The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

Building an Outdoor Stage

Discussion in 'Safety' started by urban79, Sep 19, 2018.

  1. urban79

    urban79 Active Member

    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    Ok, so I have my opinions on this, but I'm looking for some backup here. The scenario is as follows: we are looking at hosting graduation on site this year, rather than at another local venue. The plan is for it to be an outside ceremony, and we have come to the discussion of the staging necessary. I expect that the stage will end up needing to be somewhere around 16' X 36' and probably between 30" and 36" high.

    I believe there are some of the powers that be who would like this stage to be built, rather than purchased or rented. If this is the case, I won't be the one responsible for the actual building - it will fall to some combination of maintenance and the tech ed department. I'm not sure even still that I'm comfortable with this idea - pre-engineered systems have a sense of safety that I don't see us ever getting if we do it ourselves. I would think that the insurance company and the AHJ will have some issues with this, particularly if students end up involved in building it.

    Am I being irrationally nervous? Is this a reasonable thing for us to take on? Are there any particular points of concern that I can bring up? This is going to be an expensive endeavor, but I think it's a buy once cry once sort of deal...

    Any help is much appreciated!

    Chris
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  2. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    3,114
    Likes Received:
    1,122
    Occupation:
    Consultant
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
    36" is probably too high. Typically for commencement ceremonies you need to accommodate wheelchair access, which means you need ADA ramps at a very shallow slope angle. You also have lots of women in heels and generally a number of people on shaky legs so a small rise is preferred. You also have to deal with shimming out the legs on uneven terrain, and need handrails and so forth. You also need the staging to look fairly decent in professional photos.

    I wouldn't try to do this in house. Usually its not too expensive to hire this out. Often you can find production rental companies who can rent the PA and extension cables and so forth as well.

    You can certainly go out and buy something. If the district doesn't have other needs for it though then you just end up with a bunch of staging taking up space in storage. If you have other uses around the campus then it makes more sense to purchase.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  3. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

    Messages:
    2,782
    Likes Received:
    806
    Location:
    Phoenix, Az
    Gonna assume outside at your football/soccer field where you have seats covered.

    You should be nervous as Mike pointed out uneven ground mixed with ramps and handle rails with be a pita.

    A staging company is what you should push for. I would do 12x32 with 2 extra platforms up front for a podium.

    Amount of time and effort to build will cost the same as renting.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  4. microstar

    microstar Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    665
    Likes Received:
    302
    Occupation:
    Lighting/Sound/Video installation/repair
    Location:
    Lawton, OK
    Our local university went from maintenance dept.-constructed wood platforms and ramps (done badly) for graduation ceremony at the football stadium to hiring a production company to do nice staging and trussing with a custom backdrop with the university logo and video wall. They also supplied and ran the PA. Also added was a fireworks show for the graduates and audience at the conclusion. Everything was a huge success and they've never looked back. Parents and students are always impressed.

    CUgraduation.jpg
     
  5. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

    Messages:
    2,782
    Likes Received:
    806
    Location:
    Phoenix, Az
    That’s an obnoxiously huge setup lol. And I like it.
     
    Jay Ashworth, Ben Stiegler and Van like this.
  6. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    3,114
    Likes Received:
    1,122
    Occupation:
    Consultant
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
    College commencement addresses are a prime opportunity to hit up alums and donors to write big checks. A little pomp and circumstance helps the loosen the purse strings. Makes great photos for marketing to prospective students too. Parents feel like their money was spent well sending their students there. More likely to leave a lasting impression that influences referrals to future prospective students.
     
    Jay Ashworth and Amiers like this.
  7. josh88

    josh88 Remarkably Tired. Premium Member Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    1,908
    Likes Received:
    478
    Occupation:
    ATD and Sound Head
    Location:
    Ypsilanti, Michigan
    Also worth mentioning is if something goes wrong and collapses or breaks, who's insurance is taking care of that if your school builds it. That thought might be enough to redirect the powers that be or at least get the risk management people talking their ear off. There are people who do stages for a reason, and they do it all the time, it'll take less time, probably still be cheaper, and safer and probably look better too.

