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Opinions: called show vs. visual show

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by leistico, Oct 3, 2006.

  1. leistico

    leistico Member

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    I'm curious.
    Out of the couple dozen shows I've either LD'ed or board-op'ed, none of them have been called shows, where the stage manager, on book, calls cues for me to hit at a certain time. I know how, that's not an issue, but everything I've done has been me, watching the action, following a script, hitting things at certain moments.
    Through this I've come to view board-op as more of an artistic position. A moment or a joke can either succeed beautifully or fail thunderously dependent upon timing. A light left on a split-second too long, or a cue not pulled up soon enough can kill momentum, regardless of what the performers do. The board op, IMHO, should know this, and be able to follow a show and know what works and what doesn't. Perhaps that's the designer in me, I don't know.
    Thoughts?
     
  2. chieftfac

    chieftfac Active Member

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    If it's the designer in you then it's the designer in me. I hate running a called show. It always feels very stiff and unnatural. Some would say that if you have to run a show like that, then it wasn't designed well. My thought is that there are too many variables each night to run a called show most of the time.
     
  3. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I think you both are confusing a couple of issues. A board op's job is to op a board. A designers job is to get the feel for a show, write the ques work with other designers and directors for the over all benefit of the show, and never the twain shall meet. As a Board op it is not up to you to think about when to go or how long to fade, It is your responsibility to hit the go button when the S.M says "Go" There is a huge difference between a R&R show LD and a Theatrical board op. The LD in a R&R show isn't doing a Theatrical show it is a much more dynamic situation than a Play or musical. for that matter most R&R shows don't have " Ques" ,per say, they have "Looks". A designer will pre-program a bunch of look s and he will know what they look like so that when Jon Bon Jovi runs DSR he knows to go to "look" 17. When doing <professional>Theatre it is the responsibility of the Stage manager to maintain the show in the manner it was released to her/him in. Thats is to say that just as it is the Board Ops responsibility to hit go when called to it is the Actors responsibility to hit their spike, take their fall, or deliver their line in the same place at the same time every night. If a Board Op is taking things on his own time because it's what feels right, that board op is going to be looking for a job soon.
    Now in Highschool it might be a little different, depending on where you are from and how large your program is. If you are in the middle of BF Egypt and you don't have a Clear Com setup then it is very important to have a board op who can be relied upon to take cues when he/she is supposed to, and it's kind of a fun feeling to think that there is some kind of mental connection that is going on between the entire crew and cast and that "we're all on the same Wavelength" when the show goes right. In the "real world" It's the SM's job to make sure that happens and she/he doesn't care wether you feel good about it or not.
     
  4. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    I was going to post what Van said basicaly it is not the board ops call when to go. The LD has put alot of time and thought into the timing of the show and when the board op takes that into their own hands it can lead to trouble. While the board op thinks it might add to the show by delaying a cue a little bit longer so there is more room for a laugh it can slow down the pacing of the show changing the directors intent as well as the LD.

    Leave the creativity to the LD and just hit go when board oping, thats why the position is called "Go monkey"
     
  5. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    As Van pointed out, in high school theatre, a lot of times the resources aren't as abundant. I know that I personally was the technical director, lighting designer, board op, and more. When they overlap like that, communicating to the stage manager when all the cues are so that they can call them back to you is not very effective when you don't have much time and the show only runs for a few shows anyway.
     
  6. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Another thing to think about... in the real world you might not have the same board op night after night, or for that matter the same PSM. The designer puts cues into the SM's book in a certain way, and thats they way he/she wants those cues to be called. Sometimes you might want to tablo a scene for a few seconds after a line, othertimes you want to cue to go with the fall of the last line. The board op is simply a means of advancing to the next like cue (a board monkey as some might say...). When an SM calls go its the board op's job to hit go for whatever cue it is, and not to argue. The SM knows more about the show then anyone, and should be given full control of the production. When I have ran shows in the past I try to block out everything that is going onstage out of my mind and concentrate on my screens, especially after running the same show for over a month. The same thing goes for any other dept from flys to deck to audio, go when you get you go, not before or after.
     
  7. chieftfac

    chieftfac Active Member

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    You all bring up very good points. This is why when I design a show, running the board is part of my fee. I do a lot of community theater around here and resources (volunteers) can be limited. So many times I'm LD, Board Monkey, and "Booth SM" all rolled into one. I say that because in 14 years and over 85 shows with this group, I have never seen the "on-deck" SM actually put all of the lighting/sound cues in his/her book.

