# Are YOU Teaching Relevant Lighting?

#### jimonlight

##### Member
Hey, lighting teachers: Are YOU teaching your students relevant lighting?

Teaching is not just fundamental, it’s imperative to our industry. If you get pissed off reading this, it’s meant for you. What your anger means is that you’re guilty. This can be fixed though, you CAN be an efficient modern lighting teaching instrument. You just have to want it.

#### MNicolai

##### Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Preach it, Jim!

I was fuming about 18 months ago by the time I got out with my BFA. We had faculty who were dead set on "we teach students in a way to prepare them for an MFA" but could only produce students who could hardly navigate Vectorworks, didn't know how to choose color, and who were operating at an "Intro to Design" level in their senior year -- for that matter, students who were using their first or second design ever as their senior BFA project. The students who got out with employable skills were the ones who took internships at ETC, roadhouses, or one of a couple different AV firms. They got their paper diploma from the school and their education from professional experience.

The school had a roadhouse decked out with Selador and Desire fixtures, and the academic theaters got decked out with Desires and S4 LED's, with a faculty member that professed you couldn't design a shown primarily with LED's, and has declared he would have the new Gio replaced with a two-scene preset.

JJBerman

#### Colin

##### Well-Known Member
Pissed off? A little, because it seems like you have a huge chip on your shoulder but not a finger on the pulse of the main thrust of college tech programs. Maybe I'm an exceptional teacher (I am, actually) but I still don't know any programs around me that are preaching the greatness of 2-scene or expression consoles or 360Qs for instance. I'm sure those people are out there somewhere, but a minority.

A huge omission in your tirade is the common lack of resources that forces many academic departments to focus on "fundamentals" using dated technology, as opposed to throwing in the towel entirely. It's not because the faculty are lazy, as you seem to suggest. It's not that they're all unwilling to present arguments to administrations for resources to be granted. The resources are not available, period. Unfortunately but understandably, some faculty when trying to present a public face may be reticent about the topic. They may try to emphasize the strengths they are able to play to in spite of poor resources, rather than harping on how far behind they are in technology. That's not a reason to accuse them of incompetence or laziness.

In our fields as in many (all) others taught at undergrad level, it is the expectation that industry professionals will continue to train graduates, and in ways that complement rather than duplicate what the college program can do. College is a dumb idea for someone who wants to tour with a band or climb the ladder at a production company.
If that's what you want, go do it. This isn't a dirty secret in academia. It's a fact that faculty share freely with students and prospective students. That is, faculty who are not at the minority of schools that do have the vast resources to keep up with for-profit industry leaders who ought to also "go get 'em, tiger" and teach their interns and case pushers (they are doing it, yes, and so are lots of faculty).

I have no desire to defend some surely bad teachers out there, but if you want to help the situation you should investigate and think before you tirade (we teach that in college) and adjust your attitude so the people you're frustrated with will actually listen. Your frustrations are valid, but your blame game is out of order, not to mention counterproductive.

#### rsmentele

##### Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Preach it, Jim!

I was fuming about 18 months ago by the time I got out with my BFA. We had faculty who were dead set on "we teach students in a way to prepare them for an MFA" but could only produce students who could hardly navigate Vectorworks, didn't know how to choose color, and who were operating at an "Intro to Design" level in their senior year -- for that matter, students who were using their first or second design ever as their senior BFA project. The students who got out with employable skills were the ones who took internships at ETC, roadhouses, or one of a couple different AV firms. They got their paper diploma from the school and their education from professional experience.

The school had a roadhouse decked out with Selador and Desire fixtures, and the academic theaters got decked out with Desires and S4 LED's, with a faculty member that professed you couldn't design a shown primarily with LED's, and has declared he would have the new Gio replaced with a two-scene preset.
Mike, I am almost certain we attended the same college in Whitewater. I have the same frustrations you had. They refused to allow students to incorporate any intelligent devices into their designs. This left most students with an utter lack of knowledge on the use and programming of, at this point, industry standard tools.

