(td)squared Blog

Learn about what we’re doing, learning, and discovering as technical theatre students at the University at Buffalo.

United States Institute of Technical Theatre Upstate New York Regional Conference, May 2 @ UB – A retrospective

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,


USITT Regional Section Meeting

On May 2nd I attended my first ever USITT event, right at UB. What an experience it was! We started off the day drinking delicious SPoT Coffee and mingling with our friends and guests, and then traveled around the Center for the Arts for a day filled with workshops. I attended “On the Call,” “LEDs: Lighting Demonstration,” “Lighting Design for Dance,” “Sound Design: A Panel Discussion,” and “Fine Tuning Your Lighting Color Palette.” While each lecture that I attended was extremely well presented and informative, there were two that really stood out to me.

In “Lighting Design For Dance,” we were able to hear about the process and techniques of designing for a dance piece. Lynne Koscielniak, a professor and mentor for our department and an extremely talented lighting designer, gave an intruiging presentation which was heightened by the observation of a Configuration Dance rehearsal. Designing for dance is quite different than designing for a theatre piece, and Lynne’s knowledge of color, research, and designer/choreographer communication is so deep that this workshop made me very eager to design.

The other winning lecture for me was the Sounf Design discussion. As a Sound Designer and music student, the discussion that took place had me sitting on the edge of my seat. Rick and Katie Menke spoke about composition in Sound Design and the process of working with composers, and also about the true artistry in Sound Design. This along with other panel members’ insight into engineering gave me great ideas for the future, and I didn’t want the discussion to end!

These wonderful presentations were not the only thing that made it such a memorable day, however. There was the delicious food, there was the meeting about our trip to the 2011 Exhibition in Prague, and most importantly there was the atmosphere created by the people who attended. To be able to spend a day with friends learning about and discussing what we love most is a priceless experience, and I thank the UB staff, the Planning committee, the presenters, and all who attended for making it a success!

-Sara Elizabeth

The gift of Green

Hello Folks,

I was reading Live Design online recently and I came across the following article on Green Theatre. Josh Allen, the wordwright for this article (which may be found here: http://livedesignonline.com/theatre/0421-green-theatre/ ), is a consultant and Lighting Designer with Theatre Consultants Collaborative, LLC.

As a proponent of Green practices for my own life, and in all my work places both in and out of the Theatre, I think he makes some very good points about accountability and sustainability. The crux of the matter is that Allen does not simply accuse others of becoming lax, but pins the tail on the donkey of extravagance by calling other “consultants, architects, engineers, installers, theatre and touring professionals alike” to take a stand for sustainability. And as we all enjoy, he offers a few ideas to get us started on solutions. I like this, because no one likes to be chsatened, and not told what they can do to fix whatever it was for which they were chastened.

You will undoubtedly read this in the italics below his article, if you have not already done so when you came to its link earlier, but “Allen is developing a blog and forum for such discussions at www.eco-theatre.org.” So please: check out the article, visit the blog regularly (it’s still in development, but “will be coming soon” so the site advertises) and let me know what you think in the mean time.

I agree with him, that we all have this opportunity to develop a responsibility that we already have. And I don’t know about you, but I’m excited!

(It occurs to me that I should program a keyboard shortcut to type “(td)^2” without actually typing it because that would be fun. Kudos to anyone who can tell me how to do that. I use a MacBook Pro by the way.)

Cheers All!

My experience at USITT

On May 2nd the Unviversity at Buffalo was fortunate to hold a regional USITT. I took part of the event as both a participant and a director, helping the visitors to UB find their way around our Theatre Department. There was a whole plethora of sessions one could go to and expand their theatrical knowledge.

I chose to go to “Costume Design for Dance”, “Lighting Design for Dance”, “Photoshop Tutorial” and “Fine Tuning your Lighting Color Palette”.

By going to “Costume Design for Dance” I was not only able to pick up some great tips for design but also get a great tour of the facilities UB has to offer in the costuming world. After a discussion about how dance costumes have to fit your concept and the dancers comfort, whether it be in their ability to perform the coreography or just their comfort level with exposing certain parts of their body on stage, you must be able to meld your budget and idea with both comfort levels.

In “Lighting Design for Dance” we were able to get some tips on how lighting works in a setting where stage dynamics are constantly changing, learning to limit yourself to the number of cues you put in, only put as many as you feel can be implemented and executed in the short time you have to make them. Try to break the dance into major stages, and moments. When writing cues give them an action to look for rather than a time, this makes it more precise.

In the “Photoshop Tutorial” we learned how to colorize photos and alter color levels to best fit the style we’re looking for. We also learned how to use filters. This can be used in set design for paint elevations as well as in costume design for your renderings.

“Fine Tuning your Lighting Color Palette” a big part of this lecture was directed towards the attention one should pay towards skin tone, and how it will look under the lights. You should not only look at skin tones but also look at what colors the set and costume designers plan on using, because certain lighting gels, while enhancing skin tone will really wash out other colors used in set and costumes. So keep these other things in mind when making a “mood” or enhancing your concept with color, because a sickly actor and washed out set is nothing to be proud of, even if the lighting is incredible.

My May 2nd experience – USITT Upstate event

Back at the beginning of the month, we were incredibly lucky at the University at Buffalo to be able to host the USITT Upstate NY Regional Section’s annual Spring Meeting. The meeting was a one day event, and featured sessions, product demos, and of course, free food.