    I do consider myself lucky in getting the freedom from the director to "adjust" the show as I see fit.

    Now I know that some people say that the show should run excactly the same every night, and their correct. (if this was an equity house) I have seen both side of this coin for years, and I really think that if I tried to bring the true structure of theater to this little group it woudn't be too long before we didn't have a group. Not that they are a bunch of anarchist, they just want to have fun and not get bogged down in production protocol.

    However, when we (TFAC) bring in an outside show (touring group), you HAVE to run it like the road tech/SM says. The customer is always right.

    I'm just saying that sometimes, you wonder, does the road tech/SM see the same show you do from the booth.
     
  8. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Just quick follow up, I want to make sure to not offend board ops, and while yes it is fun to call them Go Monkeys, Button Pushers, etc. They also play a vital role in the production. At our theatre, It's their responsibility to get the lights warmed up, channel check, and take care of all that preshow gack as well as to keep an Eye on the show for cueing oddities, something not coming up the way it's supposed to, lamp flickers etc. all those things that a long run can develope.
    I came from a Community theatre background and I do understand where you are comming from about staffing and different people running things different ways, but I'm also a TD now and I guess that makes me more of a protocol Nazi than most. After 25 years I've found that protocols develop for a reason, and it's adhearence to those protocols that ensures smooth production night after night. At same time just let me state my favorite quote, " Foolish consistency is the Hobgoglin of a little mind."
    This is a good discussion topic, Nice thread :grin:
     
  9. Dillon

    Dillon Active Member

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    Whether or not you are working with equity actors, there is much to be said to the idea of running the show exactly the same night after night. There comes be a dependence upon eachother from each department -- audio, lights, flys, deck and even actors. If anyone from any other area of a show has an expectation that a cue might not go tonight like it did last night, you are just asking for trouble. As soon as you run a cue differently one night, you introduce a sense of doubt. Actors have a lot on their minds already without wondering whether lights will fade out partway through a line, or whether they will have time to get off of stage before a blackout or a million other possible concerns. This is getting a little bit philisophical, but just let me finish by saying that actors need to know they can depend on their technicians. This trust helps everybody do a better show.
     
  10. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    And just to add to that... when the designers leave, the tech table is struck, and the show goes up after previews, dresses, etc the show should be frozen. i.e. what the designers saw the last night they were there should be what they see if they come back in 5 years. This means costumes, lights, set, acting (minus role changes), and any other area. Now it is live theatre, so each night will be a little different depending on the audience and the actors, but the SM should have a feel for that. The SM should also know what is the route of what the designers and director are trying to convey to the audience, and hold that true. Remember, in the real world the people that are operating a show usually are IA memembers, some of which don't have any dramatic training, and are there simply to do the job. It is the SM that is given the authority to modify the show as needed to get the meaning accross, if and when needed.
     
  11. saxman0317

    saxman0317 Active Member

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    To me it doesnt really matter. No matter how its run i always run a visual anyways, when you start getting people calling cues you run in to too many places to make mistakes. That and when your doing it visually it makes you pay more attention to the show and whos doing what or what not. Keeps you on your toes for an actor that didnt get their mic or something else thats all screwd up.
     
  12. DarSax

    DarSax Active Member

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    I've run three shows cueless from the board. I was lighting designer as well as board op on all three shows. There are obvious pros and cons. Pro wise, at times I would miss stuff and it'd be noticeably bad. On the other hand, it gave me such an amazing amount of control that each night my director simply could not believe how well the lights flowed with the show. Depending on how the actors were doing each night, how the tone was going, I could subtly change stuff. I wrote general cues to myself in my script, but I eventually memorized what was where in the play and after that could do what was needed.

    on the other hand, it drove my director crazy that we run (ran) shows like that, out of worry. We've never in the history of my school run cues correctly, though for our upcoming Fall Musical looks like I'm going to be designing and directing the change in that trend.

    Whatever. It's doable, I've never run a called show so I can't really contrast the two.
     