I was lucky enough to have been working at a theater that had intelligent devices and was able to cut my teeth on them there. If you want to claim to give your students a relevant education, you need to teach them how to use the tools the industry is using now. Gear that is considered standard.

#### Pie4Weebl

##### Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
College is a dumb idea for someone who wants to tour with a band or climb the ladder at a production company.
If that's what you want, go do it.
I would have to disagree with you on this one BIG TIME. But I'm not going to be too harsh with you, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I assume you are one of those people who think concert lighting is all "flash and trash", and disregard all the design and thought that goes into it. And you know what, there are people who light like that, and most of them are people who didn't go to college. College is important for concert LDs because good design skills and the 5 properties of light still matter in tour. All those skills you pick up in the art classes are useful. I light *bleeping* screamo and post hardcore bands, and even in that I use the skills from my BFA, every. single. day. If I didn't go to college (paired with summers at a production company) I know I wouldn't have half the ability I have now. (Plus those small business classes I took in college certainly didn't hurt)

Professors who understand the value of moving lights in designs are critical to training designers who actually stand a chance in the real world. When I was interviewing with colleges way back when, I'm so glad I ignored every professor who said "well if you learn the fundamentals it will be easy to move up to movers, you know most places don't have moving lights" This is bunk. I'd get kids from those schools as stage hands when I was doing "event lighting" I can't imagine any of them being able to handle programming shows with 40 movers even when it is just doing a room wash.

