Re: Computer Controlled Shows

Moderator: BlueStrat

Mike McCarthy
Site Admin
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2015 8:07 pm

Re: Computer Controlled Shows

Postby Mike McCarthy » Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:36 am



Mike, I appreciate your candor. I just thought you should know that I am not the proverbial "Babe in the Woods" relying on the expertise of others to help me along my path of ignorance. I've been doing this stuff for over 30 years. I don't claim to have your expertise or Steve's or Jack's or Star's. That is why I need this team so badly. I have an awareness of what is possible, I need experts like yourself and the rest of the team, to find the most effective, efficient, affordable, and time sensitive approach to these problems and come up with the best solutions. But that means we all share and compromise and work together to ultimately embrace the best idea for the circumstance at hand.

As for Morrison Natural History Museum, I have no investment in them at all. You brought it up to me, I said I could help if you needed it. I don't want to take the lead on any more plate is full.

Mike, the big thing that I am hoping to get across is, it does not matter how we get there, only that we get there in a timely and affordable fashion. As of right now, Jack is leading the design team for this lighting control system, so I think, until we see that his concept won't work, that we invest all of our efforts in making it work. I hope that makes sense, I really appreciate your participation. This is going to be fun, if we all work together for the common good of the project.

Rick Bernstein
Director of Events and Volunteers
Colorado Railroad Museum
(CRRM): 303-279-4591
(Rick Direct): 720-274-5153

July 2015: "Celebrating the Birth of our Nation." On Saturdays July 4, 11 and 25th we will present campaign and inaugural speeches from Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Performances will be at 11am, 12pm, and 1pm on the platform of the No. 96 Presidential Car. Also in July, join us on July 11 for our birthday celebration of our locomotives, No. 346 and No. 491. We'll be singing happy birthday and serving cake at 2:00pm at the Roundhouse. July 18 is Dinosaur Express featuring artifacts and fossils from Dinosaur Ridge and Morrison Natural History Museum. And of course, every Saturday are train rides around the museum. July is a great month to enjoy the Colorado Railroad Museum.

Check the website for details.

Thanks to SCFD...making it possible!

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Computer Controlled Shows
From: Mike McCarthy <>
Date: Sat, July 25, 2015 8:23 pm


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

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.

Return to “Re: Computer Controlled Shows”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest