TECH

The next few articles all concern Tech, how it was set up and how it interacted with other Areas, starting with Tech from an Ops point of view, and moving on to how Tech saw themselves, and including the kit lists Tech devised, on the basis of the tasks it was asked to perform for Program, Extravaganzas, and Ops.

TECH AS I SAW IT

by Fiona Anderson

Tech had its budget split across 3 Divisions: Program, Extravaganzas, and Ops. 1 felt this was madness, as Tech not only had to torture information about what kit was wanted out of people, but then had to fight for the money too.

In my view, Tech should have a basic shopping list (to include kit for the Divisions, and services from the SECC), and a budget right from the start. Any Division that wants any more than the basics should then have to provide more money to Tech.

Because there were several changes in the Program Division Head, some of their money originally earmarked for tech disappeared, and later on we had to struggle with con-wide budgets to find enough to pay for it all. Putting money in Tech to start with would have avoided this problem arising.

As Tech took the decision early on to hire in virtually all their kit, this meant that the hire companies did all the delivering and collecting, which was a life-saver from Logistic's point of view.

However, it also meant there was a lot of work needed in tracking what came in, what was supposed to come in, and its fitness for use, and especially that the correct people collected the correct items back at the end of the con. This was a nightmarish job, and Gytha did it, even though she already had her hands full running Extravaganzas. We need more people!! !!

Richard had originally asked me if Tech could work out of Ops, in that techies would sign on for their shifts in Ops and Ops would track if there were problems with reliefs, and that Tech would also be on the Ops radio net. While neither Richard nor I were happy with this, we set it up that way because of the extreme shortage of techies - this would mean that Richard did not have to find shift bosses as well, when he was already envisaging techies having to do 6, 9, and 12 hour shifts - in contrast to most other areas who were planning on roughly 3 hour shifts.

In the event, Tech did operate out of its own base instead, and I was extremely relieved about that, and about them having their own separate radio net. This was always the best way to do it, as both Richard and I were well aware

I was extremely pleased to have Richard running Tech for us, as I knew it was in competent hands, and I am extremely grateful to him and all his techies for the superb job they did for us - thanks, guys!


INTERACTION WITH TECH

By Fiona Anderson

As a result of my discussions with Richard, these are the final instructions about how Ops would interact with Tech that went into the Ops Manual:

There will be 2 Duty Managers for Tech on shift at any time. One will be in hall 5, and have his own Tech team permanently in that hall all day. The other will be mobile, and available to deal with Tech problems anywhere else in the convention. Both will be on bleep and on radio.

All other Tech staff will report in person to the Ops Room 15 minutes before the start of their shift time. The Ops Room will tick them off on the Tech shift list. Should a techie fail to turn up by the start of their shift the Ops Room will inform the roving Tech manager. 1

When the techie reports in, the Ops Room will take their order for a soft drink, and arrange for a gopher to deliver it to the techie's place of work.

Although Tech shifts are nominally 3 hours each, many techies will be doing 6 hour shifts, so the Ops room also needs to arrange for gophers to deliver a hot snack to such techies These snacks will be obtained from the Gopher Hole catering outlet , therefore we need to ensure the Gopher Hole Shift Managers have enough GRTs to hand to do this - also ONLY the techies signed up for 6 hours or more should get a snack delivered, though all of them get a soft drink once a shift.

The techies will be on radio. They will report any problems to Ops who will pass such messages to the Tech Managers on duty, if it's a Tech problem, and to other departments as appropriate.

The techies will be on the Ops radio channel - they will not have their own separate channel. This means they must obey the directions of the Ops Room radio operator, as must everyone else on our net - but don't be too officious with them about procedure - techies are normally on their own separate net with their own special procedure, so it may take them a while to adjust to Ops radio procedures.

Tech holds the stocks of radios in their base, and people needing radios should sign them out from there. This allows the techies to keep track of radios and recharge batteries etc.