College is more expensive than ever, sooo expensive, I graduated with $65,000 of debt and accrued interest! Somewhere in that 20 grand a year tuition kids pay schools have to find the money to at least rent a few movers and an MA for a show. Unless you are broadway bound, undergrad can't be "just a stepping stone" before real experience. For the great expense it is, schools OWE students training on the equipment used today. #### derekleffew ##### Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member Well said, Pie. But... ... and the 5 properties of light ... Five? Don't answer. I'd like to hear @jimonlight list and explain the Four controllable properties and Five functions of stage lighting, IF he can do so without a gMA2 and a shload of VL4000s at his disposal. ----- I'd be remiss if I didn't state that anyone taught that there was such a thing as "intelligent lights" should demand a refund on their education. #### Footer ##### Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member You still need to teach the crap gear. You still need to know how to get a CD80 pack going and fix a 360Q. If you want to design you will walk into venues that have a non working lighting system from stuff 20 years ago that you have to hang and focus yourself. That happens especially when you are cutting your teeth. I have one employee who do not know how to use an express because her college theatre only had a EOS desk. My larger room has one of those but my smaller room still has the express. You need to know it all. You need to have developed the reasoning skills to figure out what you don't know and learn quick. With that though the technology does need to be taught. Every lighting student should leave college with all the math needed to pass the ETCP test. Every student should know how a work on a programmer based desk. Everyone should know basic video stuff. With that though we are bitching about lighting here... that does not even hold a candle to how far behind scenic technology is in colleges. No one is teaching structural design. No one is teaching automation. No one is teaching build with steel first. No one is teaching truss and motor rigging. No one is teaching advanced counterweight rigging. No one is teaching rigging math. Some schools do touch on this stuff but to so for so short a time that none of it is retained or explored in depth. Once again, open the ETCP study material and start there. The real fault is most colleges are teaching to prepare designers who just design. Unfortunately that is not the world we live in. No one pays designers to just design besides the top crust of producers. The BFA program I graduated from had this mentality. My school was preparing people to go to grad school for design. However, we all figured out no one wanted to pay people to just design to we found other avenues to get paid in this business. What it really boils down to is most colleges that teach theatre are liberal arts schools. Liberal arts schools do not prepare you for a career. They will tell you this point blank. They are there to open your mind to make you a well rounded person so you can pursue the life you want. Marketable skills are not the end goal. #### NateJanota ##### Member Let me toss you all a challenge amidst the debate going on right now: I didn't go to college for lighting. I wasn't offered formal training. I have learned everything that I have through intense studying, practice, and a lot of f*cking up larger and larger rigs, over a painful 9 year period. Believe me, it hasn't been fun; I hate being dressed down and thrown under a bus, but by golly, I learn quick when that happens. What's your solution for people like me? I can appreciate all of you helping students, but what are you doing for the dedicated worked-to-the-bone people like myself who WANT to learn but cannot afford to return to college? I am a person who strongly desires to learn, yet at every turn SOMEONE is quick to throw the "You should have gone to college to learn this" bible in my face. Jim, I read your article. Footer, Derek, Pie, Colin, I thoroughly read your counter-arguments. But now I am requesting that all of you explain to someone without a degree what I'M supposed to do whilst we argue over academia. If I am out of place asking for such a thing, I accept my upcoming rebuke gracefully. But I'll be damned if I don't have anyone pointing out my steps to success like a professor, formal trainer, or mentor will do. #### Colin ##### Well-Known Member I would have to disagree with you on this one BIG TIME. But I'm not going to be too harsh with you, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I assume you are one of those people who think concert lighting is all "flash and trash", and disregard all the design and thought that goes into it. And you know what, there are people who light like that, and most of them are people who didn't go to college. College is important for concert LDs because good design skills and the 5 properties of light still matter in tour. All those skills you pick up in the art classes are useful. I light *bleeping* screamo and post hardcore bands, and even in that I use the skills from my BFA, every. single. day. If I didn't go to college (paired with summers at a production company) I know I wouldn't have half the ability I have now. (Plus those small business classes I took in college certainly didn't hurt) Professors who understand the value of moving lights in designs are critical to training designers who actually stand a chance in the real world. When I was interviewing with colleges way back when, I'm so glad I ignored every professor who said "well if you learn the fundamentals it will be easy to move up to movers, you know most places don't have moving lights" This is bunk. I'd get kids from those schools as stage hands when I was doing "event lighting" I can't imagine any of them being able to handle programming shows with 40 movers even when it is just doing a room wash. College is more expensive than ever, sooo expensive, I graduated with$65,000 of debt and accrued interest! Somewhere in that 20 grand a year tuition kids pay schools have to find the money to at least rent a few movers and an MA for a show. Unless you are broadway bound, undergrad can't be "just a stepping stone" before real experience. For the great expense it is, schools OWE students training on the equipment used today.
Your assumption is incorrect, but I could have been more clear in my post. Jim seems to be focused on technical training, certainly the weakness in a lot of college programs, and that is what my comment related to. A BFA (remember the Fine Art part) is not often going to provide the degree of intensive hands-on technical training that vocational/on-the-job training does. The benefit of a BFA atmosphere is the emphasis on the design skills you speak of. Up to date gear isn't always available, the density of production opportunities may not be enough to really master that gear anyway, but you can still learn how to think about design. It's great that you use your BFA training every day. It's also perfectly respectable to choose a career as a technician, even one who tries to design for concerts and events and winds up embodying flash and trash instead because of lack of exposure to design thinking. People choosing the latter path, not yours, are absolutely better off getting into the industry early and working hard, rather than assuming a huge debt to learn how to apply elements and principles of design using old gear. If you're interested in design first and foremost, though, whether for concerts or theatre or architecture, a BFA is likely a good path. You're right.

Let's try something. Let's pause the bashing of crusty professors who don't believe in teaching movers, networking, etc. They're wrong, but they're not the only kind of faculty out there, and perhaps there are other issues at play. Complaints about the cost and value of college are valid. If you'd like to make it better, rather than just venting for the sake of it, don't misplace the blame. Schools do owe students more training on current technology. But faculty don't choose how to allocate a college's general fund. Their opinions aren't even always solicited, let alone considered. Criticism is best directed at trustees and administrators who do make those decisions. That actually works sometimes.

