(td)squared Goes Global

The (td)squared team loves getting on the road and going to the biggest conferences, seminars, and locations in theatre tech. Here, we report on what we find…

Third day of adventures at USITT!!

My third day at USITT started bleary eyed with a hot chocolate in one hand and a note pad and pen in the other ready to listen to the key note speech from Jenifer Tipton. Before coming to the states I hadn’t heard of her or her work, but since being at UB I have looked into her work and was consequently thrilled to find she was giving a key note at this conference. She started by giving us a break down of her career. It was interesting to know that she wasn’t trained as a lighting designer but was in fact a dancer and fell in love with lights. She then proceeded to give a lighting demonstration highlighting the important light positions within a rig. She went through the lights one at a time giving detailed explanations on the function and importance of each effect. After this she then gave a second demonstration using all the lights together in different ways, for example back light and high side light together which only exposes half of the body on stage. This was interesting and showed dynamic ways of using different systems together. At the end of the session we were left with these words of wisdom “Theatre is a focal point that brings us together before we are tipped over the edge again and chaos ensues once more”.
After this inspiring morning I explored the Stage expo floor once more in search of new interesting and technologies that will help scenographers pre visualise there designs before they get to tech in the theatre. On my adventures I came across a stall by PRG Scenic Technologies who where launching there new software, so new it didn’t even have a name yet, that allowed scenic designers to import there drawings and program automation or watch precise scene changes. This new board and software can be useful both as a permanent fixture and on tour. I am excited to watch the progression of this new tool and am happy to report that I can even do this from my own country as they have several offices throughout the UK.
My third day at USITT was very informative and gave me more information about the industry in which I am hoping to infiltrate in the not too distant future.

Jennifer Tipton is Me… In Fifty Years… I Hope

I would like to start off by thanking Chris Van Patten for saying that my design work reminds him of Jennifer Tipton, who was the keynote speaker this morning. She began her college career at Cornell as a dance major. I myself started as a dance major and am now also a design major. Her entire story of her journey was an inspiration for me. Someday I hope to be as successful and in demand as her. So thank you CVP for pointing out how much I was going to love her.

Today, after hearing Jennifer Tipton speak, I spent a few hours on the Stage Expo floor. On the floor there are many different types of lighting instrument companies. I had an in length conversation with a woman who is an architectural lighting designer, who works for ETC, about my CURCA grant. We discussed in depth the different ways to use LED lights to create architectural lighting onstage and conserve energy. She was very helpful in pointing me in the direction for finding different LED white light fixtures that are coming to the market soon. She told me that there are many companies that will be very helpful in suggesting fixtures that can create the same feel as an architectural lighting but within the drama theatre space.

I cannot wait to continue creating this plot. Research and sessions have given me many ideas and concepts in which to apply media, architectural, and theatrical lighting to create a cohesive dance plot for UB. While the plot will contain all of these things I am hoping to channel the creativity and genius of Jennifer Tipton.

See Ya Later Alligator!

Fabric Design (Organic Design Pt 3)

Day 3 in Kansas City!
Woke up for Jennifer Tipton’s Keynote! She was great. She really made me more conscious about how the angles of light effect the type of space the performer seems to be in, specifically with front/back lighting narrowing the space to resemble indoors and side lighting widening the space to resemble outdoors.
However the big findings of the day go towards my two sessions: “Fabric and Theatre Throughout the Ages”, as well as “The Future of Ballet Costumes”. While neither directly spoke about how fabrics can be utilized to create organic design spaces, they helped me understand the general usage of specific fabrics in theatre today. By understanding how the fabrics are used today I will be able to alter their current use for my future projects.
“Fabric and Theatre Throughout the Ages” was presented by Rose Brand. I was able to find how linen, while expensive, is extremely durable and also drapes very nicely. Silk is also very durable, to the point where it dissipates any force inflicted upon it. Canvas was first made of hemp, then cotton, and used for painting. Muslin is a lighter version of cotton canvas. Velvet was made in Italy, and is similar to canvas except it has a third nap thread – and Velour is England’s version of velvet. The shark-tooth scrims came about when the looms made to create lace fell to the way-side and were being used to make mosquito screens. This specific loom is called the Jaquard loom. A really fancy fabric that they showed us was the video fabric. This fabric is not being used as a screen for a video to be projected upon, but an actual video feed is being sent through the fabric causing it to illuminate. They also showed us a plasticized polymer fabric that is being used to cover cars – and can only imagine it being used in the theatre. Rose Brand also showed us how digital printing was being utilized in today’s market. They have printers that can not only print on fabric but also on fabric that is more than 40 feet long. This is specifically used for drops by many theatre companies. They explained how this technique does not replace scenic artists, it does on interpret the designers vision to better suit the production, but simply replicates exactly what the designer gives them. They say that a common use of the printers is to just sketch out the drop, and have the scenics come fill in the colors.
“The Future of Ballet Costumes” really focused on the history of the ballet costumes, and how choreographers and designers are adapting and shifting the old designs into new innovative forms. I learned the difference between a romantic and classic tutu; the difference being in length, and overall silhouette. The romantic tutu is composed of at least three layers of diamond net fabric that reaches down towards the knee. Classic tutus have nearly 10 layers that reach horizontally out from the dancers hips about 15”. Much of the construction lies in the pleating of the layers and how the layers interact with each other. In the romantic tutu they simply drape over each other, while in the classic tutu each layer is sewed to the lower one so that they don’t separate. Modern adaptations of these tutus come in forms of different pleating and layering styles.
I hope to combine these two styles. I would like to integrate the layering of the tutus into drapery as well as soft-good scenery. Most of this research will have to happen in experimental form – so perhaps I will be able to write another CURCA in order to fund this. 

Second day of Adventures at USITT!!

I woke up today ready for my second day at USITT!! My first session was at 1.30 about AutoCAD and Vectorworks. This was a discussion about the differences between two software’s. The major point was that the two don’t always match up. Although this wasn’t what I expected it was an interesting discussion on the differences between the two applications. I didn’t really learn anything of importance in this session as it was purely a question and answer session that dealt with personal problems within the software. However it was interesting to hear what problems people had and how to deal with them.
My second session was about scenic design outdoors and was hosted by the designers of the Muny Theatre group in St. Louis. This session was very interesting and I took away from it lots of information about the practicalities of outdoor theatre. The scenic designer has to take into account the natural surroundings and lighting effects in order to produce a design that works both under electrical lighting and natural lighting. Vivid bright colours are important for this. They talked extensively about the practicalities of scene painting and I noted that it is important to blend you painting style with the other scene painters who are on the job. Layering colours is an important suggestion as this creates depth and richer surfaces. When working outside the weather is an important factor both to the performance and build time. Over all this session taught me that the total experience is important and when working outside it is important to keep in mind the natural surroundings at all times.
Overall a good second day at USITT, bring on the third day!!

More than lighting the stage

The second day in the sessions, I went to the “It’s Not Just Lighting the Stage Anymore — Cross-over and Lighting Designers Then and Now” which is about different types of lighting career other than theatre such as architecture, theme park and concert lighting.

It is very interesting to know about these different types of lighting design especially even they apply in a diverse industry and location they require the basic understanding of story telling and evoking the mood. The speakers showed images of their design and talked about how they become who they are now. Also the knowledge that needed to be an architecture lighting designer. They have to be very careful about all the rules, safety, energy code and energy budget if not they might get into trouble because of the existing laws. For example, there is rule about the maximan Watt per squad foot is allow in the building that pushes designer to think about different light sources and energy saving light source. What is more, foot candle or lights is required at staircases. In the world of theme park, it is about “selling the invisible” to change the theme park area into a certain place in the world.

These site specific projects for hotels, restaurants, bars, building, outdoor art works and theme parks take a long period to design and move things forward because there are layers of people in these industries and there are politics and personality that more than just designing.Usually, an architecture project take at least 2 to 3 years and theme park took much longer time than that like 4 to 5 years.

However, all the speakers agree that no matter in which fields of lighting design it is very important to work with the group and the basic of design of light is all the same.

