Project Reflection: A Job Well Done, with Minutes to Spare

            I would like to start this reflection off by giving a huge thanks to John Huntington, Nikki D’Agostino, Daniela Tomaino, and John Robinson, all of whom contributed majorly to the project, and I couldn’t have done it without their help. At the very beginning of this project, Huntington had posed a question; “What do you want to do for a living?” The intent of this project was to test whether or not being a live mixer was truly what I wanted to do with my life, and I can confidently say that it is. The entire process, from research to design to recording the final product and mixing it has kept me thoroughly engaged, and as someone who struggles with ADHD, that factor is of utmost importance. If I wasn’t extremely invested and intrigued by what I was doing, I would have made countless mistakes along the way, and would have probably failed to complete the project. In school, this would amount to another semester and another project, but out in the real world you would be fired. Not only have I learned how to live mix a show a lot more professionally, I learned many skills along the way that I didn’t know I didn’t have. Searching through the archives of a library for technical information, how to negotiate and network with people, and the intricacies of designing a system were all valuable lessons that I had learned on my journey to complete the project. I feel more than confident in my ability to go out in the professional theater world and fight my way to the spot I desire, and that my time at this school was genuinely meaningful. Outside of the project, I learned how to lead a team of individuals, teach without doing things for them, and how to conduct myself in a professional respectful manner without compromising on my ideals. I got to have a hand in every single aspect the department has to offer, and this truly was a culmination of it all. The only thing I regret is that it’s all over. I would love to do this all over again, and I wouldn’t change a single thing. That being said, I hope I pass and don’t have to do it over again.

Progress Report 3: I’ve Done It! (If by It you Mean Getting Covid)

            It is now the end of April, and I have successfully recorded the show. However, in the process of recording the show, I contracted covid, along with a good deal of the cast. Thanks to this, I am now about a week and a half behind on my project, and crunch time is here. The current plan is to practice twice before I take the final recording, and the recording will take place on the day of the final Bindlestiff before anyone gets there from the show crew. Although this will be a tight fit, I have found I always work best under pressure. As for the recording of the show itself, there were a few small issues during the testing due to forgetting to arm all the tracks to record, causing two of the channels to be missing from the initial test. During the second test recording, some of the mic packs batteries died, causing gaps in the recording. Thankfully, they had purchased new batteries before the final recording. When I did return the equipment to campus, I did a brief test to make sure that I had repatched the JoeCo into our system properly, and the playback worked perfectly. I am currently working with John Robinson to block out practice time in the theater before doing the video recording of the project. Hopefully the last stretch of the project goes smoother than the rest has!

Progress Report 2: A Plan of Action is Still Just a Plan

            It is now around the end of March, and I have been quite busy for the past month or so. Between my responsibilities as crew head, taking a full course load, and culmination, it’s been one wild semester. After pitching the idea to my recently attained technical advisor, Nikki, I have reached out to where I interned, got their permission to record their performance of Arsenic and Old Lace, drafted up a system diagram of what I would be using from the school and how it would interact with the production company’s equipment, and how it would be used. I would be taking a JoeCo, a network switch, and enough CAT5 cables to establish a network with Dante, which would run off my laptop. I would go out from the company’s wireless mic receivers into the network switch, then patch everything in Dante. Then, once I have the recording, I would take the JoeCo back to Vorhees, and use the playback function to mix the show on our system as if it were live. As of right now, the plan is to acquire the gear on April 4th, and return it on April 17th, the end of spring break. This should allow for enough time to take 2 test recordings, and one final recording. Once I have practiced mixing the show a couple times, I plan to record myself mixing the show as proof that it was done.

Progress Report 1: Research, and Discovering the True Project

            Back in January, when I was trying to register for culmination, I was still at a loss for what I could possibly do for a project.  I could have easily just asked to mix for EIS or do both mixing and QLab for one of the Bindlestiff performances, but those seemed much too simple, not really a true test of my abilities gained during my time at City Tech.  So, in search of answers, I sought out the most influential member of my education, John Huntington.  While he wasn’t able to be my technical advisor, as he had just retired, he still wished to see me succeed and helped me brainstorm a project. He asked me one crucial and enlightening question; “What do you want to do once you’re out in the real world?” I hadn’t given it much thought, as for the past few years I had been focusing so much on gaining the skills needed to succeed, I never stopped to wonder what job I would pursue. After some time, I arrived at the conclusion that I wanted to professionally mix live theatrical productions. So, we agreed that that should be my project. I drafted a proposal, submitted it to John, and he enabled me to register. Fast forward to the beginning of February, and I am deep in research. It turns out that copyright holders don’t love high fidelity multitrack recordings of their shows online for public access, so I tried the next best thing. The library at the Met Opera. They have an archive of most Broadway shows on film, so I went and inquired about multitrack recordings. However, this ended up being another dead end. Just when all hope was lost, my Technical Production professor, Daniela, had asked me and my fellow crew head to draft up a block diagram for the system for EIS, and that’s when it hit me. I don’t need to find a multitrack recording if I can make the recording myself. And that’s when I finally figured out how to not only complete the initial project, but also found a way to incorporate my secondary degree track, show control. Use the JoeCo recorders to record a show off campus, building a mini Dante network in the process, and then bring it back to our system and mix it.