As some of my colleagues have already made clear: The State University of New York, University at Buffalo (more specifically the bowels of the Center for Fine Arts at that supreme institution of learning) had the honour recently, of hosting the USITT Upstate New York Regional Conference/Meeting.

Most of us in the Department of Theatre and Dance here had the chance to participate, needless to say most of us, therefore, DID partake in the prolificly planned proceedings.

My day began much too early for one after the end of the semester, but I quickly came to enjoy it with the help of caffeinated beverages. It began in earnest as we suddenly realized that the basement of CFA is a confounding place to those who do not regularly frequent it. Luckily one of our fearless leaders had created helpful arrow touting signs to guide the gentlepersons in attendence from room to room, seminar to seminar, life changing experience to life changing experience! Alright, perhaps lives were not changed per se, but they were at least well informed throughout the day (and well fed)!

The seminar which I first attended was called “On the Call,” and was a way of familiarizing those in attendance with the workings if IATSE, if they were not already familiar. We were welcomed to ask questions about how things happen on calls or the panelists experiences on calls. It ended up being a highly informative version of story time with the panel! A few of us students were given the chance to work on a call in fact since an IATSE official was talking, and mentioned that they were a bit short handed for one that was coming up, so that session ended being one of the more important ones for me!

There was a lighting demonstration for various LED fixtures next and I was so taken aback that I stayed through the next session in order to look at them and play with them more. For a hopeful lighting designer, this was just about the coolest thing there. There was even a fixture (I wish I had a head for names) that had a lense plate that moved back and forth so that the light could actually be zoomed! Between the two sellers, there were about five diferent “flat” wash fixtures which were more squared off, and a few which were closer to Fresnels. There was a fixture which is basicaly a normal Cyc throw with a J-reflector and a tube of very small LEDs… It. Was. Awesome!

(This is the part where I apologize for my lack of name based memory… I would direct you to Katie Gilliland for questions regarding the LEDs. Though it is quite possible that you don’t have any, since I limited my discussion of the LEDs in favor of not boring you to death, fair reader.)

Lunch was amazing. Grilled Lemon Chicken and a very tastums pasta bake as well as a wide assortment of salads and dressings. (I enjoy quality catering.)

The sessions I attended after Lunch were quite informative and much more practical than before.

The panel on sound design was very informative. I especially liked that one of the panelists pointed out that even differing times of day, and qualities of air must be accounted for in a Board Op’s mixing (mostly when outside of course). Something I had never thought of till then. Rick Menke was another panelist and I think that if I were to design sound, I too would share Rick Menke’s philosophy. I think all designers need to keep the artistic in mind (it is after all, technically our job), especially with Sound, since I feel it is a department often un-fairly saddled with simply amplifying sound, while Scene and Lights get to have all the fun. In fact “audio” is half of “audio-visual” and so in Theatre, Sound is a single department that feasibly should be creating half the experience. It’s a great honour, and I think Rick hit it on the head by recognizing that.

My only fear for “Fine Tuning Your Lighting Color Palette” is that I will forget the great and more specific wisdoms imparted by Lighting Designer KC Hooper. Indeed I have already forgotten a few, but the main thing I took away from the presentation was the fact that a gel palette must be fine tuned. It must be tested, and then re-tested and a Lighting Designer must be in near constant communication with his colleagues in Scenic and Costume Design so as to bring about the best combination of color possible and make the lighting as effective in creating the desired look as possible.

In summary, I think I took a lot away from this disadvantageously early starting day. It was a great experience for a Freshman and exposed me to a lot of new angles that I had never really considered before. I know now that I want to explore sound more, as a result of the Sound Design Panel. And I know that Lighting Design is A LOT harder than I once thought it was and have gained an even deeper respect for my current prospective field of work. In light of this great experience, I am just as well starting to be excited for moving forward and going to my first major exposition or conference. I suppose the way I figure: If college can be this much fun, what great things must the big world have in store!

Cheers friends,