Monday, December 8, 2008
However today while I was in the shop floor checking on one of the TV jobs, a site caught my eye - and it made me once again think that sometimes the most simple things are novel.
We have a large amount of space in the shop, and quite a few columns, but not alot of wall space to stack things against. What I saw was a stack of 9 flats on their side with a bar clamp across the top. At first I wasn't sure why the clamp was there - then it hit me that it was to prevent the end flats from tipping over. Its pretty much common sense - but at the same time, something I had not thought of doing.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Thus nifty item can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/57ofx8.
Dick Blick art supplies also has one that seems a little beefier - and is cheaper:
Since I would prefer to get mine sooner - I will probably see what my local craft or hobby store has.
And since we are talking about special little pieces - if you ever get a hankering to make a game that needs token - Cherry Tree Toys (http://tinyurl.com/5ryjcr) has a great deal on game pawns. They also have other tools and wood working equipment, and a nice variety of plans (especially wooden toy plans). And, just to keep it on topic, they have a variety of doll house / model building supplies that would be useful for set designers.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
(It also asked 10 questions to a variety of other people as well)
Gordon has a blog of his own at:
I think the blog entry is interesting for several reasons. First, I think we often need to ask those questions of ourselves. What is going on - what is current, what is important. You can easily get sucked down the path of day to day living that it can be hard to see the forest because of the trees. Secondly, because theatre law is an area that is very gray.
You should also check out Andrew Larimer's answers relating to how Hurricane Katrina affected theatre in New Orleans.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
They have a tutorial pdf:
that has a good intro on transitioning from paper to CAD. Obvious for current users of cad, but I thought that the language used would also be good for the intro to a CAD course.
I am excited to be back in the land of having a full version of AutoCad again - I went from 2008 full to 2007 lite when I came to my current job and it amazed me how much I relied on the 3-d capacity of the full version of AutoCAD. I see more and more drawings that are fully drawn in 3-D come into our shop, and about 90% of what we draft is probably done in 3-d (other than CNC files). 3-D drafting is quickly becoming a must needed skill. While theatres are still catching up to this, I think it will become more and more important as scene shops and related industries step up their drafting and 3-d slowly becomes and industry standard.
Friday, November 7, 2008
The blog lists a variety of Internet sites that have tutorials. I have mentioned many here including How Stuff Works and Instructables. The blog adds to that list, including some sites that are useful for computer and software help.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Theatrically speaking, the 100 days would need to accommodate a reasonable span of time since we often deal in short contracts. A 100 day span in a three month summer stock doesn’t have the same impact. Also, much like in a political framework, the plan is different for returning, than joining the company for the first time.
I think one of the basic things that is interesting regarding the plan is that it signifies what kind of a person you are. Do you come into an organization with an agenda of your own and plow through changes, or do you seek to understand the organization and make small adjustments. If you have a standard operating procedure, and the theatre operates differently, it may be hard to make the two mesh. However, if you change to match every theatre’s environment, how much time is lost in the beginning figuring out the ins and outs. You don’t want to position yourself as an underdog because you are feeling things out and deferring too much. Of course there is a basic question that is unspoken here, and that is whether or not the organization is looking for change. The position that you have will affect the amount of change that is seen. I think it is fairly hard for absolutely no change to occur, unless you have a minor position. The higher up the position the more the individual and theatre must adapt to each other. But some place look to change. I have noticed that there is a trend in theatres that when someone who has been with the theater a very long time leaves, the person filling the position has very large shoes to follow, particularly if they didn’t want that person to leave. On the other hand, if the theater just got rid of someone they didn’t care for, those shoes are easy to fill, and it can be easy to push through your process and look good.
At any rate, I think there are a variety of things to consider when you first start a new job.
The conditions you were hired in – immediate need, or did they wait for the right fit. Are they looking for change? What are current processes? What works and doesn’t work? Who do you have for support, and what is the opposition? Are you in a situation where you can continue the same processes, or are you forced to create your own. Jobs, especially in theater, are full of tasks that just magically get done. Someone has taken over the task, and others may not even realize the necessity to pass the knowledge on since everyone already knows it – except the new person of course.
And here’s a thought for you – when you start a job, all of the info that you gather – will be the same information you need when you pass the torch on. These first few months can let you know the things that should really be in the employee handbook! You won’t have that same perspective ever again – so don’t forget to take a few notes.
