Friday, November 2, 2007

No Moving Lights, No Tony

WARNING: If you think that a moving head is the same as a bobble head, you may not want to continue reading this post.

Part of the misinformation campaign that the League has waged is to take proposals about staffing and twist them out of context in order to make Local One look like a bunch of fat, lazy, union guys out to that do nothing and get over-paid for it. Granted there is a kernel of truth in it. The percentage of people who work like that tends to be universal. Theatre management is not immune to the person who drifts through work, having little ambition and taking up space.

One of the most convoluted of these issues is the one where "In some instances up to three electricians have operated the board that controls light, projection and sound cues -- a job that can be handled by one electrician." Ignoring for the moment that this is a work rule the League already has, consider what kind of machine is that can do all these things. Lighting, projection and sound. For somebody who started in the business when rotary dimmers and 6x9 Lekos were the norm, I stand in awe at these what has happened in the course of my career in terms of technology.

When "Chorus Line" opened in 1975, Tharon Musser was the first to bring a computer board to Broadway to control lighting cues. When Vari-lites first came out, their proprietary systems were so protected that techs had to open them up and work on them under a sheet or drop in order to keep prying eyes away.

In today’s world lighting designers say "no moving lights, no Tony." Everyone who has read this far has seen a Vari-Lite in action even if they don't know the proper name for them. But far fewer are aware of the newest equipment that this contract issues revolves around.

The extraordinary High End Systems has a line of units that are outstanding. The DL-2 digital lighting unit that has enormous capability. I won't go into the details but it lights, it projects, it sees in the dark and it can record video. High End also has a terrific range of other products such as the Whole Hog 3 board and the Showgun luminaries.

There are some terrific Strand boards that are radically different from the the older boards. There is also a line of LED washes from Color Kinetics that can create milions of colors and consume very little electricity. The Color Blast and the Color Blaze line are really going to change the future of theatrical lighting.

It takes a pretty sophisticated programmer and operator to be able to do all this and the Local has several. This is the future and we, as stagehands, embrace it. So when you hear the Producers complain about costs, look at the type of equipment we run and the dollars that this equipment and its operators earn them.

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