Author Topic: Starting a tech  (Read 3790 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

BackstageSM

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
Starting a tech
« on: May 31, 2009, 11:43 am »
Okay....so this will sound silly, but I always have trouble starting a tech.  So I'd just like some opinions on how you guys start...

Do I ask the LD to go to the first cue? And then tell the actors to stand by for the beginning of the show?  Or if we start in a blackout, do I let the actors come onstage to walk through it in black to see if they need any more help in the dark?  

Once we get started, do we keep going through the cues?  Or do I stop after each cue?  How do I know when to go 'back' for the LD to see the transition?  Do I automatically do this, unless he says 'I don't need to see it again'?  If the LD has not let me know where ANY cues are, do we just keep going until he says "okay, here's the next cue." and then stop?  Or do I ask him where the next cue is and try to skip large amounts of script.  If we are doing a cue to cue and he's already given me the cues, do I call them out as we go....even though he knows where they are, and we are going to stop after each one? 

What about in a musical?  How do you do a 'cue to cue' with music?  If the LD has not given me cues beforehand, do we mark the songs, or actually go through them with the music and let him see it, then go back?  I'm a little confused on what to do for musicals.

I know this sounds silly, but I just have such a hard time establishing a rhythm once getting started.  Any info would be great!!

Mac Calder

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 970
  • Gender: Male
  • Plan for the future, live for the now
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: Live Performance Australia / Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance
  • Current Gig: Technical Director
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: Starting a tech
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2009, 01:19 pm »
Generally, I would start with lights and sound pre-set, no BGM with worklights up, actors to places, take out work lights and give a go.

As for how it will run - straight through, cue to cue, all through and stop etc is a conversation best had with the technical team in a pre-pro meeting. Everyone has a different working style, so you need to adapt your tech to their style. As for what you can script, after we work on a section, if I see there is a big cue-less vacuume I would ask the team "Are we good to pick up on Page x Line y".

If you are worried about the LD (which seems to be your biggest thing atm), talk to them. Most will know to just ask if they want to re-do a sequence.

Always call the cues you have - because the tech is there for you as well. If you have a lighting cue and you call it late, the LD is there to let you know that the cue is meant to be earlier. Musicals are the same as regular, write timings onto your script (if you are working from track, put the time-code points in for the important sections on your rehearsal script), then you can just say "We will be going from 1:45, which is just before verse two, ____LYRIC SAMPLE HERE___"

chrrl

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 32
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
Re: Starting a tech
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2009, 06:46 pm »
I like to start at the beginning - meaning preshow, and work my way through with everyone.  It usually takes us a little while to get through the first series of cues - curtain speech into blackout into lights up for the scene, but once we get in we're rolling. 

I stop at blackouts to make sure actors know their paths out and get glow tape where they need it.  When we go through a light or sound cue I usually ask the designer if they need to see that again (they are usually on headset here) and if so we stop and go back.  If I can tell it didn't happen the way it was supposed to I'll just stop and reset.  If they're cool we'll keep going.  (I always make sure that everyone knows to stop and fix as needed during tech - anyone is allowed to call a stop or hold).

We don't do cue to cues here, and we use everything and everyone from first tech on.  (We're also pretty lucky to have a decent amount of tech time to be able to take our time and work through).

I agree that everyone works a little differently, so it wouldn't hurt to ask your designers how they like to roll and make that work for you.

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: Starting a tech
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2009, 07:34 pm »
I have tried like five times to fashion a response to this question, and all I can't think of is, the show will always dictate how you are going to tech it.  You can't treat every lighting designer, every show, every tech the same, you need to approach it with an openness and flexibility to do what is required to get you from the first cue to the last one, safely, artistically, and sanely by the time your tech process is over.

So much of how you tech a show is about your own personal style - how one person works, is not going to be how another person works.  And what works for me, may not work for anyone else.

By the time you sit down for the first day of tech, you should know what the problem areas are going to be (hard transition, quick changes, complex tech sequences), you should know how your lighting designer wants to work, you should have talked to your director about how they want you to run tech, you should know what your actors are going to need form the tech process, and you should know what the tech crew are going to need from the tech process.

To give hints or details, or share stories from my past, may just be confusing and wrong for another stage manager.  For example, I rarely go back to for myself to call a complicated sequence, I wait for a director or designer to ask to go back.  On my recent show, the LD was a couple of pages behind me most of the show, and I would just flip back and add the cues, and we worked on spacing and staging on stage.  The first time I called the cues was during the first run.  We held only for quick changes and staging issues. I have worked on shows where we dry teched EVERYTHING before an actor stepped onstage - so it was basically just walking them through and adjusting LX for blocking changes.

The act of running a tech is the defining moment in a stage manager's job - it's an extremely complex process, one that requires personal style and finesse and experience to pull off well.  I know some really experienced stage managers who tech shows poorly.  I think it's one of those things that time, experience and pondering techs past are the only way to improve.  (If you ever have the chance, watch other people tech or have someone watch you tech - it's interesting observe stylistic issues without the pressure of being in the hot seat.)

So, I guess the way to start a tech is the way tech needs to be started.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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.

SMrose

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 228
  • Gender: Female
  • all the world's a stage
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, IATSE
  • Current Gig: Technical Support Services @ Lenoir-Rhyne University
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: Starting a tech
« Reply #4 on: Jun 02, 2009, 12:59 pm »
I have a style I that I run a tech by, but will always check at paper tech with designers and director if they have a preferred method---and meet in the middle.  I can't stress enough to be prepared for the "go" time of the first tech (be it with or without actors).  If this means I'm at the theatre several hours before or prep a little each day leading into tech (union hours permitting) then that's what I do so that we're not all waiting around at the go time.  Certainly, you may run into something no one anticipated (equipment failure, etc) and then you see what can be salvaged of the tech or if it's best to take a break and fix the problem.
MatthewShiner has some very good points about starting a tech.

BackstageSM

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
Re: Starting a tech
« Reply #5 on: Jun 03, 2009, 04:42 pm »
Thanks everyone for the wonderful advice!  Thank you for taking time out of your day to help.  Hopefully I'll be prepared.  :)

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
8 Replies
6415 Views
Last post Oct 25, 2006, 04:32 pm
by smccain
5 Replies
1885 Views
Last post Jan 14, 2012, 01:03 am
by PSMKay
1 Replies
1367 Views
Last post Jun 04, 2012, 11:38 am
by Maribeth