Safety Through Programming

Safety Through Programming

You have seen that there are plenty of different tools when programming your moves and cues.

These various different tools can make things safer if they are used correctly.

  • Group Stop can be used to protect against collisions that might occur when multiple axes need to react to another stopping.
  • Triggers can be used to protect against collisions by automatically triggering moves to start or protecting against moves being started too early, before an axis is actually clear to move.

However, even without using these more advanced tools, you can help make operating errors less likely in very simple ways.

You shouldn’t rely on programming alone to protect against operator error. It DOES NOT replace full and proper training on how to operate the specific moves and cue sequences for a show.
Remember to take extra care to understand how you programming will affect real world scenery and people. Make sure you consider the effects of what might happen if things go wrong as well as when things go right!

Cue Order and Splitting Cues

You have seen that you can program cues with multiple playbacks and choose to put multiple show cues in one desk cue to make it easier to operate.

Take this example:

Q1 - Moves a truck upstage.

Q2 - Flies in a piece of scenery just in front of the truck

You could program these show cues into one desk cue, with Q1 on Playback One and Q2 on Playback Two.

However, using the principle of Safety Through Programming, it would help protect against operator error by splitting those cue across two desk cues. By splitting these cues it make it impossible for the operator to accidentally start both playbacks at once and cause a collision.

Of course, you may will want to program each axis on a separate playback to maintain individual control.

Playback Assignment

Remember to assign your playbacks in a way that makes sense for safety.

For example, it might make sense to group scenery that is flying in and scenery that is flying out.

If someone is in the way, it is likely that you will need to stop the scenery flying in, but you may be able to let the scenery on its way out continue.

If in doubt, stop everything! It is safer to stop everything and then continue with playback groups when safe to do so.

You may also want to ensure that things that need to stop together are assigned the same playback. If two axes have a close relationship, it may be better to put them on the same playback so you are not relying on the operator to remember to stop two different playbacks.

Remember to use the Group Stop feature when appropriate.

Cue Notes

Make sure your cue notes are clear and easy to read.

In automation, anticipation is everything. If your cue notes can make it clear when you need to press [NEXT] quickly or if there is some actor blocking you need to keep an eye out for, you can be ready for it.

You should not rely on the cue notes solely to understand what is happening in a cue. Make sure you check all of the data across the axis blocks to understand what a cue will do when run. However, you can use cue notes, cue names and cue descriptions to make it easier to navigate around the cue list and make sure you’re running the correct cue at the right time.

Overlaying Moves

Take the Overlaying Targets example from the “Overlaying Moves” part of this manual.

Target (mm)
Accel (mm/s/s)
Speed (mm/s)
Decel (mm/s/s)
Move One (Q1)
Move Two (Q2)

You can use this sort of cuing sequence to ensure safety during a show.

For example, on a show with a truck moving downstage, there might be some large scenery that needs to removed by the crew before it will be fully clear.

Using the general automation principle that it’s preferable not to start something than it is to stop it, you can plot the first cue to stop just upstage of the scenery. That way, the scene change can start, but only once the scenery is cleared is the second part fired and the scene change will complete.

In normal circumstances, the cues will overlap and cause a seamless movement for the truck coming downstage. But, if the crew aren’t able to clear the set in time, the truck will come to a neat stop at safe point that is known to everyone.