How interested are you in creative and media and performing arts?

November 23, 2010


I have officially finished my video!! Thank goodness for that!!  I think nearly everyone is done now and everyone is very relieved.  I will try to link the video on later but i doubt it will work...

"I doubt it will work!!" Well it has and here it is!!! 

Video Progress

I've pretty much finished my video but have got to put all the sound levels right on the narration and background music.  I'm finding it quite difficult to find the right balance so you can hear the narration clearly but still have the boost of the music to keep the whole thing lifted and not sounding empty.  I'm quite confident that my my video will be finished on time and that it will be very informative and appropriate for the audience.

November 2, 2010

Links  This takes you to the Peace Jam Website which is what Testament was telling us about when he came into school for the workshop day. This takes you to the West Yorkshire Playhouse website which Jessica Farmer told us about when she cam into school for the interview.

October 29, 2010

Offstage Choices Day

On 15th October 2010, the creative and media team as well as some other year 10 and 11 student who excel in creative and media went to the West Yorkshire Playhouse for a day of workshops all to do with offstage choices.  The purpose of the day was to raise awareness of some of the jobs that go on off stage and back stage and also to get young people involved in theatre in a fun way with practical activities that would give them new experiences. I really enjoyed the day and learnt about lots of jobs that I’d never really thought about before like marketing officer and playwright.  We had to make our own way to the Playhouse and Emily's dad took Emily and me.  When we arrived there at 7:50am, only Fran and Beth were there already as well so we all went to the cafe and sat down for a chat.  Shortly afterwards, a man from the Playhouse approached us and welcomed us.  He introduced himself as John and told us he would need someone to go on stage with him to start the day off then pointed at me and said "preferably you, I’ve been tipped off".  I agreed to do it with him and as he walked away, the four of us looked at each other a little confused.  As the others started arriving, we were gathered up with the other schools and went up to a table in groups to craft ourselves a name badge.  We could make it have anything we wanted on it; mine had a smiley face, musical note and feather on it.  We also were asked to put on a board what we wanted to get out of the day and what aspect of theatre we were interested in.  
John approached me again and asked me to step to one side so he could gather the students from all the other schools, colleges and organizations that were involved.  We then had to go back stage to rehearse.  John set us up in an order and told us he was just going to ask us a couple of questions about the creative things we were doing at school/college.  We then sat down on the front row of seats in the auditorium and waited for the rest of the visitors to file into The Quarry theatre.  Once everybody was in, we went back stage again and lined up in our order on stage.  We walked forwards and John welcomed everybody to the West Yorkshire Playhouse.  He then introduced us one by one and we each answered a couple of questions.  He asked me about the creative things going on at Brigshaw and I told him about the diploma and that I was really enjoying it.  I told him about creative Leeds and that I was here with the Creative and Media team.  I think I did really at representing Brigshaw because I showed it in a positive light unlike another girl who was up on stage with me.  We then sat down in our places and Susie, the Productions Manager ran us through all the health and safety procedures.  We were then paired up with Allerton Grange School for the tour backstage.  We were taken backstage and were told that there was carpet on the floor because when it is dark, you cant see any obstacles in the way but if you can feel carpet beneath your feet, you know you're not going to walk into anything and also to muffle any sound coming from backstage so the audience cant hear footsteps in the wings.  We were shown the quick-change box where cast go if they have a quick change for a scene and don't have time to go back to the dressing rooms.  I was quite surprised at how small it was because I know from experience that especially in a musical, if there are lots of people who have a quick-change, there is limited space and it can be quite stressful getting on stage in time.  We also saw where they painted large pieces of set.  The West Yorkshire Playhouse is a producing theatre which means that they make their productions from scrap which means that they have to make their own original set.  There is this massive wall where they hang canvases to paint that are going to be parts of the set.  I thought that all the set making/painting would be done in a separate location because the Playhouse doesn't look big enough to hold that kind of space.  We went into the costume room next, where they design, make and fit the costumes.  This shows they all work collaboratively to produce as good a product as possible.  There was a dress being made out of everyday dishcloths in different colours!  This really surprised me as you wouldn't usually associate dishcloths with costumes or dresses but the dress did look good!  We also went to the rehearsal rooms, one of them is in a separate building over the road, where the costume department is (you can go and buy costumes the Playhouse has made and won't use again!) and were told that everything has to be tightly scheduled with the rehearsal rooms because different productions need different rooms for example, dance shows will be in the room with the sprung floor and productions with lots of people in the cast will either be rehearsing in the room that is the same size as The Quarry (which is useful when working out where the different pieces of set will be) or the other larger room. 
