USITT Elite Training – Day 2

Outside the Viva Elvis Theatre

Day 2 is over and done. And what a day it was.

Training started bright and early, however due to a malfunctioning alarm clock I was a tad late. That aside, when I arrived we were working with the control boards that Stage Technologies offer. I started with sharing the Nomad with my buddy Joe. For coming in late, I was able to quickly catch up in learning the command syntax and the basic programming nature of the eChameleon software.

One of the hardest parts however was to let go of all the training I’ve had with light boards. Automation control boards look similar, and have similar button layouts, but the syntax and meanings are all different. So in order to learn eChameleon best, I had to stop thinking lighting and just focus on the board in front of me. A change in syntax that I  thought was interesting however was that “RECORD” was a terminal command, no hitting enter afterwards.

So after quickly learning basic syntax, we were off to programming some moves in the offline editor. We started with a mexican wave, in which we were given certain parameters like total time and how many cycles the bars must do, and travel distance. So then with those parameters we had to figure out the rest on our own. For this portion a handy pad of graph paper really helps. After completion of that we were instructed to complete a more practical effect, the Mary Poppins proscenium tap-dance. Let me tell you, seems very complicated but by keeping to our instructors motto of KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) we were able to replicate the move instructions similar to the actual ones in the show.

Programming on the Nomad

After an awesome lunch, we had a bit more class but were quickly whisked off for our tour of Viva Elvis. The minute we walked in the space or jaws dropped. The house for this show is just huge. As well they probably had the comfiest theatre seats I have seen or felt. On stage they were testing many of the smaller lifts as well as some sequences with the 8 LED moving panels. To see them come together and play one video was plain awesome. Backstage it just got even better. Down in the basement we saw all the storage for many of the set pieces that take some of the many large lifts up to stage. What was really cool to see is just how they got them onto the lifts and also to see how they connected things like power, data, and microphones to the set pieces. Back upstairs on stage we saw one of the biggest set pieces I have ever laid eyes on. The set piece was of an amusement park and it was most likely around 80′ wide by 15′ deep and maybe 30′ tall. Riggers actually have to fly in to get to the top levels of the set piece in order to clean it. but the most fantastic part of all of this, is that the set piece in all it’s huge glory is actually flown for storage! On a lighting note, not a single conventional besides 6 practicals on set pieces. 300+ moving lights do the work on this show. That was my first experience with a entirely moving light rig. We summed up or tour had a quick dinner, then 5 of us were of to shadow for KÀ.

Our group was split up in 3 groups by the automation team. For the first show I had the privilege to shadow the operator at the front of house booth control position. Best part though, they provided us with com to hear how the entire show is called and ran. As well our station was situated right between the calling Stage Manager and the SFX board op. This was a great one of kind experience and after experiencing that and having conversations with the stage managers and the board ops I have so many ideas to bring back to my peers.

For the second show, 3 of us were situated in the front row of the house to get an audience perspective. Being so close, we were really able to “feel” the show. It was a really cool experience, knowing what was supposed to happen when and to see it with an educated view.

So day 2 has wrapped up and we have one more day. Once again this has been an amazing experience, and the part that makes me the most excited is how much I can bring back and share with my peers, and with you.

Day 3 is up next with more training and the final tour, Mystere.