While most under-funded departments can scratch for an occasional rental to expose students to otherwise unaffordable current technologies, that's not the same as using the gear every week in real production. It's an introduction only, and for most students is going to result in very little specific knowledge retained in the long term--just enough for them to know what they don't know, and go look it up. It isn't a substitute for doing what you did, hooking up with a production company over your summers while in school.

#### Colin

##### Well-Known Member
Is it right that everyone responding so far has chosen a concert or event design & production path?

#### Colin

##### Well-Known Member
Let me toss you all a challenge amidst the debate going on right now:

I didn't go to college for lighting. I wasn't offered formal training. I have learned everything that I have through intense studying, practice, and a lot of f*cking up larger and larger rigs, over a painful 9 year period. Believe me, it hasn't been fun; I hate being dressed down and thrown under a bus, but by golly, I learn quick when that happens.

What's your solution for people like me? I can appreciate all of you helping students, but what are you doing for the dedicated worked-to-the-bone people like myself who WANT to learn but cannot afford to return to college? I am a person who strongly desires to learn, yet at every turn SOMEONE is quick to throw the "You should have gone to college to learn this" bible in my face.

Jim, I read your article. Footer, Derek, Pie, Colin, I thoroughly read your counter-arguments. But now I am requesting that all of you explain to someone without a degree what I'M supposed to do whilst we argue over academia.

If I am out of place asking for such a thing, I accept my upcoming rebuke gracefully. But I'll be damned if I don't have anyone pointing out my steps to success like a professor, formal trainer, or mentor will do.
You are not out of place asking.

As many unsatisfied customers here have already stated, college isn't necessarily an ideal choice. It stinks you aren't getting the kind of support you deserve working your way into the industry. You have to work hard whether or not you go to college, and you have to do some of your own research and professional development. Since you're willing to do that, it sounds like what you are missing is a willing mentor. Personally, in my four years in concert and event production I saw higher-ups from a few different companies (very small and very large) do a great job mentoring people like you, and never with any BS about how they should have a degree to get started. Maybe you can find a different work situation where people will do this for you. Not a magic solution, but I do know there are companies out there that would support you.

Although stories are still popping up about college degrees being more and more necessary for good employment, that's an irresponsible generalization to make. Specifically, technical education is more and more necessary for good employment, and also for preparing today's students to approach intellectual and artistic studies with the determined rigor they require. This thread emphasizes how slow colleges have been to adapt. You could very well be on the best path for you, and hopefully you will find fewer and fewer people over time who want to lecture about the necessity of a degree. It's great for some people, not for others.

#### MNicolai

##### Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Is it right that everyone responding so far has chosen a concert or event design & production path?
Not sure who you're referring to. I've gone toward consulting/installation of theater facilities and their technical systems as my daytime job and freelance theater/dance lighting design as my night gig.

From the position of someone who focuses on capital planning for venues, I don't see hardly enough venues that have a 5- or 10-year plan in place. Whether the money's there or not, you need have an outlook for your specific venue that lays out operating, maintenance, and capital projects budgets for the next several years. Then you need to get that in front of someone with the purse strings that you're on their radar. If you're not on the radar in any fashion you'll get ignored every time money is available. Getting ignored for a couple years at a time isn't a deal breaker but getting ignored for 15 is negligence.

In my stretch of the Midwest I see a half-dozen high schools each year building or remodeling state-of-the-art facilities. As I discussed with one school last week, you can't call yourself a performing arts school and have a theater that hasn't had substantial improvements made to it in the last decade. Your prospective students will transfer out to the other schools that are better equipped -- the schools that take their performing arts programs more seriously.

