So, I was at USITT for a week. I have typed up my notes from the sessions I was in. Here they are only slightly edited. This is more of a resource for myself (and others), than an actual post. :
My Notes from an awesome adventure at USITT. I apologize for any misspelled names, it probably has more to do with my ability to read my own handwriting than my spelling ability. Class sessions/program names are in bold.
Backstage at Disney
**World of Color Round table**
From Jason Badger — Process for programing fountains:
1200 DMS controlled fountains. GrandMA 2* lighting desks were used to program fountains, video*, mist, moving lights, and flame units
Each moving fountain had an LED ring around it, that can project light approximately 60’ im the air. It took three programmers to make the show happen
*later in the day I learned that 3 Grand MA 2s ran the show, with a spare just in case. The video was programed via a huge (drool-inducing) rack of Hippotisers — with complete redundancy — all video was being computed by two separate units so the failure of a single unit would not hurt the show.
From Mike Carter — Networks
30 switches, run over fiber form the basic IP network. This network is not connected to the Disney computer network (dark network). Subnetworks were developed for each design area (i.e. sound, lighting, video, etc.). Video data was so intense, each projector required a dedicated pair of fiber. Certain parts of the network (especially sound) did have some interface with resort wide network.
From Jeremy???? — Sound
The system uses mostly Meyer sound. The system runs at 96k resolution from the processors all the way to the speakers. The downside is that the orchestral tracks were only recorded at 48K resolution. Each audio tower has a network switch to accommodate the data. A mix down of the show is sent to other areas of the park that are able to see the show to some extant. This happens through the main park wide audio system. The shows (amazing) low end reproduction is from 11 subterranean subwoofers. (did he say in the drainage system???)
Jason Badger again — Video
4 Hippo media servers, 19 live projectors, 6 underwater projectors. Spider (??) routing system. Aspect ratio 4200×800 pixels. 12 Terabytes of storage. Since “Beauty and the Beast” all animated films have been digitally composited (each layer of hand animation individually scanned into a computer and then stack on top of each other) so any element can be pulled out for use in World of Color, or other show. Older films may have elements rotoscoped out by the animation department if needed. (Rotoscoping is a process of hand tracing frame by frame of reference material). Since World of Color went on-line, feature animation has been doing special animations of current (forthcoming) films specifically for inclusion in World of Color
From Pete ??? – Floating Docks
The fountains lights, etc submerged in the lagoon are attached to three separate submersible tables. Each table moves up and down independently, and together they cover most of the lagoon (larger than a foot ball field!). Each table has a water tight, submersible electrical room underneath it. (Basically a sizable sea-crate.) The tables have three positions (from lowest to highest) — Submerged (during the day when guests are in the park), Show Position (for performance, with the deck just below the surface of the water), and Maintenance (the surface of the deck just above the water). The electrical rooms are accessed by hatches in the deck. After experimenting with underwater splices for electrical connections, they discovered that underwater connectors are far more effective. (NOTE: we learned later, that there are cameras in the underwater electrical rooms to make sure no one is in them during performance).
Bill Slessor (sp?) — Sustaining Show Technical Director
The show was delivered in 570 truck loads. Disney constructed an onsite shop for the installation (in the area that will soon be the new “Cars” themed land). More than 1800 people worked on the construction crew. It took three months of technical rehearsals to perfect the show. The show is still being regularly updated with new sequences and features.
**Hyperion Theatre and Aladdin**
From Jerry Tomlinson, Tech Manager
The venue has 72 line sets. The initial idea was that several traditional theatrical venues would be constructed on each Disney property, and shows would be developed in Anaheim and then “tour” through the other Disney properties. This has not happened yet. The Hyperion used sound stage techniques to create a dead space audio-wise. That way every sound the audience hears is specifically intended by the creative team. The current show (Aladdin) uses about 600 conventional fixtures, and 90 automated fixtures. Daily a crew of 6 inspects all motors, rigging, lighting etc before the show crew comes in. The show crew is 15 people, most are trained for positions on multiple shows (or multiple positions on this show). Show Automation (Chuck Brandt) is controlled form the trap room, although multiple stage managers and crew have enable or dead man or E-stop switches to maintain safety. (The flying carpet is currently not in the show until a technical glitch is fully explored. Kaitlin Bueon (sp?) demonstrated the lighting system. Two lightboards (Obsession II, and GrandMA) are used to run the show, but they are linked so only one go-button is needed. Although the show was originally conceived with three follow spots, the show has only used two since shortly after its opening. Also, see technical specs package distributed during tour.
Kaitlin Bueon explained the process of float lighting. Disney developed a system to send a “go” wirelessly. This done approximately every 2 1/2 minutes so that if a float is “off” from its cue sequence, it will correct it self in about 2 1/2 minutes. Each float contains a system playing back DMX (it is not really a lightboard), and batteries to power the (usually low voltage, direct current) lights, Batteries also need to be on-board to power the parade unit. Each unit has a driver, but the drivers vision is often impaired. Each float has an escort who walks along it, next to an e-stop (sometimes 2) in case of emergencies.
Disney uses a air-fired fireworks system to lessen the environmental impact of the fireworks show. Strict safety proceeders are in place for loading and firing of the show. Balloons are released from several points to check wind conditions. There are approximately 190 shells in the current show, fired from 18 locations around the property. Each location is visually supervised by a crew member.
Disney uses a Rope Access program so that technicians can access parts of the park and its structures that do not have traditional methods of accessibility (such as ladders, cat walks, personnel lifts etc.) Disney trains its staff to international safety practices. Prior to any Rope Access project, a risk assessment form (several pages) is created to confirm that there is no other way, safety protocols and several levels of management sign of on the Rope Access project. At all times in a Rope Access project, the rigger has 2 points of safety contact. With this method they are able to reach many areas that would not otherwise be accessible. To date, Disney has a very good safety record with this method (actually a better safety record with Rope Access than traditional methods). We watched a simulated rescue.
Educating the At Risk Student
Discussion led by William Kenyon
Four main reasons making students at risk: Money, Physical, Mental, Emotional
Reasons: Family problems, loss of Scholarships, Outside Debts
How to help:
Work-study positions (even in other arts venues on campus)
Guide students with Budgeting skills
Several free budget templates are available on-line
Explain the concept of Value Gained vs. Value Loss
Change in Family Support
Sometimes families withdraw support
A parental “booster club” can be helpful
Especially if run by parents of former students
Encourage students to be aggressive in applying for scholarships
Reasons: Disabilities, Injuries, Drug/Alcohol Binges, Drug/Alcohol Addiction
Students are often very supportive of other students
Encourage students to form a family like structure
For practicum, create a “Hold a Hammer” day
Allowed one time during the semester
No-Questions-Asked, means “I’m impaired” and no dangerous work
Find out Alcohol/Drug referral program at your school
Reasons: Short Term Stress, Long Term Stress, PTSD, Eating Disorder, Learning Challenges, Suicidal
Work to create a family environment so students can support each other
Drill professionalism into students
Students need to be focused on their personal reputation
Adjusting to College Life
Death of a family member
“What is the stage”
Theatre of the Sphere — Circle in a Square
The Square is the stage
The circle is unending, embracing the actors & the audience
Theatre is in the Audience, not on the stage
Theatre artists must turn their negatives into positives
Theatre can be non-violent weapon against oppression
Theatre as the language of teh human spirit
Light is an active participant in the theatre
as are all design elements
A community is needed for theatre
Theatre should be developed for a specific community
Technicians/Designers: givers of mission & movement
The future belongs to those who can imagine it.
Presented by Michael Harvey and Brian Swanson
What is the Goal
Is it to suplement the physical portfolio
Is it to replacement of the physical portfolio
Resolution / storage
Media (not all computers have CD Drives)
Websites should be a content management system
Such as Joomela (sp?)
From Holly Pierce
Hyperlink tool — Allows links to other points in the document
Can embed hyperlinks
New software (getting better): Acrobat Portfolio
Non Linear Navigation
Plan (do a flow chart)
Remember Basic Design skills
Showcase your Work
Keep it Simple
Same Format in the whole presentation
Build digital portfolio for a specific audience
Test Test Test Test
Design a nice label for your CD (NO SHARPIE!!)
