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Tour Set Up 101?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thanks Imp, for passing this along  :)

It seems students at Penn State got to help with set up for the Bon Jovi show tomorrow night...

Students Join Bon Jovi Tour Crew

University Park, Pa. -- For several hours on Monday afternoon, the main arena floor of the Bryce Jordan Center became a classroom for about 14 or so Penn State students in a variety of majors. Their instructors for the day included Mike Savas, Gordon Hyndford, Jeremy Knight, Dan Witmyer, Carson Austin and Mark Woody – all members of Jon Bon Jovi's tour crew – and the class could be called "tour setup 101."

"This is our first time doing this," explained Savas, who handles publicity for Bon Jovi. "We've got the students helping us with load-in, showing them how something like this works." This is highly unusual for a tour of this magnitude. Major musical tours typically don't allow anyone to see the set-up in progress before a show. Not so for this tour, Savas said.

"This was a no-brainer for us, with this being an educational institution, to invite the students in to observe and help. There's plenty of great stuff for the students to see and learn about lighting, video, audio and public relations production."

Several students who took advantage of the unusual opportunity were excited about what they were learning. "I always go to concerts and see all the lights set up and think, 'Wow, that's gotta be insane.' But to be here before everything's actually up in the sky is pretty intense. And it was certainly interesting learning a lot of things from the guys in the crew," said Kevin Foedinger, a senior broadcast journalism major.

The students spent time talking with the crew and observing, but they also "got their hands dirty," actually working with members of the crew, Savas said.

"I worked with a lighting engineer, setting up all the trusses and the lighting equipment. We set up a lot of zip lifts – all the different mobile lights – and the things that go around the set," said Chris Hickey, a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and political science.

Hickey later assisted Austin as he set up his long-lens camera. "I'll train this on Jon, from about just below the neck," the camera-operator said. As he asked Hickey to hand him a cable to attach to the camera, he explained to the students why he sets up the camera the way he does, and how he operates it. "You always want a leg of the tripod up front, under the lens, to help keep it from tipping over," he said. He explained that the location of the focus and zoom controls varies with the operator, based on personal preference.

Jillian Greenstein, a senior communication arts and sciences major with a minor in business, spent lots of time learning about the marketing and public relations end of things, as well as helping with the set. "I talked to Mike Savas about the business side and the PR side, which was great. I also learned about how the stage goes up as well, and I also talked to Gordo (Gordon Hyndford) who puts up the video screens with the robots so that was cool."

Greenstein also got to help Hyndford's crew with setup for one of the video screens. After flipping a lever to enable the robot to move the board, Greenstein took over control of the "kill switch," which she would have had to hit if something had gone wrong. "I never knew all this goes into a show. It's so interesting to hear, and learn all these new things," she said.

Matt Wagner, a sophomore telecommunications major, was soaking in everything he saw. "This is my first time doing anything like this, so it's been interesting to see what it takes to have a show build-in progress like this, and then to come back Wednesday and see the final product and know we were here to help build it," he said.

The students are taking away more than just a cool experience, however. What they saw and did with Bon Jovi's tour crew applies directly to what they're learning in the classroom.

"This is fantastic. I get to see how things like this are actually set up, what it's really like to see a big band come and perform, and how much time and effort it takes to set everything up. It's a great experience," said Alex Ciccione, a junior telecommunications major. "Basically this shows how you can take a telecom degree, take it out on the road and be in charge of video or the audio side of creating a show like Bon Jovi's."

The students' experience doesn't end with what they did on Monday. "They'll be back on Wednesday to see how the business model, the customer-service end, works," said Savas. They'll see how we run our VIP packages. They'll also get to take pictures alongside the local media, and then stay and watch the show. It's just our way of giving back to the community."



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I am and always have been a Bon Jovi fan. This blog is just my obsession taken a step further, my imagination in high gear if you will. I love to read and decided to see what would happen when I took that love of the written word and ramped it up a bit.

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