The first workshop was in the same building and was about special effects make up.  It was run by Jules Greenan and Kim Wray.  We only had half an hour so Kim quickly explained that to successfully create a realistic fake bruise, you had to work out how old it was (and research what colour it would be), where it would be and what lighting would be on the stage as it can affect how the colouring looks to the audience.  She then demonstrated quickly on Imogen how to do a fake bruise and then we went into paired and did it on each other.  I was with Emily and she gave me a (fake) black eye first.  Once she'd finished, I got to give her a (fake) black eye.  You start off by putting red where the impact was.  This is because upon first impact, the blood vessels are damaged and turn the skin red.  The middle is slightly raised in a bruise and to make ours look raised; you have to put darker round the outside and lighter in the middle.  As you get to the eye, you put blue, purple and even yellow, the darkest purple is right in the corner of the eye.  I was really proud of my bruise on Emily because I didn't think I’d be able to do it but it was easier than I thought. 
The next workshop was playwriting with Jodie Marshall.  When we got there, we had to get into pairs again and I went with Emily once again and had to read a few lines from the board about a minor conflict.  We had to carry it on and improvise the rest of the argument, there were however, rules.  It couldn't be boring, we weren't allowed to shout and the person who wanted the object (in our case, a glass of water) had to think of lots way to persuade the person who had the object to give them it.  Jodie said that the person with the object of desire was usually the character with the most power but when Tom and Seb performed for the class, it was the other way around as Seb, who was the persuader, couldn't keep up with Tom and come up with any other tactics however when Emily and I showed ours, I think we were pretty even.  Jodie told us that she often took an old story like Aladdin but made it more interesting by adding an unexpected twist or a new character.  We then had to come up with 3 problems there might be with the magic lamp.  Emily and I came up with; there was a stain on the lamp that wouldn't come off and whenever it was rubbed, the genie came out but we didn't want the genie, just a clean lamp.  The customer wanted the lamp in a different colour and the genie couldn't grant wishes because he was past his expiration date.  We then showed our improvisations to the group.
We then had a short break for a snack and cup of tea.  After the break was the sound workshop.  Within the group, we were split into pairs and 3's.  We went round different people and did different parts of the creative process of producing sound for a production.  My first activity was listening to sound effects on a CD player and selecting those which fit into a market place setting.  There were lots off different types such as footsteps, doors opening, short clips of music, bells ringing etc.  The next activity was up in the sound box.  We were up there with Mary, the sound engineer who showed us on monitors the playlist of the sound effects and music in the order they had to be played in.  She told us that to play the tracks; she presses this button on a small controller which also skips the tracks.  I asked whether this could be done automatically by the computer but Mary told us that there was the matter of human error as actors on stage could forget there lines or miss sections out and that would throw all the sound out of synchronization.  She also showed us the control panel for the microphones.  She turned the volume up on one of the throat mics and we spoke down it so all the auditorium could hear.  She also told us that they put throat mics on some instruments that are used on stage instead of amplifiers.  She demonstrated the benefits of this by turning up the volume on the microphone on a guitar and asked Tom to play something on it.  It amplified the sound without the problems of wires on the stage.  The last activity was recording sound for the market place.  There were 4 students on stage in-front on microphones and four of us at the table with headphones and a laptop.  The laptop was recording the sound from the microphones and Jack who had the headphones on had to make sure everything was coming through to him.  Emily and I were directors and it was our job to tell the actors when to be louder, quieter and when to stop.  I really enjoyed this and found out when I looked at the software being used on the laptop to layer the two tracks from the two microphones that it was a similar program to Audacity, a program I have at home and am familiar with.  When I enquired this, I was told that it was similar but more powerful and expensive.  That really inspired me to try and edit more songs and sound effects at home and to learn more about Audacity as I was very interested in the whole workshop and creative process in sound.
We then had a marketing workshop with Joanna.  We were discussing effective ways of advertising and how the budget can affect what methods they use.  Joanna told us that the higher the budget, they more they could advertise which seems better but in fact, some of the best ways of advertising are free such as letting the press know and word of mouth.  We then had to get into groups and each had a mind map with a different title in the middle.  I was in a group with Fran, Beth and Tom and our mind map was about new media.  Our task was to write down how new we would use new media to advertise if we had all the time and money needed.  Our suggestions became more and wilder (mainly from Tom) such as genetically create an army of Genie's and make every prop on TV and in films be replaced with lamps.  We then had to give our 3 best ideas to the group.  We gave our wildest idea's which gained a few laughs.  I was surprised at how fast this workshop went by and that doing the mind maps had taken us to the end of the half an hour.
Next was lunch.  We all just sat around and discussed the day so far and our expectations.
After lunch was scene painting with Barney George who designed the set for Aladdin which is going to be on at the Playhouse soon. We discussed different types of performances such as end on, in the round promenade and in traverse which is how Aladdin is being set.  We also discussed how these types of stage will give different audience members a different experience.  Traverse is when the stage in down the middle of the audience so the audience can see each other unlike when the staging is end of.  This gives them a different experience as they can see each others reactions and also sets a challenge for the set design as you don't want to block the actors when they're in a certain place to one side of the audience.  Barney then showed us a model of the set and pointed out the signs above the shops.  He then showed us two of the signs that would be used in the production, the vegetable shop sign and the lamp shop sign.  We had to make either a vegetable/fruit or a lamp to go on the sign.  As we were the last group to do this workshop, ours had to be small but colourful.  I made a red lamp and Seb made and olive, Emily made a pineapple and Frankie also made a lamp.  Though I found learning about the challenges of set design for the different types of stage, this was my least favourite practical as we didn't have much time to make our pictures and I'm not very good at that sort of thing anyway. 
Last activity was the speed dating session which was where a small group of us went to a worker in the Playhouse and had 3 minutes to ask any questions at all.  In my group were Tom and Miss Woffinden and two boys from another school.  
The first round was with Joanna, the audience engagement officer.
She told us that they look at all the different shows and establish an audience for each one.
They have a database which has the details of anyone who has ever been to the Playhouse and what they went to see and how often they go so they can contact those people specifically when a similar production is on or one in the same genre.  
They try to bring in people mainly from West Yorkshire but they research, using the database, how far people are willing to travel as you give your address when you buy a ticket.  This gives them an inclination as to where they need to advertise more.  What can also affect that data is any other theatres in that area because Joanna said that they don't get many people from Wakefield which isn't as far away as some places they get audience members from and that might be due to the fact that there is a theatre in Wakefield.
Our next round was with Gaby and Saira who are first floor co-ordinators. 
First floor is a place where young people can go and take part in creative activities.
When we asked what their most enjoyable experience was, they said that it was all great because everything is different so you can't really pick a favourite.
Their ultimate target is to try and help young people get into the theatre industry whether it is on stage, off stage or back stage.
Our third round was with the productions manager, Susie.
Her job is to see whether they can make the required set within budget, the storyboards for the productions are sent to her and she is responsible for bringing everything together and creating all the illusions on stage.
She had to meet frequently with the director and his team. 
Susie showed us some mini models of pieces of set in the upcoming production 'A Christmas Carol' including a bed with a trapdoor underneath.  It was very interesting because she told us that she uses them models to estimate the cost of the real thing and see whether it will fit into the budget.  She is currently working on 6 projects!
In our penultimate round, we met Tom, an assistant director. 
Miss Woffinden was particularly interested in this round as this is something she would like to do.  Tom's job is to be around to help to director, help edit the script, observe rehearsals and sometimes just to get coffee.  He is on a 1 year contract and within that year, he was assigned to a number of productions.  Sometimes, he doesn't know anything about a production until they start rehearsals.
He said he learns lots from the directors and has been inspired mainly by Ian Brown.  He said the key to working really well in a theatre is communication.
We had to literally drag Miss Woffinden away to the last round with Penny from business development and works in conference events.
She talked about the two parts to the theatre that Jessica told us about on Tuesday, the charity side and the profits side.
When we asked Penny what the weirdest event that had ever been requested to be held at the Playhouse, she told us about a burlesque night there!
Her job is to manage the schedule, meeting and balance everything by making sure that there aren't two groups scheduled to be in the same room at the same time.
That concluded our speed dating session.
We were then invited back into The Quarry theatre's auditorium for a conclusion of the day and a goodbye.  Some students studying drama at Leeds City College performed a short drama piece about Aladdin and 3 girls performed an improvisation about the story of 'The 3 Bruises' which was based on the special effects make up workshop.  I thought that was really brave of them as I know how scary it can be performing to your peers.  We then had to make sound effects like in a market place; each school/college had a different part of the market to make sounds for.  Brigshaw had to be the animals at the market!  John then said we'd been transported out of the Playhouse and into the market.  That concluded our day.  We then had to fill in a feedback sheet saying what we enjoyed about the day and what we got out of it.
We each discussed between us what we enjoyed most about the day.
Seb enjoyed learning about being a Sound Technician and going into the sound booth to find out how it all works.
Frankie enjoyed finding out about the job of special effects make up artist and successfully making a fake bruise.
Imogen enjoyed being the model for the make up artist as it made her feel in character.
Beth enjoyed being a director in the sound workshop.
Fran enjoyed using the faders in the sound box and being a sound engineer in general.
Emily enjoyed mixing the colours in the make up workshop and experimenting with how they looked.
I enjoyed the marketing workshop and finding out about the program similar to Audacity so I can continue at home.
Olly enjoyed playing the guitar in the sound box with the microphone on.
Tom enjoyed the playwriting workshop because it gave him licence to do whatever he wanted and no one could sensor him.
Jack enjoyed the marketing workshop and the set design, especially making a lamp that was going to be used in the production.