Links to a brief article that asks some interesting questions for those first 100 days.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
If you don't read their magazine already I encourage you to do so!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
The first link come from the UK. Of interest to me in the first link are turnbuckles that have a swivel in the end (look at page 17). One their site they also say that the breaking strength of the forks are determined by the clevis pin and the threads. Obvious, but I'm not sure that I have seen it stated so succinctly. In the second link they have a round eye with a plate and a threaded stud which looks like it would be a good rigging connection. They also have them with a nut if you need to bolt from the other direction.
The next link is a rigging book from the US Coast Guard:
The end certainly has stuff that isn't very useful, but some of the beginning sections are full of useful references.
http://loosco.com/index.htm Includes a glossary, length tolerances and stretch and other resources.
Sapsis Rigging, need I say more!
Idaho Rigging Standards
You can get a clew.
Crosby. The training section is a must visit site.
http://www.decorcable.com/Index.aspx Decorative cables
Monday, November 3, 2008
I thought it was interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it is regarding a book for actors that was found to be very helpful for someone entirely outside the industry. And secondly, it could be helpful for Technical Directors too. What if we said yes to a new material or technique. What if we said yes to a design component? I know that we have limited budgets and limited time, especially in today's economy. But saying no won't get us better options in the future - only by saying yes and taking some calculated risks can we continue to grow and develop.
I challenge you to say YES today!
Friday, October 31, 2008
The link has two things going for it – information regarding several different types of underlayment and sound characteristics. While we frequently don’t build stage floors the same way that we build homes, we do run into some of the same problems (sound), and with the prices on some of the flooring alternatives out there, using the real thing for the floor is a very real option.
Design news has a variety of articles that are fun for Halloween, and even potentially useful!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
-It was almost like a mini version of half the business classes I took in grad school. It was a good reminder of many of the things I have learned.
-While it was not a called out reference, it utilized a four frames framework similar to Bolman and Deal. These frames; Structural, Human Resource, Political and cultural, are different ways to look at a challenge or situation and will help determine the best approach. This book essentially moves through 4 different areas that you have to navigate through to maintain momentum.
-This book speaks of managerial competence and political competence. A politically competent leader may be able to gather many supporters, but unless they are managerially competent, they won’t be able to implement their plan. A successful leader needs to be both.
-To sustain momentum you must: Maintain (resources and capacity), Monitor (evaluate or develop) and make adjustments, Motivate (direct or facilitate), and Mobilize.
-What you want to accomplish must take all the variables into account. A situation where there are no resources may actually spur great amounts of creativity, and may spur ideas that are very cost effective. Yet a different situation arises when they have ample resources. Either can produce good ideas, and either carries risk. The ideas here are very applicable to theatres. Many theatre operate with very scarce resources, spurring innovation and great technical solutions with low cost (especially low materials cost, since labor in these situations can be a dramatic variable in cost of it is hourly and not salary. Yet on the other hand, in a commercial scene shop, resources are adequate, materials are available, and labor is available. Innovative technical solutions arise out of this situation as well, but aren’t as cost effective.
-Autonomy versus consistent processes. Turbulent times require more autonomy, but the more standardized the process is the faster and easier the task can be. Theatre, by nature, requires a certain about of autonomy. Technicians need to be skilled enough to analyze a situation – paired of course to their skill level, and make a decision on what is required and follow through. A job lead on the job or a TD needs to have good problem solving skills and be able to have the authority to do what needs to be done. Yet, a series of consistent processes will help that individual make a good decision. The more the solution is of the “text-book” variety, the easier and faster it will be to implement. Where I work now has a series of “shop standards”. They don’t apply to every situation, and shouldn’t – but it is a standard of how we typically build a standard flat, platform, and so forth. Why reinvent the wheel on everything – save the innovation for situations that require it.
-Quality versus productivity… and then there is value. Here are three different ways of evaluating. Is it quality that is require or quantity? What is quality? Quantity is easy – I need 30 flats in two weeks. Easy to define, easy to measure, easy to check off when complete. But how do you determine quality? It is very subjective, what is great to one person isn’t good at all to another. Then there is value. Value might be a decent product for little money, or a higher price, but full service. Something low quality to one person might still be valuable to someone else. Value is not always based on economy.
-Criteria for evaluation and expectations is very important to sustaining momentum. Without criteria spelled out there is no way to effectively evaluate progress or process.
-While you need to be able to jump in and make a correction, over correcting can stop momentum, it can lead to an expectation that another change will be coming soon and lead to poor work.
-“A culture of motivation addresses three critical sociopsychological needs: the need to learn and problem solve; the need for affiliation; and the need for reaffirmation.” P 150.
-Another subject the book touches on is single loop versus double loop learning, though not in that terminology. The author refers to it as reflexive versus reflective thinking. A reflexive thinker is more reaction based, and will tend to make small refinements in the process. A reflective person may redo the system and really look at the project globally and rethink what it is all about. There is a place for both. Once a system is in place, minor adjustments should be made. However at a certain point minor adjustments and refinements don’t do the job and a reorientation is needed. They key to know when to use each method.
-Politically you should look out for support, dissent, opposition, resistance. This is a scale to judge where people stand against your idea or project. Once you determine where they stand, you can determine an action plans to work with those members of your team or business.
All in all, I thought it was easy to read, and very informative. It contains lots of information. I think it is a useful read for a TD because within a production everyone is theoretically on your side, and what we really have to worry about is getting the show moved through the shop. Momentum is important. Many books seem to talk about getting started, but I liked that this one focused on keeping the ball rolling.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
They address the question of what is Scenography and why it seems to be a title / function in most places except for America.
The question is an interesting to me for a variety of reasons, including history and the function of theatre structures and so forth. Since scenography is the historical standard it is interesting that America didn’t continue this tradition. I also, unfortunately, don’t know if it did come to America and then we evolved out of that tradition. One of the reasons that is offered is the difference in funding between the countries, which of course could be probable, but I’m not sure that it is the “right” answer. Intuitively, I would say that America was found on individuality and in a sense that affects our jobs also. Even our unions have evolved individually. These issues have been involved in most of the research I have done for the many theatre history courses I took when I got my MFA. Who was the first TD? When was the TD first recognized as a TD. What did the TD evolve out of? When did design and fabrication separate? How do technical theatre traditions and practices vary currently and historically between cultures or countries? Why is the American system so much different on the surface than some of the European examples? It is harder to unify a vision when you use 4 different designers than when there is one sceneographer. In that vain, did some of the split occur with the growth of a director? At any rate, the site is worth a look.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Given my like of historical building techniques I particularly like the blogs about the roman tools. Also there are tons of photos that illustrate the steps he took when he was building something - like the feather boards that he details.
I hope you check it out!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
The above link will take you to a brief blog entry about lessons learned. It makes a distinction between lessoned learned due to failure versus ones learned when something goes right. Unfortunately I think that we don’t spend enough time thinking about what went right, and analyzing why it worked. Instead we focus on the wrongs. Things don’t go right by accident, and it may not be the obvious reasons that the task went well – I planned it out – it went well – if you look and think, there are many factors that govern each process, and paying heed to both successes and failures, and passing that on to others will make the most of each lesson learned.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The above link will take you to a variety of catalogs from C R Laurence. This company does windows - doors, shower doors, and other glass related products including hardware. Not necessarily our normal realm, but there are some nice parts that could be useful - like flange covers that will hide the bolts on a flange in their railings catalog.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Next we set up out pole and drape poles, and draped heavy plastic over to help contain the dust. We rented a sandblaster, and an air compressor that would run it and bought a ton of sand. Literally. (And bought more the next day). I am sure there is a formula to calculate how much sand to buy somewhere, someplace, but after this experience I would say that you can't buy enough sand! Even with over a ton we still recycled the sand through multiple times. The issue becomes, even in a cleaned environment, that the sawdust you remove with the blasting gets recycled into the dust. We used "Black Beauty" an iron slag to do the blasting. This produced a rougher texture than the sample our vendor provided, but was adequate to do the job we needed it to do.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Check out Moulding & Millwork at:
While their cost is higher than most home paint products (we typically use alot of Benjamen Moore, and Modern Masters), it isn't completely out of line of theatrical paint. And the binder in the nova paints makes it a higher quality. The colors can be translucent, transparent or opaque, and come in a wide range, work with tints, and include metallic, pearlescent, fluorescent, varnishes, gels and textures.
Their website also includes PDF's about painting murals, and fiberglass.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
They offer video options for learning about PLC’s, Operator Interfaces, Software, Sensors, Motor Controls, Drive / Motors, and More. The “More” category mostly talks about Automation Direct as a company. They offer a significant amount of content, that is definitely worth checking out!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
You can take a look at the article at:
Monday, October 6, 2008
System Mania combines contraption orientated games with the service genre (Dinner Dash inspired) games. While the ideas (pull a cord, rotate hourglass times, push buttons) is contraption like, it is more of a speed game than a problem solving game
Armadillo Run is a great game, and very addicting. If you buy the game there are 50 levels, and you can create your own levels. Its very fun, and a great way to make you think.
Friday, October 3, 2008
I purchased my copy off the shelf at a local retailer, but a review can be seen at:
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Speaking of Rube Goldberg, over the weekend I watched the "Goonies" and realized for the first time that they have several great examples of Goldberg like contraptions, even including the use of line animals!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
http://casualgameplay.com/cgdc1/?puzzleID=15, is the first of the games that I will be posting links too.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The above link talks about what books industrial designers should read or have. While not every book on the list is applicable to theatre, I think there are definitely some that would be good reads, and helpful.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
You hammer this cutter into the frame, and it cuts the mark, which you can then chisel out. It will also gauge the accurate depth. And the price tag makes it an easy purchase for any shop.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
And as important as the seam is, the hardware that goes with fastening the seam can be important as well. Hinges, bolted, screwed, panel locks or french cleats to name a few methods....
The following two links provide and alternate style of the coffin locks we often use in theatre.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I saw the above while searching for a 36" scale ruler, and thought it looked useful. since I often use quick square foot measurements, I think I might create an overlay with a few helpful reference numbers and print my own version.
Friday, August 8, 2008
His article discusses the technical aspects in much more depth that the first message, and has some nice images of the system as well.
He also has an article about "Love" another Cirque production, also well written, and full of technical details and photos.
You can check out both articles (and others of his as well) at:
The above link for Entertainment Engineering has a bit on Cirque Du Soliel's"Ka" as well as an additional video.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
They are for use with truss, primarily joining truss pieces together at perpendicular angles, though they have a variety of other uses.
However, it seems that they could also be used in some situations with pipe as well.
Take a look!
Friday, July 25, 2008
The series of links below illustrate a variety of sheaves that can be mounted from a stanchion (or in our case, pipe). While a piece could certainly be made by most shops that would do essentially the same thing, I thought the choices where interesting, and at good prices. I know that there have been pieces I have rigged in the past where being able to directly connect the sheave to the pipe, instead of making a bracket would have been convenient.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Wood Handbook: Wood as an Engineering Materialhttp://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplgtr/fplgtr113/fplgtr113.pdf
Wood Web, a resource providing general knowledge regarding lumber. Their knowledge base provides information regarding adhesives, millwork, business, and cabinet making, laminating, wood engineering and many other topics.
Southern Pine By Design FAQ
Article about Warping and Drying in Lumber, and few others if you go a little further back in the directory.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I think that it is a great question because it makes you think, and there are multiple answers. I think there are a variety of ways to approach the question.
First, the skill sets for the two jobs are not universal. Each location, venue, organization ans so forth may define the jobs differently that will impact the answer. A touring TD or carp has a different skill set than one who produces shows. A road house TD may have another set of skills, and the TD of a grand opera has different skills as well. In addition, the skills sets for each position differ. The TD at a LORT may be more managerial and the carpenter is only a craftsman, or the TD may be in the shop swinging a hammer next to a carpenter. The carpenter may be very skilled and work from designer plates needing little interaction from the TD other than supplies. While there are lots of contradictions I have worked in many varieties of these situations, and the answer to the above question cannot be answered universally.
There is yet another item to mention, and create some base assumptions with. Historically in our industry you had to pay your dues to get into the good positions. A TD had to be a good carpenter. Today, I think it is easier to start very young as a TD in small locations and work your way up too bigger facilities without nearly as much time spent as a carpenter (except as all the times when as TD you were the shop). With advanced technical training becoming the standard for TD’s, more come out of grad school with very different positions than I saw in the industry 15 years ago. Part of this I actually believe has to do with the very question I am discussing.
So to answer the question you must make some assumptions. Let’s say that the TD is more managerial and is not on the floor building scenery, and that the carpenter relies on the TD to provide structure and information. For the fun of it, lets also say that the TD (or perhaps even production manager) manages more than 1 area – whether its props, paints and scenery, or simply manages a carpentry head and a metals head. This puts the TD is the wonderful land of middle management.
Getting to the meat of the question, the TD and the carpenter require different skill sets to succeed. I will not hash out the carpentry skills here, and instead focus on TD skills. I think a good TD has to have a very diverse set of skills: communication, problem solving, team building, time management, fiscal management, collaboration, problem solving, and technical skills. For the technical skills a TD needs to know about drafting, reading drawings, carpentry, metalworking, paints, tool maintenance, engineering, structural design, motor control, pneumatics, plastics, and more. That’s a pretty large list of skills, particularly since most of this skills can be a full job (with advanced degrees) in and of themselves. It makes the position hard to fill.