Each hall should have the kit it needs permanently there. Small portable items may be moved between the halls or kept m the tech base (Hebrides room/Moathouse) any sudden requests for tech kit must be referred to the Tech managers. Tech shifts will change on the hour. so Ops shifts will change on the half hour. Tech shifts are 0-12, 12-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-mdnight.


Technical Support - The Invisible Art

By Richard Rampant

A strange title for a part of the convention support that seems to turn up in several large trucks, and in the case of a world convention in several articulated lorries. However there is an overriding consideration that wherever possible the delegates should only be aware of the program item and not what is allowing them to hear / see it.

Let me first give you a little background on why I wanted to organise a World Con. Firstly and rightly so 1 had seen others organise the technical support of large conventions and had, when asked, expressed an opinion on where they went wrong,

There is no way that I can do that without putting myself in the same position and taking the same hassle. Also to put it bluntly I felt I could do the same or better without running the volunteers into the ground doing 20 hour a day shifts. Finally I wanted to allow the volunteers the opportunity to work where they wanted to or at least fit in duties where they where not missing something they wanted to attend.

From this you will be thinking I am either amazingly self' sacrificing which is not true or a lying bastard which considering I am a rep in real life could well be true :-).

A definite consideration was the opportunity to play with some seriously cute toys and a secret desire to gain fannish credibility, oh well, blew out there. '

So how did all our great ideas pan out?

I think that apart from Hall 3 everything went: as close enough to plan that the congoers were more than happy.

Now comes the bad part, Hall 3. What can I say? I could fill several books with why we had to lay it out the way we did. In the end that was the only way we could think of getting it to work given the budget constraints.

Yes, it could have been better, yet even now with wonderful hindsight there is no other way of getting 4 small talking head rooms into that hall for the given money constraints. We tried on day one to run the rooms without P.A. Unfortunately given the room acoustics this failed. We then tried small P.A. systems which unfortunately resulted in volume wars. We had to go around every hour and turn down each system.

What else went wrong with the hardware?

Hall 5, The mains supply which was so dirty that on two occasions it crashed the computer running the moving lights and on one occasion (the closing ceremony) crashed the main lighting desk leaving all the house lights stuck on full.

Hall 4, had a surprising amount of kit in it which all went perfectly apart from the notable occasion when I lost 4 techies in there for an hour, they where looking for a TV and VCR which had moved 10 feet but given the size of the hall it took an hour to look behind that particular divider.

Hall 3, nuff said

Hall 2, 1 never even got into that room during the con, it looked very good when it was set up. Everyone seemed very happy with it and highly amused with the adverts we dropped in during the breaks.

Hall 1, Another room I never went in but apart from a couple of last minute requirement changes I can recall no complaints.

Moat House, This area gave nothing but problems, there were so many changes made to the requirements for each room that the participants in the know turned up a couple of hours before their program item and told us directly what they wanted. Once this idea got around it went a lot smoother.

Fireworks Display, OK how were we to know the boundary between the two local Police districts was actually the road on the far side of the Clyde and not the Clyde itself. Having spent the day before having the people organising the fireworks display getting permission from the Police who said yes they did both sides of the Clyde, the local. authority, the local land owner, the local council, the local noise abatement society, the national aviation council and last but not least the Glasgow airport. We had a couple of Police officers turn up asking about the fireworks display from the area covering the other side of the road which was where we fired the display. Luckily Tim Broadribb was able to use his charm to smooth everything over.

Other departments, went from great to dire I never was convinced of the sanity of splitting Ops and Programming Ops, there seemed to be a confusion where people should go to sort a problem. After the second day our Tech office took a steady stream of people who being unsure who to go to came to us knowing we would ensure that it was sorted out.

Technical department, considering that we normally run the next largest convention (an Easter con) with ten volunteers and that for this event there were more room just in the Moat house, and Hall 5 required an absolute minimum of seven it is not surprising that we had problems. We had a maximum of 20 people volunteer to help plus a few only there to get a ribbon. On the day we only had three American volunteers arrive which surprised me I was hoping for more given the size of the fan base over there. In addition we had a professional crew of five who came with the equipment, three were associated with the equipment in Hall 5, one operated Hall 1 and the manager who organised them. My thanks to all of them who took our oddities and in one case complete mental breakdown with a stolid attitude.

