Practical solutions for remote placement and handling
One of the most important considerations when working with a remote control system for controlling show music is remote placement. You want your remote somewhere it is easily accessible and stable so that there is no hesitation or fumbling to activate a cue. Today we’ll look at a few solutions — from duct-tape and safety pins, to 3D printed holders, to pockets and belt clips. Your solution will depend on weighing the things that are important to you.
The Belt Clip (A Question of Ideals)
The first question to answers is “do I care if the audience is conscious of the remote or not?” Many performers have no problem with the audience being aware of the remote system and reminded of its presence. If you feel this way, a belt clip can be an easy solution. The benefits of the clip are that it maintains a constant position and frees pocket space (an especially important consideration for a magician). You can use the clip in two orientations — up and down (this is how the remote is shipped to you from Audio Ape); or, by unscrewing the clip, rotating the clip 90 degrees, and re-attaching it, you can have a clip that lays “sideways” (i.e. perpendicular to your leg) which is a preferred orientation for many performers. The downside is that your hand is constantly having to move from its natural resting spot (more on this spot later) up to the belt line, and then back down, every time you fire a cue. This gesture calls attention to the cueing and some performers, myself included, find that drawing attention to technical aspects of a performance is distracting for an audience and something to be avoided when we can create a seamless experience.
The next common solution is to place a remote in your pockets. The lower pocket line can be much close to the natural point of rest of your hands (the height at which your hands are when not doing anything); this makes the activation of the cues much more subtle because you are not making as big and specific a gesture for your hands to reach the remote — but raises issues of its own.
Am I pushing the Right Button?
When triggering cues via a remote, you are working on the basis of touch. While it is important to have a system to insure the remote is in a stable position — with the button always at the same spot — all of the buttons on the surface of the remote (especially under a cloth) feel the same. Some performers, myself included, want to have total and instant confidence that we are pushing the correct button. To manage this, I use a silicon bumper (Waxman Consumer Groups 1/2″ Clear Round Bumpers). The bumper fits directly over the center button of the ape — the button I am using 99.9% of the time during shows.
Is he happy to see us?
One place to avoid is the front pocket. The pocket is in full view, and watching a performer repeatedly scratch his front pocket can be unsightly (something I discovered reviewing video of my own shows and have seen in others’ performances). It is more unsightly, and more distracting, when the performer is using a system with lower range than Audio Ape and is having to repeatedly push the button and dig for the right button (something I’ve seen in another’s performance). Your audience doesn’t know what’s going on on the technical side of things; it just looks like you are scratching yourself. I’ve found that placement in the back left pocket (my non-dominant hand), with the remote wedged against bottom left corner (the pocket edges keep it exactly in place without tape, velcro, or a holder) a perfect fit for me. The lower edge of the pocket is very close to where my hands naturally fall, it is a subtle and short movement to fire a cue.
I mentioned that the rear pocket placement gets you near the spot where your hands naturally rest, making the action of firing the remote more subtle, but there is a simple way to place the remote exactly where your hands naturally fall — making the triggering actions essentially invisible. It adds a step to getting dressed (honestly the reason I don’t use it on an ongoing basis, though I probably should), but if being a ninja with your tech is important to you this is a great solution. Two strips of duct tape are adhered sticky side to sticky side — forming a long, highly durable strip. Attach a safety pin to the top of the strip. Measure the distance between your waistband and the spot on your leg where your hand naturally comes to rest when you are standing. Trim the strip to this length. Remove the clip from the back of your Audio Ape (use a screw driver to unscrew center screw, and then replace). Place a self-adhesive strip of Velcro (TM) to the back of your remote, with the mated side of the Velcro (TM) attached to the strip, at the point where your hand will come to rest. Use the silicon bumper above to cover the center button. The pin is attached to the inside of your waistband, on the outseam side of your pants (i.e. it will lay against the outside edge of your leg under the cloth), bringing the remote to rest right at the spot where your hand naturally comes to rest (I really should have come up with a name for that spot — maybe a cool acronym…TSWYHNCTR). This means that your hand does not need to make a large or deliberate motion of any kind to fire the cue. Because the remote is where the hand rests naturally, a slight movement of your finger triggers the cue.
Delay, Delay, Delay
A further subtlety, for those interested in making the sound cues appear effortless, is to use a time delay to trigger your cues. This allows a cue to fire when your hands are full, or when you are gesturing with both hands. All three apps that are supported with Audio Ape (Show Cues, One Track, and Go Button) allow you to build this delay in before a cue.
For those not using the bottom and side edge of the back pocket to “jam” the remote (which, after hundreds of performances with a remote placed here, I can attest works beautifully) will be looking for a way to keep the remote steady and at a known position. A holder can be fabricated for your pocket using materials as simple as cardboard, through 3D printing. To give you a taste of the possibilities; here are three early versions of 3D printed holder system developed by master stage magician Levent.
How are you managing the placement of your Audio Ape remote? Share your tips and tricks in the comments section, or message us on Facebook.
We’ll see you at show time,
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