Remote Show Control with a Laptop


Random Access

Random Access cues

Everything on this site so far has assumed that you have a set list of cues that you want to play back, in the same order, every show.

A friend of mine came up with a presentation that required a different solution. The routine was based on a game show, and sound effects needed to be played depending on what the audience volunteers did, not based on a pre-set list.  A list of cues that could only be played in one order wasn’t going to work...I needed something that allowed access to any cue on the list at any time.

This also meant that it wasn’t going to be possible for one person to run the entire presentation; a second person would be needed to run sound (just like a real show, imagine that.)

So, the search was on...where could I find some software to let me trigger any cue I wanted, whenever I wanted? The answer turned out to be in an area new to me...DJ software.

One thing Electronic DJs need is to trigger any sound cue they want, in any order they want, to create their music live. There are a lot of software packages out there for DJs (the sheer number is overwhelming) but the one that fit the bill was named SoundPlant.

As the description from the website says,

Soundplant turns the computer keyboard into a customizable sound triggering device and realtime digital audio performance tool. It can load wav & aif files of unlimited size onto 72 keyboard keys via a drag-and-drop, point-and-click interface. It is used for live music creation, drumming, sound design, radio, presentations, theater...”

And the cost?  Free, for the basic version.  The registered version is $35.00.

Using it is assign sound cues to different keys on the laptop keyboard. When you want a cue, you press the key.

For example, in my friend’s presentation, the participants in the game show rolled a die.  Depending on what number came up, I played the appropriate cue. If they rolled two, I pressed the 2 and the sound cue (a voiceover describing a prize) played. If they rolled 4, I pressed 4...and so on.

Another, newer piece of software was made to play sound effects during a podcast. It’s called “Soundboard” and is also free. This one is probably easier for most people to use.