Redundancy is expensive and creates complex installations because ideally in order to achieve close to 100% redundancy, you'd have to run two complete independent systems side by side that can be updated on the fly.
In most cases, that kind of setup is not achievable because of time and budget constraints!
So the next best thing is to identify what can go wrong in your system and have a plan in place to handle equipment failure. In my experience the two most likely places you will encounter failure will be your media server and your projectors so here is what we do to reduce the potential for failure.
- Every server going out is always thoroughly tested before it goes out and our system are typically designed as media servers not computers that handle video as well.
- Never update a system or software right before a show.
- Make sure all your cables are securely connected to your computer. For instance I prefer to use DVI and DisplayPort than HDMI and MiniDP because the latter don't latch. So we always tie and tape everything connected so that it can come off.
- Monitor your system during the show so that you can be aware of usage and temperature problems. For instance if your GPU's temperature starts rising, you can manually force the fan to 100% and make sure you have proper ventilation around your system. Also, liquid-cooled GPU and CPUs are much safer than air cooled.
- Make sure you set your desktop to black.
- I also always make sure my content outputs are grouped together and located in the top right corner of my UI so that we don't see accidental pointers and window edges in the projections.
- I always use a power back up and test it before the show by unplugging the system. Make sure you turn the beeping of the power back up off!
- I never use single lamp projectors so all projectors we use have 2 or 4 lamps.
- Make sure you setup your projectors properly before every show. Here is the short list of what I check before every show: change blue background to black, remove logos on startup, turn off the sleep mode and set the projector to start on power
- I always use the native resolution so that it doesn't accidentally switch to a different resolution
- Make sure your cables are securely connected, tied and tapes.
- Make sure you get a dedicated non-dim circuit and don't overload your circuits.
- If you can, try to have one dedicated circuit per projector.
- Don't run your projectors off a dimmer pack set to non-dim profile board on the lighting board.
- Check the projector specs and use the max power consumption as your basis for calculations and assume an 80% max load.
- Check air filters before every show
- Check the hours on lamps and swap older lamps with new ones. I typically don't like to use projectors that have lamps older than 50% of estimated life span.
- If you have the budget, if you have to change a lamp, put all new matching lamps.
- All lamps are not created equal so always buy good lamps from reputable vendors. If the OEM lamp costs $500 and you paid $80 for your on eBay, chances are you are getting a bad lamp
- Always make sure you follow manufacturer's guidelines as far as mounting your projectors. Some units can't be mounted at serious angles and some units have different lamp requirements for landscape and portrait orientation
- Whenever possible, run your projectors on a network so that you can troubleshoot from a web browser without having to have a menu on the screen.
- Of course if you have the budget, set up a backup projector next to your primary one and make sure it's focused and ready to go. The best way to make this work is to split the signal into both projectors and douse the backup one either internally or mechanically.
- Always check your set up before the audience comes in.
- Never assume other teams (lighting, rigging, set, catering, etc...) have your back so double check and triple check
- Make sure you run all your cables away from foot traffic inasmuch as possible.
- Whenever possible, run a backup signal cable to your projector
- Use power conditioners for your server and broadcast gear
- Clean up your work station so that you can easily identify cables.
- Make sure every cable run has some slack on both ends
- Label all cables on both sides.
- Make sure all the technicians that are working on your gear know your gear and have been informed of your backup plan
- Whenever possible, use Gefen Detective units sot that your GPU doesn't resync when one screen gets accidentally unplugged.
- Make no one leaves any food or water near your station at any time.
- Always choose wired connections over wireless.
- Don't use wireless signal unless there is no other way but in my experience, there is always another way!
- I you use wireless, bring your own dedicated network.
- Check every cable before every show and I mean each and every one of them
I'm sure there are many other things we do that is so ingrained in our workflow that I can't think of it so this by no mean an exhaustive list.
I'll be interested to hear what other people do.