New Directions in Stage Management

Today started off with a USITT Upstate New York meeting that discussed the possibilities of a job fair for the area and how it can be marketed to students. I then went up to the Stage Expo where I visited a few exhibits and learned about products from different rigging, lighting, sound, and wireless dimmers. However the day truly started for me with my first seminar about student mentoring. In this session, there was a mentoring session in which students were able to ask professionals in the field any questions that students had about getting jobs.  Their biggest advice was to be able to volunteer for a theatrical company to get foot in the door, and then the theatrical company will be willing to give you jobs because they will know you better than other designers.

In my second seminar today the major topic was the definition of a leader versus a manager, and how to inspire those working within a team atmosphere to do creative and inspiring work.  I found the third seminar of today to be the most beneficial simply because it was a session about how to deal with new technologies in theater design as a stage manager.  One of the presenters discussed how she works with a manufacturing company to create new technology in benefit to stage managers.  In the seminar, she showed a smaller version of the stage manager’s integrated prompt desk; the most impressive feature of the mini console that she showed today was the cue lights on this prompt desk.  I also found that stage managers may not understand new technologies with the design aspect, but that they should hold confidence in their abilities in stage management, and those skills should trump the fear that stage managers might feel with consideration to technology.  One of the best statements I heard at this seminar was that with more technology, there is more time necessary to learn the technology.

USITT: A Place to Become Diverse

Today I witnessed a Dinosaur in combat boots. Possibly the best way to end my day. EVER.

In the morning I spent some time on the Stage Expo Floor speaking with a make-up artist who was working at the Mehron make-up stand. I was hoping to get my face painted, but she had to leave early and continue on to another gig. She had many tips on how to study and get better at the art of make-up application and design.

Later I attended a session called “It’s Just Not Lighting the Stage Anymore – Cross-over and Lighting Designers Then and Now.” A panel made up of esteemed lighting designers from concert, theatrical, architectural, and film lighting discussed their experiences within the industry and how they became focused in their general areas. while many of them are focused on only one area, all of them have done cross-over work. They discussed how while all the areas are completely different, if you let your creativity lead you, you can still be successful in all areas even if you may not think that it is in your repertoire. Over all this session encompassed established lighting designers discussing their road to success with the young designers attending the conference.

Finally I spent some time at the Emerge project on the Stage Expo Floor. This project is being partially headed by Collin Ranney, a former UB undergrad. The session involved an hour of bash design, esceptionally like VI. Cathy Norgren would have been so proud. In teams we read a quote and had to create a bash design and/or concept for the quote. My partner had never been witness to a Cathy Norgren VI class so we had a good discussion about different images and concepts of that we thought the quote was referring to.

Day two was busy, long, and very exciting. So far USITT has been an amazing experience and I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings because I am very excited to hear Jennifer Tipton speak.

Peace Out Cub Scouts!

Flamex info and some other sessions (Organic Design Pt 2)

Today was a very busy one here at USITT.
Started out by going to the Upstate New York meeting, it wasn’t super productive but we were able to decide on general dates for our fall and spring meetings.
Then went to the Prague Emerge Student exhibit for some quick design bash! I really enjoyed it a lot! We had to relate to this text on Greed – I worked on the set design in my group. I was surprised how far I was able to get in the design process in just one hour! Granted I made the model using various scraps of paper, plastic, and pins, but I thought it was really effective! I think I’ll be using small bash models for the rest of my design processes.
After that I went through the professional design exhibit. I really enjoyed looking at their renderings and all the different styles of model building. It gave me inspiration for techniques to use in my own future designs.
First session of the day was W.T.Benda mask making. They went through all his history, as an illustrator and mask maker. After viewing them on the exhibit floor I was startled to learn that the masks were made almost entirely out of paper.
I found out some really great things about flame retardant chemicals as well. Rosco’s flamex are made almost entirely out of salt water – and while there may be a slight odor while you are using the flamex it is actually fine even if you are using it in a non-ventilated space. It is recommended that you use a Hudson sprayer to apply the flamex, so that it is more of a rain effect than a spray of vapor that would form more of a cloud. By creating this rain effect you will also decrease the chances of you inhaling any of the flamex – although it’s not toxic it is still better not to inhale vapors when possible 
I also talked to Rosebrand about fabric, I think I’ll have to wait for my sessions tomorrow about fabric to get a better grasp but Rosebrand is definitely the place to go for drapery and spandex 3D forms.
The next session I went to today was about scenic painting outdoors. Specifically at the Muny in St. Louis. After that I went to the Cirque Du Solei session on costume wardrobe.
Overall a very busy day!

