A New Theatre means New Tools & Technology
When the University of Maryland, Baltimore County built a beautiful new theatre arts building, they included Creative Conners’ scenic automation to ensure that their students used the latest technology – and that their productions were technically top-notch. Technical Director Patrick McGovern regularly uses his Pushstick, Stagehand controllers, and Spikemark software to give students of all levels exposure to and training in automation.
It’s a Teaching Tool for the Whole Department
McGovern says, “We can teach our automation operators, who may be acting majors, the safety aspect – to watch the cue and be ready to hit the E-stop. With our design and production students, we can go down another couple of levels and talk about what the gear is actually doing while we’re hooking it up. We love it.”
UMBC’s theater students take full advantage of Creative Conners’ state-of-the-art gear as they explore automation and learn how it can enhance a performance – and inspire future technical creativity and success.
Automation is Part of the Curriculum
“We now have a bachelor’s degree dedicated to production and design,” says McGovern. “In our advanced stagecraft class, the students complete a three-week automation lecture and a hands-on project, where they hook up the system and send a wagon across the stage. A graduating student is even looking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ Stage Automation program.”
Get Support for the Product & the Project
With Creative Conners’ commitment to supporting our customers regardless of the project, students and directors are empowered – even when they’ve hit a bump in the road. “Last year,” McGovern says, “we hooked up a hydraulic scissor lift. I had a bit of trouble getting a string pot to talk with the encoder through our system. I gave Creative Conners a call – and you set me straight. I was just missing a simple part. The great outcome was that we bought the scissor lift and all we had to do was a little motor modification and teach the drive how to talk to it. Once we did that, it was easy peasy.”
How does your school use automation? Universities and high schools are realizing that automation is within their (budgetary and technical) reach. Actors are exposed to safety protocol when sharing a stage with automation scenery. Design students are experimenting with movement in their designs. Technicians are learning the how’s and whys of machines, controls, and software.
UMBC (and other schools like them) are investing in the next generation of automation junkies. We’re proud to be a part of their effort.
-Until next time… Make it Move.