The Zen, Craft, and Art of Improv Tech

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The Zen, Craft, and Art of Improv Tech

Postby Spaztique » February 11th, 2011, 5:43 am

At the expense of my future as a tech improviser, it's finally here: a compendium of all of my tech knowledge, rolled into one guide.

The Zen, Craft, and Art of Improv Tech
A guide to bringing improv tech to cinematic heights.
By David Zimmerman

Table of contents:

Part 1: The Zen Of Tech - The basic mindset behind any competent tech improviser.

Principle 1: Tech is a privilege for improvisers. - Realize that a tech person's job is to aid the improvisers; not to go on your own agenda.
Principle 2: The tech improviser should support the scene; not steal it. - Do not add something beyond the improvisers' control, but enhance what is already there.
Principle 3: The tech improviser focuses on the scene before tech decisions. - You'll find more tech opportunities watching the scene itself than tinkering with the lights or sound.

Part 2: The Craft Of Tech - The skills needed to carry out the job.

Principle 4: Know your equipment before the show begins. - Understand the basic parts of the light board and sound mixer and practice with them.
Principle 5: Understand standard tech operations. - Understand the basic procedures needed to run an improv show and practice them.
Principle 6: Know what type of tech is needed. - Understand what the performers want so you can tech fear-free.
Principle 7: When the show begins, assume control as the tech person, and do not lose focus until the show is over. - Focus on the show, not your smart phone.

Part 3: The Art Of Tech - The extra stuff that will push your tech skills to new heights.

Principle 8: Treat improv tech in the same way you treat improv theater. - Be playful, help the performers, have a personality!
Principle 9: Remember the Law Of Diminishing Returns and the Law of Scarcity. - Leaving breathing room for improvisers actually enhances tech cues.
Principle 10: Understand tone. - Tap into the emotional power at your disposal to make an unforgettable show.

Feel free to post recommendations or comments here or on the journal itself (no registration required).
Last edited by Spaztique on February 11th, 2011, 10:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby happywaffle » February 11th, 2011, 9:52 am

Alright, I'll jump on this hand grenade: it's "principle," not "principal." Might wanna do a find-and-replace. :)

But that's not to take away from this, it looks super-useful. Thanks for putting it together!
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Postby Spaztique » February 11th, 2011, 10:00 am

happywaffle wrote:Alright, I'll jump on this hand grenade: it's "principle," not "principal." Might wanna do a find-and-replace. :)

But that's not to take away from this, it looks super-useful. Thanks for putting it together!


Done, done, thanks, and you're welcome.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » February 11th, 2011, 10:08 am

i'm worried that reading something so powerful will be akin to opening the Ark of the Covenant...can i have assurances that your awesome knowledge will NOT melt my face off?
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Postby Spaztique » February 11th, 2011, 10:10 am

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:i'm worried that reading something so powerful will be akin to opening the Ark of the Covenant...can i have assurances that your awesome knowledge will NOT melt my face off?


Yes, but wear protective goggles just in case.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » February 11th, 2011, 10:11 am

Spaztique wrote:
Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:i'm worried that reading something so powerful will be akin to opening the Ark of the Covenant...can i have assurances that your awesome knowledge will NOT melt my face off?


Yes, but wear protective goggles just in case.


ze goggles! zey do nosink!
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Postby SarahMarie » February 11th, 2011, 12:10 pm

Mmmmm. That made me happy.
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Postby acrouch » February 11th, 2011, 12:51 pm

This is wonderful, David!
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Postby Marc Majcher » February 11th, 2011, 1:51 pm

Dude. Great stuff.
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Postby valetoile » February 11th, 2011, 3:04 pm

Bravo!
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Postby shando » February 11th, 2011, 3:22 pm

Awesome, David, right on the money.
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Postby Dave » February 15th, 2011, 11:13 am

David,

You could create two exercises that illiustrates each of your points using live improvisers to practice with and you've got yourself at least a 4-week teachable course.
If you disrespect your character, or play it just for laughs, it will sell some gags, but it's all technique.
It's like watching a juggler-- you'll be impressed by it, but it's not going to touch you in anyway. "
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Postby Spaztique » February 15th, 2011, 3:07 pm

Dave wrote:David,

You could create two exercises that illiustrates each of your points using live improvisers to practice with and you've got yourself at least a 4-week teachable course.


I'm flattered to think this could be a course, but right now, I'm too friggin' generous to have people pay for my tech advice.

I was actually thinking of making videos of different improv scenes without music/sound effects, and then asking tech improvisers which would be the best course of action to take. I'd just need to either make the videos or get videos from elsewhere.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » February 15th, 2011, 3:15 pm

well, if you need any performers for those scenes, i'm sure i'm not alone in volunteering my services. :)
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Postby vine311 » February 15th, 2011, 3:46 pm

This is really great, David. Good tech is so important to good improv. It is not a position to be taken lightly and "half-assed". Bad tech can ruin a good show. Good tech can enhance a good show and make it even better. We need more people in the booth that are confident, competent and that really care about the outcome of the show. YOU are part of the show when you're up there. YOU are in control of a lot more than most people realize. YOU have to take your job seriously while you're up there. I think every improviser worth his/her salt should know their way around the tech booth and volunteer once in a while to do tech for shows. It's good for the community and I promise that it will make you a better improviser.
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