THE PRODUCTION BOOK

It’s about the people, not the paperwork; let's get ourselves out of the office and back onto the floor...

INTRODUCTION

A project to develop a website/web-app for use by production departments in the theatre and associated performing arts industries.

OBJECTIVES

The aim of this project is to reduce physical paperwork and streamline the bureaucratic aspects of the production process, thereby allowing production staff and/or team members more time to interact with the creative process and the creative team.

Academically, it seemed appropriate to explore current practice, to see where we could use technology to streamline and simplify; rather than leap forward and expect students and practitioners to both understand and accept the results. With this in mind, I sought a collaborator, a web developer to assist with coding and server side technology...

STRUCTURE

The initial structure comprises an account driven file storage system and web interface interacting with a database to input and display the following key information sets:

PRIMARY

  1. Landing page with basic information
  2. File repository
  3. Cascading contact database
  4. Schedule and call-sheet layers
  5. Risk assessments from customizable templates
  6. Rehearsal reports from customizable templates

SECONDARY

  1. Performance reports from customizable templates
  2. Basic budget reports
  3. Customizable tick lists
  4. Customizable notes with option to attach files or links

FUNCTIONALITY

  1. Hierarchical and departmental accounts
  2. Options to push notes out to departments or push a daily/weekly update via email or SMS
  3. Use of tags
  4. Print or Export to PDF
  5. Import data from CSV and other formats

DEVELOPMENT FOR THE FUTURE TO INCLUDE

  1. Subscriptions or other forms of funding
  2. Availability of production cast members and staff
  3. Company Management toolbox
  4. Integration with social media, RSS and other systems
  5. Further layers of complexity for templates and budgeting formats
  6. Message or discussion boards by production

IMMEDIATE QUESTIONS FOR PROSPECTIVE USERS

  1. Whether or not they think this is an idea they would be prepared to trial.
  2. How does it fit in with the ideas of the next generation of practitioners?
  3. Does it appeal to just the more technically minded or to traditionalists too?

QUESTIONS AS THE PROJECT MOVES FORWARD

  1. Can one dip in and out of the technology or does one have to wholly subscribe to the concept?
  2. How much will it cost?
  3. How does it work?
  4. How secure is my data?
  5. How robust are the systems?
  6. What coding language is your framework written in?
  7. Do I need to be “tech-savvy” in order to use this software?

AND IN ANSWER

  1. In conceptualising this project, I have tried to be as flexible as possible.  However, in order to use it effectively, one has to embrace the contact and calendar features upon which the rest of the system relies.
  2. Free for now, and whilst in prototype modelling.  As the project progresses I hope to talk to the ABTT, PLASA and other interested parties to discuss funding or advertising revenue.  Eventually I am expecting to set subscription rates substantially lower than either StageBitz or Virtual Callboard.
  3. It is database driven, server side with a web-interface that can be accessed on any device.
  4. The system is hierarchically account driven using the latest algorithms.  It is as secure as it can be.
  5. Without yet having had the chance to test, we are designing a solid system using MySQL and PHP.  It will be as robust as we can make it.
  6. The framework is Symfony2.
  7. I have designed it to be as user friendly as possible.  If you can use Facebook, you can use this software!

The Production Book is currently in prototype.

PROJECT SKETCH SITE - Trying out the layout and developing the information sharing UI
PROJECT SITE - In prototype, but you can register as a viewer