I think the industry has a culture that expect all of this from the TD’s. I think some are very successful. Yet I think what happens is that the TD sometimes leans towards the shop – their silo, and doesn’t have the same management skill as they have technical skill. Perhaps that can build the fanciest wooden, steel, plastic thingy that spins on cue, but can’t talk to the board of directors efficiently. This, to me, leads to the path of us versus them and creates a separation in the theatre between technical and nontechnical people. I believe that the TD needs to bridge that gap.
I think that the TD needs to know enough about welding to know a good weld from a bad weld. The TD needs to have a good welder on staff. He or she needs to understand the difference in construction that steel and wood need. But they don’t need to be the best carpenter on the floor. If they are, they are wasting their skill by not doing what they are best at.
I think there are very few people that really can excel at every area a TD normally covers. Many will have a few topics in which they excel, and they will work towards increasing the others. And some are jacks of all trades, masters of none. I believe that TD’s today are gearing more towards soft skills, intellectual skills and management skills. They then can fill out their staff with skilled craftsmen. You don’t need to be the best welder in the shop to hire a great welder – you need to know the signs of good welds, and good steel fabrication techniques. From another point of view – I can’t sew very well, and I certainly couldn’t make a costume, but I can tell when one is well constructed.
So to answer the question – sure a carpenter can be a good TD. But, they need to adapt their skill set to the position. The new skills set could include different communication styles, leadership, estimating, maintaining budgets and resources and so forth. If a TD starts in the technical side they are likely to understand what good carpentry and set construction looks like, which gives them a leg up there. The interesting part of the question could be could you take a project manager unfamiliar with theatre into the role of a TD, and would t hey be successful. Then theoretically they had the soft skills, but no knowledge of the technical needs of the shop or scenery. While that is certainly a question for another day, I can easily say that a carpenter has a better chance at succeeding than someone with/out any technical background.
You can check out the question and the answers given at linked in here:
I know this question likely has a variety of answers feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Monday, July 21, 2008
First, because it is a typical tech brief type article that you see in various technical theatre resources. But also because the topic of the challenge was something that is very theatrical. Alright, I know that most sets don't have automated glass sliding doors, but we do sometimes have elevator doors. And we have a variety of other things that need to slide in a small footprint very quietly.
Friday, July 18, 2008
"Clippard's Fluid Power Educational Kits are designed to help provide a practical understanding of the basic concepts of fluid power. They consist of many components, the same components used in industry today to provide control and work in thousands of different applications. These kits are designed to work in conjunction with the Fluid Power Education Foundation's standard curriculum which may be downloaded at no charge."
While I am sure that a scene shop could probably build a kit, the prices were not unreasonable. I have to admit that I dream of an automation design / testing playroom in an academic situation where the tools and components are available and focus can be on creating / developing systems and techniques for a variety of automation challenges as opposed to only book learning, or focusing in on one special case (the turntable for x show verses a trap for y show). I feel it is particularly necessary because in the production environment you can't rely on a consistent learning environment.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
It seems similar to the flypen that I have and use (and love), except that it can also record audio.
They are marketing it towards education - taking notes in class, but mine has been handy in meetings and at conferences. Also it is nice to doodle a sketch for a carpenter (napkin cad if you will) give them the paper and save the image for the job file.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Its a site mostly geared towards costumes and some prop building, but they did have some resources for do-it-yourself vacuum forming, including a set-up that allows you to use your own oven! While I'm a bit hesitant to say this is entirely safe, It could be a nice trick for a one-off part for a show.
They also refer the used to a book put out by Tap plastics called Do-It-Yourself Vacuum Forming which you can order here:
The first article is a list of good questions. While it makes sense that most time is spent solving a problem as opposed to defining it, trying to solve something that is not the main problem solves nothing. The list of questions will help direct you to the real issues at hand. FYI there are similar exercises in the book Thinkertoys, that I reviewed here last year.
The second article is about thinking like a designer. It is a topic I haven't really considered, but liked the general ideas.
The Center for Creative Leadership can be found at: http://www.ccl.org/leadership/index.aspx
They have a variety of resources and information that is insightful and worth a look.
Recently an off the shelf answer has surfaced aimed at creating the effect for security reasons; to allude to a house being occupied while it may be empty. The object would be an LED flickering device. Check it out at: http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2008/05/faketv_flickering_led_dev.html
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
I thought this was interesting – and true. Perhaps it stems from the root of the development of Project Management in construction and IT capacities, that it seems to be rigidly defined.
But if you look at what a project is - many everyday things that we do is a “project”. Teaching project management can help people manage planning a wedding, plan a vacation, manage the home buying process, to just about anything else. It’s a lot about how you frame the idea. A marriage isn’t a project (though I suppose someone could argue), but planning the wedding is. Why? You have a deadline, you have a concrete start (she said yes) to a concrete end (while you have to plan the cleanup / “strike”) of the wedding, the wedding has a concrete end. You have budgets, there are deadlines within the timeline to order materials, there is a variety of communication. There are even political aspects (the guest list!). At any rate, since the skills of a project manager are useful life skills – it would make sense to teach it in schools.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Soon (hopefully releasing in dec 2008) is RoBlocks.
They are magnetic blocks that include actuators and sensors and such. Seems like a cool idea.
My general idea is to start to get into ways that automation can be taught in a hands-on manner without having to use pre-built unit (thus assembling and not inventing), and without taking load of time and money. I believe that with the way that robotics is advancing, that we should be able to start learning programming in the class-room to the extent that it will be used in a project, but in a scale that can be done as a lab.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Tap plastics has quite a few how-to videos on it's site - some of which are fairly useful!
-Distribution of information in a company is always a challenge. Each company creates a preferred working arrangement with preferred techniques. Speaking of scenery – some places only use 1x3, some use 1x4. While this is obvious by walking in a shop there are many subtle building techniques that often differ from one site to another. Where I work now “solves” that with a shop standards book, which is out of date, and only referred to when someone didn’t do it the “right” way. So with multiple project managers and multiple job leads, it sometimes feels like 6 or 7 different companies working under the same roof, all reinventing the same wheels.
-Updating information is another challenge. This requires commitment throughout the organization. I like the wiki idea, because behind the idea is that the information is not really final, just the current revision. The shop standards book here has an air that once completed it was “published and released”. Thus, it is a closed affair and will have a “cost” attached to revise. A company hopefully learns and grows through the corse of their work. Updating consistently allows this happen, and helps to further the growth. Allowing older information to stay through a forum can help newer people to the company get a hold on the history. Documenting successes are just as important as failures – you learn something from both results.
-I love the idea of an online community. Today, more than ever before we are an interconnected society, and communication takes on newer and more varied forms. I am also a fan of transparency. An online forum keeps the group as a whole in communication about all of the topics of the group, and thus can contribute on all of the topics, or at least be aware of the broader picture.
-I see a couple of drawbacks with the system. You have to be of an appropriate scale. If a company is too large, too much time will be spent maintaining the wiki and the forum, and not enough time producing, though I suppose the forum is also a metaphorical water cooler. Too little people in the company and the same thing happens – or there isn’t enough to keep the pieces together and it turns too social. Both scenarios are thoughts I have – and could stand to be corrected. I also would think that the larger the group the more the forum and wiki would tend to be run by fewer people – department heads and not carpenters, which starts increasing the gatekeeper issues discussed by Nick. Also, you have to have buy-in. Belonging in a group such as this would require a bit of work and learning. Entering into a group where it was a clearly established norm, would make new entry easier – but creating the system for a preexisting company may have some growing pains with getting participation.
-An additional comment I would have about writing a manual is that in addition to implementing or revising procedures as being the time to write and revise, I would say that someone new can help to revise. Why? Because they are learning everything for the first time and will often see more clearly the differences between the espoused method in the manual, and the working solution in action. They will also be very aware of questions and gaps where the information is limited.
At any rate, it was a good blog to read, and was full of advice that can be useful. Check it out at:
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
It reminded me of an article I read in grad school about firefighters. That article discussed how younger people tended to rely on balance sheet / algebra equations, and as more skill was gained, the choices shifted to a “gut feeling” decision. Experienced firefighters would come across a challenge, and would think through the first idea, and then the second, and so forth. The first idea they came to that worked out reasonably well through the current scenario was immediately put into action.
Theatre, of course, isn’t an emergency, despite what it occasionally feels like, and we don’t have the pressure of making decisions where lives are at stake. However, I often see different people approach the same challenge differently, and often arrive at a different solution based on the approach they take. I think that sometimes it is useful to fully think through several different options – building stud walls for platform legs work best in some situations, but not in others. Without reevaluating choices you may get into a groove where the choices are the most efficient for your time or budget, or for the good of the show. Yet, completely evaluating every choice would bog down the process to such an extent that nothing could progress. As with much in life – it is a fine line.
It’s also to think of when you have different factors to think of. There are many theatres where labor and the costs associated with labor don’t impact design or construction decisions. But the places where labor is involved with the rest of the budget can mean dynamically different approaches. Suddenly, it is cheaper to buy something than build it, or buy a different, more expensive material, because it saves labor. In the shop where I work now, the CNC machine is a great example. It saves a lot of time, but building set pieces is accomplished in a very different manor, and with different materials than standard construction.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
You may have noticed on my blog that there are a lot of resources for project management. It is for two reasons – I am one, (and a TD), and I believe the above. By framing the job differently I have a wealth of resources that helps teach me how to plan, organize, manage, and other wise develop the many different aspects of the job. It also makes it easier to teach, talk, and think about concrete skills that a TD of any level should have, and ways to scale up and down the projects.
I am working on a session that will develop these ideas for USITT in Cincinnati – and I am sure I will sound off more here about it in the upcoming months. If you have insights, or comments please let me know!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
porcupine pad. It’s a mat with flexible pins that support your work surface, but which you can use a jog saw to cut through the material. From the picture it looks like you can buy multiple pieces and lock them together.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
So I looked up rivet nuts, and they are interesting little pieces of hardware, useful in a variety of situations.
Check out this sight for more information: http://www.rivetnuts.com/
At the bottom of their page they have an instruction graphic to show you how they work.
Monday, June 16, 2008
You can find it at: http://www.thelightsource.com/products/50/view
It has a safe vertical working load of 1100 pounds. While it doesn't allow for vertical adjustment in the same manner that a chain would, yet I can think of a variety of situations where it would be very useful.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I do think that it is intriguing about what the definition of failure impacts risk taking. If you take a risk where the failure means extinction, true risks are very difficult to take. Sure you might have much to gain, but losing everything isn’t worth it. This can be seen in many arenas – the stock market comes to mind. In this case, risks, in my opinion, need to be defined and explored. Perhaps a theatre can’t change its programming all at once, but 1 small scale show in a different genre could open a window. One small risk at a time, building on failures and successes. Its important because I think it can be easier to seen what you did wrong, then what went right – or at least easier to plan according to what was wrong in the past.
Fail early, fail often
Now that I'm feeling better and back into service, I thought I would pass on the following website / service: http://www.callsteward.com/
The site allows you to schedule calls, and get confirmations back from those called. You can get a free demo on the site. I could see a use for this in a variety of situation, above and beyond union calls. Check it out!
Friday, May 16, 2008
Their site also has a variety of useful reference material available here
Thursday, May 15, 2008
This availability has though, I think, increased the desire of the consumer to communicate their experience of a product or event. This is a result of the desire to want to have the experience in the first place. There have always been brand identification, and peer pressure with regard to brands, but there seems to be more of a trend towards identifying with the brand. Its almost like a brand needs to create an experience that makes mini ambassadors for the product. The catch to the company is that they are not able to streamline their image the exact way they want to, but the experience is much more authentic.
These ideas have been spurred on by the article “O.P.E.N. for Business: The Future of Branding in a Web-Made World”, published in the April 2008 issue of Event Marketer.
Theatrically speaking, I think these thoughts can go into 2 different directions. The first is to confirm, create, or develop the product (the show) into something where your audience has a meaningful experience. This is inherent in every show, yet something we don’t play up – while the movie theatre industry makes much more of this situation. Secondly, I think we need to help our patrons to form and/or participate in communities that support their experiences and let them talk, discuss, play, create, and in general be active in regards to their participation with our event. While I think it is important to note that much of this may always be independent – I think there is a lot of room for the theatre community to facilitate as well. And, happily, I thin this is starting to happen – for instance it isn’t uncommon for a theatre to have a blog (even if it isn’t updated much), or to have a facebook group. The issue that I see with what they are doing is that it isn’t kept up to date enough, and it isn’t done with the full authority behind it so it looks limited. But at least it is something – and I will continue to anticipate future developments.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
At any rate I think that a successful TD must have ability and desire to tinker, think outside the box, and play around with ideas and odd parts. And the ability to go to an event like that one discussed in the article sounds like great fun!
Monday, May 12, 2008
Besides having a wide variety of historical information, the book includes lots of illustrations, and patent drawings. It’s a worthwhile read.
Friday, May 9, 2008
While it isn't immediately relevant to technical theatre, i think its still relevant for most people who work in the theatre. Why? Because we typically work in not-for-profit situations, innovation is necessary and important for keeping theatre relevant, and the art form must speak to today's relevant issues to name a few reasons.
The site offers podcasts of discussions and talks with the mission of delivering information to those who wouldn't otherwise be able to listen and learn to current important thought leaders.
