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Signing out comteks

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Had 2x comteks go missing from agency folk between locations. Producer asked me if I signed them out to people which at first i thought was insane because o have never seen anyone do that in these parts but keep thinking maybe there is a better way. Does anyone here have a system for keeping track of mass amounts of headsets out in the field? Or any sort of app based tracking fancy stuff?

 

-Ken

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My experience:  Years ago I made a sign-out sheet for Comteks and quickly learned that it simply wouldn't work for a number of reasons.  There may be conditions under which it might, but on most of the jobs I've ever done, it wouldn't -- especially with agency folk.

 

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7 minutes ago, John Blankenship said:

My experience:  Years ago I made a sign-out sheet for Comteks and quickly learned that it simply wouldn't work for a number of reasons.  There may be conditions under which it might, but on most of the jobs I've ever done, it wouldn't -- especially with agency folk.

 

My thoughts exactly. People around her chuckled at her suggestion. If it was a working system, i figured people here would be doing it already. They are replacing them so i am not worried. All i can do is do my best to round them up after each move

-Ken

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Yo know...it’s a bit silly but, I combat this by a quick label with their last name on the Comtek. I think it sends a message that I’m keeping tabs on my gear and I know who I gave it to. Even though I probably don’t...as they are the last bit of gear I round up. 

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Hand them out, have a bag, case or other device to hold them handy for people to return them to....  and go on with your day... If they are lost, tell production at days end...if necessary, bill for missing units at full replacement cost.

 

  Signing out is somehow seen as a bit of a stab... seems rude, no producer I work for or have worked for wants that to happen..  It is what it is... 98% of the time we get them all back... Counting carefully at beginning of the day is super helpful ... Especially when 22 go out...

 

This works well, mine is a bid different... it has a flat handle on top the headsets ride on... Comteks go in pouches around bag... Holds up to 12 comfortably..  The 2 end pouches (larger hold headsets and comtek unit..)

 

Signing them out is NOT the norm... with anybody I know...

 

 

Husky.jpeg

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44 minutes ago, EnotsMedia said:

Yo know...it’s a bit silly but, I combat this by a quick label with their last name on the Comtek. I think it sends a message that I’m keeping tabs on my gear and I know who I gave it to. Even though I probably don’t...as they are the last bit of gear I round up. 

 

So, how do you handle this when you need to leave a supply at video village and are busy with other tasks such as wiring up talent when a bevy of agency suits show up at the last minute?

 

I agree with AFMY, having an obvious place for folks to leave them afterwards is the best solution.  Sometimes an announcement at wrap helps to remind those who forget they're wearing one.

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On narratives, I usually am able to keep tabs on who was given what # IFB, however losing two to an agency gig is not surprising at all.  I find when there's an agency on set, it's a game of "me too" where everyone seems to "need" an IFB even though half of them don't actually listen in and are too busy looking at their phones.  That being said, of course producers on those gigs always want to bend over backwards for anyone even remotely affiliated with the agency (which I get) so unfortunately it always ends up as a game of hide and seek with IFB's where the agency is given ten hours head start to try to "I put it down somewhere over there" and for you after a long day to try to find them all.

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49 minutes ago, afewmoreyears said:

Hand them out, have a bag, case or other device to hold them handy for people to return them to....  and go on with your day... If they are lost, tell production at days end...if necessary, bill for missing units at full replacement cost.

 

  Signing out is somehow seen as a bit of a stab... seems rude, no producer I work for or have worked for wants that to happen..  It is what it is... 98% of the time we get them all back... Counting carefully at beginning of the day is super helpful ... Especially when 22 go out...

 

This works well, mine is a bid different... it has a flat handle on top the headsets ride on... Comteks go in pouches around bag... Holds up to 12 comfortably..  The 2 end pouches (larger hold headsets and comtek unit..)

 

Signing them out is NOT the norm... with anybody I know...

 

 

Husky.jpeg

Literally looked at a variant of one of these last night at lowes. This fits the bill. I can add pockets inside for full count and it would help to know all is good when all slots are filled

 

-Ken

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We've probably all experienced the late night Comtek search, rummaging through the pockets of all the chairs by flashlight. There's no magic remedy. But I have had relative success with a combination of techniques.

 

Like others, I leave a box for Comtek return in a prominent place at Video Village. I have a sign attached to the box identifying it as the place to leave headsets and packs.

 

I also label the receivers - DIR, PROD, SCRIPT, AUX-1, etc. Ideally, one might personally hand the appropriate unit to each recipient but, in use, I find the practice is self-leveling. They sort it out by themselves. This provides a handy reference when a pack goes missing - one can identify the likely culprit and work accordingly.

 

One can't really label an unlimited number of units so the plan has its limits. But my own practice helps keep things manageable. I reason that only a limited number of people need to hear the track at high quality levels. One could argue that the number really needing this mathematically approaches zero but I think it's good practice to provide the best I can to a key handful. So, I have about a half dozen Lectro R1a receivers (plus a set on another frequency for boom and utility) and I handle the overflow with a bunch of the old Comtek PR72 units. Losing an older Comtek is much less painful than one of the expensive Lectros.

 

David

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Just find the model with the flat across the top handle..  NOT this A frame style handle... The headsets sit nicely on top of the flat one...  8-10 of them and 1 in each end pocket WITH the Comtek unit..

There is still room for another 4 units after all this... if need be...  

The RED helps stand out at the Video village monitor.. I always politely ask in the morning if they can be nice enough to return them to the case when we are done... 80% of the time, that works ..

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Forget the sign-out, at least for commercials.  The Comtek-users won't do it.  I won't have time to find out everyone's name or even to be by the "Comtek-Dispenser" rig when they want them.  I agree that having an obvious "dispenser" is a good idea, many people will actually return them to that thing once they know it is there--you can't expect them to hunt you or your assistant down to hand them over for every location move.  I label ones I have for the director, scripty, producer etc and keep those with me so they don't have to go looking for them.  But, yeah, you will still come up with missing units on a big job sooner or later.  You have to make clear to the production that lost or damaged Comteks are their financial responsibility, like any other rented gear on their job.  (And this goes double for more expensive units like Lectro IFB).  I've had to do some insisting over the years with weasely types, but prevailed in all but one case in decades of work.  The guy telling the OP that he should have signed them out is just trying to shirk--did the director "sign-out" the handheld video monitor they are using?   Would they like to assign a PA to the Comteks like they do for walkies on a big job?

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Signing out Comteks seems like a complete no-go to me.  I barely have time to get the Coms out to the people who need them. I don't have time to hunt down all the clients individually at Crafty or wherever they are and take notes or print individual labels for every job.  Usually I just check with a coordinator on how many they'll need at video village and set them out close by or in the chairs. I agree with Afewmoreyears.  It was rude and also a silly way to cover their behind. Production companies are responsible for the way their clients treat my gear and they keep trying to shirk that responsibility. I'm a little hot on this topic because I just watched a director try to kill a brand new Comtek about 3 times in one day.

 

Having a very obvious place for clients to get and return coms is the best plan. On bigger jobs one option not mentioned is a hanging cloth shoe organizer. They have around 10 to 15 slots in them for receivers and headphones. All you need is a stand to hang it from. It compacts down to a much smaller size at the end of the day, they're cheap, and you can find them at any department store. Props to Bob Marts for this idea.

 

 

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I'm wondering if tagging each Comtek unit with one of those RFID wallet/key finder things might be helpful. 

 

Something like this: TrackR pixel - Bluetooth Tracking Device. Item Tracker. Phone Finder. iOS/Android Compatible - Multicolor (16 Pack) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075FXPR9V/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_uKxoAbMMZNNFV

 

Limited to Bluetooth range so probably won't help if someone walks off the set with a unit, but may help find them all faster after wrap. And if someone still has theirs on them the dinging sound will be a reminder to give it back!

 

-Mike

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Yeah, but I object on procedural grounds.  On a big job it is up to production to help wrangle these, just like the chairs, pop-ups and walkies.  I have mine numbered, I tell the PAs that they they are done searching when they have an RX for every number in the sequence.  There will always be accidents or carelessness, but the production has to step up and cover this just like damage to any rental or to a location etc..

