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fly space versus dead hung

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by kieldot, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. kieldot

    kieldot Member

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    im trying to help advise a client on whether or not to spend the money for a theater with fly space and counterweights versus a dead hung, no fly space design. what ciritcal questions do i need to have the client answer in order to determine which system is right for them? if you were building a new building, which would you program into the design? presently, the client anticipates using the space for "childrens theater" (ages 5 to 18), dance performances, and graduation / assembly type performances. im interested in any feedback that people in the industry can provide me....
     
  2. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Chances are, the height of the stagehouse will be based on the architectural design and the budget. If the gridiron is not at least 2x the proscenium height, the cost of a counterweight system probably could not be justified.

    After that question, the next more important is
    "Who will be the operators of the system?"
    This should help to choose between counterweight, automated, motorized, or dead-hung rigging.

    See also: http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/poll.php?do=newpoll&t=12480, http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/general-advice/4872-automatic-motorized-fly-systems.html, and the articles on this page: J.R. Clancy Operation & Safety - Articles.
     
  3. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Are we talking Traditional Proscenium, Modified thrust Pro ?

    Honestly if I had my druthers, I'd always have a fly system installed in a Proscenium situation, if not people will be cursing your name for the next 40 yrs. The biggest question of course is budget. While the effectiveness of a fly space is often considered to be directly proportional to it's height, I can tell you that even in a couple of venues I've worked that only had half-pro height fly's the system was greatly appreciated and well used. Budget is going to be impacted not only by the additional structure necessary to support a fly system, but by the cost of the system itself. One of the best things I've ever seen done in a situation where the client couldn't make up their mind and budgets were tight or fluctuating on a daily basis, was what Nike did in The Stanford Theatre at the Tiger Woods center on their World Headquarters campus. They built the buliding for a fly system, but didn't install it. Couple years later; after enough clients had asked for things that couldn't be done, after enough money was spent on Overhire for the Lighting departments 'cause the electrcians had to do everything by ladder and Genie, Somebody decided to add a rail, and about half the total number of battens to fill the space. They can still expand more, if they want. This really helped keep costs down on the initial build but and it's a big but, they planned ahead and the structure was all there. A retro -fit is never cheap.

    Hope that helps a bit.
     
  4. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    I like [user]Van[/user]'s idea.
    If I had a say in the design I would make sure that the electrics were motorized. I'm guessing that most of the workers are going to be volunteer and not trained. I've worked with dead hung electrics and its a pain. It is so much easier to be able to bring in the electric and hang everything, then all you have to do on a genie/ladder is just focus.
     
  5. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    +1 for this idea. At the very least make sure the electrics can come down. If they're not on a flyrail, get them on an electric winch that requires a key to operate - it will save people from playing with them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2009
  6. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    The High School I graduated from did the "install the steel" route. They installed the full fly rail w/ tracks and the steel. They installed lines for 3 electrics and dead hung all the soft goods. Every year we went in and installed 2 more linesets. I believe the rail is full now. Its not a bad way to go.

    As for what to ask....
    -Who is going to be working in the theatre, volunteers... etc
    -Will there be a full time "person in charge" who can oversee the use of the system
    -What kind of shows do they want to produce?
    -Do they ever want to rent scenery?
    -Do they forsee having travelings shows coming in?

    If the design of the building can do it, do it. I would highly suggest at least get the electrics flying, even if by electric winches.
     
  7. kieldot

    kieldot Member

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    if i know that my "technicians" will be volunteers, what system would you recommend?
     
  8. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    By “volunteers”, do you mean an unpaid staff that will be involved more or less long-term and committed, such as at a community theatre or lodge?

    Or do you mean short-term volunteers (to meet some “voluntary” obligation) that are associated with the new building’s organization or associated with outside groups that would use the facility, such as dance schools or acting schools?

    Joe
     
  9. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Since it sounds like it will be in a public place, be sure if you do install a fly rail, the access to it can be locked out to prevent people that shouldn't be touching it from touching it.
     
  10. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I think in all cases you have to assume that the people staffing and operating the facility are going to be trained and knowledgeable. I know that's a big, maybe even dangerous assumption, but if we're talking about what's best for the comunity/school/betterment-of human-kind..... then you have to take the "who's going to be running it?" question off the table. As we all know manually operated or electric flys can be dangerous and even deadly. So responsibility for proper operational protocols falls on the eventual facilities / technical director. I don't feel the overall effectiveness of the facilitys future should be limited by the staffing of the present. Who Knows? two years from now the operator of the facility reaches a deal with the Local IA and there is nothing but Licensed riggers in there all the time. Would it not completely suck to then be limited by a short dead hung space ?


    Back to the OP's last question..... I'm a big fan of electrically operated Electric battens, but I'm real old school when it comes to the other lines. I prefer a manual system, and once you see the price tag for a fully automized mecahnical system you will be too.
     
  11. fredthe

    fredthe Active Member

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    Personally, I'd love for all theaters to have a full counterweight fly system, with a grid at 2.5x the proscenium height, and a staff of fully qualified riggers... but that's not going to happen.

    Here are my thoughts, given the requirements...
    - No matter what, motorize the electrics (unless they are accessable by a catwalk.) Make sure the controls can be locked.

    - Graduation/Assemblies - doesn't need anything special

    - Childrens/Theater & Dance. Now is where a fly system can be beneficial... having scrims/drops/hard set pieces can do a lot to liven up a performance, even dance.

    - Wing Space. If you don't put in the fly space, do you have enough wing space for large set pieces? If you are limited in wing space, then putting in the fly system gives you some more flexibility in what you can do. If there's no wings, and no fly, then you are really limiting the space to Graduation/Assembly activities.

    - If it's new, from the ground-up space, it's probably not mich expense to add the fly tower/grid, even if nut fully equipped (as others have suggested)

    - Automation vs. Counterweight. If there is a permanent Facilities/Tech Director, who can properly instruct and oversee the "volunteers" at all times, then counterweight may be OK. Otherwise, I'm still a strong beliver in the fully automated (Hoffend/Clancy) type systems.
     
  12. Teber

    Teber Member

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    I Don't have flyspace at one of my main venues, and it drives me NUTS! They did Kiss Me, Kate and It drove me nuts without flys - all was dead hung and it was truly annoying. I would say go flyspace IF YOU CAN afford it. It will pay off in lack of swearing or people "cursing your name"
     
  13. teqniqal

    teqniqal Well-Known Member

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    The decision as to what type of fly system to install is but a fraction of the questions to be asked and answered before you plan a theatre facility. Have you considered hiring a Theatre Consultant <insert shamless plug here> ? This is what they do for a living and they should be able to help you define your facility by providing a broader based set of questions and potential solutions.

    If you ask a riggger how design a theatre, you may get a good rigging system, but the rest of the facility may suffer. If you ask a sound guy how to design a theatre... If you as a costumer how to design a theatre... If you as a lighting designer ... Get the picture? You need someone with a sufficiently broad understanding of the entire theatre plant and it's operations, from the street to the alley, to help your architect to design a balanced functional facility.
     

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