Author Topic: PROMPT BOOK: Blocking notation help, anyone?  (Read 12597 times)

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Debo123

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PROMPT BOOK: Blocking notation help, anyone?
« on: Aug 06, 2004, 06:35 pm »
So I just met with my director for the first time and she told me she likes to let blocking "evolve." She said what stage managers have done in the past is make columns and write down the different ways people are moving each of the first few times she runs it... I basically understood her, but does anyone have an example of what this looks like, suggestions on how to maybe do it better, or advice otherwise?
Thanks!
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 10:24 pm by PSMKay »

SM_Art

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OK...
« Reply #1 on: Aug 07, 2004, 01:50 am »
I'd suggest you keep blocking on a clean sheet of paper that you can date and insert into the script (I'm thinking the back of the sheet facing the dialogue in this case) so that you have the running account she seems to prefer.  I'm not sure how you'll know when to 'correct' them and when to simply start a new sheet, but that's a discussion with the director!  Sooner or later you have to set things....  Most likely it won't be drastically different each time, but one never knows....  As long as you can find a way to reconcile blocking from one scene to the next (so that someone isn't exiting to the bathroom and returning from the front door, e.g.) it should work... even if it creates more work for you.  What's the show???
Art

loebtmc

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Blocking notation help, anyone?
« Reply #2 on: Aug 07, 2004, 03:22 am »
colored pencils!

also, I "x" through blocking that seems to have disappeared but hasn't been officially erased.

Debo123

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Blocking notation help, anyone?
« Reply #3 on: Aug 07, 2004, 07:51 pm »
The show is Polaroid Stories.
I like the changing paper idea.
Loebtmc, do you know of a colored pencil brand that erases easily?
(I'm thinking maybe I can combine these methods :-))
Anyone else have any ideas?

smejs

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Blocking notation help, anyone?
« Reply #4 on: Aug 07, 2004, 10:59 pm »
As far as having multiple sheets for blocking, sometimes it can get tricky turning the right number of pages to keep track of the script.  To solve this, I keep the script on full-size pages (I choose to put my script on the left hand side of the ring binder, since I'm right handed and scribble more on the right hand piece of paper for the blocking).  For the blocking side, I start with a full size sheet, but then cut a small triangle off the bottom right hand corner.  When I go to turn a page, I (try to remember to) pull from this bottom right hand corner, and thus the next page I actually grab is another full-size sheet of the script.  I hope this makes sense.  It's a very easy solution.

As well as the date, you'll probably also want a spot on the blocking sheet for the script page number just incase things get mixed up.

Erin

loebtmc

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Blocking notation help, anyone?
« Reply #5 on: Aug 08, 2004, 01:48 am »
debo123 - I do have some colored pencils that erase easily but I will have to check the brand name and see if they are still being made - I have had good luck w kids products, tho - since parents usually want things they can eliminate cleanly and easily - for ex.,  that's why I use sidewalk chalk to spike sets where we have to fully strike after each nite's rehearsal - it's fast, easy and comes up w a damp rag -

I think they may be crayola, but I will check - off-brands seem to work quite well much of the time too.

OH YEAH - and a good art eraser (no offense, Art) - they can handle a myriad of bad colored pencil lines.

KC-SM

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Blocking notation help, anyone?
« Reply #6 on: Aug 08, 2004, 03:05 am »
In an organic blocking setting, I usually buy the largest POST-IT's I can find - usually you can find at least 3/4 size of sheet and write the date on top or the version and record what the actors do on the sheet.  I stick them on the right side of the book and then when the version that the director likes best is used, I write it down.

 :?: Which brings me to another interesting question, who uses the numbering system for blocking? (i.e. Placing a number WHERE the action happens in the script and on the corrosponding page, writing the ACTION and labeling it with the number.) :?:
                                      -KC-
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                                  *AEA SM*

ChaCha

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Blocking notation help, anyone?
« Reply #7 on: Aug 08, 2004, 09:10 am »
I usually use numbered blocking...In fact I'm not really aware of another way of quickly notating exactly where the action relates to in the script ?

Sometimes with an 'evolving' style of direction I've done one set of numbers, one set of letters, or even started numbering at say, 50 at the top of the page, until things settle down

Incidentally...and even further off the original question...When I trained we also had classes in dance notation, and worked out with the lecturer ways to utilise it for blocking notation. Obviously the main drawback being the need for a key so someone else could understand it...so i think most of the class stopped using it. But a few symbols have become part of my standard 'repetoire'

Actually, recording blocking is the part of stage management that i really hate. Give me a video anyday!
ChaCha

FallenRain

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Blocking
« Reply #8 on: Aug 08, 2004, 03:54 pm »
I use the number system to record blocking.  Like smejs, I also have my script page on the left hand side so I can have a clean page on the right (I'm right handed).  

