Author Topic: TECH: Barrel-Through Tech  (Read 6079 times)

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johnmurdock

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TECH: Barrel-Through Tech
« on: Apr 05, 2009, 01:43 am »
Has anyone ever done what they call barrell-through tech... which is basically a tech theory where you just run through everything and not do a cue to cue and then fix things after the run through and keep doing this as your schedule allows.

Please tell me your thoughts on this or any experience with this

:)
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 02:25 am by PSMKay »
John Murdock
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ericjames

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Re: Barrell-Through Tech
« Reply #1 on: Apr 05, 2009, 01:56 am »
I have been apart of shows using this method twice.    Once was for a relatively simple show (basically lights up/ lights down) so that one turned out relatively okay. 

The second time was for the national tour that I am currently on.  We made it till the 1st scene change (about 10min into the show) and crashed and burned.  At that point we stopped that and talked/ worked through the full show like we should have from the start. 

johnmurdock

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Re: Barrell-Through Tech
« Reply #2 on: Apr 05, 2009, 02:02 am »
oh wow, really?

Interesting...well I am the PSM of this show and the producers are highly advocating this method and so I am going to make it work.

We dont have many scene changes as its a tennis court configuration set with seating on the sides, and not much of a set... mostly its lighting, acoustic issues and sound cues.

Just curious about others' experience
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Mac Calder

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Re: Barrell-Through Tech
« Reply #3 on: Apr 05, 2009, 02:02 am »
Frequently, and it sucks. The advantage of a C2C is that whilst you can table certain issues to be dealt with later, you work through the show and spend the extra time to get it right from the get go. After I am done with a day of teching (as lx tech), my brain is often full of things I have noticed that I want to fix... Adding the extra workload of having to remember the more complex issues in great details as well just makes my job harder, and it takes longer. The cast also work a lot harder as instead of a full day where they work on and off, they have to do the show time and time again. Whilst SM notes about changes help a lot in these sorts of situations, as do the notes I keep myself, often in a 'barrell-through" (or a push through as I have always called them) I end up fixing issues whilst I am all alone in the theatre... How can I get focuses right without the bodies? How can I get the timing right without repetition etc etc etc.

A properly designed show, 2 tech runs will be fine if your team are worth their salt - one to sort out the bugs and one to prove they have been sorted out and fix any small issues. Push throughs, your team can be playing catch up after 5 or 6 runs of the show.

Do it right at the get go, invest the time and you reap the rewards... Try to push through, and quality takes a back seat...

johnmurdock

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Re: Barrell-Through Tech
« Reply #4 on: Apr 05, 2009, 02:09 am »
Thank you so much Mac that is great info.

Sadly, on this production I do worry about the preperation of some of the design elements, but trying to do everything I can to make it all as prepared as I can.  And having never done a Barrell-through before I wanted some other perspectives.

Due to our lack of hours available for tech (I only get 30 hours for the whole week including 3 days of tech and 4 performances) it will probably prove better to run the show as many times as we can.

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Mac Calder

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Re: Barrell-Through Tech
« Reply #5 on: Apr 05, 2009, 09:30 am »
Can I suggest then that you not get your mind set on pushing through... Run it once all the way through, if it runs fine, great, if it doesn't, consider a full tech, then try running it through again. Or, use day one to tech, then run ad nausium day 2 and 3. I strongly believe that pushing through actually takes more time to deliver the same level of show, and can often mean that the deck staff will commit to memory the incorrect movements for set etc. and it can confuse the talent.

EFMcMullen

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Re: Barrell-Through Tech
« Reply #6 on: Apr 05, 2009, 10:58 am »
I guess I don't understand the concept behind this.  What is gained?  Personally I don't do/like C2Cs.  I like to tech through the show in order, stopping & fixing when need be: re-running costume changes and shifts if necessary, fixing light cues & sound cues, making sure actors feel safe & secure with technical elements, basically getting the show right.  Sometimes you can do that and barely  have to stop given the needs on the show (no blackouts or costume changes and how good your team is).  But then after that, it should just be a matter of tweaking the show after runs.  It seems that just endless running never really solves anything, and could be slightly dangerous.

You said you had 30 hours for the week.  If approximately 12 are used in performance, that leaves you with 18.  If the show is not necessarily that technically difficult as you say, even giving "tech" 10 hours, that leaves you 2 run-thrus and note time.  I mean at this point in the process do actors really need to run the show endlessly?

Trevor7

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Re: Barrell-Through Tech
« Reply #7 on: Apr 05, 2009, 12:33 pm »
I think that this method can be useful, but it depends on the stage manager, the designers, the crew and the complexity of the show.  The first time I SM'd I did this and it worked great.  It was an easy show, and the designers really had everything exactly how they wanted already, and it worked great.  This was in a community college and I tech'd a kids musical in 2 hours.  This was great because we had the rest of the day to run it again and then go home early.  The only reason I was able to do this was because the designers and the simplicity of the show.  I have also done this for other simple shows such as festivals or one man shows.  On the other hand if I would have done this with some of the more complex show I feel it would have been a waste of time, and not very productive.  So I think it would just depend on the situation, in festivals I do this because limited time, but if you have the time then use it.  Also remember if you start it as a run through you can always hold to fix things.

ericjames

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Re: Barrell-Through Tech
« Reply #8 on: Apr 06, 2009, 12:53 am »
I'm not sure why you feel like you do not have enough time for an actual work-through of the show.  However, if you are being pressured from higher up to do a "Barrel-through" then it will be up to you in order to make it work. My advice is for you to be as prepared as absolutely possible.  Anything that you can do in order to anticipate problems or do any form of pre-tech will mostly work to your advantage.   I would also suggest that you take at least a little time to sit down with the tech crew as well as the cast and explain exactly what the plan is going to be for the tech week, so that everyone is on the same page and there are no surprises.  (okay.. lets be honest... as few surprises as possible).

