This document is a "post mortem". I generally write these after any significant project I'm involved in ends. The idea is to capture the good (What Worked), the bad (What Didn't Work) and the next (Changes for Next Year). I am writing this as a public document on my personal blog so that it is accessible for next year.
Note: If the very term SBI means nothing to you, dear reader, then just move on. SBI is short for Starbase Indy, a local to Indianapolis, science fiction / star trek / STEM convention (con) held annually over Thanksgiving. I headed up engineering for the con for 2019 when we deployed a new "bridge" (stage backdrop that looks like a starship bridge. Here are some pictures for reference:
This last pic is courtesy of Samantha Waltz; Thank you!
Note: This document was written with assistance from my wife Shelley. I could not have done this without her support and competent assistance. Thank you.
Here's what worked:
- The new bridge looked amazing.
- Attaching the bridge panels by zip ties was generally a huge success
- Attaching the screens in front of the panels (as opposed to a cut thru, behind) was a success. And it preserves our ability to upgrade / replace monitors if something happens to the current ones.
- Applying gaffers tape to the intersection of the bridge panels was essential (thanks Dave).
- The new decals for the bridge panels were lovely; thanks go out to Emily Grumble for design and implementation and Lillian Sams for the donation to fund them.
- Joseph Campbell of "Signs from the Emissary" was a huge assistance in getting the bridge decals in place at the very last minute; thank you Joe!
- Assembling the initial bridge components goes faster if you put them on their back.
- Tear down was fast with a speed of 4 hours and 13 minutes from start to return of the U-Haul.
- The 26 foot U-Haul truck is actually needed to transport everything. Never rent smaller.
What Didn't Work
Here is what didn't work:
- The holes for attaching the bridge panels via zip ties aren't positioned well so getting them in in a few places kinda sucks; I doubt this can be fixed now but its annoying.
- Knowing the order to attach the bridge panels in is key. Our first attempt to assemble the panels was a complete fail. Here is the right order: Keyboard Panels, Bottom Panels, Top Panels, Screen Panels (after the monitors have been affixed).
- A 26 foot truck cannot be backed into the loading dock of the Indianapolis Wyndam East Ballroom. Don't even try; just carry stuff down the ramp.
- More people for the tear down would have been useful.
Changes for Next Year
Here's what I'd change for next year:
- Write assembly documentation / shoot assembly videos; only 1 person, for example, knew how to assemble the turbolift doors.
- The holodeck arch is a disaster to assemble. Either documentation or improvements are needed. Having a set of videos that volunteers could watch before hand would be great.
- The holodeck arch needs a better light diffuser than the piece of white butchers paper I shoved into it at the 11th hour.
- I'd add black pinstripe tape to the vertical line where the zip ties go so we don't have to paint them furiously at the last minute.
- We need to tell volunteers to bring work gloves.
- Make public facebook events for setup and teardown to encourage participation. Thank you Sooz for this idea.
- A hand truck or dolly HAS TO GO TO THE STORAGE UNIT for load out / load in. We forgot this for load out and it was painful.
In an epic management fail on my part, I do not have everyone's name to thank them but here's a try. Thank you to:
- Shelley Johnson
- Timo Von Burkowski "The Superstar At the Last Minute"
- Dave Mott
- Matt "Dr. Picardo"
- Andy Sams
- Chris Topher
- Casey Huber
My apologies to anyone I left out. These are mostly the people who struck the set and did load out since my memory of setup is largely gone at this point. If your name should be here and isn't then please reach out to me and I'll add it.