Monday, March 25, 2013

USITT: Guerrilla Sound Challenge '13

A handful of UCI folk just got back from the annual USITT conference.  The conference is an annual gathering of theatre designers, stage managers, and technicians from around the country. For four days, we attend workshops, panel discussions, seminars, look at new products, and socialize with our colleagues around the country.  Mike and I go annually, and this year, Josh and Matt Eckstein were also there.

Every other year, the Sound Commission at USITT runs a program called the Guerrilla Sound Challenge, and this year, I took it over.  The GSC works like this: At a certain time, I give each participant a stimulus. That participant then has three hours to create an aural response to the stimulus. The trick is that they are not allowed to use any pre-recorded audio or music. Everything that goes into their aural response has to be wholly original.

This year, the stimulus was a 60-second video piece by video designer Daniel Vatsky. At 2.30pm last Friday, I passed the video clips out to nine different respondents, and they had three hours to create their response. The respondents this year represented a wide cross-section of the Sound Community at USITT.  We had undergraduate students, sound technology professionals, professors, and even a high school student!  The aural responses were wide, and I present them to you here:

I was really pleased with how different each of these pieces are, and yet they still each are deeply connected with Vatsky's imagery.

If you're interested in participating in the Guerrilla Sound Challenge at USITT, you'll have to wait until the 2015 conference in Cincinnati!  But we'll see you then, for certain!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

D-Mitri Training

Earlier this week we had D-Mitri training held in the Meyer Sound Design Studio. We’ve had our D-Mitri modules for almost three years now and have used them in shows but this was our first formal training on CueStation 5.4.0.

Martin Carrillo taught our course and it was great to have a sound designer who frequently uses CueStation in his designs help us navigate the software.  We covered a lot of ground, from configuring the system from scratch to making Spacemaps and programming a CueConsole. Some of the cool things we learned include vamping and de-vamping by using a commands subcue set to Wild Tracks type with the command “set loop counter” as a handy way to trigger the completion of a loop. You can also trigger a command to play cues from within a Wild Tracks deck which is very useful when events need to happen in particular parts in time/music. Another awesome feature is the ability to preview subcues when you have a subcue selected in the cue list or cue library. Pressing the “Preview Subcue” button will pop up the corresponding window for whatever subcue type information you have captured as a visual way to check your work. As part of our lab time some of us refined our Spacemap trajectories, played with looping in Wild Tracks, and Stephen and I decided to program a “Vegas Mode” for the CueConsole! It was a great opportunity to program a CueConsole and a lot of fun to make! Enjoy!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Solid State!

It is with joy that I announce a new addition to our little Family. Since it seems our Serial ATA drives (Snap, Crackle, Pop, Lucky) have been showing signs of age, we have purchased some new hard drives to run our shows.  I am pleased to announce our State drives, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and NewJersey. They are 120GB SSD drives from Newer Technology. They have dual FW800 ports, as well as an eSATA and USB2.0 ports. They are super quiet! And FAST! And here to help us make Art!

(In case you are wondering why I choose those states... well, those were the first 3 states to ratify the Constitution and join these United States. What can I say? I'm a history nerd too! And nobody came up with anything better.)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Arduino Time!

Actually, it's not a class specifically about Arduino, rather it's Drama 282 Stage Electronics and Show Control. This class is for both MFA lighting and sound design majors.

Learning the basics of C++ and Arduino sketch programming provides a remarkably similar environment to PLC and show controller programming.  Our show control hardware is really only audio-centric -- so to be fair to everyone, the Arduino Uno made for a very inexpensive and versatile platform for control prototyping and exploration.

The class is busy working on their final projects in which they were given a relatively loose objective of taking in a stimulus of one kind and translating it into a structured action of another kind. Everyone has really taken to the Arduino environment. So far, I've seen solenoids, relays, ultrasonic distance sensors, LEDs, MP3 shields, serial control of Max and Isadora, and sketches so complex that the controller had to get upgraded to a Mega.  Final project presentations are tomorrow... but there is apparently a digitally controlled flame thrower involved and I'd rather not show the studio up in flames!

Some pictures along the way...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Welcome Matt and Kelsi!

Vinnie and I are thrilled to announce our incoming class of MFA Sound Design students for the class of 2016.  They will both be joining our ranks this fall.  You can read a bit about them below:

Matt Eckstein

Matthew Eckstein joins the UC Irvine MFA Sound Design program by way of Case Western Reserve University, where he will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts and honors in Technical Theater and Design this spring.  While attending CWRU, Matthew served as the Department of Theater's sound supervisor for three years, and designed several shows on the Eldred stage, including The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, The Rocky Horror Show, and Our Town.  Matthew has also worked in various other venues in the midwest, including Cain Park, Dobama Theatre, The Beck Center for the Arts, The Cleveland Play House, and Hope Summer Repertory Theatre.  His work can be found online at  He is very excited to be joining the UCI Sound family in the fall!

Kelsi Halverson

Kelsi is a sound designer, based in Los Angeles, extremely excited to attend UCI in the fall! She will be graduating from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sound Design in May. A native Las Vegan, Kelsi has always been involved in the theatre, having attended performing arts schools for both middle and high school. She has dedicated the last four years to sound design, having designed over 20 productions at USC. She's been a part of two summer stocks, Alpine Theatre Project and Williamstown Theatre Festival, both on the sound team. In her spare time, Kelsi likes to go to concerts, movies, bake treats and travel around the world. She loves small furry creatures and Harry Potter.