Re: Computer Controlled Shows

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Mike McCarthy
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Re: Computer Controlled Shows

Postby Mike McCarthy » Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:33 am




I have no choice but to be very direct here because I don't want there to be any miscommunication between us ...


"I am not the theater producer who has no technical understanding."

I was simply echoing your own words in the kickoff meeting, Rick, when you effectively said "I'm completely non-technical and I don't want this meeting to degenerate into technical discussions." I'm not a mind reader.


"The issue is not with MIDI or Canbus, the issue is with moving targets, metal cars, need for electricity, and time to be able to explore all possibilities."

I've already agreed that we can make Jack's system work reasonably well in the context of triplicated theatrical lighting. However, the design is not noise-proofed, which is the intent of CANbus. As a result we are likely to find lights turning on or off seemingly at random, or lights other than the ones commanded being turned on or off. I'm okay with this -- there will be no issues of safety, and the redundancy of triple stage lighting or whatever the correct terminology is will cover a multitude of electrical misbehaviors. Star and you may occasionally see substandard lighting at any given instant. The likelihood that the general public will be bothered by this is low so that the likelihood of the 2015 show being an economic success is high.


"What I have learned, Mike, is that by accepting or at least feigning ignorance, great alternative ideas come from passionate people who ultimately help me bring my visions to fruition. I'd rather have input and participation than impose my limited knowledge on a group of highly intelligent people, such as yourself, who can find unique solutions to problems that I may have only limited options to solve."

I'm the one person on this project who has done a CANbus implementation to allow a complex system (a remotely operated mine clearing bulldozer) to survive with a zero error rate in a highly electrically and mechanically noisy environment. The benefits of CANbus are not speculative. If you have a modern car it probably has 50+ separate microprocessors in it, all communicating over a common CANbus, which is there for the same reasons of noise rejection and noise immunity. If CANbus were removed from the system your car would become undriveable and, in the immortal words of Bill Murray in "Stripes", dat's a fact, Jack.


I stand by my other remarks. There are certain fundamental technical issues that must not be decided by voting, or by going along to get along. Beyond the lights-only 2015 Polar Express, any system that has my name associated with it is going to be architected correctly according to the Laws of Nature.

If you are saying that MNHM is your territory and I should leave it alone regarding shows, which you will approach any way you see fit, I can go along with that, but don't ask me to raise funds for a show whose platform would not meet my minimum technical criteria. Conversely, if you want me to raise funds, plan for the platform to be one that would survive a barrage of technical questions from Dave Cutler of Microsoft, who cannot be bullshitted by anybody.


Put differently, I would never presume to tell you how to design a theatrical production, Rick. In the same vein I will not accept your telling me how to architect systems that deliver shows to technical specifications. We're in agreement that the Jack Campbell 2015 Polar Express will work well enough for lighting to result in a successful show, so that agreement should be sufficient for us all to work together to make Jack's vision happen regardless of a different approach that would be better in the abstract.

If CRRM chooses to remain on that platform while adding CANbus in 2016 and MIDI in 2017, that too can be made to work, though it will lack the benefits of being integrated with something like Cakewalk SONAR Plus, benefits far too numberous to be listed here.


The Railroad Museum does not have to take my word for anything. It has only to take the word of Richie Lary and Dave Cutler, whose words will be the same as mine. If the museum proves unable to do that, Gates will not allow his name to be used, and the future major funding will not be forthcoming. For all I know such an outcome would be perfectly acceptable.

The Einstein remarks might apply if new ground were being broken here with respect to the technical foundations. However, everything that I've been talking about is proven technology, not speculative. What is speculative is the adequacy of Jack's platform for the long term.

I hope we're still friends, Rick, because I respect your showman talents enormously. However, even you cannot repeal the Laws of Electrical Nature.


On 7/25/2015 12:38 PM, wrote:
> I am not the theater producer who has no technical understanding.

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