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High School Tech Manual

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by ScaredOfHeightsLD, May 29, 2007.

  1. ScaredOfHeightsLD

    ScaredOfHeightsLD Active Member

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    Hey everyone,
    So as I was drifting off in chemistry my mind wandered to lighting (where else would it go) and I got to thinking, there is no real manual for lighting or tech in general at my high school. Maybe I should make one. I'll preface this by saying that there are alot of things that happen in our shows which are just expected to occur (i.e. the video feed to the cast room) they don't seem to fall under anyone's job description( I happen to take care of most of them). In any event. I'm thinking of creating a handbook with tips, tricks and other things not just specific to our theatre that can be passed down from TD and LD to ATD and ALD as they graduate (for me this would be next year). My question is, probaly geared more towards the high schoolers out there but graduates that may have had one feel free to answer as well, have you ever seen something like this? Was it successful/ worth it? What should I include in it?
    Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks
    -Mike Berger
     
  2. Chaos is Born

    Chaos is Born Active Member

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    My highschool never had one, we all just worked on whatever needed to get done that wasn't really under anyones "control" till it was done.
     
  3. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    I think that it's a great idea. Make a list of everything that you and your crew are putting in to a show. When I was at my high school, I raised expectations greatly. I put alot more in to a show than any other TD that had been part of the shows in recent history. I left, my legacy fell to the hands of less-motivated folks, and lots of things went awry. It's a great idea. I already made up a basic guide to the lighting and sound systems and left them at my HS.

    But then again, my HS has never had anyone crazy enough to decide to go off and major in tech theater in recent history.
     
  4. Lupuscallidus

    Lupuscallidus Member

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    While I had never previously experienced a tech manual that really encompassed what you are discussing here while I was in high school, I actually came to exactly the same conclusion that you did; there should be one. Thus for my senior project last year (go combining tech in academics!) I was able to write and then publish numerous copies of a tech manual specific to my high school.

    Now I felt that this was necessary, and will certainly be/now is beneficial for multiple reasons. First off, the entire sound and light system in our school was renovated (as in completely destroyed, dedcimated, trashed, and then new stuff put in) my sophomore year. This gave myself and my co-techies the unique opportunity of being able to learn from the ground up how to operate, control, trouble-shoot, and essentially perfect the system both through direct conversations with the professionals who trained us and through the far more informative trial and error. The only problem with this method was that by my senior year my school had many promising up and coming techies, however I was the only one trained fully and with enough knowledge to actually be able to train others and run the system, know what was expected for events and productions, etc. Thus came the idea of the Manual.

    While I still get the occasional call from members (I know go to college 600 miles away from my high school), creating the Manual enabled for them to have a readily accessible resource to which they can refer about any and all technical theater questions.

    Once again purely of my own opinion, there were several essential elements to this publication. First of all, have a basic overview of elementary technical terms, techniques, and ideas. A short section on design could be nice, but of more importance would be the simplistic stuff for newbees (what is a lamp? what is an instrument? how do Gobos work? are gels a kind of liquid? why are circuits different from channels which are different from dimmers?) Next, outline what instruments, controls and hardware/software you actually have in your theater; this is a very important element especially for anyone who actually has experience in the field. Moving on, provide information on how to use the specific equipment that your theater possesses (turning on the console? what is blackout? crossfading? cues? subs? macros?). At this point is where you really have to step it up: include all the idiosyncratic details that are common knowledge and ingrained tradition in your school (setting up the video feed, putting out the smoking curtains, preshow checklists, where things are stored, your techniques for cable maintenance, striking shows, coffee policy, your role compaired with faculty, etc). If you want to include design suggestions at this point, or traditions of your particular crew, it adds a great deal to the manual, but realize that these will probably be the the least useful elements of the actual publication.

    It seems like a lot because it is. My manual ended up being about 50 pages total (with lots of graphics involved, so don't worry too much). But if you intend to compose a meaningful resource for future tech members at your school, it is a printed compilation of traditions and techniques such as this that will be absolutely essential for allowing the crew to continue to function. Of course changes will be made, but thats part of the fun in every crew being a totally unique collection of techies dedicated to the stage. It is absolutely a worthwhile goal, and I wish you the best of luck with the endeavor.
     
  5. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Look who finally stopped lurking!
    Welcome!!
     
  6. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    There was a post made a while back with a PDF link to some tech manual some guy wrote for his HS. He took it to the extreme and had it "published" (online publisher that prints only what is ordered, not coming to a borders near you). Do a search for it.
     