    Also some states don't allow audience to be seated on wooden risers or in this case a deck, and every commencement I've been to has had trustees or faculty or somebody sitting on the stage.
     
    Ben Stiegler and Amiers like this.
  8. egilson1

    egilson1 Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    470
    Likes Received:
    341
    Occupation:
    Rigging specialist
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Stick building the stage will be more expensive than renting a modular stage or even possably renting a at Stageline style mobile stage.

    And as others have mentioned, ADA compliance, liability insurance, etc are all things that have to be dealt with.

    I would pose to the decision makers this. “Why reinvent the wheel? What do we think we know better than the proffesionals who do hundreds, if not thousands of graduations a year?”

    Regards,
    Ethan
     
    RonHebbard and Amiers like this.
  9. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,842
    Likes Received:
    528
    Location:
    Vegas
    My first thought was a stageline mobile rig. The SL260 might accommodate your needs, but it's probably easier to look at who is renting them in your area and pick from what they have.

    As far as the admin go. Why would the admin was to take on another facility that they will have to repair and maintain over time if they're going to use it only sparingly throughout the year? It is possible (although I would argue unlikely) that building it yourself might be cheaper to get past this year's graduation, but how much wear and tear will the structure handle from the elements. This falls into the rent if you can purchase if you have to category in my eyes. DIY would scare me.
     
    Ben Stiegler and RonHebbard like this.
  10. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

    Messages:
    5,934
    Likes Received:
    1,276
    Occupation:
    Project Manager, Stagecraft Industries, Inc.
    Location:
    Portland, Or.
    rent. find a staging company and rent.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  11. TheaterEd

    TheaterEd Renaissance Man Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    1,191
    Likes Received:
    447
    Location:
    Near Milwaukee
    You are likely renting the chairs anyways, please rent the staging as well. We have platforms that have been in the district for at MINIMUM 30 years (I found photos from shows that long ago) that we use for our set up. Only 8' deep, and around 32' wide. Short platforms are around 6" which lead to the second around 1' and the stage level at 18". We do ours in the gym to avoid worrying about the weather. I'm hoping that some day we'll be able to just toss them and start renting. It's obnoxious having to store them year round for just the one event.

    Make sure to bring that up to the folks in charge. Whatever you build or buy, you have to store.
     
    Ben Stiegler and RonHebbard like this.
  12. urban79

    urban79 Active Member

    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    Mission accomplished: 4 against 1 certainly helped. Now on to the sound system requirements! Wish me luck!
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  13. Mr. B

    Mr. B Member

    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    87002
    Just one more opinion here but our district has two sets of portable staging and I use them once or twice a year as part of my set building. Because they're structurally sound it's really easy to take actors up four feet and I've even done six feet off the ground by stacking them. For prom, we put the DJ up on them and put a facade in front of them. If you can get the district to buy a set you'll find opportunities to use them. Our maintenance dept uses a truck with a lift gate. I think they are worth the storage challange.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  14. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    2,555
    Likes Received:
    1,123
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    @Mr. B ; Please do keep in mind special precautions must be taken into account when installing your stages outside if directly on soil, grass, asphalt or anything other than fully cured and essentially level poured concrete.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
    Amiers likes this.
  15. Mr. B

    Mr. B Member

    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    87002
    Right you are Ron. I lost track of where we started the discussion(outdoor stage). I only use them on the stage and gym floor. The football field is sacred ground and no lowely theatre person would ever be allowed to tread there.....much less build.

    Another thought....we do not have a black box and so we put audience on the portable stage to create seating for theatre-in-the-round on our main stage. Sound shell is used as a temporary wall to visually separate the real house from the stage. My director loves to force her 2nd year students to act up close and personal with the audience.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice