The Strauss Blog

Improving Your Run of Show: Interviewing the Expert Technicians

A Run of Show, is a document that contains all the on-stage details of your show/event. It often includes things like timing of presentations, whether those presentations have videos or PowerPoint presentations associated with them, lighting cues, audio cues, etc. A cue-to-cue is a dress rehearsal for your event where you go through and action the entire ROS prior to the event going live. As event managers we put a lot of time and effort into our ROS for our events.

Recently, I sat at the technician table for an event during a cue to cue prior to the event actually happening. I noticed the technicians writing notes on what I thought was a perfect ROS.

This experience prompted me to think about whether the document I produce is helpful for the technicians putting it to use. To answer this question, I got in touch with our partners over at Freeman Audiovisual to ask some of their top technicians their advice to help improve my ROS and hopefully help you, too.

Interviewees:

Janel Sagert
Technical Service Representative
Freeman Audio Visual

Matt Lewis
Tour & Site Coordinator
Freeman Audio Visual

What qualities did the best ROS you have seen include and what did you like about it?

Janel Sagert: First of all, times, whether it’s the specific time (eg. 9:30am) or how long things are supposed to take are helpful. This is especially helpful when there are countdown timers on the show. It also helps to see how far ahead or behind time we are and that helps for planning for dismantle crews while onsite.

Secondly, having file names for PowerPoints/documents that correspond to the name on the ROS is always helpful. It is just something that helps the operator figure out which file is to go to screen. Often there are names of presenters or speeches, but then the file is called something completely different and we end up guessing and opening several files to figure out what is the correct file.

Finally, listing which mics (lav, handheld, podium, table mics) are needed for certain parts of the show is also helpful to have on the ROS. I can get them ready and know which mics to pull up when someone gets on stage.

Matt Lewis: Best ROS I’ve seen was clean and simple and only had things pertaining to the production side of the event. It did not include the whole event including the food, table numbers, and so on.

What tips do you have for an event manager when creating their ROS?

Janel Sagert: Always have a ROS – even for small events  just the agenda is sufficient. Make sure the operator gets a copy of it. I have done far too many events where I have no idea when and what is supposed to happen, and I just wing it. I am usually able to figure it out, but it would make me less stressed if I knew what I was to do and when. You don’t want a stressed and grumpy technician.

Another tip is to colour code. Colour coding is a great idea, especially when there is more than one operator on the show. It is still very helpful when there is only one operator. It definitely helps to differentiate what cue is supposed to happen.

Also, if there are videos to be played, but the audio is not needed, include this detail. Sometimes the speaker just wants to talk over a video, and I don’t want to interrupt their flow.

Matt Lewis: DO NOT USE TINY FONT WITH MANY DETAILS! Caps is fine for techs and we don’t need encyclopedias worth of information just to push play on a video. On that note, what we are coming back to after a cue. Eg: So we restore to Logo, standby IMAG, Lights back to show level and Podium is live.

Colours can be handy but if changes are made during rehearsals and a colour printer is not around, the highlighted areas blur in grey when printed in black and white. BOLDING certain things is very handy and a better option.

Landscape option works better if the ROS has lots of information. You can fit more on a page this way. A lot of techs write notes for their sections on these pages and sometimes there is no space but to write over the info.

Depending on the event, sections/columns with the departments work very well in a ROS. Audio, Video, Lighting, IMAG, Stage, Spot, Pyro and so on can all be seen for each cue with or without a show caller.

What is your pet peeve with event planners’ ROS? (something common that the techs see that really isn’t helpful to them)

Janel Sagert: One thing I noticed, which may not directly have to do with a ROS, is that often the ROS does not give enough time for switching between certain items on screen. If there is only one computer on the show but there are PowerPoint and video elements that are to be switched between, just making a note in the ROS that we can go to a static slide for a few seconds in order to get everything in place is helpful. This saves me having to ask the planner if it’s alright to do that because I wouldn’t have the appropriate time otherwise.

Matt Lewis: My pet peeve is when the show call for the next cue is when the next cue is supposed to be live. The calls for the next cue should be before the cue is happening in preparation for the cue, not as the cue is supposed to start or has already started. A holding cue or standby cue to explain the next section is helpful.

How far in advance do you want to receive the ROS?

Janel Sagert: The sooner I see a ROS, the better. If you are able to send it to the technician/salesperson before event set up, that’s great. But if that’s not possible, the first time you see the technician, you should give it to them. I have had the instance in the past, when I’m looking through a ROS, there were a number of videos to happen, but no DI box for audio of the video was on the order. I was able to find and fix that problem way ahead of time and a crisis was averted because of it. But honestly, even if we get a ROS, for a small show, 30 minutes before start, it’s better than no ROS.

Matt Lewis: If you’re an onsite tech, as soon as it’s available. Even if it’s not the final version it gives you a sense of the day/show. 

If you’re the event manager, 1-2 weeks prior to the event to make sure we haven’t forgotten things. Most of the time this isn’t the only show we have going so events can blur together and a little refresher of what is coming up can help.

Well, I don’t know about you but based on Matt and Janel’s answers I will definitely be making some changes to my ROS moving forward. Although a brief ROS is better than no ROS, as Janel says, working with your audio visual company to create an ROS that is functional for all people involved will help to make a seamless event!