When everything goes from bad to worse, but you still manage to pull off a great show

Introduction to the story

This show was located in Vienna, it was a private birthday party thrown for one cool guy.

After arriving to Vienna from Bratislava (it takes about hour and 15 minutes) we unloaded the equipment from the van with my colleague Marek, and then went to speak with the event manager. Meanwhile our performers from the dance group The Pastels went to change into the fitting rooms.


We had some additional lasers ready for this performance to assure it’d look fantastic (and it did, video coming soon :) ). However, problems started to roll in pretty fast :).

We had agreed with the client that he will send the time codes, so that the lasers can be synced with our show (laser – LED suits – music). Both I and the main technician, however, only had receiver controllers, we could receive the code but couldn’t transmit itA very sticky situation :-/


First impression

After roughly half an hour of franticly looking for a solution, and I had to translate for Marek, since he doesn’t speak any English, we decided for an “old school” solution (both of us had to press the play button on the controllers at the same time). Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But now imagine, we both had to press in exactly the same second, because I was controlling the LED suits and music, while the other tech was controlling the lasers, even a split of a second difference and the performance would be out of sync.

Additionally, since I was helping for my colleague Marek I didn’t have time to connect up the dancers, but it wasn’t a big deal, since still I needed to check up on the computer and DMX connection and check if everything was working alright, and it wasn’t working … I was starting to feel desperate. Luckily I had saved a version of the entire show into dropbox just a day before the performance. For some reason this version was fully functional, and I thank God, cause if it didn’t work we’d have been in HUGE trouble.

After all of that hassle I only had 30 minuts to connect up all of the dancers (which usually takes an hour and 15 minutes) and we had to be on time for the reharsals.
We had a time to reharse between 4 and 4:30 and by the time we finally made it it was already 4:23 (and the song was exactly 7 minutes long!)



Reharsal moments

Great, so we started with the first reharsal. And it wasn’t looking well. One dancer had a suit that was glowing with only 80% intensity, other suit wasn’t glowing at all. After the reharsal stopped Marek and I went up to the stage to look for what was the problem with the suits. The first unit was badly synchronized (no big deal) and the second had bad connectivity with our DMX (that was sending the show signal, also no big deal). We made some quick fixes to the unit (the one that was sending the DMX signal) and speedy fix on the second dancer. The second reharsal went a lot better but there were still some small details.



Finally, the moment of the show arrived... I am not gonna lie, I was a bit stressedat the beginning. I held my breath and counted from 5 to 0, just like we had agreed on with the technician, and the show started. It was amazing, in combination with all the lasers it looked jsut incredible.


What have I learned?

Being well prepared doesn’t always matter, anything can go wrong,
• It’s always a good idea to back-up your show documents twice, or even three times,
• Having extra time before the show can make a huge difference,
• It pays off to double check all the information, make sure all the arrangements we made with the client really are in place,
• Telling the technicians to sync DMX with the units before the show,
Possitive and quick thinking, even in some really bad situations, can make all the difference

In the end I have to say I was very satisfied with how the show went. The performance was beautiful and the coordinator was also satisfied with out work. I hope the next time I can learn from our msitakes so that the whole preparation process is less hectic, but either wait I can’t wait for our next show :).

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