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+1 on the shoe rack.  I find a lot more of them get put away in a rack hanging at eye level instead of a case on the floor.

I have had some producers try to tell me that my gear is my responsibility and they are not responsible for it, but the reality I usually calmly explain is comteks, wireless lavs, slates, etc are not under my control during the day, and are worn / operated by someone else.  All of which must be returned to me at the end of the day without damage, whether it's the same unit or a new replacement.  This is also why I won't accept contracts that include clauses releasing the company of liability for owner operator equipment.  I also include this in my terms.

I start with a count before I put them out, then I write that count on a piece of console tape either in the pelican that houses the Comteks, or on the shoe rack.  I stopped numbering mine because I would not always put them out in numerical order.  Say I grab 2 more mid day, I'm not going to check if they are contiguous numbers, I am just going to grab them.  Instead I have a sticker with my logo on each one and rely on a total count to verify I have them all at the end of the day.

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I don't care what number RX they use as long as the whole sequence is in the shoe-rack at the end of the day.  It's a fast way to make sure of the count. 

 

I love producers who say that my gear used by others is still my responsibility.  Are the costumes and props used by actors their responsibility?   Guess again.

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I also ask the production company how many receivers are required. They will then ask the agency how many they think they will need and that’s the number I‘ll bring. If they have additional folk coming in they won’t get additional receivers. Or they can swap amongst themselves. This way everyone knows I‘ll bring ten and it’s also in their own email that they wanted just ten and I‘ll need ten back at the end of the day. So far it was never a problem. That’s only for commercials, though. 

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19 hours ago, John Blankenship said:

My experience:  Years ago I made a sign-out sheet for Comteks and quickly learned that it simply wouldn't work for a number of reasons.  There may be conditions under which it might, but on most of the jobs I've ever done, it wouldn't -- especially with agency folk.

 

John, I have used a "Whose got what" sheet for many years with complete success. 

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4 hours ago, Malcolm Davies Amps CAS said:

John, I have used a "Whose got what" sheet for many years with complete success. 

 

It makes sense if it works.   For me, it was a good idea with no practical application.

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We all know it’s tough out there. We do what we can, but things break, thing get lost, and sometimes things get stolen. I don’t like the idea of a tote full Comteks sitting at VV  just open for the taking, that in my humble opinion, is  a recipe for lost/ missing comteks. Obviously if we are talking about 21 Comteks...we need and A2/ Utility or a dedicated PA to Deal with that mess. I can handle about 10 and after that I need a wrangler. It’s just too much. Walkies are, at least in my world, handed out labeled, numbered and if lost it’s kind of a big deal. The labels work for me, I think it looks Professional and it definitely ties ownership into whatever I’m giving out. TX, IFB, etc... of course one size doesn’t fit all. 

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On commercials we hand out what I call a 'comtek buffet' for the folks at VV. As mentioned above I've found it very effective for people to know where to return their headsets (...where they found it!).

 

In the drama world there are a couple mixers in town that use the Bluetooth tracker app called tile. It's saved us a couple times, and allows you to name each gps chip you put in the ifb pouch. An extra expense, but we were happy to have it when the time came.

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Signing out I agree does not work. I use, successfully TrakR which is a small wifi blue tooth tracking device about the size of a large coin . Blue tooth narrows the search down to an area the size of a room, a beep function activated from my iPhone pinpoints the device. And when the unit leaves the original area there is a global crowd based search function: every owner of every unit can help anonymously search for a lost unit, world wide .


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

And yes labeling the usual my used units cuts down on the childish factor of not returning their toys : director, script, pm, producer, camera, ads.....


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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The most I have ever had out was 40, most times 5-10 units is the norm.  No sign out sheet, I just find most times I end up chasing individuals down.  I use a small Pelican case with individual pockets for each receiver and a larger compartment for the headsets.  At a glance I know how many are out.

I agree on agency shoots I have the most difficulty getting them back.

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