Author Topic: TECH: ASMs Role in "Paper" Tech  (Read 3868 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Risa Comical

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 10
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Current Gig: Directing The Nerd
  • Experience: Community Theatre
TECH: ASMs Role in "Paper" Tech
« on: Aug 28, 2010, 07:57 pm »
Maybe it's because I don't know terms, but I'm wondering if what I do is a form of paper tech...

I'm currently the ASM for a production, and the SM never gives me anything to do, and so now that we're out of the blocking phase, I've just been sitting there. So one day I went through the script and wrote all the light,sound,fly and any other cues down in order, and asked the director abot any other cues he wanted added or taken away from the script. I'm emailing the sound cue's to our sound guy ( he's the designer, and sound board operator I think.)

Is this at all like a paper tech, or was I just doing my job?

This topic has been split off from a 2005 thread on Paper Techs:  http://smnetwork.org/forum/index.php/topic,572.0.html -Rebbe
« Last Edit: Apr 07, 2011, 06:41 pm by Rebbe »
It all started with a single question... " Hey, do you wanna stage manage JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT!?" Best decision in my life so far...

MysterySM

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Re: Re: TECH: Paper Tech
« Reply #1 on: Apr 06, 2011, 12:41 am »
Well, I am by no means any kind of an authority, but it sounds like a paper tech to me, Risa! Its great that you took the initiative since you SM wasn't giving you much.
Generally I find that paper tech is nice because it gives you a chance to make sure you know all of the cues and everyone is on the same page for dry tech. I think it saves some time because it allows the LD and SD to start roughing in their cues and we'll all have the same numbers. But I am still in Uni so maybe it's just because most of us are new to the process.
One thing that I found that made paper tech go a lot faster ( especially if it's a long show) is after you sketch in where you think the cues should go and where they've been mentioned in rehearsals is sitting down with the director and making sure that they agree ( sort of a pre-paper tech) This way the Director can just sit in tech with a good book and say yes or no to small detail decisions. It makes the process go much faster as opposed to the director constantly interjecting and discussing the nature of each individual cue. ( Though the few times that's happened to me she was a pretty overbearing and micro-managing director)

MatthewShiner

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 2477
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: PSM THE LION KING NORTH AMERICAN TOUR; Assc Director and Production Supervisor HUNCHBACK International
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Re: TECH: Paper Tech
« Reply #2 on: Apr 06, 2011, 02:11 pm »
Maybe it's because I don't know terms, but I'm wondering if what I do is a form of paper tech...

I'm currently the ASM for a production, and the SM never gives me anything to do, and so now that we're out of the blocking phase, I've just been sitting there. So one day I went through the script and wrote all the light,sound,fly and any other cues down in order, and asked the director abot any other cues he wanted added or taken away from the script. I'm emailing the sound cue's to our sound guy ( he's the designer, and sound board operator I think.)

Is this at all like a paper tech, or was I just doing my job?

Well, this is sort of a paper tech. BUT . . . maybe at the level you are working at this is acceptable, but doing this without the SM's knowledge is probably not the best thing to do - it sort of smacks of working around the boss.

Also, and maybe it's because the stuff I work on it so out of the box, I would never even pretend to tell any designer where a cue goes . . . that's a designer's job's. (granted, I don't do a lot of shows where an actor comes in and switches on a light switch).  If a director mentions something such as a light change, or a pool of light, or a some sort of light effect, I will pass it on to the designer so the designer and the director can discuss . . . but for any member of the stage manager to tell a designer where a cue goes might be a big crossing over the line.

This way the Director can just sit in tech with a good book and say yes or no to small detail decisions. It makes the process go much faster as opposed to the director constantly interjecting and discussing the nature of each individual cue. ( Though the few times that's happened to me she was a pretty overbearing and micro-managing director)

I had a good chuckle over this.  A director reading a good book during the tech process?  A director being considered overbearing for mico-managing?  What do you think their job is? 

Directors are hired to delivered a final finished product for the producer.  Ultimately, every decision that is made about the production -- every cue, every prop, everything has to serve the director's vision --because ultimately they are responsible for the final product.  It was their responsibility.  (Just like much of the burden of delivering the finished product by opening night is our responsibility - whatever that finished product maybe.)

So any director who spends tech with a good book in hand and is NOT micro-managing is a director who perhaps has checked out a bit . . . and one who is, should not be called overbearing, but just be acknowledge as doing their job.

Paper tech is a great tool, but remember, you should start paper teching from the first day you look at the designs, the first day you start staging.  Ever day you stage, you should be adjusting your run sheets, figuring out if what you staged can be accomplished given the physical and production limitations you are producing under.  You need to be able to turn to your director immediately and go - that's great staging, but the table just exited stage left, we have no way to get to stage right to re-enter in 2 minutes. 

