Taming Scenes

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  • #117437
    Profile photo of Jasen
    Jasen
    Participant

    I recently started running FOH for my church. This is my first A&H desk, but I’ve been dabbling in running sound (and lights, and cameras, and…) for 20+ years.

    They currently use scenes for each portion of the service – welcome, choir number, congregation song 1, song 2, sermon, etc. But they have no “safes” or “filters” active. So when advancing from one scene to the next, EVERYTHING may change. I find it maddening. Tweak the EQ on a singer during the first song. GONE in the next song. Adjust level for the snare. GONE. And so on.

    I recently found the “Update” tab and have been using it to adjust various settings (like PEQ) across all scenes in the current cue list which has been very helpful.

    Are there any resources out there for learning to use scenes effectively? How to plan filters and such? What sorts of filters make sense for a church service type of show? I want to educate myself, but I’d also like to educate my leadership.

    Thanks.

    #117445
    Profile photo of Brian
    Brian
    Participant

    Read the firmware reference guide if you haven’t already. It is effectively the “manual” for the console and goes into scene management, scene safes, global safes, etc.

    However, on a foundational level you need to understand these concepts.
    1 – With A&H consoles, when you save a scene, it saves every setting that is contained in the scene systems. (There are also Show files which save all the scenes as well as a few more fundamental settings not stored in scenes).
    2 – You can use filters to prevent a particular setting(s) from being recalled. There are scene filters that prevent a setting from being recalled on just that particular scene, and there are global filters that prevent a setting from being recalled on all scenes.
    3 – You can also “lock” scenes to prevent them from being changed/overwritten. You can set up user defined rules that might prevent certain users from being able to lock/unlock scenes.

    Basically you need to decide what the goal is for using scenes. At church, my use was primarily muting/unmuting different channels during transitions.

    There is a time and place to use both filters (scene and global). There is no right or wrong way to handle these filters however because everyone’s situation is different.

    If I was in your shoes, I might set it up like this.

    – Set global filters for any setting that you don’t want to change through scenes ever. You might not use it at all. You might use it to block changes to fundamental console settings like I/O routing. (I tend not to use Global safes in our church).
    – One main scene that is loaded at the beginning of the rehearsal/service. This would normally be locked to prevent changes to it. (This is because you generally want to start from a known place every week. If you allow different users to make changes and save this main scene every week, eventually it is going to go badly). It would not have any filters on it.
    – a scene for each unique portion of the service (welcome, 1st song, announcements, 2nd song, etc). This scene would have scene filters put on it. I would start out by blocking ALL changes, and then allow certain changes as needed. In my church we only have mute settings “unsafed” – everything else is blocked from changes. Fundamentally, I would only change things in this scene that will be consistent changed week to week. See my next point for any changes that need to happen “this week”, but not every week.
    – if I needed a “one off” change for a particular transition (the guitar needs to be louder in during song 1 this week because of the song), I would create a second scene for these changes and place it after the regular transition scene. This way I am not “messing up” my regular transition scene with random changes that aren’t going to stay the same week to week. This will make the scene management much easier and consistent week to week. You can delete or edit the “This week’s Song 1 changes” scene, but always have a locked/non-edited transition scene for consistency.
    – don’t save scenes in back to back to back memory slots (slot 1, 2, 3, etc). Leave blank memory slots in between your created scenes for future use. For example, your “Main Default Scene” might be slot 2. Your “Pre Service” scene might be slot 5 and your “Welcome scene” slot 10, “Song 1” slot 15, “Announcements” slot 20, “Song 2” slot 25, etc. When you use the “Next” button for scene management, it will skip any blank scenes. So if you load your “Default scene” (slot 2) and then your next saved scene is the “Pre-service” scene in slot 5, hitting the next button will load the 5th slot scene.

    This give you room to add more scenes as needed for each “section” of the service, allowing you to easily use my suggestion above where I would put all the “one off” transition changes in a second (or third, etc) scene. “Song 1” regular scene might be saved in slot 15, but I can save any “additional changes” needed that week to slot 16 and call it “additional Song 1 changes” or something like that. This way the user can load scene 15 and immediately load scene 16 as well.

    Anyway, this post is a lot longer than I expected it to be, but hopefully that gives you some ideas on how you can manage your scenes. I definitely would NOT manage it like the church is currently doing it.

    #117447
    Profile photo of Brian
    Brian
    Participant

    I will add that I do change the “Main Scene” (the locked scene that is recalled to put the console in a “known” state prior to use) over time as needed. But I have a rule where I will only modify the scene if I end up making the same change over several weeks. If I need to add some 200Hz to my lead vocal mic to add some body and I end up making that change several weeks in a row, then I will edit the “Main Scene” with that change. But the room and my ears can be different week to week, so I don’t ever want to save those “modifications” to my “Main scene” until I know it is really needed because I hear the same deficiency over several weeks.

    I realized when I reread my post that I didn’t mention that I would lock the normal “Transition” scenes as well. This will prevent someone from modifying those scenes week to week. If they need to make a change for a transition, the need to utilize the “this week’s changes” scene for that transition. This means that not only is my “Main” scene locked from editing/changes, but all of the normal transition scenes as well. Really only the “weekly changes” scenes should be unlocked for editing. This will allow for a more consistent system even if you a rotation of people running sound.

