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Navigating Navigator

Discussion in 'Multimedia, Projection, and Show Control' started by NateTheRiddler, Apr 15, 2019.

  1. NateTheRiddler

    NateTheRiddler Active Member

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    Occupation:
    Local PAC LD/ALD
    Location:
    Arizona, US
    Bad pun in title aside, I’ve discovered recently that I ought to learn Navigator.

    To answer the question of why: a) I’d like to learn it because it is rapidly becoming a standard for controlling shows of spectacle and larger scope, b) it was requested by a future employer, and c) it looks badass.

    Navigator offers classes at TAIT Towers in Lititz, PA; according to their schedule on their website, however, they only offer the classes 6 months out of the year, and 4 of those months encompass a school semester, making it impossible for me to get time off from my senior year academics.

    So I then have a few questions:
    1) Is that schedule accurate? I haven’t gotten an answer to my email from their support or sales teams, and I have a hard time believing they offer classes non-stop for 6 months then take 6 months completely off. But I could definitely be wrong.
    2) Classes run a smashing $900 each. Add airfare, hotel, basic ramen diet, and time off work for a working student and it all adds up to financial devastation. Is there any way I can learn bits and pieces of Navigator anywhere? I still plan on taking the classes but I can’t count on having that kind of money available if something goes wrong between now and then.
    3) Navigator has no publicly available manual? No free yet restricted license to demo? Are there resources anywhere so that I can at least be 1% more knowledgeable?

    For anyone who takes the time to help me out with this, I give my appreciation! :D
     
    Noah Abrams likes this.
  2. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Throwing up the bat signal to Alex, our resident TAIT expert. @icewolf08

    My not-so-humble opinion is that if your future employer wants you to know Navigator, they can pay to send you to the class. Automation is possibly the darkest art of entertainment work -- positions are are more skilled and harder to land in than just pushing boxes and hanging lights. I wouldn't fool yourself into thinking that just because you took a class and got a certificate that you'll find a position somewhere in the wild. It may qualify as a "nice to have" on a resume, but there's no guarantee a position you apply to will use this one particular platform, and if they do that they'll give it to someone without hands-on field experience. There's also a background of engineering math and principles that plays a much more significant role than other areas of live entertainment.

    If you're excited about automation then seek it out and try and land internships in it and take classes to learn the math and physics necessary for it. The best way to learn through is under someone else's wings. This will open the most doors to you. TAIT just closed their application period for this year but maybe if you ask nicely you can get considered, otherwise you can apply for it next year.

    You may also want to check out the worlds of themed entertainment (Universal Studios, Disney, etc.) and Cirque for internships. Might not be TAIT gigs but there's a ton of big and small automation in these genres.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  3. NateTheRiddler

    NateTheRiddler Active Member

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    I have heard “from the horse’s mouth,” so to speak, that my employer has a developing need for Navigator-trained (but not necessarily experienced) technicians. OTJ training is apparently offered to apply the concepts but techs are being hired who have the external knowledge. I’d like to make myself a better candidate for the job since it is something I’d really like to do. As for the engineering math and physics, I have 40-odd credits in both CE and ME. I took both Statics and Dynamics, and three levels of Calc and Physics; while I’m rusty, it’s knowledge I can brush up on, on demand.

    If this is true I’m a bit heartbroken, because I couldn’t find any such time restriction anywhere on their website, and I really scoured it (I thought). I will definitely be willing to ask nicely; I strongly would like to take those classes. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t find out about this sooner. Next year is not feasible because their Spring sessions conflict with my classes. I’m only available for summer sessions (June/July/August).


    *cough* The Horse (but not). *cough* *cough* *cough* OK, I’ll stop coughing.

    Thanks for the information and the bat signal.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  4. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Touch base with Alex. He'll swing by here before long or you can PM him directly. He works at their Lititz location and can check if there's any leniency on submitting an application yet. They might already be swamped with applications but it's worth investigating.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  5. NateTheRiddler

    NateTheRiddler Active Member

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    I shall waste no time (except this post, hardy har har). Thank you so much for the reference, I mean it! Thanks!

    EDIT: Sent off a PM, just to put a good foot forward.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
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  6. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    I've taken three of the Nav classes and have been touring as a rock and roll Nav op or crew chief for the last four years so I might be able to answer a few of these.

    The 2nd half of the year has classes but the schedule isn't out yet. I think they are waiting to see what classes they need to teach more of and instructor availability. The classes are constantly being tweaked to changes in demand.

    If your future employer is current Nav user the class price might be lower with certain service plans. But yea it isn't free. You get 30+ hours of time in a small class (under 12 people) with a very talented instructor and some hands on time with a lot of expensive gear. There is very little Nav info out there, and that isn't an accident. Learning in an unsupervised environment can lead to bad habits and more trouble down the road.

    Some of that is going to change once Nav IQ gets a wider release. From what I understand IQ takes some of the intimidation out of Nav. I know they were doing demos of it at USITT.

    While learning about Nav specific things is hard to do with out taking a class you can read up on things like Modbus, Ethercat, networking and PID tuning.

    Also taking all three classes in a row is not a good idea. I would suggest taking basic and then using the software for awhile. So much of the classes are driven by questions and situations from the students. " I was on a show and needed to do X but the best thing I could come up with was not great for reason Y what should I have done? Taking them back to back won't be as effective because you will not have a solid grasp of the situations you will encounter and the tools you learn won't stick as well.

    I start about 3-5 shows a year between touring and one offs. Sometimes getting the system set up takes me a while because I don't do it very often but the things I do daily on while on tour are secound nature.

    Nav is fantastic and the support is world class. But the classroom learning can not take the place of real world learning. Writing a cue to knock over some bowling pins is much different than sitting in an arena with the popstar waiting for you to tweak the look so the show can move on. In order to be a solid user you need to have both.

    The people that use Nav for permanent installs and system commissioning use Nav in such a different way than I do it is fun to compare notes and trade tricks but we would be lost in each others world.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
    NateTheRiddler and RonHebbard like this.
  7. NateTheRiddler

    NateTheRiddler Active Member

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    Occupation:
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    Location:
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    So much was said here, thank you! Extremely informative and useful for me; I'm in contact with TAIT directly thanks to you and @MNicolai's guidance, so hopefully all of this will amount to some direction and objective. I appreciate y'all taking the time to help and put up some bat signals for me!
     

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