How to remain calm before the show starts?

Last few seconds before the show starts. It’s probably the most stressing moment of technician’s life. Especially if you’re not certain about the equipment you use.

I did maybe 1000 laser shows and maybe 100 LED dance performances in my professional "show" life. I always thought, after we improve the hardware and software equipment, we’ll get rid of the nerves before you hit the play button.

After 14 years working in this show-industry, I don’t think I will ever get rid of the nervousness before the show starts. I think it’s because when the moment P (=play) comes, there’s nothing you can usually do anymore. But certainly it can be a lot easier, if you’re sure about your equipment and you already have some experience.

We have very short “before-the-play” checklist. After all, there’s not much time left before you hit the play button… so we keep the list as short as possible. Here it is:

  • Do you use correct workspace?
  • Have you done rehearsal? And tested sound with sound engineer?
  • Test all suits on white color.
  • Test all suits order.
  • Test all suits parts order.
  • Batteries are charged?


Do you use correct workspace?

Well we talked about this one in my last post. But usually on your laptop you’ll have all the workspaces from all your performances. And believe me, it’s really easy to load the bad one. I have one rule of thumb I use for laser shows and also LED dance performances. I always create special directory for every show we do. I call the directory “201409 XXX”, where XXX is usually client’s name. The same goes for wsp file (LED Strip Studio workspace), because I can easily see the workspace name in the top of the LED Strip Studio software.

I know, you would expect some name “4-dancer config” or “7-dancer config” could work. And it might. But in my experience, when I talk with the dancers and also our technical guys, we usually talk “we’ll use the same configuration we’ve used for BMW”. And it’s easier to find.

Anyway, it’s up to you, how you keep order in your workspaces. Just make sure, you’ll load the right one every time.


Have you done rehearsal? And tested sound with sound engineer?

This is probably not done just a few seconds before the show. But as I talked last time, it’s the most important step to make sure, all will be fine. After the rehearsal is done, we save the workspace, save the level of sound and we don’t change it anymore. Freeze on “File->Open” or volume control!


Test all suits on white color.

We usually travel 2 technicians to the show. There are more reasons why (especially faster “suit up”), but it’s better if someone can check the guys’ suits before they hit the stage. We talk over the phone and we test all the suits are working. And it’s easier if we have always one scene with full-white ready in the first bank of the LED Strip Studio workspace.


Test all suits order

Second scene in workspace we have different color set for each dancer (e.g. first dancer is red, second blue, …). This is just another check, the present workspace is the right-one with the correct mapping.

LED Suit Order

We use simple scene, where each suit uses different color to make sure, the order of the suits is correct.


Test all suits parts order

And the 3rd test scene we use is the one, which turns on suit part 1, 2, till 16. Just another check of the connection of the suit.


Batteries are charged?

This is something we test in the dressing room. We always fully charge the batteries before the show. We know, they can work about an hour at the intensity we use (5-10%), but it’s better to make sure.


I’m in control

Even if you make sure, all these points are checked, you will be always nervous before you hit the play. At least I am all the time, because I care to make good show. And I learnt, there comes one moment few seconds before the show, where you need to let go. From that moment, you can just believe, you did everything you could to make sure and all will be working. And these checklists helps you. Yes, doing Tron Dance performances can turn you into quite religious person :). It's because in the end you can just hope/believe everything will be ok. And be ready, you’ll be nervous before you hit the play. It’s just easier, when you know, the nervousness will come.


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