Tips & Tricks

Three Common Uses for Masking Fabrics

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Rose Brand notes that its masking fabrics can be used for a variety of purposes and projects. They are the versatile element that we see our customers using in almost infinite ways.

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Nook's Tidbits: Strobing Safely

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Strobe lights have been known to occasionally cause seizures for those with photosensitive epilepsy, particularly if strobes operate at speeds exceeding 15 flashes per second. However, there has never been a reported incidence of a seizure when strobes are limited to eight or fewer flashes per second. (For more details, go to plsn.me/Strobe-Tip).

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The Art of Lighting Chrome and Brushed Metal

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Sparkle can be good or it can be bad. If a sparkle turns into a glare, it can actually distract you from directly looking at the product. This is how I feel about audience blinders at a rock show. When they come on, I tend to close my eyes and miss what is happening on stage…I find the best way to light shiny chrome is to point your light straight on. You get significantly less glare…I have been designing trade show booths for Titleist Golf for more than a decade. The shafts of clubs are all chrome, but the grips and heads tend to be black. I use a little extra lighting to make club displays pop. However, I still get the occasional person asking if I can make their chrome not so shiny. I smile and say, “Of course.” I then add filters to the fixtures and bring down the intensity. Voila, the shiny is much less shiny.

—Mike Mahoney, from LD-at-Large, PLSN May 2015

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Nook’s Tidbits: Podium vs. Lectern

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Contrary to popular opinion, they are not the same. A podium is the raised platform on which the speaker stands to deliver his or her speech. “Podium” is derived from the Greek word pothi which means “foot.” A lectern is a raised, slanted stand on which a speaker can place his or her notes. “Lectern” is derived from the Latin word lectus, the past participle of the verb legere, which means “to read.”
—Nook Schoenfeld


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Telegenic Soft Lights Can Reduce Squinting on TV

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Soft light fixtures are primarily used in cinematography and photography. The basic reason for this is that the light emitted out of these fixtures tends to wrap around an object, leaving no shadow behind the object. It can also be used as “Fill” lighting, supplementing other practical light fixtures and reducing any shadows caused by them on a set. These fixtures are often a staple in grip trucks and used in close proximity to the object one is illuminating as the fall off of light is rapid with this fixture. Many directors of photography have been known to swear that the use of soft lights eliminates skin wrinkles on camera…. Soft lights have often been used for front light in film, as the light source (bulb) in these fixtures is never directly exposed to the eye. Thus the actors or newscasters one sees on the screen are rarely squinting.

—Nook Schoenfeld, “Road Test” for Ushio Pro-Panel V2 Soft Light, PLSN, April 2015.

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Learn Advanced Fixture Functions BEFORE the Show

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If you are a programmer tasked with using advanced fixtures like the A.Leda B-Eye (Clay Paky), the Shapeshifter (High End Systems) or the MagicPanel 602 (Ayrton), you should try to familiarize yourself with the fixtures before arriving on site. This means getting your hands on a unit and a console. Recently I programmed a show using Shapeshifter C1 fixtures and then a second show using B-Eyes, both on a grandMA2 console. Because of its relative newness on the market, I didn’t have the opportunity to touch a Shapeshifter prior to its arrival on the show site. And I was immediately regretting that when I tried to enable the macros to make the fixture come to life. Choosing Enhanced mode for the DMX protocol, each unit takes up 79 channels. And the effects macros channels have multiple parameter control channels that affect attributes like speed, fade, and intensity. And it wasn’t as easy as just picking a macro and speeding it up at first. In fact, I set aside a good chunk of time after the end of the day to stay and program some palettes for the units so that I would be in better shape for the next day. With hundreds of effects and thousands of variations on each one, there can be an overwhelming amount of work involved to make something purposeful play on the unit.

—Vickie Claiborne, from “Video Digerati,” PLSN, April 2015


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Dealing with the Unexpected

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After a decade or so of touring, I’m eternally surprised at the sheer variety of problems that I get confronted with on the road. It seems there’s no shortage of new and creative ways that things can be mishandled, plugged in incorrectly, and perhaps even not plugged in at all. It’s important that we develop a skillset of improvisation and problem solving…. These days, I have a global labeling system in my programming so that anyone who sits down at my console is able to understand the system and apply it to the rest of the show. If I can’t be there to load a truck, I make sure a trusted associate confirms everything is on there for me. And being flexible in the face of adversity — such as a tropical storm or another unpleasant force of nature — makes the unexpected infinitely more tolerable.

—Craig Rutherford, from LD-at-Large, PLSN, April 2015

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Watch Out for Internet Truth-Stretchers

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Anyone can falsely certify himself or herself as a pro on the Internet, and that needs to stop. Truck loaders can give rigging advice now. Companies spend money investing in a new employee who just may have fabricated their career. There’s a person online who claims to have held many touring positions, yet nobody could vouch for them. On some threads, they claimed to be an audio executive, FOH mixer and friend to countless roadies. They claimed to be an accomplished LD. Eventually this person proclaimed himself to be a safety expert. This was no longer harmless….Perhaps the time has come for an actual registry of touring personnel. A site with the mission of giving us the tools to locate crew based on their skills, certifications and verified tour experience.

—Nook Schoenfeld, from “Editors Note,” PLSN, April 2015

 

 

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The Dark Side of Visualizers

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Visualizers are awesome, but you have to control them. Don’t let them control you. Because they are so fast, it is really easy to not think clearly about how all of this will go together when it is done. The next thing you know, you have designed something that looks more like the Death Star rather than the simple set you were first asked to design…. So now that you have your Death Star set complete with enough lights to be seen clear from the Outer Rim in front of your client in the rendering, you will have blown their minds. But if the next comment out of the person signing the check is, “Looks cool,” it’s usually followed by, “How much is this going to cost?” Your answer to that question could end your meeting pretty quickly if your number is way higher than what the client was thinking.

—Michael Graham, from “Focus on Fundamentals,” PLSN, March 2015 page 52

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Agree on an Evacuation Plan Before You Need to Use It

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What happens if the weather catches us a off guard? That happened to my team and I in December of 2009 in the Mojave Desert, during Virgin Galactic’s christening event for SpaceShipTwo. The event began in a clear tent with a press conference and speeches. The guests were then invited out into the Mojave evening to watch SpaceShipTwo rolling down 1,800 feet of taxiway. Guests then went to the tent along with two inflatable domes measuring 80 feet in diameter to party and celebrate. SpaceShipTwo made it down the taxiway and was christened, but the winds got stronger and stronger. When the winds hit a [previously agreed-upon] trigger level, the buses were called back and the 800 guests were politely but firmly and rapidly moved onto the waiting vehicles and sent back to Los Angeles. As the last buses left the site, the winds still didn’t let up, and the call was made to completely clear the site. I still vividly remember sitting with my colleagues Austin and Dennis safely at the perimeter of the site as the winds gusted to 105 mph and lifted the massive tent and folded it like an umbrella on a windy day. A chilling sight, for sure, but made less so by knowing the guests and crew were safe.

—John Featherstone, from “Wecome To My Nightmare,” PLSN, March 2015

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