Monday, November 1, 2004

X-10 makes BestFest the best fest in the the West

HOME AUTOMATION

By Dan Wolfson

What do you do when you need to control multiple electric appliances, at different locations, and you don't have assistants to spare? You do what I did at the BestFest student film festival, use the Radio Shack X-10 Mini Remote Control Module and Universal Appliance modules.

Setting the stage

The crowd trickled in and found seats in the big movie theater. Overhead, the auditorium lights slowly dimmed. The stage lights came on, and suddenly, a spotlight blazed a white disc of light on the master of ceremonies. "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to BestFest, the largest student film festival in America!" The crowd applauded and the 2004 event was underway.

BestFest is a film festival for high school and college students from all over San Diego County. Over the last five years it's become the biggest student film festival in the U.S (over 300 films were submitted in 2004). The Visual Arts Foundation sponsors it, and as with many non-profit organizations, funding is tight and a few dedicated volunteers do much of the work. The challenge is always how get the most success from the least resources.

This year BestFest was held at the all-digital UltraStar Theater in Poway, California. Students got to see their films on a full-size movie theater screen in full Surround Sound. As you can imagine, this is truly exciting for these young filmmakers, their families, friends, teachers, and the general public. In Figure A, you can see an exterior shot of the theater at night.

FIGURE A

The UltraStar Theater in Poway, CA hosted the 2004 BestFest event. (click for larger image)

Let there be light

When I arrived at this year's event, Gerry Williams, our volunteer audio-visual technician, seen in Figure B, had set up the stage lighting.

FIGURE B

Gerry Williams set up all the lights and A/V equipment for BestFest. (click for larger image)

He had placed a lighting station on each side of the huge theater screen and a spotlight in the back row of seats.

The lighting stations used to illuminate the stage area during the awards and announcements were tripods with 500-watt studio lights and adjustable "barn doors". A 500-watt spotlight in the rear of the theater highlighted the presenters, award winners and sponsors.

The stage lights were turned on as each film was introduced, and while BestFest Executive Director Dave Larson and co-chair Mark Title presented the awards, with the theater being darkened while each student film was screened. In Figure C you can see Executive Director Dave Larson with one of the winners.

FIGURE C

Dave Larson with one of the winning filmmaker teams. (click for larger image)