Music and sound effects

Discuss the art of Children's Entertainment with your fellow performers.

Postby Umpa Duze » 06/12/12 01:49 AM

Hi All,
For the past couple of years I have been trying to integrate music and sound effects into my school shows. I have tried a number of technological solutions, but find using the remotes, checking the track numbers and timing the sound effects to interrupt the flow of the show. At one point I tried timing a section of the show with sound effects, but never quite hit the marks as I wanted them. I find myself caught up in the interactions with the kids.

I wonder if there are any Genii members who have successfully built sound into their performances for children. I am not looking for background music, but trying to emphasize various parts of the performance through sound. I am interested in your experiences with this and hope you have some suggestions that will help me be more successful.

Cheers,
Umpa
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Postby Brad Henderson » 06/12/12 12:21 PM

Icue2 is my choice. But no longer commercially available.
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Postby Jeff Haas » 06/12/12 08:42 PM

Umpa, it sounds like you're trying to do too much at once. If you're doing a one-man show and trying to be spontaneous with kids, go for simpler uses of music. Get some helpers up, set up the routine, and then trigger the music track as the trick takes off.

I'd also suggest that you don't try to create Lance Burton-style routines, where everything is precisely timed to sound cues. Instead, pick tracks that will create an atmosphere or mood, and have enough time in them so you can improvise without worrying about hitting specific marks or finishing exactly on time. It's also OK to speak over the music instead of suddenly becoming a silent show.

It can be effective to use randomly-triggered sound effects to enhance a routine - take a look at this clip for "Knot Funny" by Jef Eaton. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzCrADyEtoM But also note that his wife is doing all the sound cues from the podium.

Regarding the various technological solutions...I'm the guy who put up the web site explaining how to trigger cues on a laptop with Winamp, so I know something about this. http://remotelaptop.tripod.com/ (By the way, that site is now 12 years old. It pre-dates the iPod.)

Laptop vs. iPod vs. MP3-Tech vs. various defunct systems...they almost all work fine, but some are more fiddly than others. For the type of show you're doing, I think "simpler is better" in terms of audio usage. Just having audio tracks at various points is enough; I've found that routines that add too many can come off as gimmicky unless carefully written.

Hope this is helpful. Let me know if you have more questions.

Jeff
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Postby Dave V » 06/13/12 11:46 AM

I still find it interesting that magicians feel they must have a "one man show."

Sometimes you just have to have a team behind you. You do the magic, let someone else do the rest.
"I still play with a full deck, I just shuffle slower"
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Postby mrgoat » 06/13/12 12:48 PM

Dave V wrote:I still find it interesting that magicians feel they must have a "one man show."


I guess some people want to keep all their fee, rather than share it with a tech crew.

David Kaplan lectured at International a few years ago and he had (iirc) a reed switch in his shoes (I think he brought his heels together to trigger it). Maybe the OP could look at that, with an iPad in a case/offstage so reading what track is on etc would be easy. People are already using them as teleprompters, so...
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Postby Umpa Duze » 06/15/12 03:30 AM

Hi All,
Thanks for your thoughts and advice. I think Jeff has nailed the problem. I am trying to squeeze in one more element to improve the show (although the image of me doing a Lance Burton impersonation to music is too disturbing to consider). I do a one man show with a theme for our local schools as part of my work as an associate professor of Education. It is a lot to ask for someone to volunteer with me regularly enough to make the team thing work.

The knot Funny clip does embody part of what I am trying to do with sound. Sound effects can really cement an idea in the minds of the kids so it becomes easier to think about and remember.

There is also an ending to the show that would be greatly enhanced by being presented with music.

I guess what I was wondering is whether there are any tools that reduce the demands on the performer significantly from the Sound Man type Technology.

Jeff, I was interested in your comments about using a laptop controller. Right now I am using a presentation mouse and PowerPoint with embedded sound to run the sound effects. This has an advantage in that the screen is large enough to be seen easily and programming is very user friendly.

