August 10

Technology and the Arts

My background, and my passion is the arts. I have taught both visual and performing arts, and I love it. The creativity, the fun, seeing kids explore their talents is always exciting. Seeing them create something they are proud of always give me a great feeling. Last Wednesday I was involved with our Rock Eisteddfod entry, the kids were fantastic, as were the parents and staff involved… it was a long but tiring day. Standing with the kids waiting to go on as the first act made everything just perfect, as the back stage handler talked to us, and told us how she enjoyed watching our rehearsals in the afternoon, and thought our group was one of the most “professional” schools she had had through.

What does this have to do with ICT? Well, the Arts can be a little reluctant to embrace new technologies, as I have found over the years, but when I was approached by Ellise (the Dance coordinator) to come up with a Dreamcatcher (the theme of the dance piece) which would be projected onto the cyclorama screen (light screen at the back of the stage) I agreed to come up with something. I had some fun playing with moviemaker, crashing my system a few times trying to use big images. No idea how this would look on the big big big format, how the colours would blend, how the resolution would look. I ended up using Flash to create a waving image of a dreamcatcher, to make it look like it was being blown in the breeze. I thought I could stand to side of stage and operate the data projector.

During the run through we found out I would would have to sit on the side of the stage, as that was where the power connection was. As we are in the RAW category we have no sets to hide behind… UGHHHHH I am a back of stage person, not on stage. In general it worked ok, a few silhouettes when the kids walked in front of the projector, and hot fingers trying to “shade” the light – stop it from showing on the back screen, but generally ok.

The worrying part was we have 2 minutes to set up – set up laptop, warm up data projector globe and get the movie running. Oh and my computer was running like a slug. It had a mini crash when I set up for the run through – ahhhh the pressure of technology having to work when you want it to.

So…. I gaffer taped up my shoes (white reflective runners would not work on stage black out area) – much to the curiosity of the kids. I had thought ahead enough and had a black top, so was ready to fade into the black with a data projector and laptop. I had the laptop on snooze, and already connected to the data projector. I had tried the run through a couple of times, and was hopeful (I know technology too well to rely on it  – :))

Waiting to go on took forever, but finally we were on. Got everything connected (thanks to the arena backstage people for the light to help plug in the data projector). Everything connected well, and hand holding the projector I was able to avoid some of the shadows when the dancers moved to the side area.

It all worked, phew. Just enough to add to the background, and feel of the dance, without distracting from it, and using ICT in a different environment. Little steps. We shall find out on Tuesday if we get through to the final. I have some other ideas to add to it, if we do 🙂 Dreamcatcher