Monday, November 24, 2008

Model Making Mitre Box

Now that I have been blogging for a while, sometime I will remember coming across something a long time ago, noting it (theoretically blogging about it), and then moving on. Then later I need to remember where that particular piece of hardware or tool was, and it seems like I can never remember - and if I blogged about it - I evidently called it by something other than my current search term.
Since I recall seeing a model making model box, and it came to mind as being something that would be handy for a Christmas present I am building I went in search of more information. Since I don't seem to have mentioned it - here it is: Exacto's Mitre box.

Thus nifty item can be found at:

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 ( 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

Blogs of Note

A blog at asked 10 questions to Gordon P. Firemark:

(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

AutoCAD 2009

I just installed 2009 on my computer, and have started going through the tutorials. Looks liked it will be a good change, and there is a once more a great improvement in the 3-d capacity. Of course that means that your computer has to have the ram and processor to drive it.

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

Tutorial Websites

I have been reading the "Dumb Little Man" blog lately, and it has a variety of information. Most is off topic for here, but I thought this particular blog was relevant:

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

First 100 Days

In the spirit of the election I thought I would talk about the idea of the first 100 days. I started pondering this when I started the position I am at now, about a year and a half ago. The general idea is to have a plan of attack for the first few months of your new position, and that this period will have a significant impact on the rest of your tenure. While this strategy is common for elected officials, it is also common for CEO’s. For these people having a strategic plan in place is often part of the interviewing process.

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

Live Design

Live design is now offering free subscriptions to industry professionals. If yo don't currently subscribe you do so on their website:

If you don't read their magazine already I encourage you to do so!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rigging Information

I am in the process of buying a dozen or so pre-made wire rope cable assemblies made with stainless steel wire rope and have been coming across a few good resources to pass along.

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. Includes a glossary, length tolerances and stretch and other resources.
Sapsis Rigging, need I say more!
JR Clancy
Idaho Rigging Standards;multi_item_submit
You can get a clew.
Crosby. The training section is a must visit site. Decorative cables

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Power of Yes

Browsing the net brought me to this blog today:

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!

PLC Resource

PLCS.NET has a tutorial of sorts about what a PLC is. While they are trying to get you to buy their training DVD’s, they do provide some basic information that is worth taking a glance at.