Firing Crew, a true bunch of loonies headed up by Gary Stratman and Dermot Dobson - no problems on the day and my thanks to all who assisted including a goodly contingent of Americans who where all from Armageddon Engineering's sister group Los Alamos Enterprises.

Personal remembrances, where to start? Forget having a social life for two years, forget sleep, don't look at the hotel bill just sign it and never ever lose your sense of humour.

Lets start with how I set up my department. There where three people in charge on the day. One running Hall 5 only, one based in the office and one floating. At least one person in the office fielding general queries see above). The Hall 5 crew started at 9:00 and finished when the hall did. All other volunteers fitted into a three hour grid. The Tech office opened at 0630 to allow myself, Tim, and John to do the two hours of paperwork required to get the day underway. We closed the office at midnight by which time hopefully all tech requirements were finished for the day.

My thanks go to everyone who helped especially Tim Broadribb who started off with the Film program only and ended up on the day running the whole lot. Glen and Mary for sitting in the office for hours on end dealing with all the nonsense so I could concentrate on the technical department.

My apologies to anyone who did not deserve the rough side of my tongue, and those of you who did, I meant it all. ;-).

Finally silly remembrances:

The woman who wandered in and sweetly asked a room full of blokes now to work the taps in the Ladies toilets.

The gent who asked for a pin so he could rebuild his palm top, to which we in unison replied "what about your con badge?"

We started and finished with 5 slide projectors and 5 overhead projectors however throughout the convention and given several counts by supposedly rational people we never ever seemed to come to the same figures.

The gent who asked what the sign "Masquerade photo call full" meant.

The American masquerade contestant who wanted black light to follow them around the stage. Justin the professional moving light programmer who said "yep, we've got lots of that" and hit the blackout button.

A gentleman from Canada who turned up and hazard taped everything in Hall 5 that did not move. He taped the cable on the moving camera dolly such that half way through a panning shot Steve ran out of slack and ended up sitting on the floor Looking bewildered

The radio message when the police turned up.

Everything said on the talk back system

The day of the closing ceremony we had had the mist machine running all day. In a dark room you can only see the mist in the path of the Lights. As I was informed by the SECC security manager when the main doors were opened to allow the audience in there was a wall of fog that rolled along the whole length of the main concourse

Our great leader Tim turning up and demanding to have a private showing of all the tech in Hall 5. After sitting through a rehearsal of the Lighting show we put on at the end of the fancy dress saying "OK I've seen it you can take it all down now".

And lastly the chairman of the 96 world convention coming up to me after seeing the fancy dress show and cursing me for adding $3O,000 to his Tech budget


GYTHA'S STORY - TECH

By Gytha North

(Fiona: this is an extract from Gytha's longer article. Since Gytha ran so many different parts of Intersection, I have split up her article and put the extracts in among the relevant Divisions' reports. This is the Tech extract from that)

With Richard the Rampant in charge of tech it was not surprising that I was de-facto Tech Secretary pre-con. This was NOT supposed to happen and I do not recommend it to others. This was actually not too onerous but it did add to the stress levels and if we were doing it again I would insist that Richard got someone else to do the job.

Tech Finance. This was entirely my fault that I got involved here, and whilst it was loads of hassle I am glad I did it. I had put a case to the Board for the Tech for Extravaganzas to be in my budget so that I could control it. As a side effect the general Tech budget somehow ended up disappearing, and Communications /Newsletter was in Ops budget.

(Fiona: Gytha takes too much responsibility for this - it was not her fault at all, but the Board's fault as a whole, in that the Tech budget cut across several Divisions and Areas and there was no overall control of it by any one group, as there should have been. This was a result of Board policy, and the policy needs to be changed next time, due to its obvious short-comings, as evidenced by Tech getting mucked around here)

Richard and Tim Broadribb did the initial. negotiations and then I took over due to Tim's work commitments having increased. Ops was delighted that I would look after their side of it too and I was able to negotiate preferential rates for various items of kit due to ordering in bulk (hire of' one mobile phone for a week = GBP 25, hire of 3O mobile phones for a week = Gf3P 15 each.

The end result was that I protected the tech budget that I had control of and negotiated like crazy with all the other divisions when I discovered that there was a problem. It appeared to me that whilst I had my mini- Eastercon Committee including a budget controller who was prepared to tell me I could not spend that money on that pretty thing, other divisions did not keep track of what they were spending as against what they were supposed to be spending.

(Fiona: no names no packdrill :) It took me personally ages to get to grips with and understand the Ops budget, basically because (a) 1 had no initial interest in budgets and (b) the way it was written was not user-friendly to the budget-phobes among us, myself included. This is not something we normally have to worry about to such a huge extent for an Eastercon, but anyone who takes on a Worldcon absolutely *must* get to grips with it asap, and yet we have no practise in such things in this country...)

(Fiona: Gytha was one of the unsung heroes of Intersection, and without her and Richard working like Trojans to get everything sorted out, we would have had a major disaster on our hands. There are many many people of whom this could be said, but these two deserve special mention for their continuous efforts over several years to get things working smoothly for us).


TECHNICAL OPERATIONS: Management Structure and Organisation

By Richard Rampant

(These are the instructions that Richard gave to his staff)

Structure

Three overall managers:- Richard, Tim, John.

Each day one manager will be totally responsible for hall five exclusively. The other two will split the responsibility for the remainder of the convention divided into two 12 hour shifts. The first running from midnight to midday the second running from midday to midnight.

Hall Five

A crew will be allocated to hall five for the complete day and will work there exclusively for that day.

There will be an engineer supplied with the hire equipment. Subject to approval by the technical manager his word is final.

Other Areas Support

Will be organised into three hour shifts. Shifts will start at midnight and three hour intervals thereafter.

Reporting Arrival for shifts

Please arrive at the Ops room on the concourse between hall four and five a quarter of an hour before your shift starts to be booked in. If your shift starts when the SECC is closed report to the Tech room in the Moat House (Hebrides Room).

General Outline

Each Technical staff member will be given a duty roster as agreed either at the Technical meeting or individually as they report in the first time.

1/ We are NOT there to make the program run on time and will not get involved in closing down late items. If it looks like a program item is going to over run or start late inform Ops if convenient.

2/ If for any reason you consider the safety of any other convention attendee could be compromised then appropriate action should be taken, and the Ops Room advised. For example if any electrical equipment appears to be unsafe disconnect, turn on the room lights and report the problem. In the event of overcrowding, aisles blocked etc. report problem to Ops who will respond by sending stewards to assist in resolving the problem.

3/ You will not be asked to show any unlicensed films or work with unsafe equipment etc. by the convention, if you suspect that someone is asking you to do so inform Ops immediately.

4/ If you are unable to make a particular shift please give Ops as much notice as possible.


TECH PROBLEMS - Examples

By Fiona Anderson

This is a short list of possible Tech problems and preferred solutions, that went into the Ops Manual, so that Ops Staff would know how to respond in the event of a Tech-type problem arising:

1. Techies fail to turn up to Ops in time for their shifts. Report this to the roving Tech Duty Manager

2. A techie reports his kit is malfunctioning and will need to be shut down for repairs. Report this to the roving Tech Duty Manager, and to Program Ops (since this will probably affect program items in that location).

3. A techie reports his kit is dangerous, and that the Hall he is in may need to be evacuated. Tell him to shut off power to the kit. Tell the roving Tech Duty Manager to go there immediately. Tell the SECC security, so they can go and look - only the SECC Senior Security Officer can authorise an evacuation. Refer to Emergency Procedures section of Ops Manual, and inform people on the list that an evacuation of that Hall may be about to happen. DO NOT start the Evacuation Procedure until and unless the SECC Senior Security Officer authorises it.


Various Kit Lists for Tech follow, all were compiled by Richard Rampant.

TECH - AUDIOVISUAL KIT LISTS - Hall 5 Extravaganzas

The SECC will require compliance with all existing Health and Safety legislation, including electrical safety certificates They will further require to be available for inspection all pertinent certification for riggers and other persons involved in equipment installation.

A copy of their Health and Safety requirements are available on request from the SECC.

Intersection will require confirmation in writing of public liability insurance covering the installation of flown equipment and for the duration of the convention.

AUDIC) VISUAL

VENUE

Hall 5, Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Glasgow

EVENT

Intersection, The Scottish Worldcon

DATE

The event runs 24-28 August 1995
Access to the Hall for installation Tuesday 22 August 1995
Access to the Hall for removal from Tuesday 29 August 199S
Hall to be clear of ALL equipment by evening Wednesday 30 August 1995

QUOTE TO INCLUDE:

All amplifiers, cabinets, controllers, active feedback eliminators, mic's, stands, distribution, 32 channel desk, equalisation, cabling, full rigging/flying equipment and rigging crew, transportation to and from the venue, power supply, and all installation and removal costs.

AUDIO VISUAL

2 No. Barco 5000 plus signal cables back to main desk
2 No. Lenses to suit
2 No. flying rigs to suit
2 No. front projection screens 20'x15' (TV Ratio)
sited one either end of the stage area
2 No. Sony cameras with transmission backs plus control cables back to main control desk with remote control units to include talkback system.
2 No. tripods with floating heads to suit
1 No. video mixing desk (details to be agreed)
3 No. monitors
1 No. signal amplifier
1 No. S-VHS video recorder
1 No. VHS multi-standard video recorder
cables to connect

PA SYSTEM

S0UND SYSTEM

Suitable to provide amplification for voice and pre-recorded music for a 4000 seat arrangement based on a horse-shoe of tiered seats with flat seating central area.

Suggested:
10 Kwatts front of house, split amongst Flown L+R and stage L+R
6 Kwatts split amongst 4 flown delay clusters for tiered seating
Stage monitor system with 3 wedge speakers
Mixing desk with integral light or separate light source
Lectern with pair of AKG C451 E
6 No. AKG C45IE with goose necks an table stands
4 No. Floor stands with clips for both cable and radio mic's
4 No. Schenhieser hand held radio microphones with matching lapel microphones
CD player
Cassette player
DAT player

INTERCOM SYSTEM

To be based around a two channel, full duplex intercom system. all units to be single close ear-piece and boom mic, except where noted.

Main control box sited at the control desk centre rear of auditorium

Channel one:
2 No. remote units sited either side rear of auditorium (follow spot. operators)

Channel two:
3 No. remote units sited at the control desk centre rear of the auditorium
2 No. remote units sited either side of the back stage entrance
1 No. remote radio unit listen only with an ear piece for the Master of Ceremonies.

LIGHTING SYSTEM

Stage:
See proposed stage lighting layout ?
5 No lighting trusses (length to suit)
30 No, 2Kw Par64
31 No. 2 Kw Fresnel
10 No. 2 Kw Flood
S No. 1 Kw downlighters
2 sets of footlights
1 cyclorama
2 No. 4Kw follow spots plus towers and gel packs (must have small iris)
Lighting Desk (details to be agreed)
gels, frames and barn doors (details to be agreed)

Back of House/Changing area:
General -lighting no control required, but must not be visible from main Hall

Front of House lighting:
Sufficient to allow for audience to see to enter and exit: in safety. Controllable from the main desk. Will not be in use during the presentations so does not need to be subtle

All control units and cables to suit

OTHER ITEMS

All items listed below will be supplied by Site:

Stage as design
Seating
Carpeting
Drapes
All back stage construction
Any furniture required by stage managers and on stage, excluding 1ectern

Other items required to run Hall 5:

3 goose neck lights with 20 watt bulbs
3 tables
5 chairs
5 rolls white insulating tape
5 pens
5 A4 pads of paper
5 clipboards
2 rolls white gaffer tape
2 rolls hazard tape
1 minidisk player
1 box of' 10 C74 blank minidisks
1 box of 10 S-VHS E120 tapes
10 C90 blank audio tapes
selection of background CDs
2 boxes tissues
1 waste paper basket:
2 large ashtrays
1 fire extinguisher (C02)


TECH KIT - OTHER THAN HALL 5 EXTRAVAGANZAS?

