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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » F/X » » Performer – a Review –Fantastic Affordable 'Show Music System' (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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glodmagic
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Quote:
On 2006-06-19 11:14, Daniel Faith wrote:
I was disappointed to find out that the Performer is only for MAC computers.
We PC guys are out of luck.


The iCue is not available for PC, The ShowTech is Not available for PC.
It is important to get over the fact that it is a Laptop at all. Think of making a system with these features like a full display of the Song TITLE (not a number only), large Volume display, ability to see the entire showlist at the press of a button, etc. If you make such a system it would be required to use a large flat screen then have a "black box" like the other systems.

I own Both a new HP PC and a Mac powerBook but I purchased an inexpensive, lightweight, and tidy 12 inch iBook for this on ebay (there are tons of them because school systems recycle them all the time) and DEDICATE its use to show control.

Think of it as a controller with a large bright display that just "happens" to have a built in CD drive and can browse the internet. Because it has a keyboard, I use it as a teleprompter running in the back of the Song Title as a reminder of important new jokes and patter.

It also has the ability to get a software upgrade instantly. You can also manage your music showlist on your home base PC and text lists in WORD and simply transfer them over to the iBook with a little USB stick. Completely compatible.
Remember ANY of your posts here can be Googled by your customers and Clients. Just entering your name in Google can bring up your negative comments that stay for years!
mghia
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Well I hope this is released and works well. Sounds great but I have some concerns.

Is this bulky? Where do you put the open laptop? As you say the entire name of the song is on the screen, this means you have to be in eye line of the laptop.

But isn't the goal of an RF system that you can control your music from far away, without wires?

Devils Rep- If the laptop is close enough for me to read, say behind my table, then a cord has to be run to the speaker 15 feet away. So now we are not wireless anymore.

Otherwise just bring your laptop, run a cord and hit the buttons if you are that close. No Air click needed.

Or you have it set 15 feet away near your other PA gear and then that laptop has to be mounted or off the floor to easily read it or access it in case there is an area. A table will add bulk and any RF guy will tell you that leaving it on the floor is not going to grab the strongest signal.


I am not sure what the benefit is of seeing the song title. If it is to make sure you are on the right song, then it is a waste of time. I mean, in two seconds you know you are on the wrong song if it starts to play, don't you? And why should you be on the wrong song if the unit does what it is supposed to do?

Or if you make a mistake and have to find a new song, you will have to stop and read the screen. If you have to do that from across the room, you have to basically stop the show. All will be watching you go through song lists.

Honestly I believe that in a real show, if you screw up you just cue to the next song. What more is needed? The only reason I see for needing to see the name of the song is when searching for a new song. But why would you do that in the middle of show?

I would say it is a nice extra that is not really used. I doubt many people will actually check the song title, especially if the laptop is closer to the PA gear, before they hit play.

It would stand to reason that the benefit of any wireless system is to make it seamless. The audience assumes you have a secret hidden soundman controlling your music. The design is supposed to be that you click and go. The original Showtechs only had a flashing LED so you could catch out of the corner of your eye the light to know the signal was transmitted.

I doubt even the number system is all that useful. So what if you are track two or three? Just by hitting the button you should hear you are onto the next song. And if in stand by, well, if the system is working it should be always advancing to the next track and pausing. If it does not, than there are drawbacks to the RF technology used. I understand these are safeties but one would hope the units work well enough that even if you did not have the display, you would have the confidence it that would work.

So these are just bells and whistles in my opinion.

Feel free to explain the useful benefits to the features. I am not saying there aren't any; I am saying I just do not see them.

The requirement to buy a laptop will be the real sticking point. The fact that most do not use iMAC will hurt sales. More might be willing to buy if they could adapt their PC laptop. But to require the consumer buy an MAC based computer, will limit the market. More people own a PC laptop than MAC.

We might not be able to find a MAC laptop for $300 as GLOD did. And maybe we do not want to spend that much either.

And if you can, the Minimum this system will cost you is $500, NOT $150. It will all depend on how cheap you can find your laptop.

I wonder if PC running Mac conversion software would work?

Again, I am not trying to scare people off. Since this is still beta testing, maybe the word will get back to him and he can use it for his market research.
I am sure there will be some bias to the guys tested a free unit. However I hope they really work his unit hard and think of all the possible issues.
BIlly James
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Mghia you make some good points there, however I'll give you some examples of why this unit would be extremely useful for me.

In my show (and I would assume in many shows) my disc doesn't simply play song after song after song. If that was the case it would be easy to cover mistakes. My disc contains some full length tracks, some 15 second "chasers", sound effects, voice-overs, programmed "pause" tracks etc. so you REALLY need the right track to be playing.

At times I have hit play on my remote and nothing has happened. Now this could mean that the signal hasn't been received, or it could mean that the track is playing but there's a problem with the sound. If I assume the former and push play again I've now advanced 2 tracks, plus the track I'm now on may be a pause track so pushing play again will still result in no sound.

If I could see on the screen - 'SFX', 'PAUSE', 'INTERLUDE' etc. it would make life a LOT easier. All these problems are things I have actually encountered in my shows and I can tell you that personally for me this PERFORMER system is exactly what I need.

Here are a couple of examples - A performer stands on stage in a black gothic style outfit, smoke gently wafting around his feet he steps into the 'Interlude' illusion and suddenly his Axtell Magic Drawing board track starts.

Take the same example above, the CORRECT music starts to play but 15 seconds in the music stops because it was the 'chaser' track.

I do a number of shows so to remember track numbers would be out of the question. Many, many times I've wished I could just see the track name, so this PERFORMER system is like a Godsend for me...and I'm not even one of the testers! Smile

Cheers
Billy
Stevethomas
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I'm like Billy, in that I can't possibly (with the exception of probably track 1) remember what track is what song/sfx/liner.

I'm testing the Performer right now, and the reason he wanted me to test is that I'm a computer idiot. If I can handle this thing and operate it correctly, anybody can!

As far as hardwiring the thing to your amp/speaker...there's a wireless system that he can also provide to do the same thing. Signal is sent to amp from the computer, and the computer is behind the wings or wherever you need it.

I'll let ya know more when I get a couple shows on this fine looking unit!

Steve
Tim Hannig
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I'm a full time pro...do hundreds of shows a year...and I LOVE my full screen display.

It's an extra bit of "security". To me, if the wrong track comes on....it is a huge deal. Maybe not to the audience, but to me. So much of comedy and music is TIMING...and having the wrong song come on is not good.

Also, if I have to make an adjustment (skip a track, play a track again, etc), it is great to have the screen to look at. Otherwise, I'm guessing and hoping that I'm counting right.

Yes, I beta tested the unit. Does that make me biased? If I didn't like it, I wouldn't still be using it!
Author of PERFORM, the 2020 Magic Cafe Book of the Year

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g0thike
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Folks,

I even borrowed a Mac computer and installed the Performer software and it worked, it was easy to use and so much user-friendly than my current choice which requires a lot of computer savvy, hotkeys, plugins, messing with computer settings, com ports, etc.

A lot of performers pay $700.00 or more for a system which runs a MiniDisc system, has an LED Screen which displays track numbers. I have so many versions of my show, and with conditions I even change it depending on the venue, that I cannot possibly remember some numbers and pull off a show smoothly.

A computer can list the song name in the display not just a number, you can change the font size and see it from across a huge room.

Honestly, I could write a whole essay, but I will say one sentence, "JUST TRY IT OUT".

G0THIKE
mghia
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Thanks for the input. I am sure all your reasons are valid.
Billy, I still do not understand, why if your system is good, and the tracks are in order of your show, WHY the Axtell MDB track would play unless, in user error, you advance the track too many times?

And you point out something important in that example. YOU ARE CENTER STAGE IN A MOOD SETTING ILLUSION, you can not be fiddling in your pocket with a remote for the right track, regardless.

So it was my point that once you are on the wrong track to start with, there are issues to be solved with the equipment one owns. There should be no reason your tracks get out of order unless you are trying to perform a show on the fly.

In your second example, your correct track starts to play but runs out. Any of the mentioned systems on the market with a remote seems to go into pause after each track. Maybe I am wrong about all of them but a few of them do. Yes, I am sure it is helpful if you have to hit the back button to replay the music to fill in the time you were short.

And if I misunderstood your point, ANY SYSTEM, BIG DISPLAY OR NOT, will only be good as the quality of the remote and accuracy of the key strokes. The display is a safety to make sure it is doing what it is supposed to be doing. Yes, I see how the display is useful but it would be annoying if you have to keep fixing problems.

