Author Topic: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process  (Read 9051 times)

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Maribeth

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ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« on: Oct 12, 2012, 02:47 pm »
An article about an experiment in stage managers going paperless. There's an interesting example of the Comment feature of Word to track blocking.

http://www.stage-directions.com/current-issue/81-training/4603-paperless-process.html

dallas10086

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Re: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« Reply #1 on: Oct 13, 2012, 12:14 am »
I'd like to know the program that let them take blocking notes with the stylus. I've tried the comment section in Word but only after typing out the script myself, personally I'd need more practice. And the guinea pig projects were both plays, I'd like to see if their process would translate in a musical or opera.
...and they had to recharge their call book. I didn't see anything about a paper backup should that charger not have been found in time.

MatthewShiner

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Re: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« Reply #2 on: Oct 13, 2012, 12:37 am »
I think that every generation of stage managers will start adopting new technology.

I would never call off a computer, without a paper back up - I would be nervous about not having that.  (Although, on my current show, I did tech directly on the computer, and called large sections of tech off the computer.)

Next generation may feel very comfortable doing everything on paper.

I have a slight worry that specific software, operating systems, etc will dictate stage managers using them to work for a specific company.

What I dislike, again, is that it makes stage management seem like it's just paperwork . . . when reality, we are about managing people, as well the information.
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

Cedes

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Re: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« Reply #3 on: Oct 13, 2012, 09:43 am »
I'm all for going as paperless as possible, but, in the event it fails, I always like to have a hard copy of the script with cues at least.

As far as taking blocking with a stylus, I have found that, after you type up/scan your script into a .pdf format, the app on my ipad "Notability" is perfect. It's a freeform app that allows you to write/draw/highlight/etc. all over your script, and you can save it as you go to dropbox or another online sync so others can view it if needed. You can also insert videos and pictures were you need them.

But Matthew is right. Every generation of SM's will adopt a new technology that works for them. Not every method is perfect for everyone, you just have to find what works for you and for the company you are working for :)

pyromnt

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Re: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« Reply #4 on: Oct 14, 2012, 02:20 pm »
I started SMing without paper and have never looked back. I am junior in high school and have Stage managed 7 shows (not including 1 more for a community theater) and have used my iPad as my main device. I use pages to type up the script, export it as a PDF to Iannotate, and use Iannotate for blocking, lights, sound, flies, etc... I also use pages for a rehearsal schedule and just email it out to the cast. Everyone in the cast has a smartphone and receives my daily emails quickly. My style, without paper, has never had an issue. From what I see, if other highschools have SMs like me, the sm world will soon be paperless

Great article, thank you
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MatthewShiner

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Re: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« Reply #5 on: Oct 14, 2012, 02:26 pm »
Quote
I started SMing without paper and have never looked back. I am junior in high school and have Stage managed 7 shows (not including 1 more for a community theater) and have used my iPad as my main device. I use pages to type up the script, export it as a PDF to Iannotate, and use Iannotate for blocking, lights, sound, flies, etc... I also use pages for a rehearsal schedule and just email it out to the cast. Everyone in the cast has a smartphone and receives my daily emails quickly. My style, without paper, has never had an issue. From what I see, if other highschools have SMs like me, the sm world will soon be paperless

What happens if a cast member doesn't have a smart phone? 
What happens if you have to hand a show off to another SM who doesn't have a iPad?  Or a different tablet computer?
What happens when you drop your ipad? 
Or the battery goes out?
Do you keep your iPad in the booth at all times?  In case you don't show up?


I would not feel comfortable working with an assistant who was entirely paperless and completely digital . . . but again, this is a generational different and depends on the project. 

I worry about a stage management style that is too specifically tied to one kind of technology (Apple for example, which I am moving away from due to their high cost, limited upgradable options, ties to the app store), or technology that doesn't play well each other.  I also don't want to impose any sort of technology requirements on my team - if I required every ASM I had to have an iPad, then I better offer to buy them an iPad.

I want team members that are interchangeable - who can jump on different tasks.  If someone is taking blocking on a iPad, and they need to go to another rehearsal room, then I am stuck without the blocking . . . again, I want everyone to be able to do everything.  Have a paper blocking script is easy to hand off to someone else.

I will also re-state something I said before, iPads, laptops, etc - are tools that have multi-functions, and that is how we interact with them.   If I want to focus, sometimes shutting the laptop, turning off the electronic device allows me to focus on the room - and take notes on a note pad, without being distracting by incoming emails or text messages.  It's easy to get drawn in on a computer or tablet, and distracted from the tasks at hand and what's going on in the room.  Also, I know, when working directly to the computer - for example when I tech directly into a file - I spend more time making it look perfect, then I do with a pencil and an eraser.  Which can actually slow me down.

Again, I think the technology is a tool but never should be a requirement for the job. 

« Last Edit: Oct 14, 2012, 02:51 pm by MatthewShiner »
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

Maribeth

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Re: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« Reply #6 on: Oct 14, 2012, 03:29 pm »
The idea of going paperless is interesting to me- I doubt I will ever want to go fully paperless, but I'd like to continue to explore what benefits there are in some digital options and integrate them into my process.

I (usually) make a digital calling script, but I tech it with paper and pencil and call shows off of a printed copy. I have an Ipad but have never gotten comfortable enough with it to do detailed work on documents. I'm just not that fast with it. For me, a laptop is much easier to use.