Make it hard to find your stuff
Take more than 3 clicks from start page to any image
Do more than 5 images / show
Use more than 2 fonts
embed video needlessly
Presented by Dan Robinson, Scott Ollinger, Matt Allar, Jeremy Hopgood, Shelby Newpart
What is Co-Curricular
Coordinating with curricular elements
Something in addition to the curriculum
Take out the “Co:
Craft flexible syllabi that allow for many opportunities
Create Permanent Topics Courses to use for unusual projects
Use the “Guest Star”
Interview a Guest artist in class over Skype
Think about guest lecturers from other disciplines
Co-produce a show with another theatre company
Get Out of Here
Travel with the students
Tie in events such as USITT, Urta, SETC, NETC, etc.
Overcoming Cost Challenges
Students forming official student groups and requesting funds from student governments
Create a Student USITT official student club
Show Me the Money
Special Campus Funds
Campus Wide Themes or programs
Always try to tie funding requests to current “Buzz Words”
Clearly define how students are involved
During pre-production, production, and post production
Define the role of the volunteer
Make sure the students understand the requirements and expectations
Make sure there is an evaluation at the end of the project.
Talk the Talk
Develop Interdepartmental projects
Tie into Campus wide initiatives
Try to work with other programs (on and off campus)
Creative teaching projects for Technical Theatre (Poster Session)
**Model in a Box**
Students (as a group) are given a poem (recommended Poe or Frost)
& a set of materials (each group gets a copy of the same set), and a matching box
With only the addition of glue and color media and scissors, students interpret the poem as a scenic design in the box. Working entirely within class (2 class sessions)
Teaches Time management, planning (students may plan outside of class), and collaboration
**M&Ms and Primary Colors of Light **
Set up lighting instruments with heavy primary colors
Display a bowl of M&Ms, ask students to separate the M&Ms based on color under each primary
Turn on white light so students can see how they did.
Teaches: how lighting color affects perceived object color.
**Pick You Season** (NOTE: Have hand out)
Students, work in groups.
Given the parameters of the department’s season
Students create a focussed list of potential plays (2 or 3x the final number)
Analyze each play in terms of Budget, rights, themes, marketing, student participation etc.
Using analysis students select final season, including overall marketing scheme f
Teaches basic lessons in producing
**That’s the Lecture Now Let’s Build!**
Hand out only — needs to be considered for scene shop portion ofTA 23
**Super Hero Project**
(Hand out given to our costume instructor)
Costume design project, could be applied to more!
Teacher generated a number of adjectives about a character, and a number if (silly) Superhero abilities.
Students draw a selection of adjectives, and a super hero ability, and create a super hero based on what they drew.
Students create a back story, and then a costume.
Teaches: Character analysis, filling in gaps in a script, develops drawing skills
NOTE: If we ever did the CID intro to design class — this could be an over all project — designing the costume for the costume portion, the “lair” for the scenic portion, lighting the space for lighting, and creating a mini radio play about the superhero for sound??? Maybe it could be considered if we are in a place where we are expanding offereings
5D and the future of design
NOTE: This session focused on the work of designers who use multimedia in design. It was more about philosophy of high budget design than techniques about multi-media.
These designers have a preference of working with people with diverse (non-theatre) backgrounds because it “keeps the blinders off” from everyone
No one know what is and isn’t possible so all ideas are worth exploring
Extensive prototyping of ideas
At smaller scales
Collaboration between the entire design team is essential
Group Analyzes the Group Mandate (Their word for concept)
THEN: Each specialist (designer etc.) does their thing (very free form) without knowing what the others are doing
THEN: All ideas are brought back tot he group and critically analyzed
THEN the Group Mandate is reevaluated (does it need to develop more, or be made more flexible?)
More concrete ideas are formed and work moves on in earnest. Specialists often work very closely developing other areas than there own (a scenic designer on a specific project may get very involved with the costume process — mixing it up is ok so long as all the work is covered, and no one is over burdened.)
Multi-disciplinary skills are vital
Top qualifications to work in this methodology: People skills
Even if someone isn’t the best at a task, they probably know someone who is who can come in for a day or two if needed.
New term: Trans-media == Film+Theatre+Video+Themed entertainment
Regardless of training, venue/media does not change the design process.
