Wednesday, March 18, 2009

USITT 2009 Day 1

Greetings from Cincinnati!
Day 1 has gotten off to a great start - through a long one. This year promises alot of great sessions, and so far so good. One of the things I really like about teh Duke Energy Center is that the second floor has large windows that overlook the stage expo space. So though I was able to see some of the set up when I was putting up my cover the walls exhibit and helping with the Tech Expo, I could also see how things were progressing in between sessions.

I managed to sneak in a full day of sessions as well. I started off with the Automation 101 - Brakes. Chair Alan Hendrickson and presenter Aaron Bollinger did a great job defining and explaining types of brakes, sizing, and control. One of the resources they pointed out was Accident-Prevention Regulation for Staging and Production Facilities for the Entertainment Industry.

As the Stepper Motor session was canceled, I instead went to "Period Style in the Smallest Detail" discussing period furniture, and the collaboration between the designer and director and the designer and prop master. The panel was chaired by Elizabeth Popiel and the presenters were Barbara Craig, Pam Lavarnway and Karen Rabe. They provided alot of production shots showing how they solved period related challanges, and talked about ways to achieve the effect without rebuilding the units historically accurately. They also talked alot about the process of communication. I think one of the best takeaways was that they stressed visual research and communication - not just terms or verbal discussions. They also had a variety of reference materials that they suggested, and I will try to post that once I get back to chicago and can sort through all of my notes better.

I managed to slip into the education poster session at the last minute and check out a little of that as well. I think the two things to note there was a project discussing the uses of facebook for production work, and a poster on using cad and the photocopier to make wallpaper for white models and model period furniture.

The next two sessions I went to was the Technical Production Leadership Meeting and the Managers Forum. I will admit I was a little disappointed in the managers forum. It seems like the only good question the can answer is where to look for a job. It was nice to think of some arts admin stuff though - I don't think in thos terms very often anymore. There were several questions dealing with staff that aren't up to par, but with hiring freezes, they can't be replaced, sexual harrasment as it relates to the costume shop and fittings and so forth. It was probbaly one of the few sessions I have attended in that commission, so it was interesting to see some new faces.

Last but not least was Ben Sammlers / Amanda Haley's "Bringing Order to the Chaos". It was a good session. I liked the first part best, because alot of the later part talked specifically about the Yale Budget Template, and I have been using that process for a number of years. What was more interesting to me was some of the ideas behind the template, and how he viewed his job as a Production Manager, and was he expected out of a Technical Manager. I actually have quite a few notes / comments to share with you regarding this session- but will probably be after the conference when I can get back to this.

For those of you reading this who are here in Cincinnati as well, what were your thoughts about the first day?

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