  7. DarSax

    DarSax Active Member

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    Good timing. I'm making one too, heh. I don't feel I can adequately verberate (that's made-up-wordage, for describe) how to design lights in a manual, largely because I was never taught myself, so I'm not going to try. I'm just planning on introducing practical knowledge like the different types of fixtures, what they are used for, how DMX, dimming, etc. work, and then basically ending with "These are your building blocks. Go."
     
  8. Logos

    Logos Well-Known Member

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    Every space I've ever worked in I've created a manual, usually a loose leaf with the leaves either laminated or kept in plastic envelopes. This would contain clear and simple instructions on how to find all the important things like intakes for power and so on and also clear and simple instructions on how to do all the odd jobs that seem to be unique in evry space. Every time we stored something or worked out new solutions into the manula it went. It also contained hints on how to deal with outlandish problems that maybe only occur once evry couple of years. You passed it on to your successor in the hope he would use it. I once toured back to a theatre that I had worked in ten years before and found my manual still in use and still being updated. Made me very happy.
     
  9. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    One to add to that list, and I've found seriously lacking in our program is correctly calling cues. Getting the right cues at the right time is invaluable(to me at least)... and never happens here.
     
  10. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Just a quick note, the goal of HS theatre is to provide an opportunity to explore things that you would not be able to explore without it. Its a place to learn, everything doesn't have to be perfect. Explore, live, experience, try new things, just because its the way you want it to be done, doesnt mean that it has to be done exacly like that for the next 30 years.

    Now on that note, I think a manual the gives details about how your specific space is interconnected is great, and "usual" set up for things, but they should in no way say "put all the wireless in ch. 1-6". Leave a guide, not instructions. Let everyone explore and learn just like you did.
     
  11. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Excellent point Footer. Teaching creativity and problem solving should be a huge part of High School tech. A manual of how everything shall be done until the end of time is a bad Idea. A manual that teaches the basic skills, teaches where things are in the space, and promotes getting your hands dirty and learning for yourself is a great idea.
     
  12. Artemis133

    Artemis133 Member

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    I've just starting to make a manual myself. My problem is, the school was build a few years ago, so we have equiptment that noone realy knows how to use. The people who installed everything also had the amazing ability to make all the manuals disappear. Most of them cannot be found online, either. So, what I am doing is writing the manual in chapters. Basic information for how to run a show for the school, who does what, and so on first. Second, how to run the light board. Third is sound. And so on. The last part would be the odds and ends of the theatre, and then personal thoughts on how to get things to run smoother. That is what my school needs. I don't know if your needs run the same way, but I just thought I would contribute.
     
  13. DarSax

    DarSax Active Member

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    You know, if you have a lot of equipment that no one at your theater knows how to use, this would probably be a very good place to ask how to use it :eek: You'd be amazed at the experience some people have on here.
     
  14. Artemis133

    Artemis133 Member

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    That's actually why I got on here in the first place. But thanks.
     
  15. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Yeah I was going to say the same thing. Post some names and model numbers I think you'll find others who no only know the product but may even have a manual that they could copy and send you.

    People tend to think, "I'm the only one using this old piece of crap". What you don't realize is that they sold thousands of those pieces of crap 30 years ago... and they were state of the art at the time... and many people are still using them. There are people here who used them for years and know every trick in the long lost manual.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2007
  16. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Or know how to find the long lost manual!
     
  17. disc2slick

    disc2slick Active Member

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    I had intended to go about writing some sort of manual like this for a theater group I used to work with, instead though I just wound up referring everyone to this site: http://www.gweep.net/~prefect/pubs/iqp/ definitely the best all-purpose tech handbook I have seen.

    -Dan
     
  18. BenFranske

    BenFranske Member

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    The problem with the Gweep manual, which comes up once in a while, is that it is getting a bit outdated. I've been trying to encourage a project to collaboratively write an updated version and am willing to provide both web space and editing to anyone interested in contributing. Contact me for more information.
     
  19. Peter

    Peter Well-Known Member

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    As I see the WPI Technical Theator Handbook has come up again, I will repost what I have said in regards to this book in the past. (I am a curent student of WPI).

    "About that handbook specifically, it is OLD!!! There is a good deal of stuff in there that is flat out wrong, especially with regards to rigging. Much of that rigging was simply what seemed right, not what was actually right. Now we are trained on rigging yearly by a professional rigging company and do things quite a bit differently then is shown in that handbook. I would NOT recommend that handbook as a super accurate source of information. If you want more specific information on WPI and how things are done now, feel free to message me, but please do not take what is shown there as completely accurate, especially in regards to the power / rigging sections."

    The other thread mentioning this book can be found here: http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4634&page=2
     
  20. Hughesie

    Hughesie Well-Known Member

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