What Tech Do You Need?
Microphones can be requested on the tech rider, and will be discussed during your 6 week meeting with the Technical Advisor.
Sound for a cappella shows tend to be very involved and may require an experienced audio engineer. The audio engineer will need to make sure all mics are working, ensure there is no feedback, and, if possible, balance and EQ the performers. The audio technician/engineer should be secured well before tech week. Please reach out to the Tech Exec chair, or PAC Shop if you need help finding an audio person.
Costuming is typically done by the group themselves. Videography, photography, and audio recording may also be needed, depending on the group’s preference. The group will need to find their own videographer and photographer, as well as equipment.
Lights for dance shows tend to be very involved and may require an experienced lights designer. The lights designer should coordinate with the performers to determine what appropriate “cues” are necessary to augment that dance pieces. Number of cues per piece can range anywhere from a couple to over 40 cues.
Sound for dance shows tend to be relatively simple, generally involving only playing music off of a computer and, if applicable, handling the computer with all the projected slides/videos. Projectors can be requested on the Tech Rider.
A projector manager is only needed if the group will be projecting slides or videos. The projector manager simply uncovers and covers the projector when the projector is needed and not needed. Depending on the location and setup of the projector, the projector manager can be one of the other tech people.
Backstage stage managers are stage managers backstage who communicate with the lights and sound tech so they know when the dancers are ready to start the next piece.
Costuming is typically done by the group themselves. Videography and photography may also be needed, depending on the group’s preference. The group will need to find their own videographer and photographer, as well as equipment for them.
In general, theatre and musical shows require a wide variety of tech: lights, sound, set, costumes, props, makeup, hair, fight coordination, master carpentry, stage management, and more.
Lights typically involves creating a realistic lighting condition on the stage, as the stage would look like if the show were a reality (though some shows will require more imaginative and unrealistic lighting). The lighting designer and technicians will coordinate with the director and the stage manager to create light cues.
Sound involves mic-ing the entire cast, or the most important parts of the cast. The audio engineer will need to make sure all mics are working, ensure there is no feedback, and balance/EQ the cast. Some shows will also require certain sound cues, or sounds that are played from the computer. The sound designer will coordinate with the director and the stage manager to find appropriate sound cues. Additionally, some shows require a microphone technician (A2), who is responsible for assisting actors put on microphones, and troubleshooting mics during a performance.
Sets can range anywhere from a few set pieces to large, elaborate platforms and flats. Making a set typically involves two types of tech: the set designer and the head carpenter. The set designer will coordinate with the rest of the design staff and the director to design a set. The head carpenter will then coordinate with the set designer to actually build, paint, and finish the set.
Costumes involves costuming the entire cast. This often entails visiting the PAC Shop to see what is available, and then outsourcing from all of cast and crew. Anything that cannot be acquired for free is then either made from scratch or purchased. The costume designer coordinates with the costume lead on what needs to be built/bought.
Props involves finding all of the props needed for the show. This can mean both rehearsal props and the final stage props. Finding props often entails visiting the PAC Shop to see what is available, and then outsourcing from all of cast and crew. Anything that cannot be acquired for free is then either made from scratch or purchased. The Prop head/lead will coordinate with the director and stage manager for what is needed for a performance.
Makeup and hair is essentially that. These techs are in charge of doing the makeup and hair for all cast members. Sometimes the show does not require any makeup or hair. Other times, the makeup and hair can be extremely elaborate.
Fight coordinators teach cast members the fight scenes and make sure that all fight scenes are performed in a safe and controlled manner. Fight coordinators tend to require a license and can be hired externally. Contact the Technical Supervisor and/or Platt House for more help with fight coordination.
Stage management is one of the most important roles in a theatrical production. The stage manager sits in on all the rehearsals to assist the director, recording down blocking and staging notes, script changes, and more. During the show, the stage manager calls the show, directing the lights and sound tech when they should be playing the next cue.
If you are producing a show that does not fall under one of the above categories and need help with tech, please contact your subcommittee chair.
The PAC Community hosts an annual tech training, typically at the beginning of the Fall semester. Further, the PAC Shop staff are also fantastic resources for tech-related issues and training. When working in the performance space, there should be either a Penn Live Arts or Events and Spaces tech present to assist your group.
Below are guides on using the lights and sound boards present in most of the performance spaces. For help on the design process, please refer to the TACe Handbook, or contact the PAC Shop. For further assistance with tech, please contact PAC-Exec.
The lights boards at Iron Gate Theater and the Prince Theater in Annenberg are all ETC Element lights boards. .
Using the ETC Element
Each venue should have a manual present at the board. There are a number of videos available on youtube or the ETC website.
While the sound boards throughout the theaters on campus differ, they all generally fall under the two categories of digital and analog.