Journeys of a Young Lad

Today was a very busy, and tiring day.

It started with our regional USITT meeting. It was quite frustrating and unproductive. Had Lynne not been there, nothing would have gotten done. I believe that it needs some restructuring.

After that meeting (at which we were promised breakfast – but received none) I went and got breakfast.

Then I had down time for several hours, during which I had an awful run in with the bank.

After finishing up on the phone with the bank I hopped on over to my first session of the day, The “False Faces” of W.T. Benda. He was a mask maker and illustrator in the early part of the 20th century. In his time he was very famous, but he never published many well known books, and so his fame didn’t last far beyond his life.

He coined the “Benda Girl” (one of the many “Girls” gracing the cover of Time Magazine – this was during the “pretty girl” era.) These were exotic illustrations of pretty girls. These illustrations translated into many of his masks.

His masks were beautiful, grotesque, and every other word you could imagine. They were all beautifully crafted, weeks of work into each of them, and then the insides of each of the masks were decorated as well.

After this I had my interview for the Shakespeare Theater in New Jersey for this summer. I’m pretty sure I nailed the interview. I felt really good about it. The beginning was a little awkward for me, as it was my first interview ever for a theater position outside of academia,

After that I went to another mask creation technique seminar. There are so many different methods including latex, latex like products, leather techniques, (as mentioned above) paper techniques, mache techniques, and as many ways as you can imagine it, you can do it.

After that I went to a Cirque Du Soleil makeup and costume session where they convinced me to sign an application for an internship for the summer.

After that we went to a new technology forum, but it ended up just being a lot of screaming for t-shirts and so we left early.

And now I’m blogging.

So long kids.

Day two: 14 hours from beginning to end.

Today was a very long and filled day at the USITT Conference, beginning at 8am with the Upstate New York Regional Section Meeting. The meeting was short and mostly dealt with new members signing up for the section and making plans for next year’s section meetings. After this meeting there was a break until 11am when the stage expo opened for the day, so we took the opportunity to get breakfast and some of us grabbed a couple more hours of sleep.
The stage floor this morning was spent seeing many of the booths I haven’t seen yet, with the exception of Vari-Lite because I am planning on spending at least an hour there tomorrow and I didn’t have that much dedicated time today. The first session of the day was “AutoCAD and Vectorworks: Working Together” this session was in many way valuable, however in the end it was less than I expected. I learned many great tips and tricks of how to integrate the two programs and will utilize these tricks in my future drafting. However, I was expecting to learn new ways in which the programs cooperate with one another and function as one; this was not the case because of the fierce competition between the programs I had never realized before.
The next session I went to later in the day was “Basic Electricity 201”, this session was very nicely laid out, but after about ten minutes I realized that everything they were teaching I already knew very well. I decided to leave and go across the hall to a session called “Evolution of the Production Electrician” here I heard from a panel of people from various positions in the lighting and electrician world. The gave a lot of great advice on how to be an effective electrician and where they believe the field will be in the future. They spoke a lot about how with LED’s, intelligent lighting, show control, and increasingly complex lighting boards have changed the position of electrician from a true electrician, to more of an electrician, computer scientist, and administrator hybrid.
The last event of the day was the “New and Old Products Showcase”, this was a fun take on the traditional new products showcase which give vendors an opportunity to display their new technologies. This year being the 50th anniversary however added the twist of vendors presenting their new technologies through a history lesson of how they got to where they are today. There enough free SWAG, new products, and excited technicians to make any conference goer ready for a good nights sleep.