D-Show v2.6 Thoughts
This might be a little premature because I don’t have my copy, yet, but the documentation for the new version along with the latest Standalone software is up, and I’ve been sifting through both to check out the new features. Not a lot of new stuff, but the new stuff is pretty cool. I’m going to start with the stuff that isn’t mentioned in the new version marketing on Digi’s website.
First up is a little thing buried towards the back of the documentation, but this is one of the coolest features for me because it was my idea and I specifically requested this feature. It is a very simple thing; you can now bypass a snapshot crossfade. This is so cool because if you are a snapshot junkie like me, you’ve probably got a lot of different cues with varying crossfade times. However, I think in any type of programming situation there are times when you need to get everything to just jump into place because someone went off script. Now you simply recall the same snapshot at anytime during the crossfade, and it instantly recalls. Here’s another place I’ll use this. I like to step through all my cues in a given event, but sometimes those crossfade times can draw this out–I’ve used 45 second crossfades before… Now when I’m checking things, I can quickly move through my cues to make sure everything is working right.
Another great addition is the ability to remove unavailable plugins from the plugin drop down lists. If you’ve only mixed on one Venue and haven’t moved show files between different systems this shouldn’t have been much of a problem. In past versions, however, any plugins you might have used or installed at one time would remain in the plugins list whether they were available on the system; unavailable plugins would be in italics. When I first moved down here I started with some old shows I had and infected the NP Venue by adding plugins to the list that we don’t have. The problem soon spread up to Browns Bridge and is probably getting passed between Buckhead as well now that some of us are moving from campus to campus. Our plugin libraries are not currently consistent between campuses as the audio staff at each has slightly different tastes as well as different packages that were available when the consoles were purchased. Our plugin lists are very long at NP, but first thing I’m going to do when I install the new software is clean all that extra stuff out of my templates so that I can find the stuff we do have much faster. Very nice.
One of the feature mentioned on Digi’s site was the ability to export system information. While that probably won’t get a lot of use from me at present, they have modified the standalone software patch list export to match the system info export. This was previously exported as a text file, but is now an HTML file. I initially had mixed feelings about this because I used to import those text files into Excel to incorporate into our input lists. I think the new format in some ways will help because the previous exports only included inputs that were in use so if there were any gaps between inputs it could throw off my data imports. Now you get a list of all available I/O whether it’s in use or not. The patch list export and system info export tweaks will probably benefit the touring set more than myself, but I think I’ll be able to make them work. Excel will open HTML files so there shouldn’t be a lot of tweaking involved in my system.
Now the biggest feature I was looking forward to when the upgrade was announced was the ability to add blank channels. These are basically spacers you can insert between channels that take up no DSP. The advantage is if you are running a show with less than 96 channels, you can move things on the lower banks so that you don’t have channels way out of reach because those banks aren’t filled. I played with this for a while on the standalone software, and I have to say it feels a little clunky to me. I think it will be easier to do sitting at the console so this is probably not something I would be setting up in advance on the standalone software. Once a channel blank is inserted, it can’t be easily moved. Moving a channel(s) to the left or right of the blank will shift the blank(s), but you can’t just move the blanks in the same way you move a real channel. Inserting multiple blanks is done by selecting x number of channels for x number of blanks you want to insert in front of the selection of channels. For quickly shifting a few channels from the left of the desk closer to the master section, this should be OK. However, for doing more specific setups to put blanks under channels I want to bank safe, it’s probably going to take some time to get everything set just right. I’ll experiment more with this when I have the upgrade installed hopefully in time for the concert this week.
That’s all for now I think. There are a couple more things I might comment on once I have the software installed. All in all, this is looking like a must-have update for the Venue. The channel blanks and bank safe ability(I’ll comment on that after playtime) alone will be worth it despite any clunkiness. I’ll post an update when I’ve tried things on the console instead of just the standalone software.