Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Great Purnell Mill-Off

So each year in Technical Direction class the whole group has to estimate an entire show. For the last couple of years I have been using a set of drawings I have from Maine State Music Theatre. They are for a production of Secret Garden that was designed by Joe Varga. I use them because Joe does some really excellent drafting, very specific and very detailed.

Two of the plates for the show are for the "Picture Gallery" unit. Here's a production shot:

and here are the draftings:

Notice that all of the frames have a custom profile. When we built the show we had to mill all of these shapes to make the individual pieces. For my students, estimating this manufacturing is a fairly significant part of the assignment, and after some discussion it seemed like they really didn't know how long it would take.

So in keeping with the "lab" notion of our curricular work, and considering that most of the shapes are very small I thought I would give them an opportunity to build some context for the assignment by actually prototyping 12 inches of each of the moulding profiles. There are nine people in the class and 24 patterns, I figured that with a short moulding-head demo at the top of a class session they would be able to get the work done with the balance of that class and one other.

In the end they did finish, but it took a wee bit longer. Before we were through they had used up the majority of four class sessions.

Here's one of my favorites from their effort:

One of the pieces is seamed, another component has a nasty knot in the middle and looks as if it was cut out with a matte knife - and there are lots of brad holes; lot's of fill and sand for this one.

Anyway, fast forward a couple of days and I am sitting with my seniors talking about the project the juniors had finally completed when it occurred to me to say "now if you really wanted to show them up, the four of you would crank out all these shapes in a single class period."

And then it - as they say - was "on!"

That's the intrepid seniors working on their pwnage.

Here's one of my favorites from their set:

Some of pattern on the left part wanders considerably, and some of the right part looks like it was milled by some Flintstones device involving hedgehogs.

But overall not bad from either group. Here's the whole spread:

Seniors -
4 guys, 1 Class period + 90 minutes =
12 working hours total

Juniors -
9 guys, 4 class periods =
36 working hours total

1/3 the time counts as pwnage, yes?

More fun though to compare some of the corresponding pieces. These guys are supposed to be the same:

Clearly they didn't use the same tape measure, or the same drawing, or the same level of QC. These are supposed to be identical too:

Close, but no cigar. Man that milled plywood is NOT sexy, and for the record the one on the left - the Junior's - is correct, or "correcter" anyway.

In the end I am not sure it was really worth four class sessions for Technical Direction class, but aside from the time investment I do think it was a good project, and a nice validation for the Seniors too. I wonder if I do it again next year if this year's Juniors will shellac next year's Juniors as well.

1 comment:

Dana Hesch said...

what an evil evil project, i just got chills thinking about it.

i had about 3 files for this project labeled: 'Death to TD', 'I hate TD' and i think the last one was 'kill me now please'