I went back up to the same back-balcony vantage point where I'd taken my
long room shot on my lightning tour two months ago -- the difference was
now that *our* stuff was all spread out in it.
With hopefully more stuff on the way.
One thing to note here, perhaps in the big-pic: the way 4Wall rolls its
cables for rental delivery, e.g. the nearer piles on the floor.
Everything is straight-wound on a machine, and *four* jute ties put on
the larger stuff.
Often connector ends are put together, so for example you have to disconnect
them to see if you're holding 3 or 5 pin DMX.
Smaller stuff gets several little wraps of friction tape.
This is a pain in the ass.
You wind up with scraps of F-tape and jute crap everywhere in a mess, and
the detached ties are likely to get lost by the end of the gig.
People who expect flip-coiled cables are going to wind up with a lot of
twist when they side-pull to run stuff out.
Not only does it take like twice as long to deploy cable stock due to
fighting with all this, it clearly takes a lot more time turning the
stuff around back at the shop to go out again.
The traditional Boston-area way this is done is a single piece of tieline
on every cable, that *stays* on it all the time, and can even be used
to help dress installed wiring when convenient.
Yes, I called and bitched out 4Wall about this.
Their own guys on the ground hate it too, but this new "procedural
requirement" gets thundered down from the corporate mountain with no room
Maybe the IATSE peeps in NYC like this, but we don't.
I asked the shop guy I talked to, please add my voice to the growing
swell of pushback against this because it just impedes everyone's work.
I wonder if anyone makes a winding machine that over/under coils??
PSAV had showed up for the truss call, and we had all the right gear
They were doing a little mysterious movement of the scissorlift here,
with one piece of its safety rail sticking up that would have snagged
on the balcony.
Eventually they got it out of the way and the truss got hoisted, loaded,
and sent to trim height.
The truss didn't go up quite to the optimal point suggested by my
but eyeballing it from the back of the stage showed that from there we'd
still get a high enough angle to cover upstage without being too all over
Meanwhile, I'd gotten the board up and running enough to make sure we had
basic control, and start programming in some fundamentals we'd need on it.
The board would basically be under my care for the weekend, as none of the
other folks in our tech group with any fluency on ETC's Eos/Ion/Element
family of consoles would be at the con.
Knowing that this would fall to me, I had spent some of the week beforehand
studying up and playing with the "Nomad" emulator at home, and kept notes
on operation as I worked through the weekend.
I've put that whole rundown/rant in a separate file,
as others in the community might find it useful.
Full disclosure: I still view all of these as "Hog done wrong".
As I worked, I could still hear the chatter from the folks over at Storage,
and thinking about that and our build at the same time prompted me to key
up the phone and ask Dan a question -- since things in bucket-brigade
land seemed to be going way better than anyone anticipated, how feasible
would it be to get the Colorblaze cyc LEDs down the stairs?
In their dual cases they're bloody heavy, but if opened up and the lights and
case parts carefully passed down separately, it seemed entirely doable.
They made it work, and the other thread describes how, with a picture
showing them safely re-packed into the truck.
Yet another total win for Zello -- if I hadn't been hearing hints of
how things were going over there, I might never have thought to ask.
A hotel engineer came by and dropped off a little surprise present:
a rough map of the house dimmers and fixtures, which are now on DMX based
control and we could in theory run from our own operator position!
Even including the LED pillar washes, to a fine-grained degree if we wanted,
although the physical addressing layout of those is a little odd.
This copy got marked up with some additional notes as I explored their system.
Here's the DMX input to the house system control, now ETC Unison/Paradigm
instead of the old
I had railed against so long ago.
Gone were the little hardwired control screens that I'd built 4-pin XLR
extenders for way back when, and good riddance.
It took about 150 feet of DMX hose to reach from our board to here, but
I ran it and plugged it into the second universe output.
Since the house system starts with address 1 and we'd already addressed
most of our rig the same way, I had to physically separate the runs
instead of splitting off our existing loop, and then I could map dimmer
"channels" for the house starting from 301 and patched to address "2/1"
Which, fortunately, you can do in bulk via the board's command syntax.
External DMX input is sent to the Paradigm controller, which also talks to
the house wall touchscreen panels, and they're basically HTPed together
into an output to the dimmer racks.
[One of which, amusingly, is labeled "loaner" despite being permanently
mounted on the wall.]
A nice feature of having the controller examine and combine the inputs
is that *saving* new touch-panel presets can also include what an external
controller is sending.
In other words, you could use a regular lighting board with full channel
granularity to get a certain room look, and then save that as a preset
that would then work without the external board present.
But the system is surprisingly flakey -- we managed to crash the entire
thing by fooling around with some house presets and had to reboot it.
Later in the weekend, the hotel guys came along and pulled one of the
touch-panels completely out of the wall and replaced it because it wasn't
working at all to control its room.
My combined-control experiments were affecting the "B" section
on the other side of the airwall for a while, because I didn't remember
that it's all on the same single dimmer setup.
And of course the printed sheet with their supposed map didn't include
anything about "B" and was wrong about "A" in a few ways too, and I didn't
have time or a good viewpoint to map it all out for real.
It looks like whoever installed the Paradigm and mapped it to the dimmers
retained a lot of the fucked-upedness in circuiting that plagued the
Crestron system, when that would have been a beautiful chance to straighten
most of it out and put sections in sensible ranges.
We discovered a couple of other things in the dimmer room.
First, there are another four dedicated 20A Edison circuits [pink arrow],
with breakers in the panel to the right of this view.
This was really useful to find as we started powering on-stage dimmers.
It's odd that they're mounted so high up, needing a chair to reach, unlike
the nest of circuits at the other side of the stage.
Before we knew about this, Sound and Video had already grabbed the four
circuits we did know about just outside the door, and run a bunch of feeds
through a short conduit that goes out at balcony level [green arrow].
It would have made much better sense the other way 'round, with the balcony
feeds coming from the inner box and lights taking the outer one.
But nobody had really ever done an overall power map for the room, it was all
slammed together seat-of-the-ass as we figured out where to run stuff.
Kristin's small crew had managed to bring a token batch of critical items
back to the hotel before any of this went down, but the next phase would
be a full-on assault to try and free much more of our gravitationally
I will let Sandy's words tell much of this thread, since she was
there and contributed many of the pictures as well:
Even before the original 4pm Thursday decision point, the word filtered
around con that the 7pm Bucket Brigade would be happening.
to coordinate ride shares so that people could get from the hotel to
storage with less parking trouble.
I got the word when I was in Art Show, and went to Grand A at 6:30 to meet
up with the hoped-for crowd.
I snagged a spot in a car with my best friend,
who had driven to BPP from Somerville to pick up a crew.
While riding over with
her & two others, I radioed Lisa, "How many do we have for the bucket
brigade?" Her answer was 25...I knew that wouldn't be enough for 2.5 floors
of stairs circling around on themselves.
I got to Windsor St to find Dan already upstairs organizing.
As people arrived, he asked for anyone who was an Area Head or had Clue
about specific departments to please talk to him, to prioritize what went
Very few people stepped forward.
I would have *liked* to see
that Lisa had communicated priorities with all the departments prior to the
7pm call, but I don't think it happened.
Instead, the selection process was
a mish-mash: One person said this goes, Lisa said no, and then I later saw
it on the truck anyway.
An example: I watched M. pare down the Fast Track
racks, but someone else later shipped all of it.
As we didn't initially have quorum to station people along the length of
the stairs (& knowing I would hurt myself if I ran loads up & down),
I simply stationed myself at the top of the stairway, pulling items from the
racks in the hallway & handing them to whoever approached me from
Vests for The Watch, printers, costuming bits for Project Cosplay,
crockpots, etc., etc.
Apparently, many more people arrived while I was doing this...I don't know
the official count, but at least 40 people were there.
We filled out the
stairways, and had an effective & motivated bucket brigade.