I am interested in the possibilities of a digital record of blocking, but I'm not sure that I'm quick enough to type it in in real time- I would get frustrated if it took me longer to record on the computer than it does on paper. It would be great to have a digital backup of blocking in the same way that I have a digital backup of my calling script, but that could be done after the fact, if there was a show I knew was being remounted or being handed off. (For most shows, I don't think the time/effort would be worth it for a 3 or 4 week run). For use in rehearsal, it's more useful to me to have a paper script that someone else (like an ASM) could leaf through and get the info they need.

In the article, I was interested to see what the SMs went back to paper for next year- especially the idea that it would have been a lot harder to digitally track blocking on a script that is constantly being rewritten/updated.

(Interestingly, Matthew, the issue of SMs being too focused on a screen and less on what's happening in the room came up in the comments.)

loebtmc

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Re: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« Reply #7 on: Oct 14, 2012, 03:57 pm »
...and what do you do with designers and actors who are not young computer-literate kids? I have a set designer who hires someone to make his CAD or other computer generated designs, another who still draws them long-hand to turn in, and several senior actors who expect hard copies if I am not gonna phone for calendars, contact sheets etc.

I think going totally paperless may never happen. But I am grateful to communicate paperlessly with as many folks as possible.


dallas10086

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Re: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« Reply #8 on: Oct 14, 2012, 04:25 pm »
...and what do you do with designers and actors who are not young computer-literate kids? I have a set designer who hires someone to make his CAD or other computer generated designs, another who still draws them long-hand to turn in, and several senior actors who expect hard copies if I am not gonna phone for calendars, contact sheets etc.

I think going totally paperless may never happen. But I am grateful to communicate paperlessly with as many folks as possible.

Heck, I have a set designer we contract who doesn't - and refuses to - have an email address, or a phone that takes texts. But pyromnt is in high school where the new normal is the smartphone. The new normal for me in high school was an email address. Something else will change in another 10 years too.

pyromnt

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Re: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« Reply #9 on: Oct 14, 2012, 04:54 pm »
Using technology makes my job easier. Some of the points earlier are definitely valid: There is definitely a greater risk involved if there is not a hard copy, which is why I have copies of my prompt book sent to my ASMs and put on my phone. I also never call a show from my iPad. The iPad is used during the rehearsal process, but I print out a copy for the actual productions.

I know, from experience, that the usage of technology is schools is increasing rapidly. Soon enough everyone from a generation will have a smartphone/tablet and running a show completely paperless show will be possible
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MatthewShiner

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Re: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« Reply #10 on: Oct 14, 2012, 06:31 pm »
I would be interested to know how the technology makes your job easier?  I am not sure any of the paperwork is the "hard" part of my job.  But, I would like to hear about what is easier about taking blocking on an ipad versus handwriting.  Or is it just cooler?  Do you feel like you get more done with the e-version of something, rather then hand written copy?

I am unsure why there is a push to go paperless, unless it is just to it or the "green" aspect of it . . . although theater itself is so inherently not-a-green industry.

I think if you are working with an entirely young team and staff, you can probably get away with it - but if you were to find yourself in the professional world, with a wide variety of people, you may have to adjust your style a bit (like we all do) - when dealing with people who are more or less technically savvy then you - I know designers or shop heads I need to call, and read them the report, even though they get the email.

I think the technology is great - but we shouldn't get all wrapped up in - - - I still find the paperwork is only 25% of the hard part of my job.  There is still no iphone app that makes me deal with actors better, or deal with difficult designers, or directors who refuse to do their homework.




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dougnugget

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Re: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« Reply #11 on: Oct 14, 2012, 06:44 pm »
I always us a paper blocking script, but my calling script is digital. I call the show from my laptop but I keep a hard copy in the booth in case I drop dead and can't make it in, or the computer dies.

LCSM

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Re: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« Reply #12 on: Oct 14, 2012, 08:33 pm »
I always us a paper blocking script, but my calling script is digital. I call the show from my laptop but I keep a hard copy in the booth in case I drop dead and can't make it in, or the computer dies.

I'm curious - if you have a paper copy printed and on hand, what's the advantage of calling off a laptop? The "green" aspect is negated, since you have a printed copy anyway.

loebtmc

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Re: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« Reply #13 on: Oct 14, 2012, 09:43 pm »
Matthew said more clearly what I was trying to express - that in a HS or college environment, where you have a fighting shot of most folks having the latest toys, this is a good experiment, but it's still vital to know how to do paperwork because not everyone in college, let alone in life, has all the latest technology. It's great to find new ways to do things, and I am happy to minimize the paper, but it is still vital to know how to do it.

pyromnt

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Re: ARTICLE: Stage Managers using a paperless process
« Reply #14 on: Oct 15, 2012, 12:12 am »
I still do the same paper work, but just being able to do it while at rehearsal and have it all on the same device makes it easier. Basically, I don't need to search for my paperwork. It is all in the same app and the easily accessible. During blocking, I can use the search feature to find the exact page/cue. For example, if the director asks, when in the script are the Indians removed, I just type in 'Indians removed' on the search feature and it pulls all references in my blocking script where I wrote that

True, working with the production staff is more difficult at times. But it just makes it easier for me because it is easier to do many things. Directors I have worked with have a tendency to change blocking a lot, so with the app, I can easily just tap on the piece of blocking and click edit, because I have the iPad at rehearsal. The seconds that I saved by deleting instead of erasing it, made it easier for me to write down the new blocking

For me personally, my iPad makes me more organized. I am not saying everyone should use it. SMing is an individual craft and everyone does things there own way
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