Besides being an interesting site, I think its an interesting concept. There is a change occurring in media from a print based to a video and even purely audio based experience. I'll admit that I like to read the news - not listen to a pod cast - or watch videos of it online, but in the last year or so the increased amounts of video news has seemed to increase exponentially. However, I think video and podcast can be very useful, and think that there are very useful applications for these resources that should be further explored.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
In the Jan 2002 issue of Remodeling there is a short article that I thought was interesting:
“Six Tips to Boost Referrals”
- Create a detailed spec sheet. Spell out the scope, define finishes
- Keep the Job Site Safe and Clean
- Project a Professional Image
- Follow up
I read an article in an old edition of Remodeling (Jan 2002) called “Be Ready for Change Orders” that discussed these issues a little. He talks a little of the problems: difficulties in getting sign offs and time that it takes to create the change order, and order materials. Also, change orders may not benefit from bulk pricing that the original job may get. I thought two things the author, Walt Stoeppelwerth, mentioned was to not just say as necessary – Include an amount, and don’t just sat match existing – qualify the match, for instance: “match existing as closely as possible from existing local sources of supply”.
I think communication is the biggest part of the process – certain problems and conditions cannot be predicted from the beginning and can be charged via change orders. Also upgrades and options can be offered. Sometimes these can also be allowances – so that an actual amount can be billed at the end, or an adjusted amount can be quantified later in the process once more detailed information is available.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Its called the Great Big Exhibit Resource List, but many of the vendors are useful theatrically as well. I suppose that makes sense as you could look at it as theatre scenery is an exhibit of sorts. They are a variety of fake foods listed, some fake grass places, electrical controls, plus these string pots: http://www.stringpot.com/.
I haven't really used anything line this previously, but it seems cool. What jumps into my head would be tracking something like a line set where there isn't a shaft to use a standard encoder with.
12 Practical ways for freelance designers to increase Leads talks about various techniques including networking, portfolio, blogging, as well as other methods. I think we sometimes feel that the theatre industry is “different” and real world rules aren’t meant for us. While the article isn’t aimed at our industry, I would argue that all of the techniques could be used to some degree of success.
Art of Email Writing discusses ways to make sure that your emails convey a professional image. The ease of email makes it also easy to not fully develop the content. Lack of body language while speaking and reading can mean that messages can be misinterpreted. Add with all of this the addition of text messages and phone bases email / text messaging systems, and email can get very sloppy. This blog entry gives the readers a few things to keep in mind when working with clients.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I would think that this would be worth though for critical applications, and would be useful for installing grids.
They also have a product called a hallo-bolt that is used for structural steel. As you tighten the bolt a nut inside the steel expands trapping the bolt securely. While I can see definite uses for this, it is out of the price range for most situations considering the pricing starts at over 10 dollars for a single bolt.
Nevertheless, the types of products they sell gave me some ideas about how I could make some nonstructural connections easily.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Need more reasons to drag your wallet out and order the book now?
Speak no more –
- The book is well written, easy to understand, and meaningful to us technicians.
- The book is even funny, be careful with taking a drink prior to reading
- Safety is one of the most important aspects of what we do
- The answers to the ETCP rigging exam are all in the book.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I couple thought I had about the article:
-While is doesn't distinguish, I have the feeling that it is aimed at film / television as opposed to theatre.
-The numbers are, I presume, very distorted by a couple of factors. Some, a few, make very significant incomes. Others, more than a few, make nothing, or very little.
-While they refer to a costume designers job as being unpredictable, an actor's job can be too. Are the hours that they count only working hours?
-The median writer's salary seems low compared to the salary ranges that were surfacing during the writer's strike.
-Who do they consider the crew (the ones doing it for the glory)? Most of the crew are union, and likely, compared to union wages in Chicago, that they are making alot more than 12 an hour.
At any rate it was an interesting article, I just think that you should always think about what you read, because there are alot more details missing than appear.
"George Clooney may earn $20 million per movie, but he's a rarity. Overall, the median wage for actors in the U.S. is less than $12 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As for the rest of the crew, they're clearly doing it for the glamour, not the money.
The median wage for a movie or television writer is just $5,000 a year.
A costume designer or makeup artist can earn more than $2,000 a week. But since work comes on a project basis, year-round employment is not guaranteed.
Production assistants typically earn just $8 an hour.
TV show directors can earn upward of $35,000 for a single one-hour episode -- if they hit it big."
Friday, April 11, 2008
Glad to see that he came up with a way that works for him. This blog, my answer to some of those same issues, seems to work well for me. As I write more, I have been pleased that when I am looking for something and I do a search of my blog I can often find the link to what I was looking for! Hopefully this resource has been working out well for you as well.
If you have a blog that you think should be included, let me know!