Entertainment Technology Education Article

rsmentele

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LOVE This!

I learn most of what I know after my undergrad. Wish they would have incorporated even a little more advanced topics. The issues seem to be that a lot of professors are not comfortable with the technology themselves so are hesitant to teach it.
 

ruinexplorer

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Well put. When you mentioned that you were going to write this update, I thought that it would be a challenge. I believe that this is a great conversation starter with the theater departments. Bravo.
 

RickR

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I still maintain that an undergraduate degree is NOT job training. It's general education and exposure to high level thought processes. It makes one a better person and therefore a better employee.

Job skills can/must be learned in a variety of ways. They must also be updated expanded continuously until full retirement.
 

DaveySimps

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Great article. Thanks for sharing.

An interesting follow up (for me as a reader) would be from educational institutions as to how difficult creating a training program with so much costly technology is. Paramount to the success of such a program would be staying updated in technology available to students to work on, how does an institution sustain the cost of this over time.

~Dave
 

JohnHuntington

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Great article. Thanks for sharing.
An interesting follow up (for me as a reader) would be from educational institutions as to how difficult creating a training program with so much costly technology is. Paramount to the success of such a program would be staying updated in technology available to students to work on, how does an institution sustain the cost of this over time.~Dave
This is certainly a challenge, but one point I make in both articles (and is one thing my Provost keyed in on when reading the article :) ) is that this stuff is cheaper than ever. There is low end lighting, sound, video, etc that will definitely get the concepts across. When I was 13 I was building my own light board, smoke machine, black powder (!) flash pots etc for my brother's band. These days I could get all of that stuff (not pyro :)) on Amazon even in my cornfield home town. When I was a kid I had to go with my mother 2 hours to the university of maryland book store to find any information. These days I have free video lectures on my web site.

John
 

TimMc

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This is certainly a challenge, but one point I make in both articles (and is one thing my Provost keyed in on when reading the article :) ) is that this stuff is cheaper than ever. There is low end lighting, sound, video, etc that will definitely get the concepts across. When I was 13 I was building my own light board, smoke machine, black powder (!) flash pots etc for my brother's band. These days I could get all of that stuff (not pyro :)) on Amazon even in my cornfield home town. When I was a kid I had to go with my mother 2 hours to the university of maryland book store to find any information. These days I have free video lectures on my web site.

John
Imagine being a specialised trade school like Empty Sheet down south... trying to keep up with technology is tremendously expensive even with supplier/manufacturer subsidy. For university, conservatory or college with an interest in extracting as much value as possible over the lifetime of an asset, that goal drives purchasing in a different direction and points to a difference between a conservatory/university/liberal arts education and an "artistic trade school."

I'd hope the traditional education to send us creative people who are trained to think. They've learned how to make a creative vision into some kind of reality with the tools available and, because they can think, could do it with different tools or even re-think the vision if needed. Trade schools tend to be focused on specific outcomes with specific types of tools.

So I think that it isn't necessary for a university to have new audio consoles every 4 years, ditto for LX. The student needs to learn what practical limitations exist and how to get the look/feel/sound that helps tell the story in spite of those limitations. When learning the concepts of audio mixing it doesn't matter if the desk is a Mackie 1604 or SD7 - because we're training your EARS and not your fingers.

In another topic there was discussion about color rendering, LED fixtures and filtered tungsten. The question I posed was how to teach color in the waning days of tungsten? When I was in school we had our little swatch books of media and could quickly make decisions about how costumes, set and drop colors, make up, etc looked. Right now I see no pocket-sized way for students to make those comparisons easily. I'm not an LX person but the pedagogical aspect is intriguing and will cross to multiple disciplines as the analog ways of doing things change with technology.
 

EdSavoie

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From a sunsetting Entertainment Technology program at St. Clair college, I'd have to say my education did a pretty decent job at keeping up with the recomendations in that article. Like @TimMc just pointed out, keeping up completely with technology is prohibitively expensive, but even with our at (frequent) times lackluster budget, the three year program does cover all the major and emerging disciplines rather well. Lighting, Sound, Rigging (Counterweight and arena) Automation, Networking, Video, Stage carpentry, Scenic painting and i'm sure others i'm forgetting. (sorry if I forgot your area)

It's rather fascinating operating completely different eras of equipment at the same time, we recently reached into the depths of our storage and pulled out a pair of PRG retired Cyberlight SV fixtures, for which both our MA 1 Ultralight and Ma dot2 have profiles for.

(Is it a crime to like Scanners?)
 

JohnHuntington

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I'd hope the traditional education to send us creative people who are trained to think. They've learned how to make a creative vision into some kind of reality with the tools available and, because they can think, could do it with different tools or even re-think the vision if needed. Trade schools tend to be focused on specific outcomes with specific types of tools.
We certainly focus on having students be able to think, but we don't focus on design (and of course there are a hundred schools that do). But that said, our students continuously surprise me with their own cultural sensitivity even to very weird art despite only minimal exposure to classic art of any kind. I think growing up in NYC is a big part of that. And we've had students go off to pursue traditional MFA's.

