Using the iOS Shortcuts app to automate production workflows

I love automation. I love making things more efficient and consistent, and I’ve found that on a particular level, automating or simplifying certain tasks through automation can make it easier for volunteers when working in a church production environment.

The latest app that I’ve been enjoying is the iOS “Shortcuts” app that was added to my phone in a recent iOS upgrade. It allows you to use actions within apps or activity on your phone to spawn other actions. Things like “Text my wife how long it will take me to get home, when I leave work” by using the GPS location on my phone. Or, make a shortcut that when you take a picture using the camera app, it is automatically posted to Facebook.

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Look for this app on your iOS device.

If you’ve ever used the service IFTTT, you’ll find familiarity with the Shortcuts app in some of the concepts. Of course, the integration into the phone at a core level with Shortcuts is much nicer. One thing I particularly like is that, once you name a shortcut, you can simply say, “Hey Siri, [shortcut name]” and it will run it.

And, Shortcuts can make HTTP requests (GET, POST, with JSON, etc.) as actions. So, it’s super easy to add a shortcut that triggers a Companion button or a task in a Ross Dashboard custom panel, for example. And that’s one of the ways I’m using the Shortcuts app.

In our production workflow, we use Ross Dashboard custom panels that I created to control nearly every aspect of our video system (and slowly, audio and lighting as I create the connections). It’s very easy to trigger a button via HTTP request, so I set up several shortcuts that I can use to save me time, especially when I am away from the production area or not near a computer running one of the Dashboard panels, as long as my phone is connected to the production network wifi (or I’m connected via VPN if remote).

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Here are a few of the shortcuts I’ve created.
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All this particular shortcut does is make an HTTP GET request to my master Ross Dashboard Custom Panel, which is listening to Port 5400, and triggers the GPI, “aud1_psl”.
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It’s the same as clicking on this yellow button, but I can run it from my phone, as long as I am connected to the production network!

So, just like that, it’s very easy to do something like this: “Hey Siri, go to Pre Service in Auditorium 1”, and have all of the lights change (by sending a midi-relay command to a MIDI Show Control message to our Vista lighting console) and the program screens go to the pre-service loop (by sending a RossTalk command to execute a custom control on the Carbonite to change inputs).

Here’s a video of it in action!

Go check out the Shortcuts app if you aren’t using it already in your production workflow!

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