I don't expect most K12 or higher education theater programs to have school boards or chancellors that understand how much it costs to keep a facility at least functioning. An intimate familiarity with the state of their theater's technical systems isn't part of their job description. The only way they know there's a problem is if somebody tells them. And the only way they can gauge the gravity of the problem is if they understand that their budget shortfall for their theater this year wasn't just $5,000 to keep the lights maintained -- that their shortfall over the next 5 years at this rate will be$200k in trying to keep the theater from falling apart.

Of course, $200k doesn't just show up out of no where, but if you have a target to hit then you know what to schmooze your donors for and they'll know you've done your due diligence and research. It'll also spark conversations of renting the facility out to help the venue at least break even year to year for basic operating costs. All of this matters because if you're learning how to be a designer or a programmer on a beat-up Express with the fixtures you have left that have working lamps in them, you have a much harder process for learning design than someone learning on a modern console with a variety of fixtures and effects. With a maintained, modern inventory, the path to failure for any adventure is much faster, and when you can make mistakes faster you're more efficient at becoming an expert designer. robartsd #### cbrandt ##### Well-Known Member You bring up a lot of very important points. The biggest gripes that I had coming out of undergrad was that I had barely even physically touched a mover, and definitely never programmed one, and I had been the ME for both our internal production blackbox and proscenium road house. I didn't have any understanding of 3 phase power, and the TD in my roadhouse wouldn't allow any student to tie in power, and always had someone standing by with a 2x4, because they were terrified of getting electrocuted. I didn't know how to set up an onsite show with conventional or intelligent fixtures, much less how to do proper rigging with motors and truss. All that being said, what I did learn has been absolutely critical to me being successful and still in the industry. I learned what light was good for, and why we use it. I learned color theory, and appropriate fixture placement. I learned how to present myself as a designer and as a stagehand. I learned how to draft and plot, both by hand and by CAD. We didn't have the newest gear because of budget, and my professors had little experience with actually using modern data and intelligent fixtures. But, we did learn about what they were, what they were good for, and the differences in color mixing systems, and why you should very carefully choose what fixtures you were using on a show, based on budget and what you were trying to accomplish. I got my degree from a heavily engineering focused university. The biggest difference that I saw between myself on the fine arts side, and my engineering cohort, was the opportunities available outside of the curriculum. The engineering students had dozens of clubs and challenges to hone their design, problem solving, and budget skills. They had faculty that had worked at engineering firms, and could introduce them to talent scouts and take them to job fairs. They were encouraged to take at least one semester off to go off and do an internship with organizations that had allied with the school. As professionals, maybe we should be asking ourselves what we can do to be those allied organizations, and what we can do to sponsor those clubs and challenges that teach the skills that you can't learn easily in a traditional classroom. Yeah, there are a lot of stodgy old professors who haven't actually touched a console or light in a decade, but they can at least teach us what they know. Colin #### Colin ##### Well-Known Member find the money to at least rent a few movers and an MA for a show. For fun and because I do intend to get a rental, even if just one fixture, into my LD class this semester, I priced this out for my own program (which I should say is a BA not a BFA so hopefully BFA programs can do at least a little better). Some cheaper options for mover rental from my local shop are Auras and Platinum Spot 15Rs at$150/wk. To really have fun on our stage I'd probably want at least six Auras and three or four spots, so $1500/wk for all. A much smaller package that could still be useful, say only three fixtures, would be$450/wk.

An MA 2 Lite runs $1050/wk. Likely shows are dance concerts and a semi-annual musical. These would be three week rentals. That's$7650 on the high end, $4500 low. Our show budget is$4000. That's rights and scripts, scenery, props, lighting, costumes, sound, projection, blah, blah.

I could skip the MA and use our Ion (still got the Express in the black box) but cost would still be prohibitive. I could ask some friends for a deal and maybe only pay for one week out of the three, and it could still be too much.

The lesser but affordable alternative is to just run a workshop using a one week rental of one or two movers. That's a nice enrichment to a program that can't afford to give students real production exposure, but probably not enough to achieve competency.

