Reconfiguration Synergy

So I spent a couple days earlier this week gutting and rebuilding FOH in our east auditorium. Over the last couple of years things have been added and taken away, and what were at one point nicely dressed racks had become a bird’s nest of wires. When video moved their cameras next to FOH and blocked the rear of our racks, it became incredibly hard to work back there so lots of things were done with the intention of fixing them later. This week was later so I pulled out the camera platform and ripped everything apart. While I had everything pulled apart, it also seemed like a great opportunity to condense some of the gear and reorganize a bit.

You can see a tour of the “new” FOH in the video, but the biggest changes were really just cleaning up all the wiring in back; it’s still a mess in my book, but that won’t change until we have new furniture to better accommodate our gear. However, things are much easier to service now which is a huge plus in my book. The only other real change was that I swapped out a large PC keyboard for a smaller keyboard and mounted it on a Ram Tech mount so that it’s accessible while sitting at the console in front of its display monitor. I also got rid of one of the multiple trackballs and got every computer to work with our wireless trackball that sits on the Venue in the center section.

The coolest addition was a piece of software that Briley passed on to me after his intern told him about it. It’s called Synergy, and it’s very cool. We have 3 computers at FOH: our G5 Pro Tools rig, our PC handling Smaart and driverack control, and a Mac Mini for miscellaneous playback needs. There are 3 display monitors at FOH now. Monitor 1 is the Venue’s main display. Monitor 2 is on a KVM connected to the PC and the Mac Mini; the Mac Mini doesn’t get used enough to necessitate its own monitor. Monitor 3 is connected to the Pro Tools machine. Something that has frustrated me in the past is the keyboards and mice for the computers have been up on top of the rack furniture and far away from where we sit when I’m mixing. I added a wireless trackball to the PC at one point so we’ve had control of that from mix position for a while now. But thanks to Synergy and the new keyboard mount, our FOH engineers can control everything without having to move far.

Synergy is a cool program that basically allows you to share a keyboard and mouse across multiple computers. One machine serves as the host and then the other machines you want to use the peripherals on are clients. It lets your pointer function as if multiple computers are simply multiple monitors connected to one computer. As the pointer moves to a new display, the keyboard controls that computer. Sooooo, now our wireless trackball connected to the PC(and Mac Mini via KVM) can also control our Pro Tools rig giving us control of Pro Tools right from the mix position. Good to have during a service, but amazing to have during virtual soundcheck. Now it’s so easy to select a section of audio to loop and mix and then move on.

You can see a short video tour of FOH below:

FOH Tour – June 2008 from David Stagl on Vimeo.

David Stagl

10 Responses to “Reconfiguration Synergy

  • Your my hero….

  • Thanks, Van. I’m just passin’ on stuff that someone told me, and I was able to make good use of.

  • That may be the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in a control booth. Geek-tastic, practical, AND free: trifecta!

  • That Synergy thing is cool.

  • inWorship
    16 years ago

    Synergy looks killer. We are definitely gonna put that to use.

  • Do you prefer the trackball mouse or is it just more convenient in the booth?

  • Trackballs definitely seem to work better at FOH or anywhere that there’s limited real estate. I spent about 5 years working with Pro Tools full-time, and I used to switch back and forth throughout the day between a trackball and mouse to give my wrist a break. I forced myself to get used to the trackball because they are all over the place in audioland.

  • Peter
    16 years ago

    So what is the big orange alarm light to the left of Smaart?

  • The big orange alarm light is our strobe for our com system. When someone wants to get a hold of us, they flash the strobe.

  • Tyler
    16 years ago

    Ya know, I had heard of Synergy before but never got around to playing with it. All I can say is thanks for the blog about it. So much easier in my control booth when I end up on sound and video than UltraVNC or just dragging the mouse, keyboard, and monitor over from video. I definitely advocate the use of trackballs too. I’ve got one on my personal computer and have just been waiting for a good time to get one on the audio computer at church.