Our trip started yesterday with two airplane rides and a thirty-minute bus ride to our hotel in Kansas City. We spent the evening exploring the new and beautiful city on the river, before getting some sleep for the busy day to come.
Today was the opening day of the fiftieth annual USITT National Conference; there was a lot of excitement in the air this morning as thousands of theatre technicians and students awaited the grand opening of the stage expo floor. Once the ribbon was cut the mad rush to the elevators up to the floor and the ensuing rush to the Syracuse Scenery and Stage Lighting booth for free velour handbags. After the initial rush was over I began to seriously explore some of the booths on the floor. I spoke to PJ Turpin of Morpheus Lights about a new form of color scroller that instead of using different saturation in the three gel strings, it had increasingly smaller holes in the strings to allow more white light through.
After a few hours on the floor it was time to go to my first session of the day, “Rock and Roll All Night” which turned out to be less of a session about the mechanics or design of concert lighting, and more of story time about the life on the road. While these stories were entertaining and humorous, they proved not very informative about someone interested in learning about concert lighting.
My next session of the day was called “Evolution or Immaculate Conception, the History of Lighting Control”. This was far more informative and interesting of a session compared to the first one, although they did not talk much about current control systems as they spent too much time talking about the older history of lighting control. We heard from the CEO and Product developer of Electronic Theatre Controls, as well as the creator and head programmer for Strand Lighting Company. The session focused on the first ever memory and two scene preset boards which the owner of Strand had built himself out of pinball machines in 1967.
The rest of the day was just dinner, blogging and making plans for the far busier tomorrow, which will begin at 8am with the Upstate New York Regional Section Meeting.