I feel like by the end of the rehearsal process, if I was to have a paper tech - without the knowledge of what I learn in the theatre, a papertech would be me giving information OUT to designers, not me getting information.  At the end of four weeks, I feel like I would have all the information I would possibly get. 

Don't get too over zealous and TELL designers where cues go - you may communicate where the director wants a cue, or what the script is asking for, but a designer may come up with something that is better - that is the magic of collaboration.

Be prepared for a Director or designers who just don't want to "waste" time on this.  Don't be offended.  Most of the time - creative types don't like to make decisions before they absolutely have to . . . and sitting down and making design decisions without seeing things happen in the space may feel very artificial and against what they feel like is important to them as an artist.  On the flip side, you might be able to talk to them about getting a vocabulary for scene changes, so you figure out how to go off and dry tech things on your own.

If you have automation - then I think the stakes are raised higher and you must sit down and at least get some things dry tech so some cues can be written and pre-cued.  You may need help from higher up to get people to sit down and make some decisions in a timely manner.  (And remember, this might push you into over time).

Be prepared to do the dry tech by yourself in pieces . . . especially as designers are not in town or are not available.  Remember, sometimes we are lucky to get a designer for one run thru before tech.  (And I thought this was just for regional theatre, but I am learning in even on Broadway . . . designers rarely come in for more then one run . . .  one designer said "If I see too many runs, I get frustrated by the changes . . . what I really want to see is one run, a month before tech, where I am promised they won't change any blocking.")

And remember, you can spend hours dry teching, but once you get into the theatre, it can all change in an instant.  Be flexible.


Edit added attribution to second quote.-Rebbe
« Last Edit: Apr 07, 2011, 06:45 pm by Rebbe »
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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.

bex

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 298
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Twitter
  • Affiliations: AEA, Auburn University
  • Current Gig: Freelance SM/ASM
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Re: TECH: Paper Tech
« Reply #3 on: Apr 06, 2011, 08:31 pm »
At the theatre where I currently work, paper tech has become computer tech. It's a bit of a unique situation because I don't have board ops- I run both the lights and the sound in QLab, so instead of a paper tech we (me, the LD, and the SD) sit down with the QLab file the sound designer has created and add the light cues into the file. This actually happens a few days into the tech process when I take over running the boards from the designers, so it doesn't serve the time-saving purpose of a normal paper tech.
Before we link the boards, both designers are still playing with levels and our lighting designer is still writing cues as we go. I have everything in my book already and am calling the cues, but the two boards have not been linked yet via the computer. Basically this meeting is me talking through what I have in my book that we've already been running in tech, and the designers make everything match that in the computer by adding light cues in between the sound cues already written.  Once we have a sequence written, we run it to make sure everything works as intended, and then move on to the next cue.  I hope that makes sense.

Typically it sounds a little like this:
SM: Ok, so the next sequence is the transition between Scene 2 & 3- Light cue 26 we go to black, then when the actors are clear we bring up the scene change lights in cue 27 and the transition music goes at the same time, so we need to link those cues together. Then the music fades as the scene lights are coming up in cue 28.
LD: That's a 6-second fade in the lights.
SD: I'll match the sound fade to that so that the cues end at the same time.
SM: Let's run that with the computer. Everything look the way you want it?
SD: I'm going to shorten that fade time, it sounded a little funny. 5 seconds should do it.
SM: Let's run it again then. How'd it look? Great. The next cue is SQ G, the doorbell on page 37, then light cue 29 at the bottom of that page, when Beth turns on the lamp.

What I am learning to love about QLab is that because I'm running the shows (and because I'm working with resident designers, so it's the same team on every show) they have given me essentially free reign over the formatting of the computer. They write the cues, but the numbering and description is left up to me. This way, I can write myself notes in the description bar for each cue, like "VISUAL- watch Beth!" and put cues that are linked into a group so that I'm looking at one line that says "LQ 27 / SQ F Transition lights and music" rather than the 3 lines that the cue actually takes up (1 for the LQ, 1 for the music itself, and 1 for the fade up in the music).

Basically they make QLab perform the function of 2 board ops who are REALLY in sync and I make it look like my prompt book.
You will have to sing for your supper & your mortgage, your dental coverage & your children's shoes, over & over again while people in desk jobs roll their eyes the minute you start to complain. So it's a good thing you like to sing.

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1567
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Re: TECH: Paper Tech
« Reply #4 on: Apr 06, 2011, 08:49 pm »
side note on paper techs - I like to prep my script based on where I know the director wants light cues, or (if I know the designer) where I think he/she will add them, but a paper tech can be a good thing, walking through the script w Lights and Sound to get a sense of what the designer is thinking and what the feel of the cue is meant to be so I can adjust timing accordingly. Either way, as Matthew stated, the director's job IS to discuss the look and the feel and the nature of each individual cue. It's not micro-managing, it's their job.

