• Nicholas Wong

Blackout (Crewing)

In general, I feel that the first years were more involved with the project at Tower Bridge during each of the various stages of the project. It was a learning experience to be able to attend the various production meetings that were going on throughout the process, and I felt more in the loop with everything that was going on with the project. I was even consulted to some degree by Laurie and Mia, who were the Technical and Production managers as to how to set up the audio system that would go into tower bridge. For the technical preparation, similarly to guildhall yard, the first years were assigned to find and test the technical equipment that was going to be used on the project. In addition to that we were also assigned to configure the Datapath FX4s and made sure they worked. We were also given a lesson in programming led with Resolume by Rury, just in case we needed to do any LED programming while we were in Tower Bridge. Admittedly it was hard to understand what we were doing during the lesson as the Artnet node had gone missing and we couldn't physically see what we were actually doing and that made it slightly harder to understand how the programming and routing worked. Andy also came in to give us a short lesson on how to route audio in Qlab which was helpful because we were using multiple speakers which were playing different audio clips throughout the various installation spaces.

I felt that our time to help the fit up was severely hampered by the CTS classes that we had to attend, and I wish that I could've been around more to see and learn about the things that were going on during the get in and setting up of the technical equipment. Tower Bridge was a really tricky space to get in to as there was only a narrow spiral staircase to get in and out of the space and we had to take extra care not to trip or drop anything.

I was assigned to program the Qlab file for audio in the main space as well as the speakers along the spiral staircase beneath the engine room. I learned quite a lot about how Qlab worked and how it was able to send OSC cues to resolume from the second year students as they were showing me how to set it up, and I think that the knowing how to control Resolume from Qlab would be very useful in future shows and productions that I will be working on.

I also helped to set up the audio system in the Main chamber, and the problem that we encountered was that the audio signal that was being sent out from the interface was being distorted somewhere along the signal chain and there were some really ugly artefacts that were coming out from the speakers. I tried testing every single component of the audio system to try and pinpoint where the distortion could be coming from, but unfortunately once we had the system set up, it was incredibly difficult to take apart all the components and test them individually.

Another problem that we faced in the Main chamber was how the PC specialist tower kept crashing, even up till the test run that we had which was just 5 minutes before we opened the door to the Guildhall lecturers that came to watch the show. I was assigned to stand by the laptop that was controlling all the projectors, and to hit the shutter if the PC crashed. Eventually we had to switch to a D3/Disguise media server so we had to spend time remapping the chamber. I thought that this was kind of a blessing in disguise as we got an early insight to how the Disguise media server worked.

I thought that it was great that we had the opportunity to operate each section of the show, and even calling cues through the comm units, and it made me feel very involved with the show itself and there was a huge responsibility because if we messed up during the operating or calling the cues, that would have an actual effect on the show itself, and we did not have a similar roles during the previous shows so there was much more learning.

In my opinion, I feel that Blackout as a production was a success as I spotted some of the audience members tearing up during the show, and the fact that the show had such an impact on them was a testament to how we managed to convey story of the life of Fred Tibbs in the short time that we had in the Bascule chamber. I only wish we had some comp tickets so that I could have invited friends to come and see the work that we had been doing. 

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