It's interesting I've also come to realize--after 20 years in a public inner city school--that there is a class/privilege element to this whole thing as well. Many of our students are poor and/or immigrants, who don't have the "luxury" to pursue a creative career in an area simply because they have a passion for it--they need to pay the bills. We don't do a lot of traditional theatre simply because our students are all working or taking care of their grandmother or whatever, and can't make weeks of rehearsals. We now have hundreds working successfully in the field so they seem to do OK without that.

So I think that it isn't necessary for a university to have new audio consoles every 4 years, ditto for LX. The student needs to learn what practical limitations exist and how to get the look/feel/sound that helps tell the story in spite of those limitations. When learning the concepts of audio mixing it doesn't matter if the desk is a Mackie 1604 or SD7 - because we're training your EARS and not your fingers.
I would agree with this in principle if the gear was bought since about 2010. You need basic things like USB, ethernet, etc to be able to function in and connect with the modern world. We got one set of light boards replaced when we told the funders that we were running out of floppy disks. But yes a digital Berhinger (ugh) console can teach you a lot.

In another topic there was discussion about color rendering, LED fixtures and filtered tungsten. The question I posed was how to teach color in the waning days of tungsten? When I was in school we had our little swatch books of media and could quickly make decisions about how costumes, set and drop colors, make up, etc looked. Right now I see no pocket-sized way for students to make those comparisons easily. I'm not an LX person but the pedagogical aspect is intriguing and will cross to multiple disciplines as the analog ways of doing things change with technology.
I'm also not a lighting person but this is an interesting transition going on--there's books out now on it and so on.

John
 

JohnHuntington

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From a sunsetting Entertainment Technology program at St. Clair college, I'd have to say my education did a pretty decent job at keeping up with the recomendations in that article.
Well I was a consultant on the curriculum there :) I even sold some materials for one of my classes.

I heard recently that the program was ending, which I'm sorry to hear. We had a few students who did their last year with us and they were all very good.

John
 

TimMc

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We certainly focus on having students be able to think, but we don't focus on design (and of course there are a hundred schools that do). But that said, our students continuously surprise me with their own cultural sensitivity even to very weird art despite only minimal exposure to classic art of any kind. I think growing up in NYC is a big part of that. And we've had students go off to pursue traditional MFA's.

It's interesting I've also come to realize--after 20 years in a public inner city school--that there is a class/privilege element to this whole thing as well. Many of our students are poor and/or immigrants, who don't have the "luxury" to pursue a creative career in an area simply because they have a passion for it--they need to pay the bills. We don't do a lot of traditional theatre simply because our students are all working or taking care of their grandmother or whatever, and can't make weeks of rehearsals. We now have hundreds working successfully in the field so they seem to do OK without that.



I would agree with this in principle if the gear was bought since about 2010. You need basic things like USB, ethernet, etc to be able to function in and connect with the modern world. We got one set of light boards replaced when we told the funders that we were running out of floppy disks. But yes a digital Berhinger (ugh) console can teach you a lot.



I'm also not a lighting person but this is an interesting transition going on--there's books out now on it and so on.

John
Hi John-

It's not so much about the artistic aspects of a design but rather creating the physical manifestation of the design intent. Floating Glenda the "good witch" at the top of Wicked, or growing the Christmas tree in The Nutcracker, for example. Technical theater is a perfect way to use both sides of the brain :) Design is for folks that function mostly on just "the other side".

Having the latest and greatest tool is nice (love the comment about floppy discs) but teaching concepts typically does not require cutting edge hardware although it does need to be technologically recent enough to be a valid tool. I think we're using different words but agreeing in concept.

I can also fully agree that teaching depends a lot on meeting students "where they are". The idea that we have 8-10 weeks to put on a play or musical, with all the rehearsals, design/build/assemble, spread over those weeks simply won't work for a sizable number of students for a variety of reasons. If we are to teach them anything, the lessons (such as they may be constructed) need to be offered when the students are available to learn. That, in turn, determines how much of what concepts can be presented at once.

The thing I now believe I did not state well - "formal" education should, IMNSHO, prepare students to think their way around, over, and through. I don't expect every tech theatre grad to have ProTools chops, but ProTools proficiency is a major component to the trade school I didn't explicitly name. The goals of those educations are different, the approaches to teaching are different and the expectations of the market on graduates is different.

"You will teach yourselves the law; I will teach you to think". John Houseman as Prof. Kingsfield in "The Paper Chase".
 

JohnHuntington

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Hi John-I think we're using different words but agreeing in concept.
Definitely. One thing to clarify about is that very, very few of our graduates work in "legit" theater. We were founded around a pure theatre model but have moved away over the last 20 years. But of course we emphasize that everything we do is about supporting the story--whether that's a play, a concert, wrestling show, or corporate presentation.

John