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Inventory and Cataloging Instruments for a Community Theatre

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by drawstuf99, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. drawstuf99

    drawstuf99 Active Member

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    Hello!
    I'm just wanting to get some opinions from other designers and lighting technicians out there on what is easiest and most helpful when you get a lighting inventory for a new space you'll be working in. The situation is this...

    After having been the lighting designer for a community theatre for about two years now, I'm going off to college. Since it's such a small crew of people at the theatre, the LD typically hangs and focuses everything themselves, so there isn't someone who really knows exactly what they have and how it works on hand all the time. So, I'm wanting to leave the artistic director and other folks at the theatre a detailed inventory of instruments, cable, accessories...etc. so that whoever they hire as designer for their upcoming shows can have something on paper, as well as for liability purposes--everyone will know what they're supposed to have so gear doesn't walk.

    What are some things that you guys would like to see included in an inventory catalog if you were to come into this position? What sorts of details?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. tech2000

    tech2000 Active Member

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    In the inventory catalog (I've been putting these together for sound lights etc. for my high school theater) you should put the quantity of each item, the manufacturer, what the item is, model number. If you have time, put down if any of the equipment has issues/needs to be fixed. I'm going through my school's equipment and writing down serial numbers, but you don't have to include it.
    Depends on how detailed you want it to be.
     
  3. IlyaSmirnov

    IlyaSmirnov Member

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    I've been doing the same thing - serial numbers are practically non-existent on our instruments, though, just a note.

    If you have time and want to, you could also make note of any instruments that might be hung and plugged in right now, so you can find what's where at the time. If you want to be really detailed, you could also record individual items, but that's a lot of extra work (personal experience). Mostly depends on how much information you want to leave for the other techs.

    I began doing one for my school at the very end of the last school year, maybe it'll give you an idea or two:
    Theatre inventory
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2008
  4. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    That website is pretty cool!

    Make sure that your lists are organized clearly. Be sure that if you do it in a non-web base, have it also saved as a pdf to send out as needed, because the person you send it to might not have Excel (or whatever you do it in.)
     
  5. tech2000

    tech2000 Active Member

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    Ilya, it looks like you inventory each of your lighting instruments separately. How do you tag each of the instruments to identify them? and where would you put the tag on the instrument so it doesn't burn or fall off from the heat of use.
     
  6. Clifford

    Clifford Active Member

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    It looks like it's by serial and/or ID number. For example, B5 has "B5" painted on the yoke. This is a good system if your lights are so labelled. Many venues don't individually label them (we don't at our theatre), so this wouldn't be as practical as a simple number count, even though the latter is less accurate.
     
  7. IlyaSmirnov

    IlyaSmirnov Member

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    These numbers seem to be from an earlier inventory many years ago - this is mostly on our old Fresnels and the occasional ellipsoidal. For the time being I've been writing the ID number (the order in which I inventoried them) on a small sticker and attaching it to the yoke near the clamp - in the least hot place I could find. When school starts up again I'm going to convince our TD to get some small barcoded stickers printed on vinyl, or some other permanent material - I'll post a sample one momentarily.
     
  8. IlyaSmirnov

    IlyaSmirnov Member

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    Here's a sample of what I'm planning to put on all of our instruments, if/when the school district approves it: (bigger version if you click it)

    [media]http://ilya.projectstin.org/theatreBarcodes/genericLabel.jpg[/media]

    My primary goal is to make an inventory that, if people update it, will let any the crew find any type of instrument and its location, or to find what instruments are on a particular batten without necessarily having to be in the theatre, or without having to search through our light closet. Any thoughts, on this, by the way? Hope this helps!
     
  9. tech2000

    tech2000 Active Member

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    That would be nice.
    Buy a cheap barcode scanner and use cheap barcode inventory software and it could make keeping track of things a lot easier.
     
  10. Clifford

    Clifford Active Member

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    It's quite an idea. If I didn't already have a paper inventory and if I had money, I could go for something like that for our theatre.
     
  11. tech2000

    tech2000 Active Member

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    It would make inventory a lot faster just to scan something and keep going.
    I asked my director to get barcodes and she said no. Would have been a lot easier for inventory but we don't have money and we have more important things to spend money on.
     
  12. Wolf

    Wolf Active Member

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    So first of all I think any theatre should have an up to date inventory that can be sent via PDF to anyone. Here is what I think is nice to receive before getting to a theatre (this is equipment only that im going to talk about not a plot)

    - A brake down of each type of light -- ETC Source Four, 26*, 575w - total 6
    -- Altman, 6" Fresnel - total 8
    So on keeping within the same brand and type starts either with the l larger beam or smaller beam and keep that same scheme for all.

