Written by Mike Graham, product manager for CHAUVET Professional
Back when I was in college–yep, I actually have a degree in theatrical technology–my professor told me that the learning would never end. I don’t think he realized how right he was. Given today’s world of ever-expanding technology and the co-mingling of different fields of the digital world, it is even more important to try to keep up with the changes in the industry. On the fly training is, now more than ever, absolutely critical. We have to keep apprised of not only the new products in the lighting world, but also keep up to date on new developments in the video and projection world. As these three things become seen as one by many show producers, we are expected to be experts in all of these fields. For me, this means a lot of reading, watching and surfing. I highly recommend these steps in your continuous quest to knowledge:
1. Bookmark useful websites. Here are some examples of what I visit daily, but remember this is just the tip of the iceberg:
• www.chauvetlighting.com – purely self-serving and shameless plug. But if you read our installation stories and product descriptions you will definitely be more knowledgeable.
• www.livedesignonline.com – Live Design is the magazine of LDI. This website has articles from some of today’s top designers of lighting and video shows. It is a great way to get inside the heads of these people.
• www.lightnetwork.com – if you want to find out what people really think about stuff, this is a great place to check out.
• www.usitt.org – The United States Institute for Theatre Technology provides an effective environment for theatre professionals to meet and share information with each other about anything that deals with the industry.
2. Get books and read them too: There are tons of books out there, but considering the speed at which this industry is moving, I really recommend using the above websites as launching pads and checking out the additional links that they provide.
3. Attend events, trade shows, seminars and anything that gives you hands-on experience. As far as watching, I highly recommend attending as many events and tradeshows as you can. Talk to the people who are in the various booths and ask a lot of questions. Those of us who work the booths will be more than happy to share our knowledge. Shows like LDI, PLASA Focus, USITT, NAMM, Lightfair and Infocomm are great places to meet and get some valuable time with the people who influence and keep this industry running. I also recommend checking out the various reality talent shows out there. They offer some really cool lighting and video that is expertly programmed and executed.
In conclusion, the rule of thumb is that you need to take time every day to learn about what is going on in the industry or you will be left in the dust. Clients these days have much higher expectations of what they want in their shows and are getting smarter when it comes to making requests for show designs. It is up to all of us in the chain to make sure that we know how to make it all happen.