  13. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I would suggest you never go into Professional theatre. You would last about a minute with a Proffesional S.M. There is ONE person in charge of a show once the directors and designers leave ONE the SM if a designer comes back and see the show and want's to do a touch up that's cool they can do that. If the SM notices a problem or the Board Op notices a problem and they contact the Director, who will contact the producer who will approve flying the Designer back in and then he can fix it. That's the way it works. For any one individual on a technical crew to unitlaterially make a change because they think they have a better "Feel" for it is not only hubrous but dangerous, and reckless. There are too many deptments counting on things running exactly the same. Now as I stated in my earlier post if you are a designer and you are the board op then you can make changes whenever you want, as long as you inform the SM that you are making a change and as long as the director of the show approves the change, and there is a huge difference between running a R&R show which is dynamic and a theatrical setting which is static. That's why we have those things called Technical Rehearsals thats where we iron out the Wrinkles so there is no confusion about when cues are called.
     
  14. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    You have to keep in mind that no matter what else, the boss is the boss. You may not agree with every decision, but that's not your problem. You need to remember when you're a chief, be a chief. If you're an indian, be an indian.
     
  15. saxman0317

    saxman0317 Active Member

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    im not saying ignore you SM...im just saying keep up on your own to. Its a big job, and your going to get the finger pointed at you if a cues missed because they didnt give it to you. Never ignore...just dont fall into the whole "i dont need to work...theyll tell me what to do" persona.. Also, im talking show time here when the SM is calling sound, lights rigging, actor cues, prompts, and god knows what else. When doing rehersals, follow the boss...thats always important, and keep an ear out for last minute changes or what not. But once things are relativly set and the SM is doing a running i circles killing actors dance, dont rely compleatly on them and make sure you cann do the job if they happen to disappear. Besides though..and any good tech should always have a copy of a script with playnotes like the SM's with them to follow along as well.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2006
  16. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    Should the SM know how to change the lamp on a studio spot 575 or bench a source four? What about ring out and EQ a room or build an H bridle?

    I dont think so, so why should I have to do the SM's job? Everyone brings something to the table, theatre is a calabrative art, no one person can do everything well. If the SM is dropping Qs its time to get a new SM.
     
  17. saxman0317

    saxman0317 Active Member

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    i dont really agree there though. I always find having notes helps to keep track of the whole picture. The show isnt all about sound or lights, its everything as a whole, you need to understand what else is going on as well. I guess my big thing is that if someone else drops the play, i dont want it reflecting badly on my or having the finger pointed at me for not having something there. Everybody ive always worked with tends to have just as many if not more notes and cues in their books than the SM does themselves. May be alittle OCD, but the shows that we do this for seem to have alot less slip ups and are more organized with less chatter and questions on the intercom. Just seems to run smoother wth the crews ive worked with in the past.
     
  18. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    We might be coming from differnt worlds. When I board op I might have only read the play once or twice for enjoyment and might sit in on a rehearsal same thing for any other non-design position. As ME my binder would be filled with paperwork but not notes on cues. Deck boss might will have a shift list and fly plot but not much else in my experince. As a desinger I would have a copy of the blocking script and the lighting cues as well as some sound cues if they affect my desing (gun shots thunder etc...)
     
  19. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Once again... ITS THE SM'S JOB TO SAY WHEN TO GO, NO ONE ELSES. If you are a board op and you jump a cue, miss a cue, or hit one late it is your fault. If the SM forgets a call it is their fault. It is the board ops job to be consistant, ie if it takes 1 second to hit go after the cue is called, then they should always be that way. The board op should have no corolation with the design what so ever. They are there simply to do one thing, and only one thing, hit the button. The board op the feels they are are going to "help out" the SM because they have "to much going on" is quickly going to find him/herself waiting on the bench at the local. period.
     
  20. cutlunch

    cutlunch Active Member

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    I follow the arguements on both sides. But I have a few questions on a professional show if the SM hasn't called standby for a lighting cue where they normally do is the operator allowed to say "standing by cue no". This being just in case the SM has got distracted.

    Also over there do you never have cues where the SM hands it to the board operator as they can see a visual more clearly. Such as a sudden blackout cued by an action of a character.

    What about follow spot cues where the operator can see the actor is not in the right spot such as a late entrance but the SM has called it. If the operator waited until the character is there the audience wouldn't notice. But bring up a followspot on an empty stage the audience definitely will notice.

    I am not saying anyone should try and over-rule or second guess the SM but do some SM's allow a slight variance to allow for the variance that can happen in a live performance.
     

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