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  1. 1. Pryor 1Audrie PryorMs. TilleryBritish Literature28 October 2011 Basics of Technical Theatre Technical Theater is a part of theater, but it does not consist of acting in plays ormusicals. This kind of theatre is where groups work the sound, lighting, special effects, buildprops, make costumes, do the make-up, and the set design or construction. Learning how towork the sound and light boards are very simple. The light board is much easier and more basicto learn, just because there is usually a layout of the setup where the lights are located to workwith them. With the sound board there are many more keys to work with and much more thatmay be needed like having to adjust to the volume the singer is singing at and if there is a use ofwireless microphones then someone needs to make sure the adaptors are set up to the rightperson with the right microphone. There are many projects that go one when a play is getting ready to be performed.Building platforms, flats, and stairs for the props is one of the many things that go on when thereis a performance. One may paint, use some of the power tools to make or build something, orstart getting the set ready. Platforms are used for acting space. Flats are used to create theillusion of interior and exterior walls. Stairs are generally used for necessary access from theground or another platform. Other things that might be built are doors, trees, benches, and more. Lighting on the stage is a very important part of the performances. It sets the mood oratmosphere of the performance. There are many different types of lights that are used to directlight on a character who may be performing solo, direct lights on multiple characters at a time, or
  2. 2. Pryor 2set the mood for the scene. Plain white light can be very difficult to look into and harsh on thecharacters when acting. Most people know that the primary pigment colors are red, yellow, andblue. Red, green, and blue are the primary colors of light. Complementary colors are those thatare opposite of one another in their makeup. An example of that is pure blue is the complementof pure amber. Blue is made up of only blue while amber is made up of the opposite colors,green and red. When there is a mixture of the red, green, and blue the outcome is white. If thereis a mixture of red, yellow, and blue the outcome is black. Filtering light is very popular, but has been very difficult to figure out because plastic geltends to burn after a while of being on the light. The recent technology for color filtering thathas been a recent development is called dichroic filters. These are glass filters with thin layers ofmetallic oxides deposited in them, which transmit certain frequencies of light while reflectingothers. Filters are expensive, but the filtersdo not burn after being on the light for a long periodof time making them a good investment and making it easier on those who have to work with thelights so there is not a change in them after every use. A pattern is a very common technique used for effect. The pattern is cut into a smallpiece of metal and then placed into the focal point inside of an ellipsoidal reflector spotlight.When the light is focused, the pattern will then be enlarged and projected. This effect is veryuseful in plays where there are props that cannot be made. Dimming has also had a bigimprovement since the early 20th century. Hard patching is a process of connecting individuallighting instruments to the dimmer channels in which each channels allow for independentcontrol. Dimmer units that can run multiple channels of light in a single box usually have a frontpanel. With each panel are some controls and indicators for each channel. A common thing to
  3. 3. Pryor 3find with the box is a circuit breaker, bump switch, and many different LED indicators for eachchannel. Most light boards allow a form of soft patching which is signing more than oneindividual dimmer channel to a board channel. It allows more instruments to be controlled as alogical until. The more advanced light boards provide the ability store scenes, record sequencesin a cue stack, and record light chases. With the standard X-Y board, each fader in a scene has tobe set to a level and recorded on a piece of paper. Scene storage boards allow the operator torecord a scene and assign it to one fader. The sound board is much more complicated. The overall job of a mixer is to takemultiple inputs and combine them into a small number of outputs. The changing of the tone of asound is called equalization. Equalization, volume level adjustment, and muting are generallyfeatures offered on the board. Mixers are referred to by the number of output and input channelsthey have. An output channel is a path for sound to exit and the input channel is a single audiosignal can be connected into the sound board. The most noticeable part of the mixer is the set ofchannel faders. The faders on most mixers are linear faders also known as sliders, control thelevel of the signal sent to the output of the mixer. Microphones are the simplest input devices used in the audio system. They convertsound energy to electrical energy. There are many microphones in which they come in differentshapes, sizes, and operating characteristics. Dynamic microphones are the simplest types. Themicrophone consists of a small coil of wire attached to a diaphragm. Different microphones pickup the sounds from different directions. The omnidirectional microphone picks up sound fromevery direction.
  4. 4. Pryor 4 It is very important to know the theatre environment when working. Knowing how tocreate sound effects that complement the production is extremely important. The nature dictatesthe type of sound system that is needed. The first thing an audio designer does is to determinewhat effects the production may need with the production design staff. Having a list ofsuggested sounds always helps find a good starting point for the audio designer. After the typesof effects have been determined, the audio designer has to acquire or create the effects. Once theeffects have been acquired, they may need to be edited to suit the production. Some effects maybe too short or too long and need to be fixed. With some sound cards comes simple software toedit the audio files. Some provide features such as fading, panning, reserving, slowing down,speeding up, pitch changing, equalization, reverb, flanging, and delay. After the sound effectshave been edited, and both the audio designer and director of the production are satisfied, theeffects can be cued off the computer. Learning to use the editing software is a very useful thingfor the audio designer to do. Inputs to a sound system are different from one production to another. Productions are indemand of a wide variety of components. Such things as wireless body microphones for the keyactors, CD players for music, a computer or digital sampler for effects playback, and offstagemicrophones are all components needed for a production. Many of the productions use anequalizer to EQ for the speakers and the room. Compressors and limiters are very useful for themicrophone inputs. They provide a more consistent volume level making the job of the audiooperator less difficult. Also, they are used to help protect the sound system from transients likethe dropping of a microphone. A task such as choosing the speakers and amplifiers for a production can be verydaunting. The first step is to determine if the sounds are to be loud enough to shake the audience
  5. 5. Pryor 5and scare them or quiet and in the background. Then determine if there is a multi-channelscheme. After everything is chosen, the speakers need to be picked. If there are very quietsounds then the smaller speakers should be used. The smaller speakers are very easy to mountand the sound is good for their size, but does not reproduce bass frequencies. After the speakershave been picked, their locations need to be specified. Depending on the speaker design andhow the audience seating is arranged will depend on where the speakers are placed. Learning about technical theatre can be very easy at times, but at others it can be one ofthe most difficult things. Building, working with the different boards, and programing effects fora production are all parts of the learning process. The light boards are usually very simple andhaving a layout to follow can make things very easy. The sound board having more to it is verydifficult. With the components of the microphones and the sound effects needed in theproduction is a very long process. Selecting the speakers and their placement can be a verydifficult because it is dependent of multiple components.
  6. 6. Pryor 6 Works Cited"Color and Light."Lime Light. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2011.<>.Lighting Trainer.N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2011. <>.Lighting Trainer.N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2011. <>.Rev. of Stage Lighting Super Saturday 2011.Stage Seminars.N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2011.<>.Rev. of Stage Lighting Then and Now.About.N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2011.<>.R. Iacobucci, Dr. Rev. of Stage Lighting Basics. Red Pages.N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2011.<>."Sound Board Basics."DSB.N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2011.< basics.html>."Stage Lighting Basic Vocabulary."UBC.N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2011.< design/crslib2/ltg/ltg1.htm>.Williams, Bill. Stage Lighting Design.N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2011. <>."WPI Technical Theatre Handbook." Rev. of WPI Technical Theatre Handbook, by Steven Scott Richardson. Perfects Pages.N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2011. <>.