    #117466
    Profile photo of Jasen
    Jasen
    Participant

    Thanks.

    There’s only me running the board now – and occasionally the media director – so I’m not too worried about others messing with scenes.

    Sounds like I need to sit down with Director and do some experimenting and planning.

    > this post is a lot longer than I expected it to be

    I have that problem, too. 🙂 I appreciate the detail.

    #117477
    Profile photo of Jasen
    Jasen
    Participant

    Let me walk through a couple scenarios, do some thinking through typing, and see if anyone has any tips.

    Setup:
    Sunday morning. Arrive early for sound check/practice with band & choir. Load the “base” scene. Very open scene. Sets the surface & system to a known start state.

    Sound check/practice:
    Recall “song 1” scene.
    Adjust channel levels, IEM mixes, PEQ, FX, mutes.
    Save scene.

    Recall “song 2” scene.
    Adjust channel levels, IEM mixes, PEQ, FX, mutes.
    Save scene.

    Recall “choir song” scene.
    Adjust channel levels, monitor mix, PEQ, FX, mutes.
    Save scene.

    During practice I notice today’s drummer is really hammering the toms 1 channel. I want to adjust the preamp for all scenes – or at least all the scenes the drums are being played in. Jump into Scenes->Update. Turn on Auto Tracking. Select all of the song scenes. Adjust preamp level. Press “Apply” – this saves the change to the scenes.

    But now I have a decision. Is preamp level something that should be set in each scene? Or is it something that should be set at a base level for all scenes? i.e. I don’t really want the preamp bouncing around from scene to scene. So should I set the preamp level in my “base” scene, and have it filtered out in my “song” scenes?

    Also, the music pastor has a habit of talking during transitions between numbers, so I don’t want his mic to be messed with when transitioning from song to song. (I’ll manually ride his FX send, so I don’t want that level being set by the scenes, either.) So I exclude his mic from the scenes? I guess I just remember and manually adjust his level for each song.

    “Sermon” scene.
    This should mute everything but the pastor’s mic, but otherwise not change anything (e.g. choir PEQ). To some degree it doesn’t really matter what this scene does to the other channels because they are muted? But maybe adopt a principle of “change the least possible”?
    Pastor’s mic EQ, etc. should be set in the “base” scene and not touched in the other scenes. (In case he decides to talk during one of the other scenes.)

    Now I have a situation where I need to know which scene controls which aspects of which channels. So if the “sermon” scene is active, I tweak the pastor’s compressor, and I want that to be preserved in the “base” scene (which is not active), can I do that? Can I save ONLY the compressor of channel 10 to the “base” scene? (Quickly trying it on Director it looks like the current state of the whole surface is saved to “base”. Not what’s desired.) So I guess I need to remember what I changed on his channel, activate the “base” scene after service, and make the changes to his channel there.

    Where my brain is going is that I think there are some settings that I want to be adjusted in my “base” scene, but that scene is not active. e.g. “song 1” is active. I adjust a singer’s PEQ and I want that adjustment to carry through the whole current cue list.

    I think “Auto track” might work. I adjust a value in the active scene. Get it where I like it. Engage Auto Track for all the scenes where I want that value set. Then wiggle the knob to get the change registered. Apply. That sounds really awkward.

    If you’ve read this far, thank you.

    #117480
    Profile photo of Brian
    Brian
    Participant

    As you are aware, good or bad when you save a scene, it saves EVERY current setting. So using your pastor’s compressor example, you wouldn’t want to overwrite the “base scene” IMHO. As you noted earlier, you can use the update functionality to just change the compressor setting on the base scene and this is what I would recommend using. However that can be a little cumbersome to use during an active portion of the service, so you might need to take some mental (or written) notes and make any updates after the service is over and you can think clearly (to ensure you don’t mess it up). Usually I will take a picture of my changes. Then after the service I can reset to the default scene, turn on tracking with the scene changes function, and dial in my desired changes by referring to my pictures. This is the quickest and easiest way I know how to handle it. The potential to mess something up on the scene is why I tend to leave the base layer locked (and have a backup saved on another memory slot and on a USB drive and/or computer). It is too easy for someone to overwrite it – perhaps thinking they are just saving one or two changes, but in fact end up messing the whole thing up because EVERYTHING was saved on the overwrite. If you have a backup, it is easier to get back to “square one” again.

    Your whole thought exercise in what you save/filter is exactly what you need to be doing, but it is a hard process. Again, there is are right or wrong answers. It’s because of these brain twisters that I decided to have a “never changing” transition/scene as well as a second “this needs to change this week” transition/scene. This allows me to adjust the recall filters on the “this week’s changes” scene without messing up a bunch of other things, or making changes to the filters that I need to remember to “undo” at the end of the service. I can simply delete that week’s change scene and I am back to square one and a known starting place for next week.

    #117482
    Profile photo of Jasen
    Jasen
    Participant

    Your whole thought exercise in what you save/filter is exactly what you need to be doing, but it is a hard process.

    Nice to know I’m on the right track.

    Again, there is are right or wrong answers. It’s because of these brain twisters that I decided to have a “never changing” transition/scene as well as a second “this needs to change this week” transition/scene. This allows me to adjust the recall filters on the “this week’s changes” scene without messing up a bunch of other things, or making changes to the filters that I need to remember to “undo” at the end of the service. I can simply delete that week’s change scene and I am back to square one and a known starting place for next week.

    Interesting. So you have a “song 1” scene (or maybe a “singing” scene), and then you have “today’s song 1”, and “today’s song 2” scenes that get thrown away after the service. I think where we are is we have “song 1” and “song 2” which get written over every week, which makes having a stable starting point impossible. I may try creating scenes for “today’s version of X” that are disposable. And plan some time at the end of service for updating the stable base scenes. (After a few weeks this should stabilize and not be much.)

    #117484
    Profile photo of Brian
    Brian
    Participant

    Yes, I have two scenes for each transition. The first is the never changing elements that are going to be the same every week (the band inputs need to fade down to zero over 5 seconds and we need the pulpit mic unmuted, etc). The second scene is for changes that are only occurring that week (the guitarist is switching from electric to acoustic for this song, so I need to mute the electric and unmute the acoustic, or the piano is carrying the melody this song and it needs to be up 2db over unity, etc, etc, etc). This way I can simply delete the second scene after the service and not worry about my basic transitions ever changing week to week.

    To be honest, I actually always have a second scene for my “song scenes” where most of the weekly changes occur. I use the “embedded recall” feature to have the system automatically load the second transition scene after it loads the first transition scene. For those weeks that I don’t actually need the second scene to make any changes, I have a dummy scene that has everything blocked by the scene filter. This way the system will always load the second scene automatically, but the recall filter prevents it from making any changes. So while I have tried to keep my previous responses a little less technical by leaving this information out, that is actually how I handle our system.

    #117485
    Profile photo of Brian
    Brian
    Participant

    Also, if you get into the habit of loading your “base scene” and firing the appropriate “singing” transition scene (to get all the mutes and faders initially set for “singing”) before practice each week, you can simply save the current settings at the end of each song and use it as your “second transition” scene (without any recall filters needed) for each song. However if you don’t reload the base scene and fire off the appropriate transition scene, you might accidentally/unknowingly save and then later recall some unexpected settings which could mess you up later.

    In other words, by recalling the base and transition scenes it resets the console to a consistent starting place and ensures that when you save the scene at the end of the song, only the changes you made during the song are going to change. I would be nervous to save (and subsequently load a scene) that wasn’t reset to a known starting place. It is far too easy to have some weird setting crop in when you save changes on top of changes on top of changes. Again, that is just how I handle the scene management for our church. It doesn’t mean it is the best method for anyone else.

    #119131
    Profile photo of Scotchy
    Scotchy
    Participant

    You should write an addendum or some kind of downloadable reader as a side hustle. The manual is very brief about the incredible amount of details that one will encounter.

    #119134
    Profile photo of Jasen
    Jasen
    Participant

    As an update. Today I learned to use the “Safes” button. It works great for having the pastor talking & transitioning to the invitation or congregational song.

    We haven’t adopted having “base” and “today’s” scenes yet.

    #119221
    Profile photo of Dave
    Dave
    Participant

    I have three main thoughts:

    First, scene filters are your friend. I understand that they’re complicated and really wish A&H would make some aspects of the scene system different (or at least configurable), but you’re gonna drive yourself crazy if you don’t get a handle on them.

    Second, if I’m understanding you correctly, during rehearsal don’t recall the song 2 scene after saving the song 1 scene. That’s last week’s song 2… this week’s song 1 will undoubtedly be closer to what you want. Just save over song scenes as you go through rehearsal and you’ll have fewer surprises.

    Third, I’ve been burned by “the worship leader starts playing under the pastor” or “the pastor gets up and starts talking before the lady notes fade out” way too many times to have one button unmute the new channels and mute the old channels at the same time. That is to say, if your cue sheet is “pastor welcome”, “song 1”, “song 2”, “announcements”, etc, as far as mutes are concerned that first “welcome” scene should only unmute the pastor’s mic, not turn off the house music. Likewise, the “song 1” scene can unmute the band if you want (I don’t, but my workflow’s a bit different than yours), but you should mute the pastor’s mic manually.

    Lastly, and I’m not including this in my “main” thoughts because it’s so dependent on workflow, in general, maintaining a scene for every item on the cue sheet is overkill. Do you really need to automate hitting one mute group for the band and turning on one wireless mic? Obviously you can if want, and it’s undeniably slick to just sit there and hit “next, go, next, go” all day, but you might want to consider how much effort you’re expending to both create all those scenes and to make sure they only do what you think they’re going to do, as well as what goes wrong if you accidentally mess up the scene filters. I’ve been burned by my “fade out the house music” or “turn on the announcements mic” scene doing more than I thought it would more than once. If you need all the automation then absolutely, knock yourself out, but for how I work on a normal Sunday morning, that way can pretty easily become more work to setup than it saves me.

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