#### RickR

##### Well-Known Member
What it really boils down to is most colleges that teach theatre are liberal arts schools. Liberal arts schools do not prepare you for a career. They will tell you this point blank. They are there to open your mind to make you a well rounded person so you can pursue the life you want. Marketable skills are not the end goal.
I've been saying that for decades. Especially a liberal arts degree!

My degree came before movers, network, programming consoles and even before DMX. I was taught concepts and processes for reaching decisions, in short, design and engineering. Afterwards I used that to learn specific skills and technologies including all the above. To this day my greatest strength is my ability learn new things and solve new problems.

#### microstar

##### Well-Known Member
Hey, lighting teachers: Are YOU teaching your students relevant lighting?
"What your anger means is that you’re guilty."

No, what my anger means is that you apparently have little grasp of how theatre departments in liberal arts schools (especially small ones) function on a day to day and a yearly basis, especially concerning budgets. Most of the time it is hard enough just to get enough money for lamps/parts, scenic/costume/prop/makeup supplies, scripts/royalties, etc. etc. to produce shows.

#### soundman

##### Well-Known Member
As a graduate of a 4 year program who now is a touring automation tech I have several issues with the article. I had a really great team of professors so maybe I just don't understand what is going on in the article. A lot of my issues come from putting the blame on the professors and not encouraging the students to put in some work. The professors need to understand where their students want to end up so they can guide them into opportunities that will help them into that path. Points 4 though 6 are about the only ones we see eye to eye on.

The first point about teaching DMX over eithernet: A designer won't care how the 1's and 0's make it to the fixtures. Good to know the technology is out there but setting up a system just to do it? Give the kids some credit they have been exposed to networking for a while and should be familiar with the basics.

Points #2 and 3, about renting in some high dollar toys, Grand MA 3D will do most of this for free, two weeks of messing around in a computer lab will still be better than getting a couple hours of hands on experience.

Point #7, studying for tests, again the instructor has to know the students and the goals of the program. If the goal is to funnel kids into grad programs and internships under designers ETCP won't be something that benefits them.

Point #8, get your kids involved, or as I would say - you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. A teacher can't make their students be involved in an organization and certainly can't get them a job with any of the people on the list. The "kids" need to want to be part of the organization, to understand the benefit of what those orgs offer the industry. And the "kids" also have to be willing to uproot themselves to go work with any of the designers listed, and be ready for the experience.

Point #9, if a student can't take what they learned about running the barrel on a 360Q and apply it to a Source Four they missed a lot of critical thinking applications. I think the rotating barrel and bench focus method are the only things that would be different about a Source Four and a 360 Q. Things that can be explained quickly even while someone is in the air during focus. Frustrating yes, but if they were able to do everything else well not that big of a deal, now if they ask at every focus call that is a problem.

Point #10, RDM I've never used it and the only people that I know using it are new installs and I have not heard great things about it, and until all the old optos die out I doubt it will be seen on many arena tours. Also this point seems to be written very oddly.

Point #11, media servers, cool to learn about but what gets pushed out of the syllabus to make room?

I would add to your list keeping a running list of places alumni are working and have worked while in school. There are some great summer stock companies out there that can teach a student more in 8 weeks than any school can do in an academic year. Keep a list of those ones so you can let students know. Also keep tabs on the ones that get bad reviews, and have the students returning with bad habits. Try and steer students away from those. At my school it was pretty much self policed among the students but as upperclassmen graduate the info could go with them.

#### techieman33

##### Well-Known Member
I've been saying that for decades. Especially a liberal arts degree!

My degree came before movers, network, programming consoles and even before DMX. I was taught concepts and processes for reaching decisions, in short, design and engineering. Afterwards I used that to learn specific skills and technologies including all the above. To this day my greatest strength is my ability learn new things and solve new problems.
And you had time to do that as it all slowly evolved. The colleges don't have to have the students working with top of the line consoles and moving lights. They do need to expose them to those kinds of things though. Give them some basic knowledge in how programming them works and how using them can change a design. Setup a light lab with some of the PC versions of the big current consoles. Make a small rig of cheap chinese pars and moving lights. Have a visualizer there that they can use. Add a projector so they can play with video or put the visualizer on a big screen to really get a feel for things. All of that could easily be done for for a couple of thousand dollars.

