With festival season just around the corner, we thought it would be great to share some tips on creating the most decisive and helpful stage plots and information to help with those all important change overs and ensure you get the best from the festival sound team.
We found this artical on the subject written by Aaron Staniulis we think sums this up really well. Theres a link to the original at the bottom of this page.
The key to any good performance is being prepared. This doesn’t just mean you should know your songs, though – another part of this process is making sure the venue knows what to expect from you. When you give a venue and its staff a heads up on what you need, the better prepared they can be. Many festivals request a stage plot and input list ahead of the event, but it doesn’t hurt to send them whenever you advance a show. This is especially true if you have specific requirements for your physical setup.
What’s an Stage Plot?
A stage plot is literally a diagram of what your onstage setup looks like and the relative location of where everything on that stage should be.
Your stage plot should be as specific as possible. You don’t necessarily need to include your water bottle on it, but the more details you can provide, the better. Does the drum set need to be stage right instead of behind the band? Does your keyboard player only set up facing a certain direction? Make sure your stage plot includes that. The locations of vocal mics, amplifiers, preferred monitor locations, and where you need outlets should all be clearly indicated and labeled.
The stage plot can also be a good place to have notes about some general monitor mixes, what certain members want in their mixes, or if they don’t need certain elements in a mix at all. If the singer gets stage fright because there’s no reverb/delay in his or her monitor, within these notes would be the place to make that clear. For all you drummers out there, letting your engineer know how many pieces are in your kit is also great info to have in advance to plan accordingly and can save headaches on the day of the show. It’s also helpful to know if your amp has a direct out or if you need a DI box placed somewhere.
Here’s an example:
The band name and contact info for this stage plot have been removed (which you should always include, especially the name and contact info of the most tech-savvy band member), but this is a great example of a clean and clear stage plot. The preferred location of DIs, power, monitors, amplifiers, band members, and vocal mics is obvious, and there’s not too much extraneous information on the plot itself. Below, as mentioned earlier, are some general monitor mix notes so that your tech can establish a baseline mix to help speed up the soundcheck. You can then spend more time dialing in a great sound rather than simply getting your levels balanced.
As far as making a stage plot goes, it doesn’t need to be incredibly artistic. In fact, in most cases, the simpler the better. If your stage plot involves a full-color key and is best viewed on a A3 paper, you’ve probably gone too far. Basic knowledge in most word processing programs can yield you a very functional stage plot.
What’s an input list?
An input list is a list of how many outputs you have for the band, the required mixer inputs, and the specifics involved. You need to include the outputs for everything you do that your engineer will need to patch. This is also the place where you should indicate what type of stand mics you need to use. For example, if your guitarist sings background vocals and needs a boom stand to make sure the mic can be placed properly, that information should be included here.
Included here is the function of each input, type of mic or input, what type of stand is needed, and if there are specific outboard requirements or requests for that channel. Again, the more specific the better for what’s needed on your input list. If in doubt go for too much information rather than not enough.
Also, keep in mind that your engineer knows the venue best. If it’s a 100-person venue and the he/she tells you that you don’t need the 12 channels of drum mics specified on your input list and suggests going with a four or five microphone setup, it’s almost always best to defer to his or her judgment. The same goes for outboard gear and specific mic requests. Unless you travel with your own microphones or rack of outboard processing and the appropriate cables, you may not always be able to have your designated preferences. If you do travel with these things, you should definitely include that on your stage plot or input list.
The important thing here is communication. the more the better. Keep in mind that the engineer you work with on the day of your event will want you to sound the very best you can be. the questions they ask and suggestions they make are all in the interests of ensuring you sound great.
Remember that its sometimes worth taking an audio engineer with you who knows your set up and songs. If your looking for engineers, advice or equipment call the office to see how we can help.
Original article written by Aaron Staniulis from The Angry Sound Guy