Techie nerdgasm in the Liverpool Arena

So, I’m here in Liverpool in a largely behind-the-scenes role. I am benefitting from a Party Staff pass, which lets me get into all sorts of interesting places.

The LDV office is directly behind the stage, so one of the main routes in is right behind the giant screen. Which looks like this:

Backstage at #Ldconf

Today we held a fringe in a large room in the Arena, and so I got there early to to a bit of setup. They had a giant screen, so I could wangle my way into the tech room at the back so we could choose what we showed – a live screen of our website, in the end.

Is this the biggest screen @libdemvoice has ever been shown on? #ldconf.

And oh my, the room is techie heaven. Part of me is still thrilled by my teenage years spent working both as an actor at school and a stage techie at sixth form college, and I am really stage struck when it comes to the technicalities of theatre. (NB it’s one of many really good reasons to see the Nottingham Playhouse panto every year – they cram the panto with some really interesting coups de théâtre.)

So, the most exciting thing about the room by far is the fact that the entire set of 500 fixed seats are on a giant turntable. The same is true of Hall 1C.

Giant turntable in liverpool arena

So depending on how they want it set up you can either have one large hall with two smaller halls nearby, or you can rotate the two giant drums and add 1,000 seats to the large hall.

This explains why there are emergency exits apparently 4m high in the air. When the drum is rotated, the gap lines up with the stairs.

Not an emergency exit. No kidding. It's 4m off the ground! #Ldconf

Presumably it also makes the site an ideal location for recording “This is your life!”

Up in the tech room, there was lots to look at. The sound boards in professional theatre seem to changed so much since I last set up a sound board, I didn’t even recognise it as a sound board. So much for my geek points 😦

The full array of technical stuff was probably more than I can cope with, so I was very happy to leave it in the capable hands of the tech team who come with the venue.

We tried for a few minutes to work out whether it was possible to get a live feed out of the sound board into my Zoom H2 – but in the short while available before the event kicked off, it proved not possible, so we resorted to the usual of balancing the recorder on seat towards the rear of the room and then amplifying afterwards. (This has the unfortunate side effect of making the applause painful to listen to)

Imagine my surprise and delight when at the end of the fringe, one of the tech guys came down the steps and said, “we made a CD for you of the sound.” That is really helpful.

Unfortunately, none of the LDVers has both a laptop with a CD player, and something to rip the audio to MP3, so it will have to wait until I get home before I can do anything with it. But hopefully we’ll be able to replace the rough and ready version we made at conference with a more professional sound in the fullness of time.

The podcast of the fringe meeting is here.


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