Intel Lighting Rental Charges

Hi All,

My theatre has recently upgraded its lighting system and we were able to purchase some intels - Studio Spot 575's, ColorMerges, and ColorCommands. It is now my task to research and develop a rental fee structure for our clients. I know different areas of the country/world warrent different pricing, but 50% of the battle is figuring out something that will work incrementally (ie the Merges and Commands).

Any help/ideas gladly appreciated.

Todd Dupree
High Point Theatre
High Point, NC
Well, the best anwer to that is, how many clients will use them and the cost of the fixtures. I was in a venue a few months back that wanted me to use their Mac 2000's... they had four of them for 200 each. It was cheaper for me to bring in my own then to use theirs. I tend to think that between 100-150 a day per fixture is reasonable. I mean, they come into the venue and the fixtures are all set to go. You might want to check with local rental companies and see what they charge. Just keep in mind that yours will be ready to go vs. if you rent them, you got to deal with that whole prep and hang stuff. I would have a daily rate, a weekly rate and a monthly rate. You want to keep your prices competitive but not high enough that it will be cheaper for a client to bring in his own lights.

Hope that helps.
I was in a similar situation to yours a few months ago. We just opened our 1500 seat theatre and we have studio spots & colors (575 CMY). We thought about breaking down the fixtures (at least the intels) for rental, but we found that the standard for auditorium/theatre lighting charges are included in the rental price.

So what this means is the cost of using the house lighting fixtures (conventional & intel) are integrated into the cost of renting the facility. The only additional lighting costs we have are: Operator (moving lights around, changing lenses, etc.) & Designer hourly fees; and haze fluid charges.

It's not really practical in most situations to break down rental prices by the equipment when it's all part of a system. I mean, are you going to charge for the use of your DMX cable? Nope.

Look at lighting the same as sound. You don't (normally) charge per mic, per cable, per channel, etc. You pay for the facility, which includes the use of the house sound system.

Does this make sense? Let me know if you need more info, we seem to be ia similar situations.

By the way.... I love my Studio Spots & Colors! ZW
But please take into consideration that lighting and sound are two very different things. Mics don't generally degenerate as time goes on whereas an intelligent's lamp only has so many hours of lamp life. And an intelligent light's lamp can cost hundreds of dollars. Charging a flat rate would cost someone to lose money in a big way because either you are not getting enough out of your rental fee to supply lamps, or they are paying for things that they aren't even using. You can't charge someone for fog fluid if they are not using a fog machine. When you have a contract for someone to fill out when renting a space, try having a checklist. That way you can keep track of things that they are using; like gobos, fog, gels, intels, conventionals, followspots, etc... I would have each item cost a fixed rate per hour, and use that spreadsheet to calculate how much it will cost for them to use the space once you know what they are working with. And usually I would never let anyone bring in their own lighting equipment unless there was some kind of agreement between them and the Executive Director, TD, etc... Mostly for liability reasons such as accidents, theft, fire, etc; but also, it's always a good idea to know what's being hung in your theatre even though they are paying for it.
The industry standard is not to charge per item if you are renting out a theatre or auditorium. Your right, intellegent lighting costs more then sound, tahts why you need to figure out what your costs are ie: bulbs (bulbs for studio colors are $150); gels, etc. and figure that into there fee for the use of the facility.

Not only is this method practical, it's normal.
You both have good and valid points. What I have done is come up with the price of what an average show would cost. Keep in mind that I run a mobile DJ & Lighting business. Now shows will vary:

Some are 5 hours, others 6 hours,
Some will use smoke/bubbles,
Lighting applications will vary,
Venues will vary (increasing bump in / bump out times),
and the list goes on.

If I were to sit down and work out every variable, it would also add to my costs. Therefore, providing my services at a standard, competitive rate (in my opinion will balance out the cost in the long run).

It is a case of what I lose on the swings, I gain on the roundabouts.

Just what I do.
zackw250 said:
Look at lighting the same as sound. You don't (normally) charge per mic, per cable, per channel, etc. You pay for the facility, which includes the use of the house sound system.

There is a huge difference between mixing a band and a seminar. Why should the motivational speaker (grand curtain down, downstage only, podium, 1 mic) pay for the ballyhoos your mac2ks put on when the Rolling Stones come to town. IMO, you should be paying more if you want more than just a podium and microphone. It's not just hitting play, we have ride your levels when you suddenly decide to move your presentation in front of the left main. I mean there is a huge difference between designing/hanging/programming for a dance show vs. bringing up "preset 1" for the basic stage wash.

General fees cost everyone big money. My auditorium has a general fee with only so much included (basic wash, about 1-2 wireless HH usually, podium). If additional mics, lights, video, rigging, etc are needed the price goes up. But there are packages and things can be compromised. But you aren't going to get away with paying for the parenting tips seminar when requesting to compress a drumset. Other include powerpoint presentations, providing laptops, projection screens, band shell, etc. I mean it's quite a bit of work to put a band shell for one small concert and put it away later, no wonder there is such a high charge for it.

It's a business, work is work, you gotta make money. And plus it's high disrespectful to the entire industry when you don't charge reasonably. There are dedicated people who work their tails off for every event, they charge what they have to. Honest business is the way to go. Charging close to nothing hurts everyone (including yourself: your working more/dollar), it puts people out of business. Making the local industry unhealthy, monopolizing isn't fair.
I never said that we include every light or every piece of equipment or every labor hour into our fee. But the basic "house lighting set" is included int he rental of teh auditorium. Any moveing or programming of lights are an additional charge.

What I am saying is this....

If you have a motivational speaker that rents your theatre:

He pays 700 dollars for the use of the theatre. That includes

The Stage
The Podium
The Sound System
The Lights
Use of Curtains/Fly System

But he has to pay hourly for a sound engineer, light programmer/operator, etc. So if he needs to program all the intellys for a musical piece during his speach, then he pays the extra hourly fee for the programming. The base charge for the facility doesn't change.

The costs of bulbs, gels, cables, etc. you recover from the lighting system portion of the cost of the facility (the 700). Making money and paying your people comes from the hourly pay of the staff.

Does this make sense? So your right, if he requires 1 scene with a basic wash and a couple ellipsoidals, he pays less (cause he only pays a few hours for a light operator) but if he wants to use all the intellies to a timecoded version of Britany Spears, he has to pay all the extra hourly charges for the light programmer.
Oops – I may have inflamed the topic here in possibly not being as clear as I could have been in my earlier post.

When I refer to a standard show – this is pretty much the same equipment set up but there are often minor differences. For example, in a small venue, I may leave out a bar of 56’s and add in another FX light. Or perhaps someone may want to have a guest who wants to sing a song.

My reference was in relation to my business and I neglected to say that we do have different packages that take into account different services. However, for the majority, it is to provide DJ/MC/Lightinf for Weddings. Service and repairs oviously depend upong what the materials cost me, plus labor.

I sometimes forget that the theatre world (in fact the world outside of my own company) has a lot more variables and therefore a lot more costs involved. Thus, theatres would also need to have several packages for this to be a cost effective and viable method.

My point was that I have found it better to do it this way for my own business. Although, it was a rushed post and in hindsight, I should have put more attention and care into it. Perhaps I should have just shut up :roll:
Thanks for the input everyone - keep it coming!! With a fresh system of lights/dimmers/control, we have instituted a two-tier 'lighting fee' based on client needs. We deliberately left out the intels and the fancy stuff so that we continue to be affordable to our clients that don't need all the toys. One situation that came up with the intels is that a client could rent the lights cheaper out-of-town and thought we charged too much - my opinion, as Chris' above, is that they are getting value out of having them inhouse and ready to go. One of my issues is do I rent a system of ColorCommands/Merges, or rent them per head?? Thanks again for the discussion!

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