entertainment design & technology

Design & technology instructional videos

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I have recently been busy putting together a series of video playlists on my YouTube channel. These are supplemental videos for my QLab and Dance Production books. The QLab playlist is a series of instructional videos specifically for QLab 3 tools and tricks. The Dance Production playlist is a collection of videos related to a wide range of topics. Though it is created to accompany the dance production text, it would also be useful for anyone wanting to learn more about design and technology, in general. I hope you find these useful and, as always, please share with your friends and give feedback. If there is a topic you would like to see addressed, please let me know!

Women in Design & Technology

Historically speaking, the entertainment industry has been a dominantly male workforce.  Workers in the design and technology sector have followed this trend, minus a few notable exceptions in areas like costuming, wigs, and make-up. That is not to say that there aren’t capable designers and technicians lacking the Y-chromosome in every area of design and technology. In fact, as a university professor I have noticed a trend to the opposite; over the last decade at separate universities of varying size, demographics, and missions; my observation is that women tend to outrank the men. My area of expertise lies in theatrical design, but in speaking to a number of my colleagues in art, interior design, music, and graphic design this trend seems to be consistent with their experiences, as well (the exception being in Simulation and Video Game design, which still featured more men).

I attended a conference this weekend for high school students auditioning for university theatre scholarships. Of all of the designers and technicians I met, 88% of them were young women! This is obviously not a designed test group for scientific study, but my personal experience and those of many of my colleagues tells me that we have more women than men studying to be designers and technicians these days.

The fact is interesting, given the comparison of women in training programs vs. those in the upper echelon of their respective fields. The difference becomes quite disheartening. The Bureau of Labor Statistics throws a somewhat wide net over the entertainment industry, listing one generic marker of “Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation” for those in the industry. In a November 2013 survey from the BLS,  55% of the individuals who categorized themselves as working in the Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation sector were men. While, at first glance this doesn’t appear to be a great disparity,  let’s extend our look out to those regarded as the most successful in their field. Will the numbers remain consistent? The Antoinette Perry, of “Tony” Awards symbolize the highest honor a theatrical artist can  achieve on the American stage. Last year 6/40 Tony nominations for theatrical design were for females (7, if you count a co-nomination for a man and woman) with 3 of those coming from costume design. Best case scenario, women only accounted for 17.5% percent of those recognized as the best in their field. From a strictly numeric approach, that seems to indicate that even though there may be more women entering into the entertainment design & technology industry, they are less represented at the highest levels of the industry.

What does it all mean? Well, it’s hard to say. For one thing, these are two different study groups. Those Tony award nominees have typically been working in the field for decades. The young women training to be designers and technicians over the last ten years are highly unlikely to have reached that professional level at this point in their careers. The real question is will the trend of an increase in females studying to be designers and technicians find its way into the industry? It remains to be seen, but I, for one, certainly hope so. If the young ladies I met over this weekend and those in my classes are any indication, though, the old guard had better get ready. The industry is about to be shaken up by some great designers and technicians!

Beginnings

Welcome to the first installment of my new blog on topics related to Entertainment Design & Technology. My name is Jeromy Hopgood, a theatrical designer and university professor. For me, the times that we live in are exciting ones. Technology is rapidly evolving to create new opportunities for designers to be better storytellers and, as such, we are constantly challenged to adapt or find ourselves behind the curve.

One of the things I like the most about working in the entertainment industry is the collaborative nature of the job. We all better ourselves by working in groups and interacting with other designers / technicians / directors / actors / managers, etc. My motivation for writing this blog is to extend that collaboration from small groups and out into larger circles of this increasingly interconnected digital world. I like to share my experiences and interests with other folks and assume you will do the same. I hope to get just as much out of this experience (or more) than what I put into it.  My goal is to update on a regular basis about topics related to the entertainment design & technology industry, most often in the areas of scenery, lighting, sound, and integrated media  / projections. I will try to vary the content as much as possible featuring techniques, new products, and as much media as I can manage (since everyone likes pretty pictures).

I hope you enjoy what you find here and, if you do, pass it along to someone else who might be interested. I’m always looking for someone new to bounce ideas off of (and hopefully get some new ones in return).