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Focusing lights during a band's sound check?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by willbb123, Mar 13, 2009.

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Is it acceptable to focus lights during a bands Sound Check?

  1. Yes, I do it all the time.

    13 vote(s)
    22.0%
  2. No, It is distracting and never alright

    6 vote(s)
    10.2%
  3. Sometimes, Due to lack of time, or to check specials.

    40 vote(s)
    67.8%
  1. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    Ok simple poll for anyone whose worked in a road house, or a theater that thinks its a roadhouse.
    Our previous LD said that you should never focus or change the lights during sound check. I normally take this advice but there is times where I will bring up specials to make sure that they are focused into the right spot. There are also some times when I need to do all my FOH focusing during sound check because I don't have any other time.

    My question, Is it acceptable to focus during a bands sound check?
     
  2. DCATTechie

    DCATTechie Active Member

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    Runing a channel/dimmer/cue check, yes. I see no problem in bumping some fixtures to check their focus and position but an actual focus, no. I'm assuming that you would need to focus at least some lights above the bands head, and you wouldn't want to drop a color frame or an entire fixture on your headlining performers head. It's kind of hard to play an instrument when you are bleeding from an inch gash in your head:lol:. In my experience bands typically want to get the sound check over with fast so they don't really care if there are flashing lights and colors around them. On the other hand, it's pretty distracting to have someone scampering above your head with sharp and heavy objects. Not to mention, a proper band would have sent their lighting needs in a Tech Rider before hand.... but we all know that never happens...:shifty:.
     
  3. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    You're missing an option in your poll.

    Depends on the band and the situation.
     
  4. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    I thought about including something like that, but couldnt think of a good fancy way of saying it.

    Lets assume that its a small group. Most small groups that we get either dont have a stage plot, or come in and change where they want everything.
     
  5. theatre4jc

    theatre4jc Active Member

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    I'm not usually in a road house but instead work as a freelance concert guy who mixes in with different rental companies. I'd say 99% of the time I'm focusing my movers while the band is sound checking. I will make sure all of my conventional fixtures are finished before the band arrives but I'm always starting from scratch with my movers so I will be focusing the movers every second I can till house opens to make as many looks as possible.
     
  6. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    I worked in a road house where we did that all the time. We developed hand signals.

    Mike
     
  7. thelightguy87

    thelightguy87 Active Member

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    I either set lights as i would during the concert, so i know if there are complaints, or wait till they are finished. For a show i just had, sound check went from when they walked in the door and moved pretty much everything on stage around, to the house opening, and nothing had been focused since the plot was a fresh restore to our standard plot. And I would say 95% of the bands we get, tell me they don't care what i do, as long as it looks good, and consequently, there is nothing in the tech rider about lighting other than "a theatrical lighting system with 2 color wash" If i have to focus FOH I use a radio and talk whoever is focusing through what i want without pointing. I would only focus something overhead if I can push a genie around silently, or i can bring an electric in without bothering anyone.
     
  8. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I routinely focus lights on big choirs during their rehearsal, and I have never had a complaint. In my situation, I'm adjusting ERS lights that are not over anyone's head, and there is no other time to do it. I do try to keep the levels dimmed to reduce the distraction.

    I would urge you to always avoid working over anyone's head. One slip and a fallen wrench can leave someone with a severe head injury, or worse. It's not worth the risk and I doubt the band wants to wear hard hats.
     
  9. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    I'd never focus over someones head, I won't even walk on stage during check.
    They have rented that time for check and the stage and our attention is there's. That's why I have a problem with it. It's sound check time, and I don't want to distract them.
     
  10. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    They have rented that time for soundcheck? I'm not sure how many bands out there are renting venues for their shows... I'm pretty sure it works the other way around. That is aside from the point though, if you're not already done with conventional focus by the time soundcheck rolls around you are clearly having much larger issues...
     
  11. awhaley

    awhaley Member

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    I definitely have to come down firmly on the side of 'maybe.' ;) There are no rules to concert lighting, and you keep your job and get better jobs based on your ability to get the job done, keep people liking you, and not get anyone killed. Not in that order.

    Being good at concert lighting means being able to adapt. There's no excuse for taking safety risks, but beyond that, every option is on the table. You have a certain number of tasks to accomplish before the show starts - I make every effort to get my conventionals focused as quickly as I can, then build position palletes for the movers, as these are the two activities most likely to annoy the band once they're sound checking. If I haven't finished these tasks... I have to get them done. I always go to someone working with the band (but not the band itself) and talk about it. I explain to the road manager or monitor engineer where I'm at, what I have to get done, and how long it's going to take. They almost always tell me to just do it. One in a while they'll ask me to leave the movers on the deck, or the lekos on the FOH Truss alone until the band's offstage so I don't make them shout. They want the show to look good too, so they're usually very understanding. And if the lead singer yells "What's with the flashing?" now the road manager is the one who replies "They've got to get the lights focused! Just finish the sound check!"

