How to...

Charc

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Yea, I left that title vague on purpose, I bet it'll draw in 99% of those who read it. So firstly, Gaff, Alex, Van, Chris, someone, you've gotta give me props for (what I think) is an original topic. (And to the 88 guests, feel free to give me props too.)

Anyways, I was wondering how I can train followspot ops for my upcoming production of Amadeus. I've given my version of the lecture a half a dozen times and it's never gotten through to them (or it's possible they didn't care.) Anyways, I'm tired of the note for the followspot ops being "Spastic Bumblebees" (Yea, they got that note on our last production.) This year, with the freshmen coming in, I want to give them the chance to get on run crew right away. I also want them to get the pick-ups right. Otherwise I'll have to pull two good techs off the deck or booth to man the followspots. The way I have this currently thought out (though, of course veto is always an option.) there'll be a fair amount of followspot cues. I'd like to get them consistent with the followspot. There shouldn't be much if any movement, so it's about finding and locking onto their target, and maybe moving with him a little. But I'm thinking, if they can get the pickups and everything consistent, they don't even have to worry about the douser. It'll all be run from the booth.

So how would you suggest explaining followspots to the incoming class? Am I just a terrible instructor, or do they simply not care? Is it possible to get consistent cues(out of a bunch of green freshmen), or am I being unrealistic? What do you recommend, if anything, to help them find their target? Coat-hanger iron-sight? Spotdot 2000? What about a fancy IR laser?

I'm all ears. Well this is a forum, so, erm, I'm all eyes.
 

Van

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well .... do a search on spots on here. We've done a couple of extensive threads on using "spot dots", iron sights, and my favorite, a litle hole drilled in the back of the spot, or a laser pointed at the floor, rigged directly to the spot, that moves a dot of light to a tape mark on the floor or back of the spot bay.
 

SAWYeR

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We do this thing we call "Spot Games" at my school. During a regular work day while the whole crew is moving around on stage, we have the spot-ops follow random techs around the stage. Some of the older kids really get into, and will start running around, doing action-rolls and what not to keep the kid on their toes. It seems to help. Within a half hour they can iris up or down rather fast depending on the person's location on the stage, and will know when to fade out or let the other spot-op pick up the target.
 

gafftaper

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Two things.

You described quite clearly how important it is to get it right in your message. Have you explained the spot ops. It's so important that your new techs see you and the rest of your senior crew members model how serious you take your work. Often they think it's just another fun way to goof around. Show them that it's more than that. If they buy in great. If not then they can sort screws in the shop. Buy in to the idea of doing something that is bigger than you are is critical to developing good young crew people. You teach it by what you say and do.

Second, I'm all in with Sawyer with the follow spot games. You can only tell them so much they have to practice and develop their skills so anything you can do to give them time and a fun way of practicing is great. Turn the lights out and play "try to reach the follow spot operator without being seen in the spot light". Have two operators play "quick draw" you call out the name of a random person on stage and they compete to be the first to hit him. Stuff like that.
 

Footer

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Go buy some Frisbees and make sights or buy tel-rads if you can afford it. On op with a sight has no excuse to miss a pickup.
 

Charc

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Go buy some Frisbees and make sights or buy tel-rads if you can afford it. On op with a sight has no excuse to miss a pickup.
Hmm. I'm sorry, how exactly do you make sights out of frisbees? Or is that in a previous thread? I'll search for "followspot sights" after work then. Oh, but I think I've decided against telrads / spoddots, based on the price.
 

Grog12

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As sawyer and gaff have said...the only way to get to Carnegie Hall is practice whether through spot games or you running around on the stage yourself.
 

avkid

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A Spot Dot 2000 is only $90.
You could probably use one of those fancy laser levels from the hardware store or a laser pointer and gaff tape for practice.
I have always used the hinge sight method for Altmans.
 

gafftaper

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Hmm. I'm sorry, how exactly do you make sights out of frisbees? Or is that in a previous thread? I'll search for "followspot sights" after work then. Oh, but I think I've decided against telrads / spoddots, based on the price.
I think he's talking about just taking a frisbee cutting a cross hair pattern out of it and taping it to the end of the barrel so the operator looks through the frisbee. To make a simple sight.

It's not a bad idea but I'm all for spotlight games to learn how to do it without the sight.
 

Charc

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I think he's talking about just taking a frisbee cutting a cross hair pattern out of it and taping it to the end of the barrel so the operator looks through the frisbee. To make a simple sight.
It's not a bad idea but I'm all for spotlight games to learn how to do it without the sight.
Gaff, the "quick draw" and the "reach the spot op" games both sound great. I'll incorporate them into the normal talk in the fall.
 

DarSax

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Heehee.

