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Getting staff to explain expectations

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by macsound, Feb 8, 2019.

  1. macsound

    macsound Well-Known Member

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    San Francisco, CA
    Roundabout question of technique I guess.
    Working with a group of people on a church/ multi-use space retrofit.
    I've taken a look at the plans and spoken with certain members who have given me their wishlist, but I'm having difficulty nailing down the executives on specifics.

    For example - The stage has a large center flat wall and two angled walls on the SL + SR side. They have decided they want a single center projector. Great! So then the purpose of the two angled walls, are they to be decorated permanently, have interchangeable sets, do they want color wall wash and gobos or wall to wall projection for moving backgrounds or just leave it dark?
    I run through all of these questions and don't ever nail on anything. I've reworked this to be money based. Here's how much projection would cost, vs wash lighting vs gobos and specials. Nothing. No creative conversation or decisions, just kind of hemming and hawing. Then with photos. They say all the photos look nice.

    Another example
    - there's a large multi use area that so far doesn't have a clear purpose. I've presented an audio solution that's mostly about background audio and one wireless handheld. They've talked about using the space for standalone events, so I've increased the speakers for tighter coverage and higher volume. Still no clear cut purpose for the space, so I'm unsure if I should re-design the sound system to assume a stage area, or leave it as pendants as designed for background audio. Or make it two systems. One for background and one for events.

    I've never worked with a group of people who didn't have a vision or even a direction and I'm not sure how many other ways to present information. And I'm getting to the point where all of my expenses and bills continue to get paid, but there have been additional donors and I'm not sure where we are with the budget anymore since so much has been added on their end and I'm unable to assign those expenses to my account numbers.

    Any moral help would be greatly appreciated
    RonHebbard likes this.
  2. Amiers

    Amiers Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.

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    Lighting Floor Tech
    Phoenix, Az
    I mean you are getting paid. Just keep advising them on ideas til they land on some.

    Don’t bite the hand that feeds ya kinda thing.
    RonHebbard likes this.
  3. JChenault

    JChenault Well-Known Member

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    seattle, wa USA
    Sounds to me like you need to spend some time and energy to help them figure out the overall purpose of the space, instead of focusing on equipment.

    If they don’t have an idea about what they will be using the multi use room for, there is no way they can know if what you are suggesting will work. Help them figure out what the program/ use of the space is. Then and only then can you start with equipment.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
    RickR and RonHebbard like this.
  4. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    For these types of situations I usually find it easiest to have the customer envision the actual events they are going to do in the space and work backwards towards technical needs. This gives them a concrete idea of what you're asking. "How many microphones would you like to have?" might mean nothing so someone, but "If the youth group wanted wanted to start a band how many kids do you think would participate?" is something they can actually give you an answer about and allows you to give them some realistic packages and price points so they can access their priorities in terms they can easily understand.

    For the stage what does a typical worship service look like? Do they want to project the words to the songs on the side walls? Is there ever a choir (children or adults) on stage during the service? Will youth groups and other events use this space? Are there extra bells and whistles that would like to have for Christmas and Easter services? Does the congregation celebrate have any other special services that might be different from the norm?

    For the multi use space do they intend on participating in any of the religious sports leagues out there with this space? Would they like to be able to rent it out to local schools for things like dances and other off campus events? Will they need the ability to break up the larger room into smaller spaces for things like Sunday school and bible study groups? Will this space be needed as a nursery during worship? Are there any other groups they might consider using this space (singles mass, band practice, mission trips, social events, ....)?
  5. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Stouffville, Ontario
    Or (riffing off @porkchop) if it's a retrofit, could an entry be: "What were the weaknesses in the old space that led you to do a retrofit? What did you want the space to do that it couldn't do? Do you have any specific examples of events / productions that you had trouble facilitating because of technical deficiencies? What would you have liked to be able to do at the time?" It won't give you the full picture, but it might be a nudge in the proper direction.
  6. NateTheRiddler

    NateTheRiddler Active Member

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    Local PAC LD/ALD
    Arizona, US
    I've spec'd rigs for quite a few HoWs. Since I find that staff members normally have a "gut feeling" of what they want, but no particular technical leaning, I usually spec three or four different showspaces. Each space sequentially gets "bigger" and likely more expensive as well, in addition to adding features and flexibility. For each of those concepts, I try to include pictures or video of other HoWs who have done similar things. The big thing I've noticed in my experience is that church staff get nervous when told what their rig CAN'T do. So, interestingly, I've discovered that saying what each of those different showspaces CAN'T do usually convinces them to choose one of the others. For example, one showspace may be projection or screen heavy while the other is lighting heavy. When I show projection limitations that restrict seating arrangements in other churches, the staff normally go "OHHHH, yeah, not that," which guides them towards one of the other designs. Or maybe I'll show them empty front rows in churches with big flown lighting rigs, since no one wants to be blinded by the big looks, and they convince themselves to be a bit more realistic in that regard (or buy sunglasses for the front row).

    Hope that wasn't too wordy!
    ChrisB_SanDiego and RonHebbard like this.
  7. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    Spokane, WA the great "Inland Northwest"
    Emphasis flexible options!!

    No matter what they eventually agree on, such an indecisive and unfocused group will change their mind upon seeing something in real life, and again 6 months later. Most of the HOW people I've worked with have no idea of what the choices will mean in the long run.
    RonHebbard and NateTheRiddler like this.

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