His with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Patrick J. Dierson on November 20, 2004. Patrick, who has been a long-time contributor to the “On Lighting” and “On Projection” columns is survived by wife, Marian Sandberg-Dierson, editor of sister publication Lighting Dimensions.
Born on the north shore of Long Island, NY on August 15, 1973, Patrick attended Our Lady of Mercy grammar school and St. Anthony's High School. Just prior to graduation, he was enrolled with the Department of the Navy as a Naval Special Warfare Candidate in the Delayed Enlistment Program and underwent pre-training throughout his senior year. Following graduation, he enrolled in the theatre program of Nassau College studying lighting design and performance arts. Subsequent to his education in fine arts, he had a lengthy and interesting career within several areas of our industry, starting as a production specialist with Clay Paky's United States distributor, Group One Ltd. He proudly worked with them for several years before deciding to leave the company to go freelance and work in entertainment production full time. In 2001, he married the love of his life, Marian, whom he met while still working at Group One Ltd.
His brief career was an impressive one, spanning a decade of design and programming of interesting projects that ranged from concert touring to architectural applications. He had a love for not working within the same segment of the entertainment industry and often bounced between live and televised events.
Circumstances surrounding Patrick's death are somewhat unclear, but it did involve protecting young children from a hail of gunfire. No harm had fallen upon any of the children at the scene. Patrick was pronounced dead upon arrival at St. Luke's trauma center.
A private service was held at 2:00pm on Sunday, November 21, on the beach of the North Island Naval Airstation in Coronado, CA with Msgr. James E. Boesel officiating. Interment followed at 3:00pm at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury, NY. In lieu of flowers, large donations may be made via personal check written out to cash and sent directly to Patrick's house. Please contact him for the proper mailing address.
Well folks, it's official. I'm clear out of ideas and had to resort to faking my own death for a topic this month. I figured that it would also give me a pretty decent bearing as to how many people actually read this column. It also comes with the fortunate timing of my schedule being booked for the next four months so as not to be immediately written off by the producers that normally hire me.
So why go through all of the trouble of faking my own death? To be honest I'm just not that “strong” a creative person; it just seemed better than pontificating on something stupid like “convergence” again. It's been so long now; isn't the whole convergence thing over yet? Why haven't we moved on to something else, like griping about why you can't get a decent white out of an LED fixture?
Perhaps I'm wrong. But it just seems like we're being beaten over the head with the “C” word lately. Is it really that big a deal? After all, there are plenty of us out there that have been working with video elements in our shows for many years now and nobody seemed to really care about it until media servers started rearing their little heads. But as cool as they are, you can't invade the video world's domain and claim it for yourself simply by controlling it with DMX…can you? Is it really that simple? Can we put a DMX-To-Steering Column converter in line with our cars and start meddling with the auto industry? Imagine, driving your car with a lighting console? Two crashes in one would really put this industry in perspective, wouldn't it?
I guess the real problem isn't the word but more about it's raw definition as it pertains to our industry. Convergence means “more responsibility.” We've got a plethora of media streaming products out there right now that all fall under the “convergence” category because they're DMX driven, but there are very few that have responsibly nailed the proper video side of life. Jumpy frame-rates, slow access times, inconsistent ratios and frequency settings — these are all elements that we are responsible for when messing around with digital video; and if you want to not be scoffed at by the people that really know how to do this stuff, well, you had better have your act together.
I don't think that I can say with confidence that many of the media serving products out there right now have truly lived up to their playback responsibility. We're at this weird stage where development has been focused toward the ability to create eye-candy and the playback quality has been put on the back burner to some degree. Yeah, yeah, I know. Spare me the litany of “but this one does this” and “that one does that.” I know that there are some products spitting out HD formats with killer video cards and raid arrays. They are the exception to the rule right now, and that's what I'm really getting at. The ratio of products that are providing responsible playback versus the ones that aren't is horribly skewed. I implore the manufacturers to start looking at that end of their product development because it is so incredibly important.
There's something that you absolutely must understand about digital video products, and that is that the consumers of these products are very similar to sound guys when it comes to opinions. Did you ever notice how you can never get two FOH engineers to agree on a product's sound quality, no matter how incredible it may be? There are always two opinions and according to the one guy the other one is a complete moron for having the opinion that he has. Note to the manufacturers: Welcome to Videoland!
You will never make everyone happy, because there is always some geeky little bastard standing there with a pocket protector clipped to his “Rabbit In The Moon” t-shirt waiting to slam a product because it doesn't do something like send a native SDI feed. This person is obviously the foremost authority of this subject on the planet and the fact of the matter is that you could stand on your head and spit solid gold ingots into his/her offshore accounts and they still wouldn't think you nailed it. The key issue here is that once you realize that you can never get it perfect, you can redirect your energies toward making yours the best that it can possibly be. At the end of the day, it's not just about how many bells and whistles these new toys have but also how well the quality of the image is maintained. Video feeds are only as good as the weakest link in the chain, so it pays to have the media serving end of things providing the highest possible quality. Besides, lighting gets blamed for enough problems. If you're going to take on the responsibility, then you also need to take the beatings. If you're not up for this responsibility, then fake your death and move to Tahiti. I'll let you know how it goes from the other side ‘cause this side's just getting way too technical.
All Designers, Technicians, Manufacturers, Distributors, Groupies, Hangers-On, & Entertainment Technology Geeks:
Got an idea you want to share with your peers? An important industry issue you want to address? Or something you just want to get off your chest? Entertainment Design is always looking for more contributors to its monthly On Lighting, On Audio, and On Projection columns. If you can write and want to share your views with ED readers, please send your ideas to David Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.