Touring ACL Live

Written by: Audrey Bertin

Our broadcast crew is comprised of twenty-three students, each becoming a highly-trained specialist in a particular field of video. Multiple crews hold control over each section of a broadcast, including field cameras, wide angle, high vantage point cameras, audio (including parabolic, referee, and crowd microphones), graphics, instantaneous replays, highlight packages, camera engineering, and technical directing. A few students even direct the entire broadcast. All this is performed without the help of adults. As a group of students interested in television broadcasting, we are always looking to learn as much as we can from other televised events that differ from a football game.

This August, we were given a tour of the ACL Live studios, and it opened our eyes to another world of high quality live video. We were taken onto the main floor, many of us seeing the stage-and the theater itself for the first time and given the opportunity to see all of the production equipment. We were taught about the many different cameras (including the crane cameras and Mezzanine camera), and were able to ask questions about how they are generally operated and which shots are chosen during live productions. Then, we were brought backstage and toured the production, audio, and video engineering rooms. Much of the equipment felt familiar, though the production was on a much larger scale than our own. It was amazing for us to see just how many moving parts there were and how our jobs filming football transferred to the professional world.

Posted on September 13, 2016 .

A Small Town With A Big Impact

Written by: Andrew Bertin

Lititz, Pennsylvania is a small town with Amish roots, where you can still smell the farm animals as you drive down its narrow roads. At first glance, there's nothing really special about Lititz, but nestled in this unassuming town are two of the most prominent and widely patronized companies within the field of live entertainment, Clair Global and Tait Towers.

Clair Global specializes in all things audio. They tour with different events and shows, providing a high quality audio setup, as well as audio expertise for those events. TEC was able to go behind the scenes at Clair, with special access to their warehouse, production facilities, and repair shop. As you walk into the building, your first thought is that you simply stepped into an office building. As you keep walking, though, you go through the museum they have setup, with such rarities as a mixing console used for an Elvis show in Madison Square Gardens, or one of the very first analog consoles. Next, you enter their combination warehouse/workshop. As soon as you step in, the enormity of their operation hits you. They're constantly assembling new speaker cabinets and repairing old ones, their CNC machines are cutting pieces of wood for new speaker cabinets, and their electronics shop is repairing and testing the computer hardware for digital consoles and speakers. It's a constant buzz of work and energy. A little later, that sound of work being done dies out as you walk through the doors to Clair's storage room, which is filled to the brim with different types of speaker cabinets. Then, as you complete your journey, you go back to the office, and the change in intensity from earlier makes you feel worn out, almost as though you had just taken a three hour tour.

Let's take a step back. Earlier I mentioned that there were two major companies in Lititz: Clair Global, but also Tait Towers. If you've seen the Cirque du Soleil show "O", or Taylor Swift's "1989" concert tour, or "Adele Live 2016" then you've seen some of the handiwork of Tait Towers. Tait is a production and set design company known for impressive set pieces, amazing stage automation, helpful stage creation components, and yes, their seemingly very popular four wheel dolleys. Their warehouse and production facility is broken up into different sections. One for each of the different steps involved in the design and creation process. Tait Towers is a very impressive company that has created, and will create, many amazing sets and set pieces. We were extremely fortunate to have been given a chance to tour their facilities.

And that's Lititz, a small town with a big impact.

Posted on May 13, 2016 .

Leadership Perspective: Cinderella

By: Sean Wangnick

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        Cinderella was the first major production where I was assigned a leadership position. Specifically, I was head of lighting. (“Master Electrician” was the fancy name for it). It was a whole new experience for me, because until now, I was always sitting behind a lighting console. Now I was the overseer, looking after many people behind many consoles. I had a mix of freshmen and sophomores on my crew, and many had never worked a major production before. It was sort of a first-time experience for all of us, and that is what sparked the excitement for me.

        Day 1: Friday, January 29. School had just been dismissed that day, and the entire crew for this year’s musical was gathering in the PAC for the first time. The energy was high and we were ready to roll! I was starting to get nervous, as the TEC calendar labeled today’s get together as a “Musical Rehearsal/Set Light Cues”. So the main purpose of today was getting the lights set for show-day.

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        Here’s a bit of insight on the way we light our shows: In the PAC, we primarily use two lighting consoles to illuminate various objects in various ways. First, our ETC Ion 3000 control system. It is the main console we use to light up the stage using conventional lights. We also use a Full Boar Road Hog Console for automated lighting. This is the console that is used to produce amazing effects with moving lights on stage, in the house, or just extraordinary light shows.

        Both the Ion and Hog consoles are used for most shows, especially Cinderella. Throughout my Freshman year, I had learned a lot about programming moving lights with the Hog. Not only was I the Hog operator for The Nutcracker Spectacular my Freshman and Sophomore year, but I also programmed a light look for a dance in Zenith. During the actual Zenith performance, I was operating the Ion.

    As expected, the first few rehearsals were a little rough. It’s difficult to stay focused! It’s not easy trying to find a strange key on a light console. Chemistry between yourself and your fellow follow-spot operator first needs to grow in order to simultaneously fade in/out. We only had a few days to rehearse, but by February 4, everyone on my crew was able to execute their job perfectly. I was extremely proud of my crew, their patience, and their willingness to learn and improve their skill set. 

        The cool thing about sitting in the light booth is that you can see and hear everything else that’s going on. You can see the grip crew moving scenery around on-stage in a timely manner. You can hear everything that’s happening behind the scenes on clear-com and on radio. I noticed how not just my crew improved immensely within just a few days, but the entire Cinderella crew did as well! I believe we ended up putting on a professional and successful production, all while having fun at the same time!

Posted on March 17, 2016 .