the lakefront, and then the Brewcity Bruisers roller derby:
More photos here. I had planned my trip to stay around a few extra days in the hopes that there would be some weather to chase, but there wasn't. So I went to the excellent Harley Davidson motor factory tour (no photos allowed), which was excellent. Makes me want to buy one...
I then took a quick run north to see if I could get a couple shots with the new D600 camera on the lake. Unfortunately the weather didn't allow any decent light, but I grabbed a few out of the stratus-murk.
I stopped by the National Railroad Museum on the way back to the airport.
A week or so ago I went to the new Jekyll & Hyde Club in Times Square, which is currently in a soft opening mode. Mike Blasko of WeiglWorks showed me around, and it was fun. I had been to the old location on 6th avenue, and also their bar downtown, but today's Times Square seems like a more appropriate home. LifeFormations did the animatronics (and they have a very interesting "Laws of Animatronics" on their website), and Weigl provided 40 "ProCommander" units to control around 30 animatronic special effects, all connected using Ethernet. All the shows were programmed in VenueMagic, and coordinated by some custom front end software from Weigl. Many of the characters can be controlled live by a performer. It's worth a visit if you're in the area; I didn't have my camera that day, so here's some photos from Mike (click for larger images):
I'm off tomorrow to Milwaukee for the USITT conference. I go every 2-3 years, and this time I'm involved in three sessions:
Introduction to Networks
Saturday, 03/23/2013 11:00AM-12:30PM
Delta Center 102D
Description: This session is the first step in learning how to cope with and setup networks. This hands-on session is aimed at guiding users through the setup of a basic network. Participants should bring their laptop to follow along with the examples.
Issues in Audio Networks
Saturday, 03/23/2013 2:00PM-3:15PM
Delta Center 102D
Description:Join John Huntington, author of Show Networks & Control Systems, Ellen Juhlin, D-Mitri digital audio platform manager at Meyer Sound, and Davin Huston, Sound System Designer and certified network professional, to discuss issues that can arise when using audio networks. This session will help show problems, solutions, and caveats in audio networking and share information on where the audio network industry is heading.
Audio Network Troubleshooting
Saturday, 03/23/2013 3:30PM-4:45PM
Room Delta Center 102D
Description: This session is a hands-on opportunity for audio people to experience setting up a network from scratch. This is an attendee's chance to apply what they have learned in 'Introduction to Networking' and 'Issues in Audio Networks'. Participants should bring their laptops to follow along with the examples. It is helpful but not necessary to have attended the earlier Introduction to Networking workshop.
Hope to see you there! I'll be posting updates on twitter while I'm there.
Obviously, I'm fascinated by systems. Bruce Schneier recently posted a link to a very interesting white paper by Richard Cook of the University of Chicago, whose research interests include, "the study of human error, the role of technology in human expert performance, and patient safety."
Here's his list, which has some interesting parallels to my own book chapter on "System Design Principles" (you can watch a free video for that chapter here).
- Complex systems are intrinsically hazardous systems.
- Complex systems are heavily and successfully defended against failure.
- Catastrophe requires multiple failures –single point failures are not enough..
- Complex systems contain changing mixtures of failures latent within them.
- Complex systems run in degraded mode.
- Catastrophe is always just around the corner.
- Post-accident attribution accident to a ‘root cause’ is fundamentally wrong.
- Hindsight biases post-accident assessments of human performance.
- Human operators have dual roles: as producers & as defenders against failure.
- All practitioner actions are gambles.
- Actions at the sharp end resolve all ambiguity.
- Human practitioners are the adaptable element of complex systems.
- Human expertise in complex systems is constantly changing
- Change introduces new forms of failure.
- Views of ‘cause’ limit the effectiveness of defenses against future events.
- Safety is a characteristic of systems and not of their components
- People continuously create safety.
- Failure free operations require experience with failure.
I've often felt that systems take on a life of their own once assembled, and I found his paper, which is only a few pages long, a fascinating read. You can download it here.
For the first time, I'll be doing a fun presentation on systems, networking and show control at the upcoming Broadway Sound Master Class in June. All the talks are listed here; the description for my presentation is:
Systems Thinking and Networks for Audio and Show Control: This session will cover some basic tenants of systems thinking for shows, where we must plan for and accommodate failure in our “show must go on” world. These ideas will then be applied to the design of Ethernet networks, which today offer both a common audio transport and a control infrastructure. These concepts together lead to modern system design for show control, where we connect between audio and other disciplines like lighting or video.