I spent this week in NYC. It was fun to be back "home" and see old friends. I had two big events planned for the ALD Toolkit...
The first event was being a part of Stage Lighting Super Saturday. Scott Parker generously asked me to come speak. The topic was "The Assistant LD... why so valuable?" I have to tell you that it was difficult at first to boil the 500 pages of the book down into a short speech! But, I did it, and people seemed to like my talk. I was honored that several people came to buy the book later at my book signing, including Jennifer Tipton (which I thought was wonderful!). Here are some pics from SLSS:
The second event of the trip was a book launch party at the Drama Bookshop. It has always been my dream to have an event at Drama Books, so I was thrilled! A lot of friends showed up -- including Ken Billington who wrote the foreword. They set us up in the middle of the bookstore and provided some wine. It was really nice to catch up with a lot of people I hadn't seen in a very long time. We all had a lot of fun goofing around. The other patrons at the bookstore had a lot to put up with. :) Here are some pics from that event:
I had a great time. Thanks to all that attended. And thank you to Conor Mulligan and Chad Shelton who took pictures for me. I really appreciate it.
Until next time NYC!
I recently had an ALD Toolkit reader write me saying that he had left his copy of the ALD Toolkit at school and wanted to ask for Assistant Kit supplies for Christmas! Funny... it seems like only yesterday that I asked my parents for portfolio pages for Christmas during grad school. I remember clearly the look on their faces of, "...really? That's what you want?" LOL!
But let's face it! Theatrical design is not an inexpensive profession! Whether it's software, a new laptop, or assistant's kit supplies... it can bleed you dry quickly. Especially as a student! So there's no harm in asking for pencils, highlighters, and some spare batteries for the holidays. After all, they not only make great stocking-stuffers, but there are so many items that extended family members can contribute in small ways that add up to a pretty great kit!
So for all of you who left your Toolkit at school, you can download the Assistant Kit supplies appendix here!
Happy holidays, everyone!
I would love to visit your classroom! For more information, download this flyer!
Some of you may remember a blog post I put up earlier this year in January about ALDToolkit reader, Nik Robalino, and his fantastic assistant's kit! See the original post here.
Well today we have a treat! Nik has sent along some information of his creation process and some process photos. Here's what he had to say:
I had originally thought I'd be learning how to make a roadcase thinking it would be the size of a mini-fridge with the ability to open up like a lighting workbox might. The sheer weight of the materials alone would have made it ridiculously overweight and pricey to ship if needed for travel. I also considered compartmentalizing a Pelican case, but again, the price would have been rather unpleasant. Instead, I looked for used/cheap suitcases that were close to 62 linear inches (height+width+length). Any larger and I'd be paying significant oversize fees to the airports. I found the perfect case at a Ross for $95 and it came in at ~5lbs. Next step was to compartmentalize the interior. I realized I'd be best off creating pockets for different sized containers that would hold the supplies. My hands-down favorite container to this day remains the Sterilite flip-top containers:
The next step was designing the layout of the dividers which I found best to do in any CAD software of your choice. Because the containers had accurate dimensions, I could play "virtual Tetris" in finding the most efficient way to pack as many storage containers as possible. Some items, like the iPad and portable printer did not have their own containers but their dimensions were still available and could be calculated into the design.
The dividing material ended up as a 1/2" and 1/4" thick high density foamboard. I got the materials for pennies on the dollar by going to a used materials store. It is the type of foamboard that gets used to create display boards at conventions or other signage purposes. The 1/2" foamboard created the outer walls and the 1/4" was used for the dividing walls. Attaching the walls together was done by cutting up some drywall corner bead strips (http://www.homedepot.com/p/ClarkDietrich-Building-1-1-4-in-x-1-1-4-in-x-8-ft-Corner-Bead-741339/204700931?N=5yc1vZc7qn) into ~4-6" lengths to create lightweight brackets. These brackets are conveniently pre-drilled and able to provide stability as they are riveted into the foamboard. I learned halfway through the process that I needed to provide washers on the the foamcore side of the rivet.
