The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

Teach Old Dog New Tricks

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by Ian Sk., Nov 28, 2018.

  1. Ian Sk.

    Ian Sk. Member

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I’m new to this site but wow’d with the content, experience and the expertise of people here.
    My question: My lighting and stagecraft experience stopped for the most part after I graduated from high school in 1974.
    My son’s school will be opening their new performing arts center in January 2020.
    The current Arts Director gets help for lighting/sets from a local community theater.
    I’m told that the new lighting there will be all LED instruments.
    So this old dog needs to learn new tricks so we can use the new theater to it’s fullest.
    Please remember the last instruments I touched were incandescent lekos ,fresnals and strip/border lights.
    Are there any courses/classes/workshops I can take to learn about the new technology.
    I’m in Connecticut 2 hours from NYC and about 2 1/2 from Boston.
    Thank you for any help pointing me in the right direction.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  2. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    2,612
    Likes Received:
    1,168
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    @Ian Sk. Hello old dog. Woof and welcome to the Control Booth forum. Post as many queries as you like, you're likely to receive answers at any hour of the day since we have posters from all locations on the planet including Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada and the U.S. Posting from Canada myself. Our posters range from total newb's to folks with established careers with Disney and Cirque who are bound by non disclosure agreements from revealing their employers. After you've been here for a few years you'll likely get a handle on who's who.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
    lwinters630 and JohnD like this.
  3. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    719
    Likes Received:
    175
    Occupation:
    Educator
    Location:
    Stouffville, Ontario
    If you can get an equipment list (it looks like your most interested in the lighting side) you can usually find the manuals online, or in the case of ETC equipment, a pant-load of really helpful videos that can get you started. Google could be your friend for broad overview stuff as well. And the folks here at Controlbooth are, or course, awesome. Really take advantage of the search function here. There is no question that is so basic that it hasn't already been asked in some form. When you need more detailed information, that's where @RonHebbard comes in... ;)
     
    JohnD and RonHebbard like this.
  4. Chase P.

    Chase P. Active Member

    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    96
    Occupation:
    Freelance lighting designer, production manager
    Location:
    San Francisco
    I second this. Finding out what control console they're going with, and at least getting some of the basics learned could be very helpful. If you've never explored it before, read up/YouTube up on what DMX is. As the primary form of control for LED instruments, you'll need to know a whole bunch of new terms: addresses, universes, opto splitter, terminators, and many more.

    In the Before Times, the board controlled the dimmers (which rarely moved location), so the DMX was kind of hidden and rarely changed. Now with intelligent, LED, and moving lights, that control is brought out of the backstage and to all the fixtures.

    If you've got the time, maybe the community theater group that will be assisting would let you help with a lighting changeover in another venue they work at. There's nothing like getting your hands on the equipment to learn about it.

    Another option would be to see if your nearby colleges have an Intro to Tech Theater course you could audit once in a while. Their textbooks could also be a good resource. Speaking of books, I remember Technical Theater for Nontechnical People (http://a.co/d/hH2WlFb) being a good starter book, though I don't recall how much about modern lighting is in there. I have The Perfect Stage Crew (http://a.co/d/5spnH33) on my shelf, it's a good intro to tech as a whole, but the first edition is lacking anything about intelligent lighting. Second edition is in the link, and may have been updated. Introduction to Stage Lighting: The Fundamentals of Theatre Lighting Design (http://a.co/d/hnXZxxu) looks like it might be relevant, but may also be light on modern day fixtures and control.

    Best of luck to you, and as Ron said, please do post more questions as you explore and learn.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  5. lwinters630

    lwinters630 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    682
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    west of Chicago
    Welcome and welcome back to theatre! In some ways nothing's changed, but in other ways everything changed.
    You still have a stage, sets, and actors. The audiance still has thoughts and emotions. So many of the theories are still basic. Front, back, side lights and why you use them are the same.
    What's new since 1974 (besides cordless drills!)
    You mention LED lights. Well rember those colored gels you would cut to a square and mount in front of a very hot light? Now imagine you could open your laptop and touch a spot on a circle with all the colors of the rainbow. Touch red, bam the whole stage is red. Yes that simple. Check here for overview and downloads. It looks like you have a little more than a year to learn before it opens.
    I would suggest (since you ask for help) you find out what is being specified for the lighting system, manufacture brand, light console, fixtures and more. Then download the software, use training videos.
    ENJOY!
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
    Ian Sk. and RonHebbard like this.
  6. TimMc

    TimMc Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    438
    Likes Received:
    485
    Welcome to the CB forums, Ian. You never left lighting, you just took a tech nap for the last 40 years.

    Good advice and observations up-thread and I'll expand and explain a bit on some of them. In general, everything about the sources and control of stage lighting has changed since you last lit a show. The practical and artistic goals of lighting have not changed in ideals but have expanded greatly because of LED fixtures, "moving lights", and the ability to control them.

    Back in recent stone age dimmers were usually given a control voltage to follow. Analog, typically 0-10V, a common ground bus and 1 conductor per control channel. The next major improvement of this was a digital control protocol called DMX, and it provides a then-startling 512 "channels" of control. Back then it was almost unthinkable you'd need more. Next came Lights That Move and Do Tricks For You. Every parameter that can be adjusted needs its own "channel of control" - a DMX address. The big 512 starts shrinking when each fixture might need 32 or more DMX addresses. Now we have LED fixtures that look kind of like the old lights you've used before but without a whole bunch of heat; no gels because the color mixing is done in the light, but controlling it takes 9 or 13 DMX addresses or more per light (if you have multiple lights you want to behave identically you can give them the same DMX addresses, but that's not ideal). Now our unthinkable 512 addresses is pretty darn small and shrinking in capacity. In our world we make believe for others, for us we make another Universe... another 512 addresses with a physically separate output connector on your console.

    Did I mention control? Lighting consoles have gone through multiple generations. I'm mostly a sound guy who started in lighting so keeping up with lighting control interested me mostly when it didn't work. ;) Someone else can maybe give a Reader's Digest version of how we now control multiple universes of DMX and transport that data over networks, send it to fixtures, and troubleshoot it when something isn't right. Extra points for visual aids, pretty pictures or line diagrams!

    Dimmers as you know them are soon to be a quaint anachronism like buggy whips and steam engines.

    The rest? Cranky directors, prima dona designers, "talent" that can lose their props while moving from wing to center stage... none of that has changed. Ain't that why we do theater? :dance:

    You've got a year? You can do this.
     
    JohnD, Ian Sk., JimOC_1 and 3 others like this.
  7. klane2

    klane2 Member

    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Notre Dame, IN
    One of the major differences is in programming LEDs into a board in my experience. I have found the manuals can be helpful, but also there are a lot of good YouTube videos out there.
     
    Ian Sk. and RonHebbard like this.
  8. Ian Sk.

    Ian Sk. Member

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Connecticut
    View attachment 17138 Thank you all for the advice and information. Here is the patent drawing for the Skirpan board dimmers that we had in high school. The patent is dated 1970 the school open that same year. So I’m guessing it was state of the art. I will for sure try and get what equipment had been spec’ed out.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  9. bosox242

    bosox242 Member

    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Central CT
    Welcome, I'm in CT as well. As others have said if you find out what console and units they are purchasing we can possibly give you a better idea of what resources can help you. I would assume some type of training would be part of the install package of the new performing arts center, maybe they would allow you to participate. If not I believe all manufacturers of name brand lighting consoles offer training off site, you would most have to pay for that though.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice