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Tech Dir advice needed

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by FTOTY, Sep 26, 2004.

  1. FTOTY

    FTOTY Member

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    Here's the situation- I am a senior this year and one of only a few real techies in our theater department. Because of this and the fact that I'm really the only techie who can run everything I was made Tech Director for the year (if all goes well). Now I know enough to get by and do just about anything needed by my director, but I still need LOTS of advice and help. I my theater our booth is about 10' up with no glass in the windows (they wouldn't shut anyway so we took them out). Every year our sound crew head would take the entire 32 channel board out of the booth and put it in the back of the audience. I see no reason to but maybe someone does. Besides that, we've got a ETC 48/96 board w/ 2 tourmentors and something like 25-30 new source fours and 10 new parnels along with our old ellipsodles, fresnels, and 2 good scoops. Anyway, any good advice you've got would be greatly apprecciated!
     
  2. disc2slick

    disc2slick Active Member

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    I know its a pain to do but running sound from where the audience sits is really a good idea. Otherwise what the board OP hears and what the audience hears may be totally different.

    -dan
     
  3. digitaltec

    digitaltec Active Member

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    Though I dont mix much audio, it's best to mix from a house position because you can be in the same perspective as the audiance. If you are in a closed booth or not in the open, then there might be frequencies that are runnin on you and you might not be able to pick them up as quick. I dont know, I can think of alot of reasons why you mix from the house.
     
  4. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Your school you seem to realize is doing you no favors but hanging that title and status over your head as opposed to doing what is right for both your education and the liability issues. Hope you have time for a lot of study into your new both job/title and real responsibility beyond other studying to graduate, because once you take this position, you no longer are a student trying to get out of school or member of the crew, you are the one responsible for anyone that should be injured by anything you approved of but faied in proper study of in knowing better. In other words, you are now the Prez. of safety and the theater tech. If someone thinks that you made a mistake, they must have misheard you because you are not allowed to make mistakes thus don't make them. You also had best not make mistakes because lives are on the line. Don't skip the span charts for lumber because if it fails due to something not learned by experience (such as 18" being the maximum un-braced length of a leg permissible when thru-bolted) or that math you are now responsible for, it's still going to fail with you in holding that buck stops here title - responsible. This set construction as one part of it all in addition to lighting, sound, rigging and costuming.

    Really good experience for you once you are in charged (but not really since you no doubt have to work thru someone to purchase stuff or keep your title). You get to deal with crews and questions that while you possibly won't know at the moment, will reinforce the necessity and immediate need for you to learn in the end. Nobody teaching you means you don't get a instruction beyond what you teach yourself in this "school." This will help in your career in that this need to know stuff will be more immediate both in private study and future classes from people attempting to teach you beyond writing off instruction because you think you know but are not responsible for really knowing it well.

    On the other hand, in being in charged, you have nobody teaching you, much less there is no safety net given this realization that you realize that you are not yet qualified to be this all knowing tech god of the theater. In realizing your limitations with the responsibility you take on more than just in leading crews, it's a very hard choice to make. Beyond that, if you don't take this postition, they - those lacking in the cash to pony up for a real TD will no doubt find someone less qualified than you to lead instead of paying someone to instruct and supervise.

    Very hard choice to make. At this point hard to even assume you are ready they seem to assume you to be and it would be useful for you to jump in with both feet given you at least think you know most normal stuff but also realize what you don't yet know or what might be suspect in your own training so far. Responsible you might seem to be for being this TD, question is will you take the status over being qualified you have some doubts over.

    The "if all goes well" also means the school has some questions about what they are forcing you to choose in the interm of your last year until someone else is asked the same question or someone is hired, while no doubt saving money on qualified staff to teach and supervise as opposed to just a student to make it happen hopefully safely. You bet that if there is a problem beyond lack of training and inspiration, the failure will be all on your failing to live up to the "trust" they have in you. As if someone with what three years of experience in some kind of theater tech training can run a theater safely. Fail to get the show up and running in time it's in your fault. Someone die and it's your fault initially and for sure, but also the gamble they are taking in you being sufficient to run the crew. Not that most people asking you to lead realize the dangers involved. Might be someone in the weight lifiting room paid to ensure nobody dies on the sports team, but the stage... it's just a question of nailing up some platforms after all.

    This school it would seem has done you no favors in granting you the title as long as you don't screw up. They both are not providing education to you as the best of the tech but no longer learning from someone, in that you are willing to fill in instead of futher education, and in granting this cool title of TD have found a solution to a problem they have in not having cash to hire a pro to teach and to be responsible for it as normal given the lack of hiring someone to instruct and ensure safety. Un-mentioned I'm sure beyond just captian of the sports/drama type club tech. Consider yourself head water boy for the drama club that is now the football coach I might have you consider in this position they put you in.

    Were it me, and I was for half a show when the other TD quit, I would be wanting that power I could now have to shape how we did things, yet a year later with a real TD I soon realized how out-classed I was in what I knew verses what I was now learning as I should be. Back than, I had never even considered drywall screws much less a screw gun. Question is what are you going to be missing out on? You are in school after all. Given this refrence on my own part, I would attempt to hold out on commiting given a stated hesitation on your part and see if by nobody being the necessary position, the school might hire someone properly trained to instruct and supervise. Given this fails, and only than you will lead the crew to the best of your abilities, at least have it in writing your intent that while you will lead the crew, your abilities as the most senior and trained member of the crew is seriously compromized in you doing so both for safety and inspiration. You also highly recommend that they cancel the program until such a proficient TD is found due to liability issues (as being this serious) or at least get you some overseeing supervision on some of the more technical issues you will have to deal with as only a stop gap in this requirement/request of you leading the crew. This person is now the liable source for a future problem or at least a stop gap for you in making descions that are safe.

    All it's going to take is one cut off finger and you as the "TD" will now only go down in a bad way but there will be serious cover one's rear on the part of those that put you in this position in placing all the blame on you and not them. Instead and given a qualified to instruct even you TD is not available, make it known in writing that you will compromize by leading the crew as the most qualified to lead, but will not be responsible should something come up you are not qualified as a TD they grant the title of to be becomes a problem. This is true anyway, but later as a future TD, such doccumentation into responsibility and liability will become a norm anyway once your objections are not listened to. Yes you will do your darndest to make things safe but also realize your limitations. Making that known will be necessary.

    Hope it helps. First place I became TD of, it was with great hesitation given I had only a few years in training and a college degree in it. Because of this of being the most trained person, I took my own responsibility of asking questions every day to those outside the theater more qualified in advice and to read lots of info in further training evidenced elsewhere on the forum. That liability/responsibility was good for me and by the end I was ready for it for the most part later, but this was with a lot of realization that effort was necessary and that title was not favor or status symbol for me in the end only a lot of details to worry about in being responsible for them now.
     
  5. FTOTY

    FTOTY Member

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    Thanks for the help. Because of how poorly our theater is run I really had no idea how big of a deal being TD was. Unfortunately we only have one theater teacher to teach gen. theater and stagecraft. He knows what he's doing but doesn't really have the time to be TD and director or the money to hirea real TD. We've also never had a real safety issue before, just some bumps and scratches, so noone really sees a need for a pro TD. I will do that documentation now though and be as prepared as possible to lead my crew. thanks again
     
  6. bdesmond

    bdesmond Active Member

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    Nobody has "had a real safety issue" until something happens. I guarantee you there are things going on that shouldn't be right now - everybody has just kept all their limbs, eyes, etc. You don't know you have a problem in this department until the horse is out of hte barn, generally.
     
  7. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Welcome and best of luck to you on your new "job". I had a similar thing thrust onto me when I was a senior... Its a challenge..and I disagree with schools that do that because of liability issues. Its nothing personal or saying anything bad about your abilities--just from the standpoint of safety and the amount of responsibility it is over the fact that you are there to learn first--not do another teachers job, just can be a discredit to you and the education they are supposed to be giving you. They should assign you such a position under supervision so you can learn and not have your education suffer, and not generally be the savior of their department. Its also not fair to put such a liability issue onto a student. Again I'm sure you are a very well experienced tech for your school and will do well--but IMO school is just that--a place for you to learn and be taught or guided. JMO... well with that opinion said, please feel free to post any questions or concerns you may have with your new job. Many folks on here can help you out and give some great advice to follow. In regards to the sound console--it can be a great idea to get the console and your ears outside of a closed area and into the audience to reference the sound quality and levels best. In some booths I have been in, even open ones, there can be as much as 3db level of difference--and it takes a ton of experience to run a console from inside a room and train your ears to listen and "listen" to get a good reference to what you hear vs. what the audience hears. However in most schools, you have to deal with what you have to deal with--and in the end what you learn can make you a better mixer for the future.

    Best suggestion I can give you for your new position--teach others under you what you do, and let them learn from you--and be open to learn from others under you too..even if its something as simple as tying knots, keeping inventory or cutting gel. Every person can be a great teacher and has something to teach someone else. Age has no bearing on this rule of life and teaching goes both ways in life--old can teach young but young can also teach old. Always keep your mind open to learning as much as you keep your mind open to teaching others. Also since its your senior year--have a lot of fun and don't let the responsibility take away from your academics and grades. Best of luck and I'll look forward to your questions..

    -wolf
     
  8. producer

    producer Active Member

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    one bit of advice, train a replacement now. otherwise they'll continue to call you after you're out. my school did and now look, I'm in first year university and still the TD at my high school.
     
  9. JahJahwarrior

    JahJahwarrior Active Member

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    I'm TD this year for our drama production...ont really for the whole school, but I might as well be. I am the most knowledgable student (so knowledgeable I cannot spell it right half the time!) for being TD, the drama teacher is heading over me, like, I half to go thrugh her to buy things. And seeing as the school has no tech budget....the tech crew (basically, four students who are interested, I am teaching them what I kow, which isn't little, but hopefully they can get more involved with adults like I have in other tech areas) might have to do some car washes. I am in charge of Tech, but I have a teacher coming behind me checking most things...:) It's an odd odd world!! oh, BTW, I'm a sophomore. I run sound and lighting for my church youthgroup (www.sweatyouth.com, if you are really bored and look through all the pictures somewhere in there is a picture of me ducking in the soundbooht, but even i only saw it once...) and also for a church ministry called SURGE. I have alot of experience with that, I am knowledable to an etent, now I need more real world training. I also run tech stuff for my band and for a cuple others from time to time. On occasion I help fix TV cord arrangements and I help other students make and run good looking powerpoint presentations.

    Hopefully someday I will be a real TD of a real theatre, with real techies and will know alot more!!
     
  10. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    (I don't really get that "quote" system. It's getting really late lol.)

    Haha I couldn't agree with you more!!! I graduated with a diploma last year and I'm now working at a professional theatre, and I have been called in to design lights for their production of Les Miserables. It's a fun show, and I love associating with all those crazy theatre people again, but everybody says I need to move on. I guess they don't realize that I didn't have much of a choice. (that, and I'm getting paid lol) But it really is good advice, because I'm also scheduled to teach a technical theatre course at the cross town rival high school as well.
     
  11. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    In some ways, you in being forced to teach what your already recognize what does not make you a lighting god, makes you superior to your peers in that what you recognize a in sufficience in makes you yurn for learning that which you don't yet know but recognize is important to.

    Good luck with both the major design and teaching position. Such an experience will beyohnd a doubt bring you to another plane of recognition of what's reality of the show as opposed to premium choice in what is applied and what is getting the show up and running but hack in what you would otherwise theorize after you write off any one show above any number of them in progression.

    You have the advantage over many of us that might seem more experienced. Wolf and I, I expect both recognize and respect that you in teaching and designing now have what we already have experienced or learned and are about to either equal our own experience no matter the years or advance beyond ours with a different style of what's useful. In any case, welcome to the club.

    No matter who the author after some point or some level of the real life pain of what would be great verses what's either compromized or just simply done, you see the wall of good verses great verses what one assumes to be great under what is recognized to be so, verses what one aspires to be so but either is not complete because it's too much work or not really. As long as the bill comes in an you get another chance, all is well - no matter the show. What is, is, the un-trained audience won't see the detail you live in anyway.

    Strove for greatness and don't be distracted by humdun reviews of your work. Strive also to make those under you in youth to make that recognition you either will or might not make. Pride is not just in you but your next generation later.

    In other words, take the high school money and inspire those under you in all ways possible. Inspire upon them the magic of the design you see so as that they someday will become greater than you in ability. All else, much less just surviving a show is of less importance to me.
     
  12. tenor_singer

    tenor_singer Active Member

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    Please be careful.

    Ship and Wolf... not all schools who assign a TD, give them the responsibility that you are thinking that they have. My TD is only trained on how to design and set up sound and lighting plots, as well as run the equipment necessary to create their vision. They are not allowed to do any actual electrical work without first being taught what to do either by me or by a person who is experienced in that field... ie. I have a father who is a certified electrician who taught them how to make extension cords and jump cords. Then any work done by them is inspected by me personally (no matter how little time I have). My basic rule... if I don't know how to do a task, my kids will never do it and I will pay an expert to perform that task. I guess it helps that I view my theater kids like my own children. I would never put my child at risk, so I would never do that to them either.

    I am only saying this because I don't want the community out there to think that schools are doing a poor job training TD's. They may not be training them in ALL TD duties, but I think that would be the job for a college program. I view my job as giving my techies a tast of a broad, but yet safe, spectrum of technical theater.

    Tenor.
     

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