UPDATE: This article appears in The Ultimate Guide to Creative Mixing on the Digico SD5.
In this video I describe how I used snapshots to automate my mix on the Digico SD5 as head of sound for the Out Of This Word tour for the Ringling Bros. Circus. In it, I walk you step-by-step through how I implemented snapshot creation, global scope, recall scope, update selected, auto update, cross fades, add to group, relative groups, update group, recall times, and midi list for Qlab control.
One of the most important things you need to know how to do on the SD5 related to snapshots is how to update a snapshot in the middle of the show. There are many times, especially while building and refining a new show, when you’ll need to make a small edit. You need to continue mixing the show, though, so you don’t have time to create a new snapshot and type in a name for it or scroll back up to the correct shapshot and take care that you are updating the right elements.
The SD5 makes this very easy, but it’s also dangerous! Here’s my process:
- Fire snapshot
- Press auto update.
- Rest your finger next to the button. This is critical!
- Change the necessary elements of the snapshot.
- Press auto update.
The key here is not to move your finger away until you have disengaged auto-update. Why? Because every change you make while it is engaged will get written into the snapshot. So if you forget, which I did only once, and keeping firing snapshots and mixing the show, you will record all of those changes.
What if I need to go back and change one thing in every snapshot?
This happened to me more than once: You change a microphone position or another way affect the gain staging and all of a sudden 127 snapshots are wrong. Normally, you would have to go through and adjust these one-by-one or find a workaround, but the Update Group feature solves this pretty easily.
- Add all affected snapshots to a group. There cannot be a break in between them on the list.
- Enable Relative Groups.
- Recall any snapshot from the group, which includes the element you want to change.
- Make the change.
- Click Update Group. It will take a second if you have a lot of snapshots.
- Remove all snapshots from the group.
The most time-consuming process here is adding the snapshots to the group. You might think: Why don’t I just leave all of my snapshots in a group so that I can update them at any time? Well, you could do that, but then you put yourself in a dangerous position if you accidentally hit the Update Group button. The undo button does not fix this!
How to use Recall Time to mix your show for you.
In Out Of This World, the first three acts were executed with the same timing every night. There were some fader movements that needed to happen at specific times so I automating them using Recall Time. As long as I fired the first snapshot at the right time, the mix would be in sync with the show. And if for some reason that didn’t work out, I would simply skip the timed snapshots and mix it manually.
The main benefit here was that I could convert the energy from my pre-show jitters into useful work, like double checking plugin settings and refreshing my memory of upcoming cues and changes. Another less import benefit was that I could fire the snapshot to take us into intermission and immediately run to the bathroom since I had the next set to fire by Recall Time. This is important when you need to beat an arena full of 20,000 people who are also rushing for the bathroom.