The Creative Process of a Sound Technician

This is a Creative Process that a Sound Technician would need to go through.
1.       Read the script to get a feel for the era and location the production is set in.
2.       Listen to various sound effects for example footsteps or animals.
3.       Research the time period the production is set in so you know which sounds fit with the time.
4.       Research the location of the production so you know how the sounds will sound for example, footsteps will sound different in a wood than they will in a cave.
5.       Learn how to use all the features of the software you’re using although you will probably have an idea or know already.
6.       Edit the chosen sound effects and music and edit them to the right length.  You can also put effects on them like echo’s or repeating them.
7.       Cue up the effects and music in the order it will appear in the production.
8.        Learn all the cues so you know the order so you can double check the accuracy and also the timings on when to play the next track.
9.        Set up all the throat mics being used in the production.  This might mean leaving some in a specific place backstage as some performers may only need a mic halfway through a performance.  Also make sure all the mics correspond with the sliders that turn them on up in the sound booth.
10.  Some times in a performance, a musical instrument is used on the stage by a performer for example, a guitar.  You need to next set up mics on any instruments being used.
11.  Test all the equipment being used in the performance.  This is very important as this is a health and safety check which defines the safety of the performers onstage.

Case Study
The task is to create the music and sound effects for a market place set in the 1800’s Britain.
You have to...
·         Research what the 1800’s in Britain was like by...
o   Looking at pictures of the time and place
o   Visit current markets and contrast/compare them to the production

You want to take the audience to the time and place with the music.  Try to use the most relevant sound effects/music to give them the best experience.
You have the same target audience in this scene as who the whole production is aimed at.  This will affect the style as it will have to fit in with the rest of the production.

Job Description for a Sound Designer

The Sound Designer (SD) selects or creates music and sound effects for the production.  The material is then recorded and formatted for playback during performance using a sound system.  Also are handled by the SD, are reinforcement, monitoring and intercom.

