If it crashes, the bang goes out of our act

My Technology; Steve McNicholas, director of Stomp, tells how his troupe's low-tech dance performances depend on an Apple PowerBook

WHEN I stroll in with a PowerBook, people are always a little bit surprised it can convey our work. After all, in some respects, our show is anti-technology - archaic objects are used as instruments and the show uses none. But behind the scenes is the PowerBook, planning, organising and making Stomp very multimedia.

We started out as a bit of a cottage industry. Initially, we worked with touring companies, so wherever we were geographically, I needed to run our business. A mobile office was the only feasible arrangement. Plus, at the beginning, I did everything: the accounts, as well as the publicity, photography and directing the show. This could all be done from one source - the PowerBook.

Over the years, the company has grown: we have five companies around the world and do a lot of filming. So although I don't do accounts or administration and don't need a mobile office as such, I use the PowerBook as a mobile studio. I keep in touch with all the companies and aspects of the show through e-mail contact with performers and company managers.

The creative potential of the PowerBook is very important. For instance, when we are shooting films or commercials, storyboard work is done on the PowerBook. I am trying out a program at the moment called StoryBoard Artist, but previously I have made a storyboard collage myself. That is the only time I have used a program that works a specific purpose.

I haven't yet found a program to do everything I want. In the past I have yoked programs together, perhaps Photoshop and Videoshop, anything to get where I want.

One classic use is in shooting a commercial. I go on location with a Nikon F900 digital camera. Every conceivable angle is then downloaded on the computer. But we might also do some drawings, either drawing direct on to the computer or scanning in images. Alternatively, if we need to build something around the location, I could construct a 3-D view on the computer. So storyboards are often a collage of digital photography and art pad work.

The PowerBook is basically our visual tool. But it also helps with the music. Everything we do is worked to a rhythm, so we might record a basic rhythm on to the PowerBook and then overlay images. It cuts down on time. When deciding possible ways to shoot, we can quickly digitise the shots, do some edits and check how the cuts work and the flow of movement. And we can play it back, for instance, when doing a presentation.

I have always trained myself how to use the technology. I don't go into shops - you tend not to get a great deal of help - so information tends to come from reading a magazine, or the Internet is particularly helpful when searching for something specific. My enthusiasm for computer technology is down to using a music sequencer, it opened my eyes to the computer as a useful tool with creative possibilities.

A lot of people have a computer block. When we walk in with the PowerBook, clients are always amazed at what we do. They say they didn't know what could be done, which really surprises me. I am frustrated by the attitude that computers are only for smart or clever people when they are just tools to be used. I am not a computer technician or interested in bytes, bits and programming, but it helps me write or create. Stomp couldn't exist without this technology. What we do now would be a nightmare without the PowerBook.

Interview by

Jennifer Rodger

Stomp embark on their first-ever UK tour on 26 January at Chichester Festival Theatre (01243 781 312). For more details visit www.stomp.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing