Another Kind of Influencing Machine

Posted February 24, 2012

If anyone attending True/False ever stopped to consider where the Fest’s tickets were printed (and, let’s be honest, this elite group of daydreaming nerds and visionaries is surely very, very small), they probably imagine some sort of corporate-industrial fortress, belching smoke into the sky above Earth City, MO, a sad robot toiling away day and night in a sub-sub-basement, churning out the more than thirty thousand tickets that are distributed at the T/F Box Office each year.

Those visionary nerds would be wrong!

Every ticket is actually printed on a mini-thermal ticket printer sitting atop the ping-pong table in the basement of T/F materials coordinator and signage czar Glenn Rice’s basement. Rice has produced an impossibly entertaining, one-minute-long, lovingly annotated film that explains the process in loving detail.

There is no sad robot; there is only Glenn:

Glenn’s notes on the process:

One minute out of the 12-16 hours of tedium that is the True/False Film Fest ticket printing process. This is a Boca Systems ( “Mini” thermal ticket printer with an integrated cutter. We’re using so-called “concert” size tickets, 2″ x 5.5″ with a 1″ leading perforation (the “stub”).

The printer uses a thermal print head, so there’s no ink to replace. It’s a good machine, amazingly durable and trouble free so far. It does jam occasionally.

I use a Microsoft Access database to connect to our reservations DB using ODBC & linked tables, then generate an Access report in which each “page” is an individual ticket. Access also prints a control ticket at the beginning of each passholder’s ticket order, which allows our Box Office staff to easily separate the completed ticket stacks and bundle them for patron pick-up. You might see the control ticket in your pass envelope, though I’m not sure if Box Office staff includes those or not.

I’ll usually print around 1,000 tickets in each short run, so I can take breaks. 3-4 hours of this is all I can stand, so it takes 4 or 5 long runs to do them all. During a print run, if I walk away for more than a minute, things get out of control very quickly.

Yes, I’m doing this on my ping-pong table in our basement. There’s lots of room, & I’m not disturbing my family with the noise.