Great Review of my Book, Show Networks and Control Systems


I was reading USITT's TD&T journal  on the train this morning, when I  stumbled across the book review section, and found a very nice review of my book!  I had sent in a book copy for review back in the summer, but forgot all about it, and it turns out that they selected Michael Hooker, who I know from various conventions over the years. I consider Michael a friend, but I didn't know he was reviewing it, and I read through it nervously.  But am happy to report that Michael wrote a very nice review! Here's some of my favorite points:

One could argue that [the book] contains an overwhelming volume of information if it were not so impeccably well organized. Its thirty-three chapters place the book clearly in the category of technical reference, but it retains the style and flow of a unified narrative. ... It is a masterfully organized effort. ... Professionals who have never seen Huntington’s book probably already use these [system design] tenets, which are eloquently stated and spot-on good design practice. ...  Of special note is his section on Ethernet, which, in my opinion, brings great clarity to this often misunderstood, yet essential method for interconnection. He then expands this into two more chapters that deal with TCP/IP, LANs, and the myriad of advanced networking topics that can trip up even seasoned professionals. Huntington’s presentation of these topics is particularly outstanding.

Here's his summation

Show Networks and Control Systems is more than just a timely update to the venerable Control Systems for Live Entertainment; it is a modern reassessment that truly reflects current trends and practices in the themed entertainment industries. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in, or of course directly involved with, themed entertainment design. This outstanding work has become the primary textbook for my graduate courses in show control for themed entertainment. It fluidly straddles the line between textbook and reference manual and fills a very important niche in our industry.

You can read the whole review on the link above.

Michael has some worthwhile criticism in his "Three Minor Misses" section, and I'd like to address them here:

I think this book falls a bit short in explaining general electrical theory, especially as it relates to interfacing. This is apparent when he describes transistor interfaces. Admittedly, this could easily fill an entire book or semester course in electrical engineering, but an expansion here would function at the same level
as the rest of the book.

Michael has a good point here, and this is something I've wrestled with since the first edition back, way back in 1994. To understand anything about entertainment control, you need a solid foundation in electricity. But to explain those fundamentals I think you need another book altogether, and there are already many fine ones out there.  On the other hand, I didn't want to just include a cursory overview of such a complex subject either, but there are some things that are important to the topic, so I didn't want to leave them out.  I'll think on this some more for the next edition...

I see a potential big future for OSC. It barely gets five pages, and although it is currently not a widely adopted professional standard, the same could have been said about MIDI in the not-too distant past. I believe OSC is a very accessible format that young paradigm by translating it in and out to existing control standards.

I agree too that Open Sound Control (OSC) has a lot of potential, which is why I included it even in the last edition in 2007.  But MIDI was already 10 years old and very well established back in 1994 in the first edition, and so I've included a lot of information on that from the beginning.  I hope I included enough information on OSC to get people started, and as it gains acceptance (there's a major product in our industry that will soon announce support for it--had that happened before July I would have likely expanded the section) I will most certainly post info here on the blog, and will expand that section in the next edition.

And finally, I would have liked to have seen full examples from real, actualized shows! I understand that could have entailed certain legal and trade-secret limitations, but I missed the direct grounding to reality that this would have provided.

Many of the case study examples at the end of the book are drawn from real-life shows, but there's no way I could get approval to use them in the book. I did, however, give many of the origins of these examples in my recent free lecture video for those chapters, which you view here.  The other reason I didn't include actual shows in the book is that they would almost immediately become dated.  And so, I put that kind of stuff here on the blog, and you can subscribe to my RSS feed to see more.

Thanks again Michael, I owe you a beer at the next conference!