While I don't like the idea, I would love to hear how it all turns out for you.

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Re: Barrell-Through Tech
« Reply #9 on: Apr 06, 2009, 11:57 am »
Sorry, but this sounds like folks who don't understand tech, and why we actually want/need our one opportunity to work out the kinks and solve the challenges. I have worked w directors who don't get it, who want to run and run and don't understand why we stop for technical glitches that arise, and it's frustrating. But remember, the actors and director had (n) weeks to solve their problems, reworking as they went. We have one or two days to put all the disparate pieces together (some of which we may be seeing for the first time), make sure no one gets hurt, the actors feel safe, the effects work, the costumes and props do what they're supposed to, the things that were overlooked or forgotten, the precision timing on scene shifts happens, etc. I for one don't feel it's fair for you to find out in front of an audience or get blamed for problems that they didn't allow you time and space to solve. Theater is experiential, and solving on paper or in theory is all well and good, but you gotta actually DO it to know.

You may not have a big set or costume plot, but you do say you have have acoustic issues, and sound cues and light cues that (I presume) require precision, meaning you have to try a couple of times to know exactly where to call them, what to look/listen for, etc. And if they insist on ignoring the tech, you can't take it personally if you don't get it perfectly the first, or even third, time. There's a reason we do it again once we get it right, to lock it in!

crazylady

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Re: Barrell-Through Tech
« Reply #10 on: Apr 06, 2009, 09:33 pm »
I agree, I don't see the point in barrelling through tech. I have done that, but only on VERY simple shows where its very basic set of washes and its just inputing which wash into which cue. Depending on how complicated the show is, barreling through will just create more problems in the end, as others have previously mentioned: such as your crew playing catch up several runs after opening, costume changes never really being addressed, and so on. And yes, Tech is for the Techies. It is not actor time. They had their actor time before that. And I totally live by the saying "if you don't do it right the first time, you'd better have time to go back and fix it." and really who has that time.

Obviously, you will have to feel out this situation and go from there. But from personal experience - I have found it is a waste of time for everyone involved.
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maximillionx

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Re: Barrell-Through Tech
« Reply #11 on: Apr 07, 2009, 12:45 am »
And yes, Tech is for the Techies. It is not actor time. They had their actor time before that.

Absolutely agree. They'll have their time after tech too.

I find cue to cues can be very useful in shows that aren't that complicated.  Cue, jump 10 pages, cue, end. Are the actor's lines necessary if there's no technical aspect associated with them? No. We got to hear their lines for weeks before and will after the cue to cue.  You save time for everyone.  If your schedule is way to hectic, as murdock says, then maybe a paper tech could suffice instead of a cue to cue.  You get to go through the show and plan everything out without the added pressure of a show actually going on in front of you. In summer stock, I paper-teched a complicated show then went right into runs.  It was crazy.  But, because both designers and myself were on top of all the details, the tech run went relatively smoothly.  There were the normal bumps and stops associated with the process, but we were able to break and do a full run that night.

Good luck murdock!  Remember to do what works for you, but to always use the time for tech wisely and not "barrel through."

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Re: Barrell-Through Tech
« Reply #12 on: Apr 07, 2009, 08:01 am »
Tech is for techies?  Again, Tech is for everyone involved in the production . . . leaving the actors of the equation is bad news. 

My thoughts is tech usually takes the time you give it - if you have to tech a show in a day, you will take a show in a day, if you give it two weeks, it magically takes two weeks.  Creating deadlines in any tech situation is good pressure to keep on the whole staff.  (by this time we should be done with Act 1, by this time we shall be done with the show, by this time will do a run.)  Giving yourself those deadlines will help push along the tech regardless of the time given.
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Re: Barrell-Through Tech
« Reply #13 on: Apr 07, 2009, 10:39 am »
I've only done this on very simple shows.  There's a reason we tech a show in a certain order...work out timing and bugs first, then move on to full tech and then dress run throughs.  Maybe a conversation w/ the producers that this method actually can save $ and keep an accident from happening will help them understand.

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Re: Barrell-Through Tech
« Reply #14 on: Apr 11, 2009, 11:32 am »
Tech is the time when everything gets put together - I disagree that tech is not for the actors - they are the ones that have to work in and with the technical elements AND still do all the acting/character work that they developed over the past 6 weeks in rehearsal.

If a lighting designer has to build a cue that will carry an entire scene, I think its important he sees the entire scene and get a feel for what that look will be like over the course of a 10 minute scene.  Does the director like it in the scene? Does it help the action of the play and can it sustain whatever is going on?  Are there dark spots that nobody realized were present until an actor walked through one over the course of their blocking?  This kind of information is important during tech as well.

Granted, tech is long and often repetitive.  I think it is unfair to ask actors to do things full out, every single time (especially if they have an emotional roller coaster of a show), but they should still be able to run through everything - all lines and blocking - as all of this is part of the tech-ing of the show as well.

Theatre is a collaborative art form, and trying to separate the actors from the "techies" (why does this word still exist?) is only going to create unnecessary divides and make for a fragmented show, rather than something that hangs together in every way possible.
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