TECH KIT LIST FOR OPS ETC:

Radios:

OPS

Base station 1
Radios 3 for Ops use
1 for Fan Fair
1 for Registration
2 for Gopher Hole
1 for Dealers Room
1 for Art Show
3 spare

PROGHAM OFFICE

Base station 1
Radios 6

SECURITY

Base Station 1
Radios 10

TECH

Base Station 1
Radios 7

TOTALS

Radios 35
Base Stations 4
Spare batteries 20
Ear pieces 100
Headsets with microphones 10
Chargers for 20 batteries

(Fiona: we were under very tight budget restraints, so we made do with the minimum possible, but ideally we should have had a larger number of handheld radios in particular. At one point during the con, I had to order Tech only to issue precise numbers of radios by a departmental list, and Security to relieve anyone of their radios who wasn't on that list - a number of people were startled by this approach, but we had to ensure that only priority users actually got radios. We got through this, but more radios in the first place would have made life easier. Things were complicated by not being able to substitute as many fixed phones around the con departments as we'd hope due to the horrifyingly high charges of installation for every single one).)

BLEEPS

Ops 4
2 Ops Chiefs, Security Chief, one spare
Tech 3
3 tech managers
Program 20
Program Chief, Program Area Heads, Guest Liaison
Board 4
Co-Chairs, Deputies
Fan Fair 4
Fan Fair Chief, Dealers Chief, Art Show Chief, one spare
Finance 1
Finance Chief

MOBILE PHONES

Ops 4
Board 4
Tech 3
Program 2
Fan Fair 2
Child Care/ Kidcon 2

(Fiona: in retrospect we could have done with more of these too, they were extremely useful, and far more so than the bleeps, which were very intermittent in their reliability - some people got phantom bleeps, while others never got bleeps at all that had been sent).

FIXED PHONES

Ops 2
Security 1
AtCon Office 2
Info desk 1
Gopher Hole 1
Press office 1
Moathouse function rooms
Crest function rooms
Central function rooms

Set up Intersection telephone account: at each hotel and SECC

(Fiona: The more fixed phones the better - saves getting too many people on the radio net, and reduces the amount of noise there. However the ghastly pricing policy of BT vs Mercury meant that anywhere other than the normal office areas cost an arm and a leg to install a fixed phone)


TECH KIT LIST - for Tech itself:

This is the kit Tech needed to run itself, based in the Moathouse hotel Hebrides Room. (Access by Tech only - by key or by list of names at hotel reception.)

6 chairs
4 tables
1 external phone
power points in room

Maps marked for conlayout - hotels, SECC Program grids marked for tech requirements requested in advance

Radio Base station
7 radios
earpieces
batteries
battery chargers
kettle, coffee and tea supplies etc


TECH KIT LIST - PROGRAM

By Richard Rampant

Hall 1 - Nothing

Hall 2 - pa system, Mixing Desk, VCR player, Video Projector, screen

Hall 3 - 4 PA systems with 2 mics per system, 4 screens, 2 slide projectors, 2 OHP, stands.

Hall 4 - 3 PA systems, 2 VCR and monitors, 2 screens, 1 slide projector, 1 OHP.

Moat House - 3 PA systems, 2 screens, 1 slide projector, 1 OHP

Loads of computers, printers, scanners, radios, bleepers, mobile phones.

(This list was written from memory after the con, hence not being particularly exact in numbers. The computers caused us endless problems - not so much in how they worked, as in that they came from a variety of sources, both hired and lent, so getting the right ones back to the right people was a nightmare at the end of the con)