Video Projection on Scenery
Presented by Koi (sp?) Hopper, Jeff Doughty, Adam Dahl, Kevin Griffin, Robert Miller
LED Framing spot — allows brighter deep colors, multipurpose a single gobo
Presentation on Rollin College Media Projects
Programs like “Media Shout” more adept than Powerpoint for what we do
Other choices: Isadora, Arkaos Media Master Express
Best choice: A media server
1 Media Server + Software + One High end project – Educational discount = approx. $10,000
Places to get quality video content affordably: Bluepony.com, istockvideo
BlueKaos –DMX Media Server aprox. $5000
Madmapper.com software — inexpensive, limited but powerful
Kigdom.com — House of Worship site — better prices on projectors than mainstream places
Death of the Incandescent Lamp
presented by Fred Foster, and Howard Brandsten
Read 2008 article titled ???? found at www.concerninglight.com
What will we do without incandescent lamps?
Onstage lights not directly affected by new laws
Once household lights are not incan., cost of production of stage lights will go up
the Lumens/watt formula of efficiency is not actually a good indicator (Incans are far easier to safely dispose of than CFLs, little to no study on safe disposal of LEDs)
LED lamps are not full spectrum (nor are CFLs)
Dangers of CFL: Mercury, Radio Interference, implanted medical device interference, if broken a HazMat clean up must be performed
Make up rooms, dressing rooms etc. are affected by new laws
recommended EBook: ILightBulb
Teaching Technical Theatre to Non-Technical Students
Presented by: David Navalisky, Kat VanKleet, Ashley Bellet, Vincent Lobell, Ross Roushkolb
Goals of projects:
Increase Student Interest
Teach Essential Skills
Meet Curriculum Requirements
Demonstrate connection to their life beyond theatre.
First thing to remember: They havn’t done this before, they have never been taught
Class jointly designs a set for a play (int. realism)
The set is then constructed at 50% (6” = 1’ -0” Scale)
Can usually be done from scrap
Working in small teams the set is divided up for people to build
Then assembled. When things don’t fit right, the group stops to figure out why
Build a Hero
A Repeat from the poster session
Students are given an adjective and asked to create a design board of visual research to represent the adjective.
In class the morgues are discussed and analyzed.
Done on a regular basis through out a semester.
For either a prop class or general intro to stage craft
Students are assigned to find a play that mentions food.
Students research what the food would like, and research (often internet) how to make a fake version
The students must then build fake food that meets the description.
Added bonus: TD & Prop master judge the food. Anything that is deemed good enough to go into storage for the department earns an “A” on the project.
Other tips to make people more excited about tech:
Foster friendly competition in the projects, makes students try harder
In stage craft class, have everyone who works on a set piece sign the back of it.
Create a grid of all of the essential skills — when a student has mastered the skill, it gets signed off on.
ADA in the technical theatre classroom
Presented by Montana Hisec-Cochran
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Organizations that receive federal funds are barred from discrimination
Extension of the above, but not covers places of public accommodation
FOR Colleges and universities
Law requires accommodations, not modification of curriculum
Higher Ed is not required to:
Substantial alteration of the curriculum
Substantial alteration of the manner in which program is offered
to have an undue burden to the institution
Note: Undue burden arguments rarely fly in court
However, schools do not need to change (by federal law) the delivery method of a class (traditional or on-line) (STATE laws may be different, work with local ADA office on campus)
Before an ADA student may enter a class, he/she must be otherwise qualified
For example if a student must meet certain proficiencies of a program to be admitted, the ADA does not change that
Brochure available on Universal Design of courses
Dealing with ADA students in technical theatre classes:
Examine the essential elements (in our case SLOs)
These are the requirements for the class
Consider how they can be met with in the students abilities
Communication is key
The students is probably well versed in their disability
If there are additional concerns speak with the camps ADA counselor or coordinator
SUGGESTION: put campus address of ADA office in syllabi
SUGGESTION: if the class has an on-line component, add ASL interpreters to the Blackboard site — this helps them be prepared for what they will be interpreting.
If your class will have an ASL interpreter, think about placement where so the student can “hear” the lecture and watch what needs to be seen.
If you know in advance, ask the ADA office if you can learn some key signs for your class (especially safety)
Guiding principles in making adaptations/accommodations:
SUGGESTED THEATRE READING: “Beyond Victims & Villains, Contemporary plays by handicapped playwrights”