I use a straight CD burned in the order for THAT show so I do not have the problems some seem to have. I see the value in the indication that you are on the right spot; I was just questioning how useful it is in real time performance when one is trying to be smooth on stage. He just does not need to be fighting his sound system or breaking character to look off stage to his set up and then fiddle in his pocket to try to fix the problem. I can not stress enough; the key to avoid all of this is an accurate RF remote.

And lastly, I am not sure in this day and age why one would not plan out the show the night before, even if you had three shows all different, and set each PROGRAM into three separate sets. With an MP3 you can just make different play lists. On CD you can just cut and paste on the computer each show in order. On the computer all those songs are set up with song titles not numbers. And some portable CD CAN display names of songs. Once on disk you go in order to the show you are doing. I do not see the reason to have to skip around during the show. Maybe skip forward but not skip around.

I think the feature of the Performer being debated, will be very useful if you mix and match in a show or have a lot of errors that you need to change.

I did not read if the Performer has an auto-fade feature. This would be the best thing for most performers, who do not customize their music, or want to use the same music for different size venues.

Example: if your "audience up" music is longer to give time to have a volunteer come up on a 20 foot stage but you are using the same music at a house party, hitting the button and having it fade out earlier and then advance, in pause, to the next track, would be most useful.

Can the beta testers confirm this feature is or is not in this unit?


For display, I am still thinking that the large number display is the most you need during a show. I wonder how well I will be able to read the screen on a small laptop from across the room rather than see to bright LCD numbers.

I guess I will have to see the system display to really know how well the Performer works from afar.

P.S.
I posted this before reading the other posts below Bill's and I still do not see why you guys have so many changes in the middle of your shows. I am a full-time pro as well and never have these problems. The only times something had to be dropped due to the trick pre expressing itself behind the scenes I would just skip the track and move on with the program.





Quote:
On 2006-06-30 18:30, BIlly James wrote:
Mghia you make some good points there, however I'll give you some examples of why this unit would be extremely useful for me.


Here are a couple of examples - A performer stands on stage in a black gothic style outfit, smoke gently wafting around his feet he steps into the 'Interlude' illusion and suddenly his Axtell Magic Drawing board track starts.

Take the same example above, the CORRECT music starts to play but 15 seconds in the music stops because it was the 'chaser' track.

I do a number of shows so to remember track numbers would be out of the question. Many, many times I've wished I could just see the track name, so this PERFORMER system is like a Godsend for me...and I'm not even one of the testers! Smile

Cheers
Billy
mghia
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OOPS, I see the Performer does have the auto fade/cue to next track. I was not sure in my last post so retracting that question.
On to the wireless question.
Quote:
On 2006-06-30 23:12, Stevethomas wrote:

As far as hardwiring the thing to your amp/speaker...there's a wireless system that he can also provide to do the same thing. Signal is sent to amp from the computer, and the computer is behind the wings or wherever you need it.


Steve


Great! And this system IS....? For how much more???
Is there a web site for this unit?

Remember, one of the selling points is the big screen display. Another is the cost. However, if you start adding on features and have to buy a laptop, than it seems the price is only as low as the equipment you already own.

Look at the prices of that other system by vs. with add ons... Lordy....

I am sure this will work out less but still much more than the $150 price.

Sounds interesting nonetheless. Has this gone to market? Someone above said to just try it. What is the web site?
James Adamson
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The WiFi stream is fed from the Ibook thru its AirPort or AirPort Extreme-enabled wireless transmitter which is on the stage wings or behind a table to an AirPort Express unit at the mixer location. The Airport Express then has an audio output to the mixer.

http://www.apple.com/airportexpress/

Certainly cost can become an issue if you do not already own a MAC, and there are ways of reducing that cost by purchasing through suppliers' older model IBooks. However, specialized products have already been replaced by computers in most all other industries. No more buying new hardware just because IPOD or MD player has certain production changes. The reason why most all custom-made products cost so much is that they are custom-made. The magic community is one of the last of the "arts" not to embrace computers, this is what Jason is changing.

As far as numbers vs. name of track, once you see it you will understand the confidence issue of what music is about to play.


James Adamson
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mghia
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Well, I have seen the demo and still feel that if you have to READ the screen you are distracting from your routine. Also while it is a nice feature if you have it, if you only had the number feature you should be smart enough to see that you were on track 12 and now 13 is waiting to play. You really do not NEED more than that.

If it is that close that you are not looking off stage and I still think, to avoid having to tape down a wire, one would need the wifi.