#### NateJanota

##### Member
@jimonlight I'm also going to say one thing here. You've done a wonderful job imbuing your passion and drive for the industry (and for your students) into this article. That said, you've also presented your argument in a brutal, deliberately provocative manner that I imagine frustrates many people. I don't have your professional experience, and you probably know way more than I ever will. But I can say one thing: you will always catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than a jarful of vinegar. Winning friends = influencing people. Berating and chastisement =/= influencing people, unless against their desire or will. Please continue to be passionate, but consider tempering your flame. Thanks either way!

#### Footer

##### Senior Team
Senior Team
Let me toss you all a challenge amidst the debate going on right now:

I didn't go to college for lighting. I wasn't offered formal training. I have learned everything that I have through intense studying, practice, and a lot of f*cking up larger and larger rigs, over a painful 9 year period. Believe me, it hasn't been fun; I hate being dressed down and thrown under a bus, but by golly, I learn quick when that happens.

What's your solution for people like me? I can appreciate all of you helping students, but what are you doing for the dedicated worked-to-the-bone people like myself who WANT to learn but cannot afford to return to college? I am a person who strongly desires to learn, yet at every turn SOMEONE is quick to throw the "You should have gone to college to learn this" bible in my face.

Jim, I read your article. Footer, Derek, Pie, Colin, I thoroughly read your counter-arguments. But now I am requesting that all of you explain to someone without a degree what I'M supposed to do whilst we argue over academia.

If I am out of place asking for such a thing, I accept my upcoming rebuke gracefully. But I'll be damned if I don't have anyone pointing out my steps to success like a professor, formal trainer, or mentor will do.
Come work for me. Seriously.

You don't make it in this business just knowing the gear. You make it in this business with a KILLER work ethic and EXCELLENT reasoning skills. The best people out there are the ones who you can ask to do something and they have no clue how to do it, but they can figure it out because they have good reasoning skills. They can see something done, break it down into the parts of how to do it, and go do it themselves without me spending 3 hours trying to teach them how to do it. They can apply what they know from other gigs and other gear and deduce how it will be done on this gig. My goal is to stay two steps ahead of the client on a show and be prepared for anything. I expect the people working for me to stay a half step ahead of me...

Be the first in the back of the truck. Be the first to grab a broom. Be the first to jump in the Genie. Then, you will be asked to be the first to step behind the desk, you won't get cut after load in, and you'll be the first on the call list. At the same time stick around here and absorb as much as you can. When things are heated ask questions about why people are doing what they are doing. Be a sponge.

That is what colleges need to be teaching. Screw the gear. The gear is outdated before you graduate and get to the point where you see that type of gear again anyway. A good basis in reasoning skills is the bedrock for this industry.

Is it right that everyone responding so far has chosen a concert or event design & production path?
Path? No. Am I doing event production now? Yes. Do we ever actually get to choose a "path"? No. I've done regional theatre. I've taught at a performing arts high school. I freelance design in theatre. I've done IT work. There is no path. There is the job you have now that is paying your bills. Mine currently pays very well, has an actual pension, has the best benefits package that you can get, and I get to work with my wife. So, right now my "path" is keeping me here.

There is probably a factor of 100 more jobs in event production then regional theater. I only know of a handful of CB members that actually work for a regional theatre producing original work. Of my friends almost all who are still in the industry are either working local event production like me, touring concerts, on a boat, touring dance, broadway, or touring theatre. Besides @icewolf08 and the 3 people who work at the regional theatre in town I have zero friends who are working in produced regional theatre.

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