Today was a bit rushed – we had a late start, but I had to return most of my kit to the AV store yesterday, and I was locked IN to my close. So I was about fifteen minutes late overall, and that left me a bit flustered. Thankfully I’d packed my bag last night, and I had my camera and cables so I was ready to do a mock-up of the live feed.
Or so I thought.
The morning session was plagued with technical difficulties – the school’s overhead projector wasn’t working, and they assumed it was broken; there had been a cable pulled out in the wrong place, but I lost a few minutes frantically pushing source buttons on the projector remote, worrying that I’d broken the school’s main projector.
Somebody had pulled out the VGA connection from the laptop. No damage done.
Once we got the projector going I looked for a way to link my camcorder with the laptop connected to the projector – I didn’t have a cable that could connect directly to the projector input. Unfortunately the cables I had that connected to my camcorder wouldn’t connect to the projector, and the one that could connect to the laptop wasn’t for my camcorder. Another brilliant message about knowing your materials; look at all the available tech where you’re working, and all the tech you have on you. If they don’t fit, do some research into what will work. Before Wednesday I will look into finding a cable – or more likely a series of cables – that will fit directly to the projector; I don’t think the laptop can handle the live feed, and adding an external computer would probably just confuse the setup more; best to leave the laptop alone and focus on the video input. I will contact the AV store, because I know they have the right cable – it’s just a matter of seeing if they have any spare, or if they know where I can get one quickly.
One of these (Mini HDMI to VGA) might have been ideal.
After the faff with the live feed I spent a few minutes on my phone researching how to make an alternate setup, or at least where to find the right cable – it looks like a Maplins job if I’m lucky. Once the setup was in place Murray asked Matt – our resident musician – and I upstairs for a quick production meeting. We were asked to go and source things and to give a little feedback on how the runthrough from the day before went – I didn’t feel like I could comment, because it was my first viewing and it had felt a little disjointed because it was a broken-up sharing. I didn’t say much, but I agreed with Matt’s comments about one group not quite getting the thing they were looking for – they needed a slight change to the space, and a couple of signifiers, namely a camera and a camera crew. I was asked to come in for their part and really bring the group into the space facing the audience rather than running into the corner towards the camera as they had done yesterday.
I was asked to source a couple more things, namely some boiler suits, UV face/body paint – and also potentially UV fabric paint if I can find it – and a smoke machine, to add a bit of atmosphere. I will contact Gerrie in the AV store about that when I ask about the cables as well. I’m really excited to start working with all of the tech – I’ve been advised to start looking at the lighting rig and figure it all out at some point; I didn’t manage today, but will get on that this week. Murray will be adjusting the lights soon, so I will have a clearer idea of what can happen then. I’m not sure if I’ll be upstairs on the lighting rig or downstairs filming and using the smoke machine – I’ve been talked to about all three, so some running around might be involved! This is a very exciting time – the class are doing a brilliant job making the work, and I get to provide a couple of underscores with the lighting, smoke and camerawork. It will be interesting to see how that complements the work and what changes in the space.
I need to be on the lookout for lots of this stuff. These tubes are tiny! (10ml)
After lunch I was asked to go around the classrooms taking photos and documenting bits of performance – I managed to take a few photos and a couple of videos of some of the groups, but I really need to find where all of the groups are as there are some I’ve never been in the room with, and I’ve not got a feel for what their parts in the show are yet. I have started recording moments that I find are a strong reflection of the work done in class, but have also taken pieces of individual facilitation – I caught a bit of Hannah by accident, but she was so strong in her leading of the group that I just kept filming; I felt it might be important to watch later on.
I was documenting again in the final sharing, which felt more cohesive today – I made sure I filmed everything I could, and took stills when I saw a particularly striking image, but again I had shaky hands and I often missed things while I was watching; this weekend I’m investing in a tripod, so I don’t have to send any clips with dodgy framing and shaking hands. I’m still not sure if I should be zooming in on parts or images while documenting, but I feel that if an image is strong and I’m drawn to it then why not reflect that in my documentation? Though it doesn’t show everything, and I may be missing something equally important, I think it’s also important to go with my gut instinct and occasionally hone in on what I see as the focal point of the action. It’s something I’ll have to interrogate more as I continue to document – I may ask Murray if there’s anything he specifically wants me to capture or focus on.
One of these is essential for effective documentation.
I felt much more focused in the debrief today, and I complemented the class on their facilitation skills – I’ve seen a very high level of leadership and attentiveness from the second years, and it is reflected in the quality of their work and their relationship with their groups. They are a very strong and passionate group, and I look forward to seeing more of their work next week.
This session my role was very much a supporting one – I tried to fix the live feed for one of the groups – while I didn’t manage that, I did film their part in the performance, and it looks really good on camera! I was also capturing bits of the performance for reference – and a few sneaky clips of facilitation – and will be sourcing things for the next couple of sessions. At the risk of sounding arrogant, there’s a lot of responsibility on me this weekend; I have to source as much as I can so we know what we can experiment with, and what I show Murray could have an impact on what we do in the next couple of sessions. A lot is going to change, especially as next session is the week before production week, so I need to do as much as I can to allow the changes to occur with as little fuss as possible.