I do not know enough about wifi to know if there can interference or if it is the best for quality audio transmission. It may be, I just do not know enough about it but do know I have some issues sometime with my bluetooth phone which is a different wireless product.


BUT I will say the use of the PICTURE of the prop makes MUCH more sense.
The eye can read image faster than a word and make the shapes out from farther away.
mghia
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Well, this device seems to require A/C power. This would not work for me since I am trying to be wireless. I have a D/C power speaker set up and do not always have A/C.

It would be much better if the device took power from the USB port.

And if you like it, add in another $129 to the price tag of this system.

Quote:
On 2006-07-02 13:22, James Adamson wrote:
The WiFi stream is fed from the Ibook thru its AirPort or AirPort Extreme-enabled wireless transmitter which is on the stage wings or behind a table to an AirPort Express unit at the mixer location. The Airport Express then has an audio output to the mixer.

http://www.apple.com/airportexpress/

Stevethomas
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If it would detract from you show to take a couple minutes to read the words "KING MIDAS" or something similar on a screen, I think you would want to improve on your reading skills prior to advancing from your already highly advanced magical performance skills. Reading 2 words on a backlit screen won't take any longer than seeing the numbers 12 or 13 and remembering which out of (in my case) 33 seperate tracks that can be used in any show.

Here's a scenario, and it's not fictional...you show up at a venue for a public show with other magicians... most of them you seldom see, but you're hired to perform. You have your show tracks burned onto a CD and ready to use, as mghia says...you see the first guy's show, and he's included 2 effects YOU have in YOUR show. You would need to modify your music/tracks. Much easier to be able to do that than to burn another CD. Plus, that would mean that every time you modify your show (at home, prior to performance), you would have to Rememorize the tracks and their numbers. What a pain that would be.

I'm speaking as a guy who's used a Wireless Wizardry "ShowTech" for almost 15 years now. The original one with all the bells and whistles... FANTASTIC system, but I need something smaller. I never even bothered to update to the larger LED display, either. It wouldn't help with all the tracks I have/need available, anyway.

I'm testing the Performer right now, in its "already installed" state on a MAC he sent with it. I'm thinking that with the wifi capability, that would be awesome!

We'll see.

Steve
James Adamson
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I think there is a misunderstanding as to when the WiFi would be used.

The AirPort Express (WiFi receiver) is used when you have a back of the house or other remote located mixer.

Plug the Airport Express into power strip or power conditioner of the remote rack system and/or mixer then run the output to the mixer. This is an additional piece that you do not have to use, just another option that you can use so that you can run the system yourself. Thus you can stream the music from the stage to a remote mixer.

Having experience in running sound most of the mistakes are made when to cue the music, unless you always have your own sound man. Since most of us do not have that option this can fill that need.

It is not needed when you are using a more portable system as you can hardwire the output from the computer directly into a portable system.

The transmitter for the AirClick receiver is powered from the USB port, it is not the WiFi transmitter. The WiFi Transmitter is a card that plugs directly into a laptop slot if you do not already have a built-in WiFi.

As far as what you see on a screen (numbers, names, pictures) they are all personal preferences. At least this system gives you that capability.


James Adamson
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Be remembered for performing what looks like MAGIC, not skill.
hugmagic
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This is all interesting. What are the minimum requirements needed in an ibook for this use? If I can get a little 12" g3 great, but if I need to go newer the price keeps going up.

Richard
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Stevethomas
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The one he sent with it for me to test is (in my limited computer knowledge) a small G3. He got it used, and it works perfectly.

Steve
James Adamson
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Richard,

It is the system that I had with me at the Bristol Convention. It did not have the WiFi.

Minimum requirements are: The Performer Software and an AirClick Remote by Griffin, which I believe will be sold by Jason.

And the "Current requirements are a Mac G3 500MHz or greater running Panther or Tiger OS X and a CD player." Jason

James Adamson
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mghia
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Was your first comment called for? A bit rude I must say.
You are missing the point. Your audience is watching you. A mistake occurs, mid-show and you have to stop and look at a screen to advance. They will look where you are looking.
You should only need to advance FORWARD. If you have to change your program THAT MUCH IN MID SHOW, it will be a distraction NO MATTER WHAT PRODUCT YOU USE.


Go to a show with other magicians performing? Well in my business this never happens. I AM THE MAGICIAN if they hirer me and have NEVER had that happen where I am at a group event with unknown acts. ANd I might say I will believe I will perform my version of the effect better anyway so let them see it again.

