About Ross Juzdowski


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Posts by Ross Juzdowski:

USITT Charlotte Day 4: FINALLY Talking with Cirque

Saturday morning I was finally able to talk with Cirque. I asked them a few questions and this is how they answered:


What kind of automation is essential to your productions/ the most useful?

  • Safe Automation is always essential and each show is different and therefore requires different automation

Is any of the automation you use affordable to a university?

  • Most automation we use is custom and can cost anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.

How much maintenance does your automation require?

  • 10-12 hrs a week, friday morning inspections, and inspections every time we set it up or tear it down.

How are your productions so seamless without any interruptions from scene changes or shifts?

  • Automation.


Cirque also pointed me to Stage Technologies. Stage Technologies is a company from which Cirque buys some of its automation. Stage Technologies told me about their PC Wing, a compact training and programming desk. This desk is used to train students to use the latest automation applications. It is also can be used to provide in house instruction for staff in state-of-the-art technology. Trainees can work on the same control interface used in some of the live performance industry’s most popular control desks. (Paraphrased from PC Wing: compact training and programming desk handout.)

One of the Stage Technologies representatives pointed out an interesting way to create low budget “automation.”  He said if you don’t have a large budget then you could rig flats or scenery to a curtain traveller. I hope to implement this into a production in a future semester.


USITT Charlotte Day 3: Expo Floor & TOTEM

Friday morning I decided it was time to go talk to representatives from Cirque du Soleil in person. I had a lot of questions for them since the session titled, “Automation at Cirque du Soleil” only taught me that safety is the number one concern at any Cirque production.

Naturally when I went to speak with the person who knew the most about automation he was no where to be found. Therefore I went to talk to any of the other companies who were involved in automation.

During my wanderings I discovered:

  1. Daktronics (A Company which is involved in Automated Rigging)
  • Are located in Victor, NY which is about an hour from UB
  • Have a new “outsourced German system” which controls automated batons and can do many functions at the same time. If UB decided to buy this $100,000 system we would be the first to own this system. At $100,000 this thing is a steal!
  • They also have a $20, 000 system that has presets which work similar to sub masters on a lightng board
  • This system could bring one or all of your electrics down at once (and at variable speeds)-How Convenient!
  • You could also make a snow bag make snow fall and at the same time raise one drop and lower another.
  • And it’s touch screen…..


Totem was basically the evolution of man from start to finish shown through the medium of live spectacle. The show was everything the representatives of Cirque promised and more. The show included aerial acrobatics, insane trapeze work, phenomenal unicycle skills, and a story which brought it all together. Set changes used state of the art automation which allowed for smooth scene changes that did not hold up the production in any way. Ever time a new scene began you would say to yourself ” that’s cool but it would be cooler if you did something more insane” but then the acrobats would do something even cooler than you could imagine. My only regret is that I couldn’t see the show twice or go backstage.

USITT Charlotte: Day 1&2- 10 things I learned from you

  1. Micro controllers are a cost effective way to create and operate scenic automation. For just $13 you can purchase 1 micro controller capable of controlling a scenic element based on time, a measured distance, and even temperature if applicable.
  2. They operate can be programmed on the same principles that you would use to program a chase effect for holiday lights or stage lighting.
  3. The capabilities of S.A.M (Scenic Automated Mover)/ specs are:
    1. The ability to transport scenery on and off stage repeatedly during a production
    2. A maximum speed of 2.1 ft/sec when not bearing a load.
    3. It can move a maximum load of 700lbs effectively
    4. It weighs 400lbs
    5. Operates by following a wire beneath Marley/the stage floor
    6. It is not being marketed.
  4. Anyone can operate S.A.M. Programming and operating it is similar to recording cues on a lighting counsel and hitting the GO button.
  5. The cost if S.A.M was marketed would be more than $3000.
  6. Scenic automation always has a human operator even though the point of automation is to get rid of human intervention.
  7. Automation is dangerous and must be taken seriously especially since automation allows massive structures to move on and offstage rapidly, sometimes during blackouts.
  8. Cirque du Soleil deals with risks that arise from scenic automation  (such as open traps onstage and moving parts) by first eliminating all physical risk and then uses technology to make the automation safer.
    1. i.e. If an open trap is onstage Cirque would first put a railing around it to eliminate physical risk and then they would outfit acrobats who interact around and with the trap with harnesses and safety cables to make interactions safer.
  9. The 4 main points one should address when using scenic automation are
    1. Maintence
    2. Operator Training
    3. Documentation
    4. Risk Assessment

10. Cirque employees always make sure that before they fix or adjust automated equipment that everyone in the vicinity knows               that they are doing so. This is so no one attempts to operate the machine while they are adjusting it, which could cause a                 catastrophe.

(These 10 facts came from 2 sessions I went to, “Using Micro-controllers in Production” and “Automation 101”)

Seeing in the dark


Painting with UV paint is not like painting with scenic paints. You must think of it as painting with light instead of paint.

  • Notes
    • Paint used by Professionals is usually Rosco Clear Color Paints.
    • Paint can be watered down an still is quite effective.
    • The use of light sensitive paint is very helpful when one needs to separate areas such as night and day.
    • Textural differences between UV paint and scenic paint can give away the “surprise” UV paint creates.
      • Solution: Hide texture upon texture to create an illusion
  • When you apply UV paint you should do it with incandescent lights and fluorescent lights off, UV lights on. This is obvious when you are painting with clear paint.
  • The more paint you layer the more intense or “punch” it will have.
  • UV backdrops and scenery can be used in conjunction with normal light fixtures as long as the normal fixtures are not lighting the UV elements and washing out the UV light. Scenery must be accommodated for the light which is being thrown onstage.
  • Types of UV Paint
    • Wildfire invisible
    • Rosco Clear Color
      • Both are moderately intense when lit with UV light
  • Wildfire Visible
    • Very intense and appears to glow well
  • Rosco worked better for professionals when diluted
  • Other types of paint that are not specifically UV paint do work. According to the pro’s at the seminar the paint needs to have the right amount of Nanameters in order to glow.
  • It is possible to make your own UV paint but in the long run it is not cost effective.
  • Actors can wear UV makeup
  • Types of UV Light Fixtures
    • Wildfire Lights were considered as a good light source by the panel but one panel member claimed he was able to cover a large stage with one Altman fixture.
    • Light Effect Types
      • Completely invisible: Going from a blank canvas under normal light to a Huge mural under UV light on the same canvas
      • Dual Image: Normal paint with invisible fluorescent paint over the top. On a canvas under normal light you can have a picture of a sand colored dessert and under UV light the dessert transforms into a Mountainous blue mural deep in Antartica ß—- SWEET
      • Single Image: A single picture enhanced by UV light
      • 3D: Audience members wear 3D glasses, warm colors are enhanced and pop out and cool colors recede.

Looking over notes from the best Lighting Seminar Ever!

Things I Learned:
> You need more than Vectorworks and WYSIWYG, get out and look around! Find out how light behaves for yourself!
>>Types of Lighting Design< If you thing a show is going to be a flop ask for maximum cash up front and minimal royalties. If you think a show will be a hit ask for minimal cash up front and maximum royalties.
>One of the main focuses of this type of lighting is energy efficient lights. Incandescent lights use too much power and are not worth using in the long run. >Your biggest worry is that you will get sued. An example of this is that you do not have enough light on an area that you designed and someone trips on a staircase because you do not have the area lit with the amount of light your design said it would have.
>Challenging due to the vast number of close-up shots.
Soap Opera
Game Shows
-Theme/ Specialty Parks
>Making attractions stand out and even more ominous.
-Music/ Entertainment
Rock Shows
-Restaurants/ Areas of Commerce

Kansas C!ty MO Part Deux

Today we woke up at 7am and headed over to the KCCC (Kansas City Convention Center) and met up with the Upstate NY Regional Section Meeting. There was a wide variety of people and we went through a comical if not completely unnecessary process of handing a board member $5 and having them give it back to us. Lynne Koscielniak and students such as John Blitstein talked to the members and represented the students’ voice. This brought up talk about more employment opportunities in the future.
After some lunch at a local bakery I hopped on a snowboard and flew HIGH above the conference, I was literally 7ft in the air, it was insane! Later I went to ‘Lighting Designers Then And Now’ Seminar. I went alone but I gained valuable information about the politics and business of Lighting Design and also about all of the different types of design you can branch into. These include Theatrical, Architectural, Zoo/ Aquarium Exhibit, Television, Theme Parks, Music/ Rock, Malls, Restaurants, and Movie Lighting Design. This opened my eyes to the vast field I could immerse myself into in the future.
After not being allowed into the ‘Outdoor Scenery Seminar’ because the room was full to the brim so I decided to go to the ‘Queer Nation Seminar’ since it was right down the hall. Everyone was very open and there were nonstop conversations. To end the night we went to the ‘Old and New Products Showcase’ which was basically if you took a little of ‘Late Night with Johnny Carson’ and mixed it with a live auction. There was a lot of cheering and shouting and throwing of prizes. I even caught a jump rope which counts how many jumps you do per minute which has nothing to do with Design Technology or Tech Theatre. Can’t wait for tomorrow!


The first day at USITT was amazing. The day started off with cheering as we rushed off to grab free bags. I was very interested in a new type of color scroller, which uses magenta, cyan, and yellow gel to mix color. The reason I was interested was the gels had holes in them that ranged from quarter sized holes to pin pricks in order to let light through as the color mixed. They work so much better than scroll through 10 different solid color gels.
I continued to walk the floor and received many free trinkets from IATSE, Apollo, and everything else I could get my hands on. The salesmen operating the booths were both informative and friendly and helped make every conversation interesting. I especially enjoyed working with three girls that ranged from graduate students to seniors. Together we had an hour to design lights, scenic elements and costumes for the play Gluttony for ‘Emerge Prague’. Collaborating with the girls was easy and they were very nice and valued my input. We were proud of our finished product and Collin even said he would put up our picture of us posing in front of our display on the Emerge website!
The day ended with a seminar on Lighting control. The speakers showed a PowerPoint of lighting boards from the past to the present. It was fun to hear the rivalry between the CEO of ETC and the creator of Strand. It was really interesting to hear questions from the audience. One man asked if the companies have ever researched color printing since it involves mixing of color, which has been around long before it was incorporated into the theatre world. I cant wait for tomorrow!