The YouTube Syndrome

Today, we are connected with media more than ever. The fact that we all hold a videocamera in our hands several hours a day (through our cellphones if you didn’t catch that) has changed the way we live and share our lives with others. But it is not only that but the fact that we have a platform like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to capture it and share it throughout the world in just seconds.

youtube-logoUs who practice and create performing arts have been benefited from millions of videos and we are able to see what is happening in the arts around the world. But this, has also cursed our world and is putting (from my point of view) a big question mark in the standards of creativity and the process and complexity of production.

Let me elaborate. In my everyday job, as a technical director, one of my tasks is to study the feasibility of a given effect, moment, or scenic image that comes to the mind of a member of the creative team. It is an incredibly common practice these days to pop a youtube video on an iPhone and say: this is what I want. (If your slate is clean throw the first stone) I include myself in practicing this. But many people that come up with this have no idea of what it takes, how much budget was used for a specific effect or how many hours of rehearsal and expertise is involved in those executing these videos. That is just talking about ignorance. There is another issue talking about creative plagiarism. How creative is something when it is based on something someone else did? On the other hand, isn’t everything we do inspired at some point in previous knowledge or appreciation?

Where is the line of right and wrong with this practice. On one side I am totally on-board with the easy access to all this material, it has enriched us as a society, as artists, as practitioners and creators of the performing arts. It has also projected many independent artists, and some of this performances through viral videos have landed many important gigs for its performers and creators.  But it has cheapened the way we appreciate these things and we become more obsessed in being the ones executing it than giving credit to the original performers or ideas.

Have you ever done it? I have. But what is your opinion on the line that we should draw in what we do after we see an amazing video online.


Disneyland and Vegas: An All-American Artform

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This past week I’ve spent time side by side in two of the most iconic American places (can’t really call them cities) in the world. And for the first time ever, I visited them by myself, which I must admit wasn’t the best option but it did let me appreciate more of my surroundings, the cities, the attractions and the people that inhabit them. To the rest of the world, these places are the definition of America. Usually you don’t get any praise to “All-American” things from non-americans. But I would like to talk about a very specific kind of art that is native in the US and I am not sure if it is treated like that amongst art historians, but we can’t ignore the what I decided to call the Art of Environment Entertainment. We cannot simply ignore how brilliant and highly creative close to genius these places are.

I will start with Disneyland, being I think the first place on earth to portray such art so specifically. Throughout the years there are many things I’ve heard about the story of Disneyland. And it doesn’t take much research to confirm it. One of the most important ones is the one that Disney had the dream that once you crossed the tunnel under the railroad you should feel transported to a different time, then a different reality. A plaque reads “Here is where you leave today and arrive in the land of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy”. To craft to such full extension a whole habitable environment is surely a piece of art. Yes its all fake, but that is what makes it so specifically artistic, it has a purpose, a message and a for of aesthetics to follow, and that my friends is for many the definition of art.

Its taking a fairly old concept as a park with rides but extend those experiences beyond the coasters themselves. Take SpaceMountain for example. It is a roller coaster with bobsleds as many other being built at the time (mid-70´s), however the idea to put it inside a sound studio totally blocked from daylight and enhanced with sound effects, lights and decoration. Not only that, while you are in line to ride the roller coaster you are surrounded by fake intergalactic props (an

d lots of air conditioning) to amaze you and put your brain to work. You can travel from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland, to Mainstreet USA and all things you probably already know.

The other one is Vegas. This place I think it has a different path to achieve the same result, given it wasn’t set to start as this mentioned-earlier-by-me Art of Environment Entertainment. Vegas started as a regular Casino village (different to Disneyland that didn’t start as a regular theme park). But with its growth the latest Casinos and tendencies are to build different environments within the different casinos: New York, Paris, Venetian, Excalibur, Luxor, they all reflect the big apple, the french lifestyle (or at least from an american point of view), the italians, medieval times, the egiptians, etc.

I have heard many people (specially the Europeans) that hate this kind of “architecture” because it is not real, it is fake, its made of plastic and foam. But my whole point of this post is to express that even though that is true, we cannot deny the genius behind it. It is set design blown up to extraordinary proportions, and no country beats the US in doing that. We usually criticize America for its consumerism, and we know there are plenty of down points with that, but we need to appreciate also some good results of it, like this kind of art that it never seizes to amaze me and makes me come back to enjoy it over and over again.

8 Things you HAVE TO DO when traveling to the US

So, according to this blog stats most of my readers live in the US. But since I can actually count my readers I am going to hope that this will be useful to lots of other people. I travel fairly often and 99% of the time I travel to the US. I know you probably have a mouthful of comments about this but heck, I like it here.

When I travel here to the US I have learned many things you should do that have saved me tons of money and made my visit way more productive. Here are the 8 things that I’ve discovered are a must when you come no matter the purpose of your visit.

1. Bring your iPhone

Your iPhone will become the single most important gadget that you bring with you. It might as well be an iPod Touch or an iPad. The iPhone will give you the advantage that once connected to the internet you can still message with your friends through WhatsApp or iMessage and have phone conversations through FaceTime or Viber.

2. Buy a Wi-Fi Mobile HotSpot

I once thought about this a while ago and I honestly don’t know why not everyone does this when they come to the states as a foreigner. Most carriers in the world will offer you a plan to have some data in your phone when in the states as well as some minutes to call your country. However, this are usually ridiculously expensive and limited. So what you should do is once in the states go to a local carrier (I found T-Mobile to be the best option for this), and buy a HotSpot, it will cost you around $150 dollars but it will be the best money spent of your whole trip. Then you can add prepaid credit and get like 3.5GB for 30 Dollars. (I bet you thats better than anything you can get at home) AND you can connect your phones, iPad, and Laptop all at once from one device. And forget about paying for internet at hotels. Enough said?

3. TaxiMagic

In many cities of the US moving around without a car is just impossible. And coming from Mexico City I am used to put my hand out of my body and a cab stopping but you will find that its not that easy in the states in many cities and that they are built for people with a car. The rest can simply forget it. So once you evaluated the option of renting a car and decided that wont happen you need to have TaxiMagic in your iOS device. (Once you have internet on it as explained on point number 2). It will get a cab for you, without having to explain where you are in English, it will also calculate how much you are going to pay depending on where you are going. Maybe you will decide to walk instead.

4. Waze

Ok, this app is up and foremost THE best GPS App ever. Wait, just the best GPS. Nothing beats it. And its free! So you can save your 15 Dlls a day from the Rental Car Company. First of all you can set up Waze to speak to you in your language. And in your preferred measuring system (metric or imperial). It is also connected to FourSquare, Yelp, Google so absolutely anywhere you want to go from the most touristy place to the most hidden den in any city, Waze will take you there and tell you how long it will take you to get there (considering real time traffic). So if you have no clue if the place where the meeting you are having or the concert you are watching is like 5 minutes away, or across the state (it happens) just ask Waze. Sidenote: This is something you should have wether you drive or not, and wether you are in your hometown or on vacations.

5. FlightTrack Pro

Evidently I am not doing this in any particular order. Flight Track Pro from the AppStore is as its name says an app to track flights. It makes it very simple to search for flights because you don’t necessarily need the flight number. You just input departure and destination and the schedule at it will show you the flights. Or if you do have the number then its easy to just input it. It will show you what terminals it departs and arrives, what time, it shows you delays and gives you quick access to airport maps, airline hotlines and stuff. It also has an option to share your flight info with friends and family through SMS or E-mail. Excellent not just when you are traveling but when you are picking someone at the airport or just have a friend, colleague or family traveling.

6. Yelp/Foursquare

I actually prefer FourSquare but in the US specifically Yelp has proven to be a little bit more complete in terms of places to eat specifically. In FourSquare you can ask for anything, and when I say anything I mean anything. Restaurants, Offices, HeadQuarters, Stadiums, small tiny secret joints. Just search for what you are looking for and it pops.

7. Currency and Unit Conversions

This is more of a tip. There are many apps out there but I find it hard to choose the app and then there is a quite lengthy selection process. A cool trick that will save you all this hassle, is that Google has a search option that reads and understand conversions, so you can google something like “134 us dollars in mexican pesos” or “3.76 miles in kilometers” or “two hundred kilos in pounds” and so on. It will give you a straight answer. Furthermore, if you have Siri on your iPhone, you can just ask the question with your voice.


8. Mobile Charger

With all these tools you will be using all the time you will need a charger. You can find one in mostly any electronic store and sometimes even at airports. I found a really useful on BestBuy. It has an iPhone 30Pin conector and a MicroUSB, so it charges both my iPhone and my HotSpot at once halfway t

hrough the day when needed. These three things combined in my pocket make you the most powerful tourist ever.

So here is how a regular routine works once you have it all setup.

You check your flight on FlightTrack, you send it to your family so they know when you live and to people picking you up through WhatsApp. As soon as you land you can add credit to your hotspot through your iPhone and any credit card. You keep airplane mode but activate wifi, yo

o get there. You tweet and check e-mails at your hotel without paying internet. You foursquare “Little Unknown Studios Headquarters” to figure where your meeting is, you open it on Waze to see how far it is, you realize its only 10 minutes away so you can grab a bite. You FourSquare “Best Butter Chicken” it shows you your best option with comments, you walk there. Open TaxiMagic to order a cab to pick you upu are good to go. (Spent 20 US dollars so far). You Whatsapp everyone that you are fine. You iMessage the people picking you up. You Tweet. You then get your hotel on Waze to see how long it will take you t

there and calculate how much you will pay to get to your meeting, you google “21 u

s dollars in mexican pesos”. You Tweet. You recommend my post to every single person you know.

Hope this helps and if you find this useful please share it!!!


Many people do not know this but this blog started with many dreams in hand. It started in a time where the path was not clear and a dream called Inside of the Box was taking shape. In Mexico we have and expression called “While its pears or apples” and it is followed by something you are going to do while something else is decided. Ergo, the title of the blog (Of course there was something Mac about mentioning an Apple).
Funny enough (well maybe not that funny) three years and half later I feel in a similar position although very different circumstances, followed again by  this need of writing. So I decided to make a priority in this break from work to stop think and redraw the path. And this is why I decided to start this journey by writing in this abandoned blog. I would like to promise myself to write three articles a week once again but I do not know if my life can accommodate that for now and that is ok.


I apologize if this is not the usual stuff you read in my blog 
but I thought it was important for me to share and explain the very nature of it. Because 
whatever the path or the situation there are a couple things I am certain: My passion for theatre, my passion for technology and that there is nothing else in the world I would prefer to do but these two things. 
Mac N’ Theatre was going to be a second blog that I was going to start to write but instead it became the basis of an iBook with a series of manuals on which technologies I use for theatre production. So for the next days that will be the project I will be focusing on. Pulling myself out of my routine and environment hoping to start a new era in my life. See you on the other side. 


The Future?

This video was released about 8 months ago but I just came across it earlier this week and I’ve been thinking a lot about it. It was released by Microsoft Office and I guess is a strategic move to show that they are also moving into de future. So if I got you enough interested please take a couple minutes to watch:

So what do you think? First and foremost I have to recognize the effort in putting a video such as this with the amount of budget that probably took but how good is it. I remember a couple years ago Microsoft releasing a similar video about Surface. The technology was just out there the multitouch interface, and they presented this video where people interacted with this table, and was part of a restaurant and cubes and at least back then they made me believe that they were actually developing that product for sale and that by now you would see it at least somewhere important, maybe not in the living room but somewhere and making a big fuzz. It made me believe that Microsoft was up to something cool that would finally compete with Apple. Truth is, a couple months later Apple announced the iPad and changed the game.

I see this video, and I say, wow if they are able to develop this I will be amazed and they will kick Apple’s ass. I think of that moment I guess it will happen. Its like Nintendo, it ruled and suddenly bam, Playstation and the XBox came to own the market, then the Wii came and it got control again, and then XBox Kinect landed and now we all think it rocks. I think sometimes on who is going to come back to Apple and kick his ass.

But I find cheap that a company like Google and their glasses, and Microsoft with this video are actually presuming they have that technology when in the past 5 years none of them have brought a break through technology into the game, but Apple has, and several, and in several ways. You see, Apple does not have a futuristic video, but I’m sure they have a vision like this one. While Microsoft and Google which to me are the only ones who have a chance right now to get back in the game are just portraying their vision without actually achieving it.

What do you think was the purpose of this, and all those other videos? Leave a comment.

While you wait…

Yesterday was a terrible day for technology in my life. It all started when I woke up I grabbed my iPhone and I was just about to Tweet what a wonderful day it was going to be when suddenly CRASH. The screen went black and that was it, no answer. There isn’t much you can do at this point than two press the only two press-able buttons in the device in different combinations and timings to understand your phone is really off. I plug it into the power outlet and bam, what I feared, a welcoming message in about 10 different languages to only tell me to plug to iTunes. This wasn’t looking good. Two years ago I had a jailbroken phone to be able to use it here in Mexico so I knew my way around a bit. Long story short, its been 31 hours without my phone, without internet and my iPad and MacBook simply don’t do the trick anymore. Twitter, Foursquare, Whatsapp, Find my Friends and my boss’ addiction to Whatsapp and e-Mail was just the beginning of the realization on how important my iPhone is in my life.

Which brings us to problem number two. A new phone apparently. My iPhone is with the doctor right now they dared to ask me to wait two hours for a final diagnose on what is happening and this is probably how waiting in the hospital feels like. (I’m barely exaggerating) So while my two year old phone is in recovery (hopefully) I decided to ask for the new internet plans and BAM!!! second bad news today. It turns out that there is no longer unlimited internet data plans anymore. WHAT!!!! I’ve had unlimited data since I started using iPhone four years ago. Which leads me to the actual point of this post (thanks for reading this far by the way).

As I predicted in one of my previous posts: 11 Things We Will Laugh About In The Future in numbers 1 and 2 you can see that I see that in the future Land lines, cell phone minutes or SMS will be something in the past (like pagers). Everything is pointing towards that data is new coin in mobile technology. I realize I no longer care on how many minutes I get in my plan, even less on how many SMSs I can send. But cutting my unlimited plan to 3GB seemed a bit too much. (Even though I only use about 1.5GB a month, but I want to feel like I can own the world). I think this is an obvious and very smart move (good for them, not for me) in the mobile carriers, however if they are really moving forward and saying, hey, data is what matters, then start trying unlimited minutes. That is only fair I think, or give up SMS and embrace the future. You want to make money per MB? Then encourage your users to use Whatsapp and internet calls making SMS and Minutes redundant, push us to our futures against our economies but be fair.

What has happened in these past two days, definitely not fair.

A Chorus Line Mexico: The reality of Mexican Musical Theatre

Last week I was invited to Opening Night of the Mexican Version of A Chorus Line: La línea del coro. They have two slogans for the show, one that translates  “The Musical that Revolutionized Broadway” and the second one ” World Quality: This line is golden”. Now, I usually don’t write reviews in this blog of shows most of my readers won’t be able to see, but this time it has made me realized many realities of the Mexican Musical Theatre and I wanted to share it with you.

Of course I went with a whole bunch of theatre people who all (including me) love the show, love the music and love the text. The problem when you go with these kind of people is that we all take out the claws and criticize every single thing but most of all, the number one comment was: ” I saw it on Broadway and it was breathtaking, and here in Mexico is not like that”. I agree. However, we really need to stop comparing to Broadway, or take it as a reference point to judge if something is good in Mexico or not. There is not a cast in Mexico that could have had Broadway quality, this may sound harsh or bold but no one could have done it better, even though it wasn’t enough. The truth is that not a single person that criticized the cast as a whole or individually could have done it better, as a whole.

The thing is that no one is really prepared to do theatre at that level in Mexico. Most people that are on stage actually studied something else and then trained on their spare time, no one dedicated professionally to the craft from an early age, and even those very few who had the guts to do it, there is no recognized institution of high standards to train our talented people to be top quality in Musical Theatre as a whole. There is a lot of talent in the country, don’t get me wrong, but we are simply not developing because today, a career in Musical Theatre, is not an option. The cast of The Chorus Line is just a sample of the most talented actors in México, the ones who had the guts to take their profession past a hobby, the ones that have been in big musicals building a career, and sadly, its still not enough.

On the other hand, as usual in this company, production was flawless, clean. The lighting and sound design was precise and I even going to dare to call perfect. Unfortunately, they still have to bring American designers to do it for us, I just hope its a matter of time for us to learn to do it ourselves with that level of quality. Choreography was clean and the few production elements were well achieved.

So my main criticism is not the cast itself, nor the production, but to the producers. I admire and respect big time their work because they are the ones who brought quality in theatre to the country. They brought full versions of Les Mis, Phantom, Beauty and the Beast, Mamma Mia! and other hits. But this move, seemed cheap to me. I understand that mexican audiences are not cooperating enthusiastically in the box office, so they decided to put on a show that relies on cast and not production (therefore saving a couple million pesos). As any other production of chorus line: simple costumes, the mirrors, the fan, and the golden suits. But what makes you want to pay the $120 dollars on Broadway is the cast, a line of headliners and dancers that are professional dancers who have dedicated their whole life to dance, with pure technique and style. Trying to do the same thing in México, with a line that is not what its promised, at the same price they asked for Beauty and the Beast ($650 pesos, which is a lot for the Mexican Economy) and on top of all to an audience that appreciates production but can’t really read coreography, is simply wrong to me.

“The musical that revolutionized Broadway” – Yes indeed, in the 70’s, not 30 years later. “World Quality, This line is golden”- As for golden, it just refers to the colour of their costumes. I hope I’m wrong in my forecast. A big success in A Chorus Line here in Mexico would tell me that mexican audiences are growing and appreciating more this type of art and maybe respect it more, and maybe be a bit more open when a kid says ” I want to sing and dance for a living” and then maybe, just maybe, we will see a golden line in the future. And for that dream and reason I would actually recommend people to go see it, but wait for a price change or big discounts or else you are going to feel disappointed.

Feel free to leave any comments and debate with me. Thanks for reading!

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