Sorry to burst the frisbee bubble, but by frisbee I'd bet that he's referring to having people on stage throwing a frisbee acrosss it, and the spot op following the frisbee as it flies.
 

Van

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Heehee.

Sorry to burst the frisbee bubble, but by frisbee I'd bet that he's referring to having people on stage throwing a frisbee acrosss it, and the spot op following the frisbee as it flies.
Oh Oh Oh I know, You use the frisbee as a douser, if you only have choppers in your light.

:twisted:
 

icewolf08

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I know I am a little late on this one, but I was on an airplane most of the day. Practice as others have said, is what it is about. Just have your ops making pickups all the time, practicing. Have them come to rehearsals and practice.
 

ship

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I know I am a little late on this one, but I was on an airplane most of the day. Practice as others have said, is what it is about. Just have your ops making pickups all the time, practicing. Have them come to rehearsals and practice.
I agree with this. Time in grade & time in picking up people on that stage. Frisbees & stuff could be good for dance and other uses in following the action but practice is the key thing in doing this and the all important pickup point.

Going back a few years ago there is also options for cuing the pickup points such as drawn on the ceiling "x"s. This given a hole punched into the fixture that allows a dot to show on the ceiling above the operator. Operator matches dot with cue "X". Lots of other options also.

The IA still sells "Getting the most from your Followspot" - a really good book for training which has a lot of ways to do this including sights mounted to the spot. Doesn't have everything - it's only a short pamphlet, but it does have lots of training stuff in it. publically available without being a member ISBN: 0-9665616-0-0

There is also "The Followspot Training Program" by Theatrical Technicians, Inc. IATSE (Don't know where my copy went & don't remember it so well, so I won't comment on it's usefulness.)
 

Charc

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I know I am a little late on this one, but I was on an airplane most of the day. Practice as others have said, is what it is about. Just have your ops making pickups all the time, practicing. Have them come to rehearsals and practice.
I guess the problem is more of getting them serious and motivated. I held the made up title of "Lighting Supervisor" for this past 9th grade musical. It wasn't until opening night, when I went in the cats to yell at the ops for not being on headset, that I realized we had 3 ops, and 2 followspots. Somehow an extra freshman worked his way on the crew. He played his PSP during every show, and helped distract the two working ops... :rolleyes:
 

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Heehee.
Sorry to burst the frisbee bubble, but by frisbee I'd bet that he's referring to having people on stage throwing a frisbee acrosss it, and the spot op following the frisbee as it flies.
Yep, throw them through the air, dont try to make sights out of them. The thing i like about practicing with the little flying disc is that they get a nice moving pickup with a good arch. Haven't checked this thread in awhile, just opened another show... been a bit busy...
 

Charc

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I agree with this. Time in grade & time in picking up people on that stage. Frisbees & stuff could be good for dance and other uses in following the action but practice is the key thing in doing this and the all important pickup point.
Going back a few years ago there is also options for cuing the pickup points such as drawn on the ceiling "x"s. This given a hole punched into the fixture that allows a dot to show on the ceiling above the operator. Operator matches dot with cue "X". Lots of other options also.
The IA still sells "Getting the most from your Followspot" - a really good book for training which has a lot of ways to do this including sights mounted to the spot. Doesn't have everything - it's only a short pamphlet, but it does have lots of training stuff in it. publically available without being a member ISBN: 0-9665616-0-0
There is also "The Followspot Training Program" by Theatrical Technicians, Inc. IATSE (Don't know where my copy went & don't remember it so well, so I won't comment on it's usefulness.)
I'll take your word for it on the pamphlet, thanks for the ISBN, VERY helpful. I have amazon prime... sooo 3 dollars flat, and free 2day shipping, nice.
 

gafftaper

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I guess the problem is more of getting them serious and motivated. I held the made up title of "Lighting Supervisor" for this past 9th grade musical. It wasn't until opening night, when I went in the cats to yell at the ops for not being on headset, that I realized we had 3 ops, and 2 followspots. Somehow an extra freshman worked his way on the crew. He played his PSP during every show, and helped distract the two working ops... :rolleyes:
I know your school is a little screwed up in this area Charc but it sounds like what you need is a supervisor who will step up and say if you're just sitting around playing PSP we don't need you.
 

ship

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I'll take your word for it on the pamphlet, thanks for the ISBN, VERY helpful. I have amazon prime... sooo 3 dollars flat, and free 2day shipping, nice.
As I remember it on an earlier topic about if doing ballet and they fly thru the air if supposed to bounce with or zoom out on the iris, but it does have a lot of other helpful soultions. Plus it's a good thing to learn from in general for what it does have.

Don't remember, what was the answer to my early question about follow spots, zoom out in expanding the bubble about the dancer when they leave their feet, or have the bubble of light follow the dancer up in the air?

Perhaps the answer might depend upon how long their air time is...
 

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