Behind The Scenes Look At The Production Process
Here at Catalyst, we are a full service exhibit agency – meaning from concept to creation, we do it all. Once our design team has a concept, it’s the production team’s responsibility to figure out how to make it a reality. We sat down with our in house Production Manager, Jeff Seeger, to pick his brain on what really goes on the shop.
Ian: Is there anything you guys can’t build?
Jeff: There’s nothing we can’t build. Just give me a concept.
Ian: How does the design process work in the shop once drawings are received from engineering?
Jeff: Depending on what it is, we go into production with it; but a lot of times we have to reformulate stuff because things aren’t working out according to the way we originally thought they would – as far as stability and integrity. So there is a lot of going back and forth.
Ian: What do you think of the accuracy of the production work – from the design concept to what actually gets built?
Jeff: It’s pretty darn close. I think our accuracy is pretty right there. We try to get it as close as possible and within the realm of whatever it is you guys are designing. And the Engineers work close with Design and with me in order to make that happen. That’s always our main goal to make it look like the pretty picture.
Ian: Talk to us about fabric and metal. How has that changed?
Jeff: In the last two years it’s changed a lot. Now that we have our fabric cutter, the sewers, and everything else, we have more control over what were doing in our fabric department than we ever did before. We used to have to sub-contract it out; sure we didn’t have to worry about schedules and stuff, but this way we’ve got control over how it looks and how it fits without having to send it back and redo it all the time.
Ian: So where do you think it’s going?
Jeff: Well I think as far as our printing process, we’re continuing to get a lot better – working with experts to get better knowledge of our printing. I think the trade show industry is all going towards fabric with light towers and doing all the different types of things that we’ve been doing for years.
Ian: So uh, so what about 3D printing? It’s the big hype right now.
Jeff: We sub-contract out our 3D printing. We don’t have those capabilities right now, but that is the future. It is a great way to make small, intricate parts within an exhibit.
Ian: So the big question: The battle between production and design. What are the hardships that you experience with concepts that are given to you from design?
Jeff: The accuracy isn’t there, that’s what the problem is. Most of the designers use a line and a pretty picture, not working within the realms of our capabilities by using a radius or ellipse when they’re drawing those details. We have to take your model and convert it to our system. It’s very difficult. So there’s a lot of stress in trying to get the look that you guys are going for and working within our system while making it cost effective for the client.
Ian: What is the best part of your job?
Jeff: Full interaction between people and clients. I guess that’s the most fun part.
Ian: What is the worst part?
Jeff: The ever changing timelines. Keeping a consistent production schedule through graphic changes and design changes. That’s probably about the worst – timelines