    If you keep it safe, communicate to people what you're going to do, and then do whatever it takes to do your job, you're almost always covered. In the end, remember that you very rarely work "FOR" the band and they're going to lose more money than you are if they decide not to play the event because the lights were being focused at sound check. If I think there'll be a problem, I get the promoter or event producer in the loop and explain the situation. I explain that "you've hired me to light the event, I want to do the best I can for you, and that requires me to do this and this... but the band was complaining about it. I don't think there's a problem now... but I just want you to know what was going on in case they mention it later. I did what I could to make sure they were happy, but in the end I had to do my job too..." Yeah, if the Rolling Stones say "Either the light guy goes or we do..." You're fired, but this practically never happens. Usually they don't care that much, and the promoter will come in on your side and tell them to do their job while you do yours. Protect the guy who signs your check and he'll protect you too.

    Try to be as easy to get along with as you can and you usually won't have a problem. Keep it safe, keep people liking you, and keep producing quality results and you'll have way more good days than bad.

    Art
     
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  12. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    You do what you have to. But if the rig is installed and running at 10 AM, sound check is at 4 and doors aren't until 8 (for example) then there's no reason why you're doing it during sound check. And if it's an all moving light rig there's especially no reason for it.
     
  13. thelightguy87

    thelightguy87 Active Member

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    I generally don't have a call until noon for a concert, then I have to help set the stage and sound. This takes a while, the band arrives around 3-4 but the FOH or tour manager, or whoever, arrives usually around 1. No one ever seems to advance the correct tech rider, so everything done gets changed, delaying even more. If sound check is at 4, i'll be lucky if i can bounce focus by 3:45.
     
  14. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    Dude thats exactly what happens to me too. Normally I'll get emailed the contract after its signed, which tells me next to nothing. They always forget to send me the rider.
    But my real problem is if a band really cares what the lights look like, they bring there own LD. So if they don't bring an LD there rider says nothing about lights. So then I have to search youtube to try and figure out what they sound like. Most of the bands we get in normally play in bars and small clubs. So then I have to figure out how to make it into a theater setting (without movers). I want movers so bad... All I want is two...
     
  15. theatre4jc

    theatre4jc Active Member

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    The only time I've ever had a rig up and running by 10 AM was when I did over night load ins. When I was in an actual theatre I never had over night load ins for concerts, did for theatre shows though. When touring and freelancing I have had a couple over nighters but usually it's load in at 10 band arrive around 3 or 4 and doors at 6:30 ish. I start from scratch so often that I take every second possible.
     
  16. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    "Maybe" here as well. Unless you are on tour with the act, I find that bands have a habit of changing the stage layout at sound check! A "no" to working above anyone's head.

    I have also had the unpleasant experience of waiting the whole day for the band to show up and not having any information about their stage layout or what they want until 45 minutes before show time! :wall:
     
  17. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    The times I posted earlier were just hypothetical. But I've had 8 am load ins and was done focusing by 11 am. I've also had load ins where the focus was "your best guess right now so we can get the backline up. Doors are in 10 minutes." There's no perfect, one-size-fits-all answer. Budgets (and that means time, labor, etc., as well as money) are never big enough to do the job perfectly. You do the best you can with the budget you're allotted.
     
  18. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    That is if the safety breaks. I always have two safeties on my wrench, one tied to my wrist and one clipped to my belt.

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2009
  19. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Unless you don't get a stage layout in the rider, or the stage layout changes when they walk in the door, or you can't get any stage hands until then, etc.

    Mike
     
  20. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    Depending upon the situation i use sound check for a few things.
    1. Go run and hide/eat during sound check due to i dont want to listen to the noise
    2. After noise if at all possible, use their sound check to go through the lighing cues, esp when using video's, which then the band usually becomes destracted and starts to watch the light show (guess better now than during the show, which i have had happen with a few well known bands)
    3. Go through colors and make sure all is well. I try to get all the focusing out of the way before or after sound check, normally depending upon the bands LD. I try to rough focus before the band or LD arrives based upon the stage plot, we commonly do the backline so this makes life easier. Then once they sound check (during or after), i will make sure they are all lit, never know when there is the 8ft tall keyboard player that likes to stand up then sit down.
     

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