Thanks again, for your thoughts.
Cheers,
Umpa Duze
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Postby Jeff Haas » 06/18/12 02:06 AM

Umpa, I think that using Winamp to play back sounds from a laptop is probably better than setting up a Powerpoint with embedded sounds, because Winamp is designed for playing back music. It's also very easy to set up a new playlist, and you can make the font any size you want, so you can see it easily. But if Powerpoint is working for you then there's no real reason to switch.

And props to you for knowing that you shouldn't do a Lance Burton impersonation!

Jeff
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Postby 007 and a half » 07/14/12 10:44 PM

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Postby carlandrews » 07/15/12 11:02 AM

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Postby Jeff Haas » 07/17/12 04:51 PM

Carl's app is a great solution if you have an iPhone or iPad.
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Postby Gordon Meyer » 07/18/12 10:46 AM

If all you need is a fool proof cue sheet for another person to use, a while ago I wrote up how to do that at Jeff McBride's website. It's not for a one-man show, but it's simple and exploits a little-known built-in feature of some iPod models. http://www.secretartjournal.com/archives/331
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Postby mrgoat » 07/18/12 11:44 AM

Gordon Meyer wrote:If all you need is a fool proof cue sheet for another person to use


a) nothing is fool proof
b) you then need to pay another person
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Postby carlandrews » 08/13/12 02:21 AM

Show Cues for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch
Sound Control System
www.mojosoftwareonline.com

Like having a sound engineer in your pocket!
A Sound Control System Designed By Professionals For Professionals
- Concept by Shawn Popp
- Programmed by Carl Andrews
Get rid of your bulky laptop. Show Cues runs your entire show with a device you already carry with youan iPhone/iPad or iPod Touch!
What's the difference between Show Cues and other sound devices? About $1500! Show Cues doesn't run lights, flash pots or make coffee. But, if you're looking for something super-simple and sure-fire, this App really does the trick. In fact, you can bundle Show Cues with the purchase of a new iPad and it would still cost less than other sound devices on the market.
FEATURES:
- Real-Time Clock 
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- Indicator Light Buttons Show Playback State
- Countdown Timer With Visual And Sound Warning
- Play/Pause, Fade-Out And Auto-Pause At Next Track
- Plugs Into Any Type Of Sound System (cables sold separately) 
- Works Manually Or With Custom Remote Control (remote sold separately)

REVIEWS
"It's a well designed piece of kit for the working pro. For me and hundreds of others out in the 'trenches' gigging for a living, it's fantastic!I handed my iPad to the sound engineer to run my cues - which he did, superbly. He LOVED this app - quote 'I'm having that!'A well thought out and easy to use app." Gary Dunn, Scotland's Premier Family Entertainer

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"Fantastic Carl! Finally, won't have to carry the extra gear. Thanks for the reasonable price too!" Chris Blackmore Professional Magician

"The ONLY App I need to run my entire show from. Perfect for ventriloquists, magicians, speakers - anybody who wants to run an entire show from an iPad or iPhone! By far THE BEST app on the market." Paul Romhany Product Reviewer from Vanish Magic Magazine

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Joe Givan - FISM winner, Theatre Owner / Operator

Show Cues is one of the greatest apps for the stand-up entertainer in existence. It does everything you need. Say goodbye to the $1000-plus sound cueing hardware. Fabulous support and customer service, which triples the value in my book. I can't wait for the next upgrade, which will allow me to pre-set separate volume controls for each track. The best keeps getting better.
Dan Garrett Mentalist Magician Speaker Humorist
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Postby Ray Eden » 08/13/12 03:42 AM

The system that David Kaplin uses is called MediaStar (http://www.mylovelyassistant.com/reviews/view/2571). He was here in Finland two weekends ago, and I was salivating over the system. He uses a magnetic remote at his ankles as well as a remote in his pocket. It ain't cheap though.
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