Noreascon 4 from Hobbit's narrow little viewpoint


This is an attempt to timeline some of the main-tent build pictures that other people captured and hung out on the net. The pix are not in strict temporal order, so there may be some continuity breaks such as drape pieces being present in one shot and then absent in a "later" one, but the idea is to give a reasonably coherent overview of the build process.

Click on any picture for a full-size version with more detail.

We got up early, had breakfast, and walked into an empty hall at 0800 AM. I thought that day would never come, but there we were. The first order of business was to hold various organizational confabs, while way off at the other end of the hall behind us the teamsters were already bringing the first bits of stuff up in the freight elevators at the other end of Hall C. Eep! Forklifts!

I delivered the first parts of my setup rant to accompany the documentation, and people went off to start tape-spiking key positions. The truss sections began arriving from the truck, and we started laying it out roughly where it needed to go but not in the way of the riggers trying to set hang points. [I use "we" in only the most generic sense, since my job was to mostly run around with paperwork and I maybe ran all of two cables the entire time.]

We began bolting truss and laying motor-control wire and running the chainmotors out...

which all tied back into these boxes to power and control them. Ten motors total, in two groups.

Louie the rigger used his spiffy laser-plumb to spot his points as close to our spike marks as possible, subject to where structural steel happened to exist overhead, and then went aloft with the union lift-driver to start hanging the points...

...some 58 feet in the air. [This is nonetheless *low* compared to some other convention centers...] People got slightly distracted by them swinging around up there for a short time, but then bent back to the tasks at hand.

As the truss sections went together the major wiring was dropped on top and tied, and other people kept running gear over to near where it needed to be attached. As sections were hung on the motors, they could get raised to working height and assembled the rest of the way. Here, Joanne and Kelly consult the doc as a section of wiring nears completion. It was immediately clear that having plenty of documentation was a Really Good Thing.

View along front truss, all 80 ft of it. The 918 heads were the limiting factor on how low everything could come in!

The whole truss ring near completion. They're just about to haul 918 #92 out of its roadcase and attach it over at the right. We had managed to trap the boomlift *inside* the ring, which fortunately was not needed elsewhere in the house until after we were ready to let them drive out underneath.

One of the two dimmer packs and companion distro boxes. 48 dimmers per side, and not a whole lot of them left over. Even with that, I was only sucking about half of each 200A feed, expecting the rest to be occupied by sound and video. But they got a third feed from upstairs instead.

Dimmer beach occasionally served as a center to take a break, lean on something, and tell war-stories. Fortunately not too often, since there was still plenty to do. Note the rigger's chalked spot-mark on the floor behind Ethan, and our yellow tape spiking behind Larry...

A couple of 918s were positionally swapped, but it was easier to readdress them than move them. Or so we thought... until Cheezy and I went and dove underneath to "change the oil" rather than to bother running the rig higher.

The obligatory hobbit butt-shot... with a 5-to-3 DMX adapter hanging out of my pocket. That and a "happy light" terminator was my line tester.

Various other views from on high, i.e. how we saw it from the balcony and booth most of the time. Build continued down below while the video folks were doing their own thing with 300 *meter* camera control triax that had to be run really carefully to avoid pinching or kinks.

We were into functionality-testing at this point, with everyone clustered around the table in the middle of the ring running channels up and down or out at the truss wiggling things to search out flakey plugs and wiring. There weren't any, and there weren't any wiring mistakes. The crew totally rocked my world.

A fairly bad shot up at the booth at the back of the balcony. Paul's time-lapse cam tripod is on top of it. LX booth is far left [fluorescents], video is center three windows. Big beam is the centerline of room.

Video booth interior, fairly early on. The amount of gear in that space by show-time was really stunning. Here it's just starting to go up. No projectors are deployed yet, nothing in that far balcony corner visible through the window...

Video later on, as things came together: switching side

... and shader/everything-else side.

After everything was tested and the cyc tied on and hung out, we flew everything to a reasonable safe height off the floor for the night. Note the dirt on the cyc -- we all saw it in this light, but once the room was darker and we had stage lighting only, it was miraculously invisible.

Paul's to-do board in 201.
Later there was the nightly tech meeting/party, where the day's events were reviewed, a brief to-do list for the next day reeled off, and Scotch consumed. No clue which night this is from; could have been any of them. While Paul our fearless leader spent some amount of time whimpering in a corner, I think overall he was pretty pleased by how things were going.

The next day, focus time. Overnight, a stage magically appeared. Well, mostly -- the Hynes folks were still working on it when we arrived in the morning.

So we made it all go dark. [The hardest part of which was trying to get that *awful* Hynes electrician to *think* about what he was doing...] Then the trusses were flown to final trim. By this time I had been "blessed" to operate the lift motors. Ain't much to it, but you have to pay attention.

It rapidly became clear that getting a scissorlift in behind the cyc truss and reaching across to focus the scroller-pars was almost infeasible. Larry and the driver thrashed on it for a while and then the union guys offered to just drive the boomlift for this part and not charge extra. *It* could reach, and we worked to get done with the parts that really needed to be completed before shift-change, overtime charge, and getting the rest of stage wings installed.

Since boomlifts at long extension can wave around weirdly, the op and Larry had fall-arrest on. Nobody cared about it in scissorlifts.

After the difficult upstage stuff was done and boomlift shut down, we had a nice quiet, dark house and a skeleton crew as work continued out front with the larger scissorlift. Trim height around the front of the ring was about 32 feet, so...

yeah, they're *up* there. But any lower on the trusses, and sightlines from the balcony wouldn't work too well! And that was important, because the balcony was packed for at least two events.

Kelly and the driver finished up on the SL cools, aligned the "Boston skyline" slides, and we were done! Focus worked out *almost* as I expected -- a couple of minor oddities here and there and a couple of back-truss shots that were later blocked by drape. No biggie, they were just unpatched into oblivion for the duration. That big splash of cold white light from the right under the balcony was from the Concourse mercs, and was a minor headache for the entire con since it never got draped off.

Eventually we moved all the control gear up to the booth, where I spent some time balancing washes and aligning mover shots...

and chatting with Syd about video's lighting needs. [I still don't understand why cameras tend to catch me with the *stupidest* expressions.] That pack of paper with a couple of yellow sheets was my "brain" for the week, and part of the crew's job was to make sure I always had it with me.

Back down on the floor, it was screen and drape time. A 20x15 Fastfold needs quite a few people to wrangle it and stretch it over the frame. [This shot is actually from teardown, but we'll ignore that.]

We don't seem to have any pix of the screens actually going up, but that's how they ended up standing. It might have been easier to fly them on a few more motors, especially when we had to weight the feet by swiping a bunch of the sandbags intended for the cyc-lights kneewall. [This is also from teardown, with J and I pushing stuff around and taking it *off* the stage..] Behind the screen at the end of the balcony is one of the piles of dead roadcases, mostly from video, that got shuffled en masse into the non-audience areas once setup was near complete.

Sound on the Hynes floor. Not a whole lot to it, really -- the board was jacked into the house system with just a little bit of fill at the front.

The house-right camera's view of the stage. This is possibly the best view of how the kneewall simply formed a natural part of the stage & cyc stage picture -- it really just disappeared, so I was pretty happy with it.

The rear-of-house cam needed a *very* long lens to get sufficiently close in.

At some point in the midst of the ongoing chaos, the Retro Hugos crew arrived to begin constructing the Smoot-bridge set. This also shows the "stairway" around downstage right for walk-ups -- deliberately made long so video could get plenty of award-recipient footage as they came up and around.

The Retros set roughed in. The little pink thing on the bridge is a Barbie Jeep ...

later replaced with the real Corvette prop.

"...streaking toward me, two lanes wide..."

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the building, lots of other things were getting put together. Such as the quick-n-dirty lighting in H210... not to mention about 8 more large screen/projector rigs.

The pillar-trim Saturn rings out in the Concourse looked quite slick once floodlit from below. Yay foam-core and glitter paper.

And they were having tons of fun over in the Sheraton as well. Here's the digital board that Joel had way too much fun with, playing with surround in the Grand Ballroom. [What I'm seriously missing here are any shots of the *two* 800 pound 70mm film projectors in the same tech-balcony.]

Now, in here chronologically are three days' worth of major events that aren't documented at all. But it was just like going to work in the morning. Do tech all day, and then party-hop and have the nightly meeting in the tech suite, where much silliness happened as well as plenty of real work and solid review. At some point this little object mysteriously appeared, clearly the product of a twisted, obsessed mind...

And all too soon it was time for teardown. We started right in after the closing ceremonies, and the truss hit the ground and was entirely unbolted by around 10pm when Paul kicked us all out of the building for the night.

But we weren't anywhere near done yet -- the fairly massive task of organization and inventory continued the next day.

What was that densely-packed video booth earlier was once again empty. They used stage risers as very-heavy-duty tables, a really wise move.

Finally, it was time for much mutual back-patting and congrats on a job well done, both from and back to our main movers and shakers: Marc, Paul, and of course our esteemed con-chair Deb. We were *done*!

_H*    041215