Duties during the Planning Period: Creative Process

          l.    Read the script and become familiar with the production concept.
          2.   Prepare a list of the required sound and music in the script. It is usually helpful to categorize items as follows:
·         Live sound;
·         Recorded sound;
·         Live music;
·         Recorded music; and
·         Reinforcement or enhancement.

For each classification, note the type and quality desired.

          3.   Make a sound/music effects worksheet; in consultation with the Director, decide how these sound and music effects are to be obtained.
          4.   Coordinate in consultation with the Director the location and (possible) recording of musicians, if live music is to be used.
5.   Plan the construction and/or location of equipment, in consultation with the Technical Director (TD), Lighting Designer (LD) and Stage Manager (SM).
6.   Prepare a time schedule of work and deadlines.  Commitments include practice rehearsals, special recording sessions, crew instruction sessions, level setting sessions, technical rehearsals and performances.

Duties during the Preparation Period: Creative Process

          l.    Organize and supervise the work of the sound crew.  This includes run crew members, musicians and singers.
          2.   Check material available in the Department before ordering, purchasing, renting, or borrowing recorded or printed material.  All purchases must be authorized by the Sound TA.
3.   Preview all effects, recordings, sheet music, songs, etc. with the Director to assure that they are satisfactory; do prior to level setting sessions.
4.   Complete a loan agreement form and Request for Inland Marine Insurance form for all rented and borrowed items.       
          5.   Arrange times with the SM when you can attend rehearsal(s).              
          6.   Do not allow non-authorized people to use audio equipment.  KEEP ALL EQUIPMENT SECURED WHEN IT IS NOT IN USE.
7.   Make complete and detailed sound cue sheets for all concerned:  crew members, singers, conductors, orchestra members, etc.  Paperwork must include mixer and speaker settings for stage and support systems as well as the show's patch network.
8.   Determine both the ON and OFF stage placement of audio and effects equipment in consultation with the SM and TD.

Duties during the Technical Rehearsal and Performance Period: Creative Process

          1.   Attend all level setting sessions, technical rehearsals and monitor the progress of the show during performances to maintain quality.
          2.   Supervise the activities of the Sound Board Operator crew.  This crew is responsible for all sound, music and communication, intercom and cue light systems used in the auditorium, lobby and support spaces.
          3.   Instruct your crew to speak and move about quietly in the booth and backstage areas.
          4.   Enforce smoking and beverage rules:  Neither is permitted ON nor BACKSTAGE nor in the booths.

Duties during the Clean-up Period: Creative Process

          l.    Supervise the safe removal and storage of all sound, music and communication equipment during strike.
          2.   Return all departmental equipment to its assigned storage location.
          3.   Return all borrowed and rented equipment the first week-day following the final performance.  Have the loan agreement forms signed by the owner and return them to the Sound TA.
          4.   After all sound equipment has been stored and the booth cleaned and restored, join the rest of the strike crew.
                One crew is not finished until everyone is finished.

Line of Responsibility:

          1.   Your immediate supervisor is the Sound TA, followed by the Resident Technical Director.

October 17, 2010

Rules of the Blog

On Tuesday 12th October, in the P.E classroom in third period, Miss Woffinden talked to us about what makes a good blog post.  She told us she was disappointed with some people's posts and that we were going to make up some rules to follow so every post we did would be perfect!
We came up with them together and the list is this... (the asterisks [*] represent bullet points!)
* Checked 
          -Spell checked
          -Read it aloud
* Includes dates and names
* Detailed - set the context
          -Who, what, where, when, why and explain
* Reference any handouts or websites used
* Write in chronological order
* Add any quotes
* Use the teacher's and pupil's feedback
* Use correct grammar and english
* Evaluation
* Give examples

I think these rules will really help me to make my blog be the best that it can be.
We then marked each others blogs and gave feedback as to which rules they had followed and which they hadn't (bearing in mind the posts were made before the rules had been created) and gave them individual targets for example, I gave Seb the target to use examples in his work (which ironically I am doing now!).

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