As part of the extended planning group, I was involved in the set up on Friday night and Saturday morning. We used most of our facilities, and as a result were kept quite busy moving between rooms and coordinating work. As the resident graphic designer on the team, I was charged with creating navigational signs for the day, to help people find their way from session to session. I had to map out the Center for the Arts on paper to figure out exactly what signs I needed and where to put them. Ultimately I think I was successful – I only heard one or two reports of people needing help finding their way, so I’ll consider that mission accomplished!

The actual event itself was great. I spent the day bouncing between rooms and sessions, trying to learn what I could and absorb as much as possible. Sessions that stood out were…

  1. Lighting design for dance – Coming from narrative theatre, I’m always interested to learn more about how to design for non-narrative work (although dance can have narrative, and one of Configuration’s pieces was quite narrative-based). Lynne (my professor and the speaker) was able to break down the process of designing lights for dance and really answer a lot of great questions. Being able to see that performance later that night was great too, I was able to recognize a lot of what Lynne had spoken about earlier during the day.
  2. Sound design panel – I’m not a sound designer, but I now know that if I were, I would have Rick Menke’s philosophy!  I loved how he talked about sound design as truly design, and not just the process of amplifying actors and sound effects. The examples he provided from his time at Studio Arena were great too, and the other panelists provided great insight as well (a particularly interesting story was how the evening air can cause sound to change at Shakespeare in Delaware Park).
  3. Color – KC Hooper gave a great lecture on the power that gels can have to influence your design, and how a gel might affect a piece of scenery, or costuming, or other design elements. Color theory is not easy to grasp, but his use of examples in the Design Studio made it far more accessible and understandable.

It was a great day, and it couldn’t have happened without the work of everyone in the tech/design program, the CFA staff, and USITT Upstate NY Region. Thanks of course to SPoT Coffee for their sponsorship of the morning coffee, and Apollo Design for their sponsorship of lunch (with the department and USITT as well).

I’m looking forward to the next USITT Upstate event, and excited to put what I learned into action!

Regional Schedule…A Work In Progress…

USITT Upstate NY Regional Section SPRING Meeting
Saturday, May 2nd, 2009 | University at Buffalo
Schedule as of:
(subject to change.)
STUDENT SHOWCASE: Student design & tech work on display.
More information to come. Students keep your eyes open for how to submit…
WELCOME: Registration & Coffee
Registration, coffee provided. Coat racks located outside registration.
Session 1A
On The Call: Tricks & tips for keeping yourself and the equipment you are using safe.
9:00am – 10:00am
This will be a hands on class about moving the “heavy stuff.” All statures of participants
are welcome.
Session 1B
The Personal Touch: Tricks and tips for dying and painting fabrics.
9:00am – 11:00am
Join UB faculty who regularly costume for dance, and learn what some of their methods
are for treating fabrics to give costumes a more personalized touch.
Session 2
LED’s: Lighting Demonstration
10:00am – 11:00am
Join LED lighting reps from various companies while they demonstrate what they have to
Session 3A
Process, Inspiration, Exectution: Lighting Design for Dance
Lighting designers Lynne Koscielniak, Dyan O’Connell, and Carlie Todoro-Rickus
introduce their process for creating the designs for Configuration Dance Theatre. All three,
experienced in lighting for dance, will walk you through their process from inspiration to
execution (light plots, magic sheets, focus, cuing, etc.). You will be able to see the actual
light plot in action as they describe their techniques. Those attending the USITT meeting
will be able to attend the Configuration Dance Theatre presentation in the evening at a
reduced cost. A post show discussion will be held afterwards. Anyone interested in the
design, production, or management of dance is encouraged to attend.
Session 3B
Little pay and less sleep: How to get the most out of that summer internship.
More information to come.
Session 4
Upstate NY Regional Section Meeting: with Trish Ralph
Session 6A
Sound Design: A Panel Discussion
A panel of distinguished designers from around the city of Buffalo talks about what makes
good sound design. This will include the tips on what to do and what’s just taboo.
Session 6B
Scenic Charge: Tips and techniques from a real world scenic charge.    More information to come.
Session 7A
Pyrotechnics: An Introduction & more.
More information to come.
Session 7B
PQ: What is it and how to get students involved…
More information to come.
Session 8A
Carpentry: TBA
More information to come.
Session 8B
Stage Management: Tricks of the trade with Melinda Lamoreux
More information to come.
Session 9
The “Square-off:” Vectorworks or Hand Drafting?
This session will put the two head to head in a square-off! Which is faster to draft with, a
computer or a t-square? Participants should be advised to bring their own drafting supplies
(both digital and traditional).
PERFORMANCE: Configuration Dance Company.
More information to come.

We will have more information on this as we hear back from the presenters and continue finalizing things.  Please email afenster@buffalo.edu and keg5@buffalo.edu if you are interested in helping out with this conference.  otherwise just come as a guest and have a great time!!

the USITTUNY Meeting Planning Team!!

Welcome to our Regional Meeting blog!

Welcome all to the blog of the Spring 2009 USITT Upstate Regional Section Meeting, to be hosted at the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts.

You’ll find details on programming, opportunities for feedback, and the latest news here. Subscribe and stay tuned so you know exactly what’s going on!

the planning team