BUT - and this is key - even when I do a rough pre-tech assignment, I don't tell them where the cues are, nor are pre-number or otherwise set them. I am there as the scribe, to record what they say. With some designers I might ask if they see a separate cue in a specific point if it doesn't otherwise come up, but mostly, in a paper tech I am there as a sponge. Once we start tech, sometimes they hand me a sheet of paper with a list of cues and cue number/name assignments, along w their rough placement, which I load into my book, and sometimes the LD or SD gives me the cues as we go - but either way, it comes from them.

MatthewShiner

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 2477
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: PSM THE LION KING NORTH AMERICAN TOUR; Assc Director and Production Supervisor HUNCHBACK International
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Re: TECH: Paper Tech
« Reply #5 on: Apr 06, 2011, 09:44 pm »
Once we start tech, sometimes they hand me a sheet of paper with a list of cues and cue number/name assignments, along w their rough placement, which I load into my book, and sometimes the LD or SD gives me the cues as we go - but either way, it comes from them.

I think this is VERY common, especially for Sound Designers . . . not so often for lighting designers, who tend need actors in the space to do their job.

Edit added attribution to quote-Rebbe
« Last Edit: Apr 07, 2011, 06:50 pm by Rebbe »
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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.

BayAreaSM

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 410
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Bay Area SM
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Current Gig: VP, Operations in AV Events
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Re: TECH: Paper Tech
« Reply #6 on: Apr 06, 2011, 10:31 pm »
From my experience with New Works/Workshop festivals, due to the very limited tech time, the LD hands me (or emails me the night before) a list of all cues, what they do, where they go and I put them into my script as fast as I can before the tech is over.

I've also found that some directors are incredibly specific about their underscoring/scene change music. They get a stack of CDs from the SndD during their initial design meetings before rehearsals start, and it's the SM's job to make note of tracks used, where they go, how long the director wants them to be, etc. I once worked a show where I would send the notes in the report about what SFX we needed, I would get an email of files from the SndD and the next day I would upload the files into Cricket (before I learned the magic of QLab) and would run the show through our in-studio sound system (through my laptop). Granted, this was never as good as the final show cut, but it worked for the director during rehearsal, so that they could be fully prepared before we walked into the theater.

Rebbe

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 271
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: TECH: ASMs Role in "Paper" Tech
« Reply #7 on: Apr 07, 2011, 07:24 pm »
SM never gives me anything to do, and so now that we're out of the blocking phase, I've just been sitting there. So one day I went through the script and wrote all the light,sound,fly and any other cues down in order, and asked the director abot any other cues he wanted added or taken away from the script. I'm emailing the sound cue's to our sound guy ( he's the designer, and sound board operator I think.)

Is this at all like a paper tech, or was I just doing my job?
I realize community theaters sometimes have unique ways of doing things, but it sounds to me like you are doing the Stage Manager’s job rather than the ASMs job, and not a paper tech at all.  Typically in professional theaters the designers already have an idea of what Qs are dictated by the script, and if the director has new ideas during rehearsals, the SM will share those in a rehearsal report.  Sometimes the director or SM talks to the designers directly outside of the reports.  I’ve only seen ASMs relaying info to the designers when that task is specifically delegated to them by the SM.   

It sounds like you’re relatively new to stage management, so I would really encourage you to check out some books on the craft (Tom Kelly & Lawrence Stern are a couple authors)   and to read some of the ASM oriented threads on this sight, to get a broader picture of what ASMs generally do throughout the  production.  Its great that you prefer to be busy rather than board in rehearsal; just make sure you talk with your SM about the best way to feel more useful so you are not stepping on toes. 

BUT - and this is key - even when I do a rough pre-tech assignment, I don't tell them where the cues are, nor are pre-number or otherwise set them. I am there as the scribe, to record what they say.
I would add that if there is a Paper Tech without the director present, I try to communicate what the director would like to see or hear if I have specific information about a given moment, then leave it to the designers to figure out how to achieve that end (that's where their artistry comes in).
« Last Edit: Apr 07, 2011, 07:37 pm by Rebbe »
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)

missliz

  • Superstar!
  • *****
  • Posts: 569
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Personal Site
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: TECH: ASMs Role in "Paper" Tech
« Reply #8 on: Apr 08, 2011, 12:28 am »
The only cues I'd mark in my book would be necessary/practical cues (a phone ring, for example, or a lamp turned on or off). Even then, a note would go in the rehearsal report to confirm these cues with the designers, just to be sure we're all on the same page.
I personally would like to bring a tortoise onto the stage, turn it into a racehorse, then into a hat, a song, a dragon and a fountain of water. One can dare anything in the theatre and it is the place where one dares the least. -Ionesco

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
24 Replies
14661 Views
Last post Mar 23, 2012, 10:25 pm
by Bwoodbury
13 Replies
6832 Views
Last post Feb 23, 2011, 01:30 pm
by valence
14 Replies
4026 Views
Last post Feb 18, 2013, 05:21 pm
by bex