Week 6- Harmonic Convergence

This week, we finally locked down several elements of the design that were really frustrating! We were able to make progress on several things that we’re confident will actually end up being used. It really did feel like we made weeks worth of progress in just a few days by setting aside time to nail the story and interactions. 


Christine Barnes was here on Monday, Tuesday afternoon, and Wednesday morning to work with us, and her top priority was making sure we could lock the story by the time she left. By Tuesday, our script was in a fine-tuning stage, and by Wednesday, it was locked down! The new script has eliminated the multiple endings and the programmable wands in favor of a more developed and linear story. 

Our script has a few components: scripts for live actors, scripts for voiceover, and a script for a pre-show video. The pre-show video is going to be the largest story focus going forward, because it has the largest scope of any component in our show. The video will be used to deliver the backstory of our experience and introduce the themes. 

We’re also going to need to cast and train live actors, both for acting in the pre-show video, and to act live at three points in the experience. We have started recruiting undergraduates in the School of Drama, and eagerly await being able to rehearse with them. 

One huge problem that we haven’t yet solved is audio leakage. Since so much of our story is told in audio, and we can’t build all the way up to the ceiling for fire safety reasons, there is going to be leakage between each stage of the experience. Our challenge is to mitigate this as best we can, through trying to deliver written information and figuring out what kinds of sound insulation are feasible. 


Our poster and halfsheet are approved and off to print! Thanks Ivy for a fantastic design.

Ivy also created a new storyboard based on our script, which we’ll be using to walk the Halves audience through the experience. This is the most polished storyboard yet. 

Our iconography is going to be very important in the experience, both for cluing which dragon scales should be tapped on the RFID antenna, and for indicating where they ought to be tapping. Ivy created a magic symbol that we’re all happy with, using the three primary colors of light to indicate our magic elements of fire, water, and air. 

Though we all like the design, we want to figure out for sure how noticeable it is when hung around the bustling environment of the ETC. This is super important, because if guests can’t pick out our post-show scenes, they’ll miss this aspect of the experience entirely. So, we’ve started a Google Forms-based paper playtest. We printed out the design and hung it in various places around the ETC along with a QR code. The QR code will lead our inadvertent playtesters to a Google form asking them questions about why they stopped at that particular magic symbol. Hopefully it will reveal useful information about the visual interest of the magic symbol as well as traffic flow within the building. 


We made a lot of progress on lighting tech this week! We’re going to be using some Uking DMX lights that the ETC already owns, and Cleo got them hooked up to a Unity project. This should make the process of designing the lighting go smoothly. We need to order some LED strip lights as well. Shirley was able to connect us with Todd Brown, a lighting design professor from the CMU School of Drama, and we’ll be consulting him next week for advice and equipment borrowing. 

Nolan made an automated shutter for a few lights that have really cool effects in our elemental colors of red, blue, and green, but which aren’t able to be controlled via DMX. It’s prototyped in cardboard for now, and we do need to fix some leakage around the edges, but it works very well!

We met with CMU FMS and the ETC’s Dave Purta regarding fire safety, particularly our fog machine plans. We’re going to use the fog machine with a hose into the dragon’s mouth when it roars, and because fog can trip fire alarms, we needed them to examine the ventilation and sensors in our room. Luckily, we found that our room doesn’t actually have any sensors inside it, just a sensor directly outside in the hallway, and that the vents in our ceiling clear the fog out very quickly. Since we are not using heavy fog that sinks in the room, we feel good to proceed with our fog plans. 

Set Design

This week, our fabrication started really taking off! We landed on a puppet design that a single puppeteer can operate. We will be able to get jaw movement with a ball and socket joint, and neck movement with a pivot point. At the advice of our instructors, we decided to pursue the most difficult part of the puppet, eye blinking. An axle pivot connected to a pull string and a spring should be effective without requiring a second puppeteer, since that is what is used for hand puppets. 

Our room layout is now finalized! We realized we don’t need the facilitator space at the left of the room, which allows us to create a larger area for the final dragon encounter and allows us to create some columns to support the idea that this is a dragon temple. Instead, Cleo can perform tech support from inside the puppeteering space. 

The layout was converted from hand drawings to digital with the assistance of Louise Cutter, a School of Drama set design student who has been assisting us. Thanks Louise!

We made a nest for the dragon eggs out of some wicker pumpkins and material from the floral department at Michaels! It smells like pumpkin spice, but it looks great, and we’re excited to show it off at Halves.


We made much more detailed budgets this week, after some clarification of what would be needed at each beat of the story. We also obtained tax exempt forms for a few shops that we expect to be visiting in person. 

The other big production update is an itemized schedule for each person, visualized with post-it notes so we can see dependencies. Since our task tracking software, Monday, does not allow Gantt charts with the free plan, this is a satisfactory solution. 

Jigsaw Update

We finished the Taco Tuesday puzzle, on Tuesday! Now onto the Cupcakes puzzle. 

Goals for next week

Next week is Halves, as well as the first of our big construction sprints. We need to start finding solutions to our lighting design problem and our audio leakage problem. And of course, resolve any problems that arise as a result of Halves. 


This week, we edited the story and locked in the scripts, which allowed us to start making more in depth progress on budgeting, prop making, and the Unity project that will control the experience. We also started a playtest where our iconography is posted throughout the building with QR codes, got help from Christine Barnes on puppet design, and enlisted Louise Cutter from the School of Drama to help us with set fabrication.