Once the frame was built, I used the cheapest, least-shaggy black carpeting to cover the frame for increased cushioning and overall sexiness. I did not need anything fancier than hot glue to attach the carpet to the frame. It is worth noting that the carpet does have a certain thickness and should be taken into account when designing the frame layout.
Thanks for sharing, Nik! I hope this helps out others that may want to emulate this amazing kit!
If you've created a kit that you want to share too, please send it on!
Just for fun I thought I would post what I call my "Scary Faces Collection." I love in tech when the main rag comes in while random lights are on for a different scene and they create a scary face. Come on! We have to amuse ourselves in tech somehow! :)
Here are some of my favorites:
On occasion I've also done an exercise in class when I'm teaching beginning students how to focus for the first time. I start by having them create shapes with the shutters and then ask them to get into groups of three or four to create scary faces out of a few different fixtures. Here are some of my favorites from that exercise:
Well I hope you've enjoyed my Scary Faces Collection. I'm happy to share them! Please send in some of your own. I'd love to see if other people do this too. Let's make this blog entry a two-parter and I'll post some of your images!
Several people have asked me for the powerpoint from our session at USITT this year called "Training Our Future Assistants." A big thank you to those of you that attended the session!! It was great to connect with you!
Download a PDF of the powerpoint here. Enjoy!
I discovered in 1 awhile back and immediately listened to the episode with Ken Billington -- someone who I am proud to call one of my mentors. Cory Pattak, its host and creator, is charming, casual, and asks all the right questions that you want to ask. Cory, who is a Broadway lighting associate himself, is fully ensconced in the world of his guests and does his apt research. I appreciate that he brings this informed nature into the room and meanders through the questions with absolute ease while somehow still managing to get to all the juicy bits. He treats each guest with respect, enthusiasm, and the just the right amount of geekiness we know we all are having while listening. :) (I mean, who wouldn't geek-out to sit in the room with all of these amazing, ground-breaking individuals and be allowed to tap into their brains for hours on end!!)
Recently, I was incredibly honored to be asked to be a part of In 1: the podcast. Although we have never met, Cory and I are proud to both share the coveted position of former KBA office assistant. Cory likes my book, The Assistant Lighting Designer's Toolkit, and wanted a spot for it on the show. After a lot of trial and error on his part, I became the first bi-coastal podcast on In 1. You can listen to Bonus episode #34 here.
With starting a new teaching job and publishing my first book this year, I had somewhat lost track of In 1, but I had such a great time working with Cory on my episode that I have rediscovered the podcast with a vengeance and have been binge-listening ever since! It also helps that I commute from L.A. to San Diego several times a week -- it helps fill the time, make the commute less painful, and feels like hanging out with old friends. I love it.
Even further than my enjoyment of it, I would like to say that it is soon to become a mainstay of my students' classwork! Tomorrow I plan to share part of Ben Pearcy's episode in my Vectorworks class. It's an excellent episode, but one of my favorite parts is a brilliant 15-minute segment (1:03-1:14:30) that discusses the history of CAD drafting and how the KBA standards came about (which has basically become Broadway standard). I always tell my students that my book is not Anne McMills' way of doing things... it is basically these KBA standards that have proliferated through the profession. I am simply the one that wrote them down. I really think this segment helps to solidify that point as well as provide interesting back story on the modern history of our profession.
I also plan to use In 1: the podcast as a textbook of sorts. It will help to provide context of the real world for my advanced lighting classes and impart knowledge in a first hand way that can only be accomplished through many a guest speaker (for which I don't have the budget). :)
Overall, I highly recommend In 1. It's not just for lighting designers. Cory is sensitive to spanning the gamut of theatrical designers. We should all thank him for providing a source of such quality oral history -- something that was once only gained by having the opportunity to assist a designer then buying them a drink over dinner. In 1 allows us all to have that experience of being a fly on the wall for the crucial conversations that matter for our professions today and provides important historical record for the others that follow boldly in our footsteps. Thank you, Cory, for recording what matters.
Nik Robalino, a devoted reader of the ALD Toolkit, has been in contact with me for the past few months because he wanted to build himself the perfect assistant's kit based on my advice in my book. We talked through some ideas... things like what kind of containers work best, how to prepare it for travel, how to keep it organized, etc. After a few months he wrote me back, and I am just floored! Check it out!
He actually built little carpet-lined compartments inside the suitcase to fit everything in the kit beautifully!!! I am so impressed!! He says, "I've managed to collect close to 90% of the items listed in your book." Quite a feat! He based his idea on a roadcase that was still suitable for checked luggage on airlines.
I also love that it looks just like an average suitcase. He and I discussed that it is common to get teased when you bring your kit into the theatre the first day. The usual joke of, "ya movin' in?!" typically comes from a stagehand or two in the time it takes for you to maneuver your suitcase from the stage door into the house. So I encouraged him (especially as a new assistant) not to make it too flashy or too overdone. I think he has achieved that perfectly.
All I can say is "brava, Nik" for creating such an awesome kit! I told him he should figure out a way to sell it. God knows I would buy it!
For more about Nik Robalino, visit his website. He has some assisting gigs lined up for the next few months, but with this sort of dedication I imagine his dance card is gonna get pretty full pretty fast!
My first semester teaching at San Diego State University is almost over! It's been an unbelievable semester. What a joy it is to have MFA students who are as geeked out as I am on this thing we all love called lighting.
One exciting thing for me is that the students have been wonderful about combing through the ALDToolkit while working on their projects. It has been incredibly helpful to talk through things with them to further discuss ideas and questions. I hope it has been as valuable for them as it has been for me!
Okay, blogging... blogging... blogging.... Sorry I've fallen off the map lately! I swear it has been on the to-do list to catch things up here, but so far this has been my first chance in awhile.
SOOOO many things have been going on. I can barely keep up!
Let's see... first things first... the book! The Assistant Lighting Designer's Toolkit is developing some fans. I've been sent many photos from friends and students who have received it or are reading it. I truly enjoy all that I've received so far. Keep 'em coming!
I especially love the emails I've been getting asking further questions about things in the book or individual's first assisting jobs. It's been really exciting to help shape careers remotely.... exactly what I wanted from the book... a good resource. And perhaps my favorite is seeing my own students combing through the book on their time off. Reading chapters I haven't even assigned yet. SO very cool. I'm so proud to have produced something that students and professionals actually find useful for their careers!
The Assistant Lighting Designer's Toolkit was also named Book of the Month by PLSN last month (September)! Also check it out in Lighting and Sound America this month (October) for a review as well as Focus Magazine. Next month (November), Live Design should be publishing an excerpt from the first few chapters.
Other things... I finished teching Kiss Me, Kate at the Pasadena Playhouse last month. I was the associate lighting designer to Jared A. Sayeg. Here's a great pic of us and the rest of the lighting team with Jared's beautiful lighting in the back! (Yes, it took us awhile to perfect that focus!!)
I love working at the Pasadena Playhouse. It is SUCH a beautiful theatre! And it has my favorite historic lighting thingy backstage! (yes, that's a technical term.)
But mostly what I've been up to is starting my life at San Diego State University. What an unbelievable school! I am so proud to be apart of this program. The students are amazing -- driven, inquisitive, and enthusiastic! They challenge me everyday to become a better lighting educator and professional. I am absolutely in love with this place. No to mention is it B-E-A-U-tiful! Below are some pics. (The sunset pic is from my commute -- totally worth it!) This program is really wonderful... if you are considering undergrad or grad school in entertainment design, I suggest you check it out.
So that's my fall so far in a nutshell. Things are moving at warp-speed right now. Stay tuned for more info that I need to post regarding USITT. I will be speaking on two panels this year as well as holding a book signing. I hope to see you all there!