It's also nice to make a mini copy of your groundplan and to photocopy it on the top of your blocking notation pages.  You can mark starting/ending points of your characters for each page of dialogue.  That way, when the director says he wants to pick up on page 68, you'll know exactly where everyone should be onstage with just a glance at your book.

I usually skip some numbers when taking blocking to allow for inserts of new blocking.  For example, if I take a note of blocking that is near the top of the page, I might label it number 2.  If the next piece of blocking is near the bottom of the page, I might label it number 7.  That way, if things get added before, in between, or in the middle of those numbers, I've got some leeway.  I think of my pages in counts of 10 for blocking, if a note is taken near the middle of the page, that's in the 5 range, at the top is 1 and at the bottom 10.  I hope that makes sense.

There are a million ways to do the number thing though.  I know people who do things in multiples of ten, so they might have a number 20, then the next note is number 30... if something gets added in the middle, it's 25, etc.  I've also seen people who just number in order when they take the notes and if something needs to be added, they mark them 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, etc.

I agree with ChaCha though, I really don't like taking blocking.

Debo123

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Blocking notation help, anyone?
« Reply #9 on: Aug 08, 2004, 10:14 pm »
Oooh, post-its-- a stage manager's best friend. Good call.
KC, in response to your question- I also use the numbering system to take blocking.

To expand on the last thing- I've also seen blocking pages where the SM had not only a mini ground plan at the top, but on the right hand side was their blocking legend, so they never had to worry about forgetting abbreviations. Then they put lines on the rest of the page so that they could neatly write in the blocking. Worked really well and looked really neat.

ChaCha

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Blocking notation help, anyone?
« Reply #10 on: Aug 09, 2004, 12:45 pm »
Ah yes, and when they've given me lots of pre production time, I've even been known to photocopy the mini diagram and a central dividing line(to give me a column for blocking and a column for writing calls/cues etc) onto the back of the script pages, thus avoiding the tedium of gluing and ruling, and the hazard of all the glued in mini diagrams making the top corner of the prompt copy bulge...

I always put the script on the right, but its just habit and I concede that if you are right handed the reverse would be simpler....
ChaCha

KC-SM

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Blocking notation help, anyone?
« Reply #11 on: Aug 10, 2004, 02:20 am »
I'm one of those crazy left-handers that are more convenienced by writing on the left with the script on the right.  

I once had a fellow SM create a STENCIL out of the groundplan using cardstock and an exacto knife.  

It was helpful when only a certain stage was utilized for blocking and he was able to just draw that area or use the whole groundplan as needed.  

I never took up this method, but I thought it was worth noting.
                                      -KC-
                                    --NYC--
                                  *AEA SM*

Kestrel_Childers

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Blocking notation help, anyone?
« Reply #12 on: Aug 13, 2004, 08:28 pm »
I'm not big on using post-its in my book, mostly because post-its and flags have a nasty tendency to get loose.

Instead, I was taught to mark blocking that isn't done again with sort of a system so after they haven't done the same thing 3 times, it's pretty safe to assume that it's not going to happen.  That way you have a record of the old blocking for a little while if they want to go back to it, but after a point, they probably won't.  So for example:

Original blocking:

Deb. x SL, PU glass, 'drink'

Rehearsal 2 (they change the blocking, so you write the new blocking and indicate that they didn't do the old blocking by adding some marks)

(Deb. x SL, PU glass, 'drink')

Rehearsal 3 (they change the blocking slightly from last rehearsal and again, don't repeat the blocking from the 1st rehearsal, so you add another set of marks around the last ones)

' (Deb. x SL, PU glass, 'drink') '

Rehearsal 4 (they change the blocking slightly from last rehearsal and again, don't repeat the blocking from the 1st rehearsal, so you make a line through the blocking)

' (Deb. x SL, PU glass, 'drink') ' (imagine a line through this blocking)

Rehearsal 5:  if they don't do that blocking again, it's probably safe to erase it from your book

Eva

loebtmc

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Blocking notation help, anyone?
« Reply #13 on: Aug 14, 2004, 03:40 am »
I do the same thing - put parenthesis around blocking that hasn't been repeated and draw a line through if it doesn't happen the third time. Then I wait a day or so, and generally don't erase it until it looks for sure that they are going in a different direction (Murphy's Law tends to rear its ugly head a lot if I erase too early).

phillydan

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Blocking notation help, anyone?
« Reply #14 on: Aug 24, 2004, 05:40 pm »
As far as numbered blocking goes....  I learned a new way of doing that a couple years ago from an SM I was working with.  Instead of numbering each MOVE, she would number every other LINE in the script (1, 3, 5, etc.) and then insert a caret in the line when the movement happened.  Then when you record the blocking, you write the number of the line in the script where it happens.  That way, you don't have to worry about changing the numbers when new things are added.  Hope that makes sense.

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