27 March 2011

High in NYC: tech, previews, and other things that take up time.

After a long week of work, HIGH is out of tech and firmly in previews. Performances are going well, and I'm looking forward to a day off tomorrow (during which I'll catch up on some work).

The week was very VERY illuminating, and mostly successful. Having done the show three times before gave us a leg up, and we were able to get fully through the show by dinner on the second day (that's super-fast, for those of you who aren't in theatre). The weirdest part of the week was dealing with the union rules, which are confusing. There are too many bits and pieces to go into here, but I'll just say that while I'm pro-labor and support the unions, I find the myriad rules very obscure and obfuscating.

I was able to catch up with some friends throughout the week, mostly in the evenings. Sten Severson and David Thomas are working on The Motherfucker With The Hat next door to us, and I saw them a few times this week. Scott Barrow and his wife Amy joined me for dinner at a great Thai place near my apartment. Last night I had drinks with Jo & Drew Farrow, Nathaniel Hare, his wife Emily, and Andy Leviss. Last week, before we fell into tech, I also got to hang with Brad Berridge and Jeff Roudabush.

After a lovely warm week when I first arrived, the weather got very very cold. Lows are below freezing, and highs are in the high 30s. It's been too cold to run, so I've taken to running the stairs in my apartment building. What a workout! I did it on Friday, and my calves are STILL sore.

Tonight, after our matinee preview, I'm headed uptown to see Freud's Last Session, which was designed by one of my students at UCI. Tomorrow, I'll see The Motherfucker With The Hat.

15 March 2011

After 48 hours in sunny California, it's back to the skies for me. I'm high in the skies over Illinois right now, heading to New York to put in and tech High on Broadway. I land at 10pm on Tuesday. I'll be in rehearsal on Wednesday, quiet time on Thursday, and then doing notes throughout the weekend. Tech starts on Monday, and previews start a few days later.

Home was quick and action packed. On Sunday, after doing some laundry and taking care of some tasks, S and I went to see Battle LA. It was good, but very loud. On Monday, S had breakfast with her dad (who was at LAX briefly for a layover en route to China), and I went to the U for final projects. Projects done, I had some brief hangout time with a couple of students before heading home. This morning, S and I had breakfast before she dropped me off at LAX.

More soon from NYC!

Looking forward to Pague!

13 March 2011

USITT recap

Another USITT has come and gone. I'm on the plane in Charlotte now, waiting to take off and begin my flight home. The conference was a big hit, possibly the best one I've gone to.

On Tuesday, I landed. Tim and I were on the same flight, and Brad & Ashley picked us up from the airport. Davin came soon, and the four guys got to work on finishing our project as Ashley kept us company and fed with cookies. We got everything cooking by 10pm or so, and then we met up with a large group of sound folk for drinks.

Wednesday was the official commission start. Steve Brown from the UK kicked it off with two back-to-back panels about his life and work in the theatre. He works at a very interesting venue, and he played some delicious sounds for us. After Steve, it was our turn. I led a pane about using mobile devices for creating and controlling sound. In it, we talked about some of the different apps that are out there for music & sound creation on the iPhone, iPad, android, etc. Then, we talked about OSC and how it can be used to control sound on other computers. I demo-ed a helicopter sound that flew around the room based on moving a Wii controller, a thunderstorm with manual and automatic data parameters from a multiple-touch device called a lemur, and for the finale, we set up a crowd-sourced sonic environment. We built a spaceship soundscape, with parameters controlled by six different idevices sending data wirelessly. It was a cacophonous hit! After our session, I needed break, but we all met up later for some mirth and food.

Thursday was another day of panels. The sound commission met and talked about the 2012 conference in Long Beach, and the convention floor opened. Brad, Erik, and I went to an education commission panel on how to use objective metrics to evaluate subjective work, and we all thought that Christopher Plummer had the most memorable lie of the panel: 'grades are crap.' Later that evening, Richard Bugg, Ellen Juhlin, and Jerry of Meyer Sound talked about the new AVB data standard that's coming out. It's amazing to me that all of the companies are finally starting to set aside their proprietary data standards in favor of one multifunctional standard that has a LOT of flexibility. Nighttime was for the commission dinner, which I organized. We held it at King's Kitchen. When I organize the commission dinner, I always try to choose a restaurant that meets certain requirements: it should be locally-operated, serve regional food, not break the bank, and be tasty. King's Kitchen met all our of these criteria, PLUS it's socially relevant, giving money back into the city's homeless community. If you are ever in Charlotte, I definitely recommend checking it out.

Friday began with three student portfolio reviews, chaired by UCI's own Mike Hooker. Then, some stage floor wandering, and a panel on using double-blind testing in the sound world. John Huntington and Jason Romney ran that, and they talked about and ran some interesting experiments. Later on Friday came the Guerilla Sound Challenge, where designers have three hours to create a design for a given stimulus. This year's stimulus was a section of Mueller's Hamletmachine, and we had what may have been a record number of participants, including several teams (one of which featured Tim Brown and Josh Fehrmann, MFA3 and MFA0 at UCI). There was a wide variety in both concept and craft in the designs, and the session led directly into the sound playback party, where designers can share pieces of their work with the room in an informal way. Again, we had an exceptional amount of participation, which was terrific! Brad and I played a set as The Night I Found Out I Was Adopted, our all-improvisation all-mobile device band. Then, the YSD alumni reception, and then, more booze.

Saturday started mercifully later, with just a few sessions to hit. At the end of the last session, the commission retreated to Sticky Fingers, a BBQ joint! Then, you guessed it: we imbibed.

Some other highlights from this conference:
* my revisionist history of Charlotte (look for it on Live Design's website as part of Brad Berridge's vlog
* Davin's teaser of the making of Steve Brown and John Taylor's Guerilla Sound Challenge piece.
* Ellen walking Tim and I through how Cuestation 5 handles OSC.
* Richard Bugg heckling.
* Brad and I iHeckling.

We also spent a good amount of time talking about next year's conference. Here are some things to keep your eyes out for if you are planning to attend:
* a hot multichannel sound lab
* extensive programming on multichannel sound
* a cross-country tour of The Night I Found Out I Was Adopted, mixed by the inestimable Steve Brown.
* a reception for sound folk at UCI
* a reception for sound folk at Diablo Sound
* some kickass Mexican food.
* another face-melting session by The Young Turks.

08 March 2011

In the aeroplane, over the land

The last few days at home have been nice. I tried to spend some time with S since she is newly done with her training program. We did some shopping, had some nice meals, and watched some tv together. On Sunday, we went to the Yale Drama west coast party, where we saw lots of old friends and classmates. Terrific!

Now, I'm on a plane, high over this great land of ours. I'm headed from LA to Charlotte NC for the annual USITT conference. Technical theatre people (including a bunch of sound designers) from around the country get together for a few days of panels, talks, and meals. I'm leading a panel tomorrow on using mobile devices as sound design tools. Brad Berridge, Davin Huston, and Tim Brown are working on it with me.

I'm also being productive on the plane! Thanks to the iPad, I was able to edit a thesis draft and catch up on my email! Hooray!

More soon from Charlotte.

03 March 2011

400 days

My wife kicks butt. Today is her last day of the Directors Guild Training Program, which assigns trainees to various film and tv projects. Today is her 400th day in the program, which means she graduates at wrap.

It has been a hard two+ years for her, and I'm proud of her dedication, her energy, her talent, and her endurance. Tonight, we celebrate. Tomorrow, she sleeps.

Or vice-versa.

Congratulations Sarah!