Remote Show Control with a Laptop



Setting Up For A Show

So, the music is on your laptop. Hereís how I set things up for a show.

Make one folder with just the music and sound cues in it you need for the show.  (If you have a variation of this show, you can create a different folder on the laptop and have a different list of MP3s.)

Start Winamp.  Open the Playlist editor, (click the PL button) and add the directory of MP3s to the playlist. (Click the ADD button in the playlist window, then click ADD DIR.  Find the directory of your MP3s and click OK.) You can click and drag the tracks in the playlist window into the order you need for the show.  Then save the playlist in the order you need. (Click LIST OPTS, then click SAVE LIST. Type a name for the playlist and save it.) If you need help on this, go to the Winamp web site.

Before the show, plug the KeyRF receiver into the laptopís keyboard port.  Connect the laptop to the PA system. Turn on the laptop.  Spend some time figuring out how loud everything needs to be set -- you may need to play with the volume control in Windows to get the microphone and the laptop to balance.

Start Winamp, and open the Playlist window.  Load the playlist you want. (Or, you can just load the playlist you need by going into the folder and double-clicking on the playlist file.  WinAmp will start and load the playlist.)   Click in the Playlist window -- you want the playlist window to be highlighted, not the main Winamp window.  This way, all the keystrokes the remote sends will go to the playlist.

Then, youíre ready to go.  There is one little thing...since the remote is set up to move down one entry in the playlist and play it, you might want a dummy entry (it could be anything, like a simple sound effect) as the first entry in the playlist. Then, you can be out front, talking to people, and when itís time to start the show, just press the Right button on the remote and the music will start.

Thereís only one thing left: Where to conceal the remote?

I tried out various elaborate options, and then I saw a tradeshow performer using a similar system...he just pulled the remote out of his pocket, pressed the button, and started the music when he needed it. He made no attempt to hide the remote from the audience at all. And it didnít matter.  Sometimes you donít need to work so hard.

Iíve been using this for awhile now. It turns out the simplest solution is the best.  I keep the remote in my left front pants pocket, and can pull it out to trigger various cues when I need them.

Also, I can feel the buttons through my pocket, and this allows me to press the buttons through the cloth. For example, in a family show, Iíll have a kid up helping me to my right.  I bend down, putting my left hand on my leg (and conveniently putting my thumb next to the button).  Then, when the right moment happens, the kid reacts, and I hit the button to get the appropriate music cue.