    - Cable make a main group like Stage Pin then brake it down into the lengths 5', 10', 25' / same with XLR cable but pins rather than lengths


    - Accessories do things like barn doors, top hats

    - Gobo thats going to be alot of work there are several ways to do it / write down the manufacture and the number and the size -/- or write down a general statement like 5 tree gobos, 3 star

    - Lamps just what type and how many and wattage

    - Gel a complete list starting with the manufacture then gel number then how many cuts and what size or if an uncut sheet
    - this go's with accessories and gel but color scollers what brand then - what the gel is in the string


    do NOT put any broken equipment on the inventory list if you fill a need to included it make an entire new list for fallty equpiment

    Hope this helps
     
  13. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I would have to agree with your director. Barcoded inventory is great for rental houses where the gear may leave the theater, but I think it is not required for most theaters. Individual numbering is good if you want to catalog repairs. If you are doing inventory for in house purposes which is what it sounds like you are doing, then this is my suggestion:

    Ellipse: if it has separate barrels then keep that count separate from the body.
    PAR: S4 variety needs to have count of lenses, standard should include lamp count.
    Fresnel, Scoop, Strip, Cyc, etc. should just include count.

    Accessories: gel frames, gobo holders, top hats, side arms, etc. just need a count by type.
    Cables: count by type and length.
    Expendables: tape, gel, etc. should be internal inventory only, never for rental use. Gel should be full sheet only unless you keep unused cut gel. Once it's used, you can keep it, but don't count on it as part of your inventory.

    Just my $.02
     
  14. tech2000

    tech2000 Active Member

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    Inventorying cable will be a nightmare at my school...
     
  15. Goph704

    Goph704 Active Member

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    I'd suggest adding Lamp type, and Perhaps the size of the color holder if the instrument has one. Also it never hurts to leave a littel room for notes (ie- Broke needs Fixing) and things of the like.
    When I work on inventories also I to a total sheet in the back so I have all the information for one specific instrument if I need it, but I also have a single page sheet to send to a designer that is quick and easily referenced. I've discovered recently that some designers do not have the ability to count. They can do complex Math equations in their heads, but counting kind of escapes them. You might want to hit up the USITT sites and see how their inventories are stacking up right now. Just a thought. if you want to get really intense check out the photometric hand book second editions, which is as far as I can tell the largest lighting inventory on the planet.
    -Goph.
     
  16. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Here is a vote for simple counts of fixtures, its enough for designers and if the gear never leaves the theatre it has no need to be individually id'd.

    The place I work for is transitioning to a barcode based inventory tracking system, and let me tell you hunting down a 25' stagepin with ID# 105532 in a big pile because the scanner misread it gets old fast. Very fast.
     
  17. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I am not crazy about the numbered instrument inventory, it goes with me along the same realm of labeling the degree of a S4 on the yoke. You need to have an inventory, but it just needs to be counts. Lets get real, you swap out barrels, base caps, and everything else in between every show. There is no point in tracking serial numbers, if something is broken throw NFG on it and throw it on the bench. No instrument is going to have the same parts, or remotely the same parts after a few years of use. My feeling is label your meat racks or whatever you use for storage with how many of "bla" fits on it, and thats how to check to see if you have everything. Now, for cable, thats a different thing. Having numbers on cable is great for tracing runs, if both ends are labeled.
     
  18. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Ok... maybe NOT to send out to renters/guest designers, but perhaps keep date of last lamp replacement and date of last bench focus and cleaning? That way you can have an Idea of when something needs to be done. (Unless, of course, you do all focusing and cleaning on a regular, set basis.) It would also help you keep track of spare lamp inventory.
     
  19. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

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    At most Community Theatres, I could see keeping track of lamps becoming a nightmare. No one's ever going to keep track of every lamp they replace, especially in emergency situations. I think it's just one of those things that those after you may slack off on, especially if they're tight on time and not getting paid. All it takes is one person to forget to catalog a few lamp change events and all your hard work is screwed up.
     
  20. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Ten years ago when I was in high school, I really liked the notion of being able to identify each fixture uniquely, a numbered inventory. F32 was Fresnel number 32 which was marked on the unit, and so on. It's a great idea for being able to say "unit F32 has a bad ceramic" and to positively identify which unit that is, and to say "unit E21 is in the air here".

    But it doesn't work, not in my experience. I will agree with the guys who say to just do a simple count. I don't know how many times I've swapped out barrels and clamps and pretty much anything else in a fixture. If a unit has something go wrong and has to go on the bench, it gets a piece of tape or paper reading "NFG" and some short description of the problem. Or it just gets fixed right away.

    Repair tags might not be a bad idea, those little cardboard-and-string-loop tags from the store, to describe what's wrong with a unit when it does into the Fix Me pile. Tracking relampings and all is a silly thing to do as well. When a lamp goes out, change it. Keep enough lamps on hand at all times.

    The simpler the inventory, the better:
    Altman 360Q-6x9 - 12
    ...
    All 360Qs lamped 575W (750W max)
    ...
    6" colorframe - 400
    ...

    And if something don't work, by golly fix it, or take it off the Available Inventory.

    :)
     

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