I believe lots
of people got the call for help in email and came in from all around
Boston, complementing the small group that came from the hotel.
the greater turnout, more stuff went, and the mood continued to be positive
the whole time I was there.
Tech, of course, has lots of bulky, fragile gear, and it was not going to
get passed down the stairs by people unfamiliar with the gear.
The 3 cyc
light cases rolled up to where I was working, and we pulled out the lights
one at a time.
I took the upper end of the first one, with Dan (?) on the
other end, and we hand-carried it down to the the lobby.
I went back & took
an end on another light, by which point most of the cases had joined
the lights downstairs.
I then helped the six lights rejoin with their cases.
There were also questions radioed to Hobbit about his personal 'wiggle'
lights, which were in Storage.
These are more bulky & fragile than the cyc lights, and I was glad to
see that they stayed put, at least for that night.
While traversing the stairs with the cyc lights, I saw many familiar
faces, people who have been involved in Arisia for years, and some people
I knew but did not know they even went to Arisia.
These folks were not there
to get 3x hours on their timesheets, but because they *believed* in Arisia.
This is the magic that made
Lisa's heart swell.
I then stationed myself outside, and coordinated loads from the first
floor lobby to the truck.
The ALCs went first; they were steered out to the
sidewalk and around to the curb cut at the loading dock, then liftgated
onto the truck.
Somebody else stacked the load, I alternated
between checking the lobby for what should come next & feeding it into
the truck, meanwhile encouraging people to use wheels when they could &
not to hurt themselves.
At some point, the amount of stuff in the downstairs lobby was reduced to
a few random things plus the rebuilt pallet of soda, awaiting application
of black pallet wrap.
Rumor was that Sharon had hired people to hand-carry
the fridges to the truck.
I started upstairs to see how things looked up
there, but was told to clear the stairs for the fridges coming down.
So I stood in an alcove partway up and made sure nobody else came up.
From that vantage, I saw a still-assembled metro shelf coming down, with
some careful navigation to get it to fit down the stairwell.
The first fridge came down as well, one mover on each end, and they
didn't even set it down as they went around the corners.
I then went upstairs to find storage relatively empty, and the movers
taking the doors off the wide fridge under Lisa's watchful eye.
After that, I took the next car heading back to the hotel, and got back
in time to start my shift at Art Show.
Two hours of work, and most of an hour
in transit, but we pulled together to Get Stuff to the Con.
[End of Sandy contributed text]
However, that wasn't the end of it, and the triumph of the moment was
Dan fired up the truck to return to the hotel, and drove all of a couple
of blocks before the dash lit up like a christmas tree with check-engine
The truck had gone into some kind of limp mode, and wouldn't go over 5 MPH
no matter what he did.
Around 9:30 I heard him on the radio, imploring something like "tell Rick
to NOT return that other truck! We need it back here!"
Fortunately, the earlier crew had taken a dinner break and still had
the other truck available.
The community of volunteers that was probably on its various ways home by
now was asked to come back, this time for "suboptimal emergency truck sex",
performed in a tiny little parking lot off Cambridge Street.
That entire load was brute-force moved *again*, including all the fridges
and the stealth pallet of soda and all the other heavy stuff, albeit over
a much shorter distance and no vertical other than slightly mismatched
It was still better than having it sit in the Storage lot all
night where Dan eventually dumped the dead truck once it was empty.
The Enterprise folks couldn't get it running right; it was towed out the
The "bucket brigade" load finally made it over to the hotel later, to the
great relief and enthusiasm of all concerned.
Many departments now had most of what they needed to set up, and despite
getting it so late attacked doing so with gusto.
So basically with the lack of the labor-saving conveniences we have in
2019, people were back to moving things around as they might have in
1819 -- by human muscle and strength in numbers, yo-heave-ho!
And my own doubts about the capability of that had been proven
Actually, back then there might have been a big door on the 3rd floor
opening into nothingness, and a beam sticking out from the top of the
building with a rope and a pulley.
But try to get that setup past the building safety inspectors nowadays...