AND STEVE, my FRIEND, YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT. Your example is for if you see them in the wings and you make changes.

I have NEVER DISCOUNTED the ease of computer tracks and the easy to cut and paste them. AHH HECK STEVE, in today’s modern laptops I could reorder the tracks and burn a new CD to hand to the sound man.
Your example does not apply to my comments.

I do not know what the heck you guys are doing with track numbers.
I COULD CARE LESS ABOUT TRACK NUMBERS. I do not NEED NUMBERS during the show 99% of the time if I am controling my own music.

Guys, you need to know your show and the order it is in before you even walk into the door. Do you need cue cards for all your effects as well? I am sure in all those shows you might do, there are different effects for each show and a patter with each.

Right? If you can memorize that and you know WHAT ORDER your show is in, there is no need to know what track you are on in your music if you preorder them and start in order.

You start the music, pause, when ready for the next effect, you hit Play. It would be a waste of time not to have your show in order, ON THE COMPUTER OR CD or MP3 list.

I assumed everyone puts their show in order before the go to the performance. How can you have a polished show if you are moving tracks around during your show?

And if during the performance you run out of music, you just hit the back button. If your effect gets set off before it is ready you just skip one track forward to the next effect planned.
I do not see the big deal here.

I am not saying it is a bad product. I have not seen it. I was just pointing out some issues I saw and that the price might not be as low as one might think by the time you upgrade.

Right now ya'll can just buy an MP3 or lap top to shift your show around. I still stand that you should have all your shows already in order before you go.
Like one program group marked the READING SHOW, the Scout Show, Adult program 45 min.
And even with a PC you can name your tracks with the trick name.

The night before your show you look at the shows you will be doing and make sure they are in current trick order. If these shows are not new to you, you should recall the order. If not, a note card on the floor or table is all that is needed for order. If you have to look off to the side to see what trick is next, you need to practice the show more before accepting money for it.

(Not YOU personally Steve, Ya'll in general.)

Quote:
On 2006-07-02 18:43, Stevethomas wrote:
If it would detract from you show to take a couple minutes to read the words "KING MIDAS" or something similar on a screen, I think you would want to improve on your reading skills prior to advancing from your already highly advanced magical performance skills.

Here's a scenario, and it's not fictional...you show up at a venue for a public show with other magicians... most of them you seldom see, but you're hired to perform. You have your show tracks burned onto a CD and ready to use, as mghia says...you see the first guy's show, and he's included 2 effects YOU have in YOUR show. You would need to modify your music/tracks. Much easier to be able to do that than to burn another CD. Plus, that would mean that every time you modify your show (at home, prior to performance), you would have to Rememorize the tracks and their numbers. What a pain that would be.

I'm speaking as a guy who's used a Wireless Wizardry "ShowTech" for almost 15 years now. The original one with all the bells and whistles... FANTASTIC system, but I need something smaller. I never even bothered to update to the larger LED display, either. It wouldn't help with all the tracks I have/need available, anyway.

I'm testing the Performer right now, in its "already installed" state on a MAC he sent with it. I'm thinking that with the wifi capability, that would be awesome!

We'll see.

Steve
Michael Messing
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Mghia,

Your points are well made but also missed something. I need a display to make sure that the remote signal has been received. It is easy enough to get in a big hurry when depressing the remote control buttons and sometimes the wireless system doesn't get the signal. I have used a Cue-Master Pro, three different models of Virtual Soundman units and am now testing the Performer software.

I want to be able to glance at the display to make sure that the system is in the proper mode (play, pause, fading out, etc.) I know the music order of all my shows but I definitely like having a confirmation that the right track is playing or ready to play.

Michael

P.S. Richard, I am testing the Performer software on a 800 MHz G3 iBook and worked with it for a brief time on a 700 MHz G3 iBook. No need for a G4 or newer. (I prefer to use a slightly older iBook. I would hate to have a state of the art MacBook that I was setting up everywhere I perform!)
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I saw this program in use with Tim hannig and it was great. I love the screen and being able to glance over at the screen is perfect. I just don't want to carry around a lap top from show to show. That would be the only draw back for me. Also the remote cannot be concealed in my hand. The remote I use with a showtech can be hidden in my hand.

Ken
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Has anyone heard anything more about the program being developed by Jason? I spoke to him over a month ago and haven't heard from him since. I'm very anxious to use this product assuming it is as everyone claims. I have a VSM icue and can't wait to stop using it...
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