Our new to us space

Lasermike

Active Member
And a bit about myself.

When I first began with our Children's Thater group, we were in an old school building. We shared it with 3 or 4 other groups including a local theater, and a local food assistance operation. We lost that building when the city found it too expensive to retrofit. We then moved to a school attached to a church. It's not the best, scheduling is a hassle as not one of the people in charge use the same calendar app and a theater with a giant stained glass window opposite the stage has lighting issues. That and they claimed that they didn't know we didn't have heat over the Christmas break last year. 55° isn't so bad if you are a moving child but for this 61 year old, it's way too cold for indoors.

Our past directing manager was a theater kid going way back and had an in at the local community college. Turns out they have a space that hasn't been used for "10 years" We had a chance to take a tour last week and to say it will be a challenge might be an understatment. It's a dodecagon or 12 sided room with an odd stage layout. Rather than try to describe it, I've done a quick sketch. The room is about 60' across, the center 12agon is about 25' across. Notice the stage is broken into sections? Turns out 1, 2, and 3 are on jack screws. They are currently at 2' above the floor but can be lowered individually and I assume to any height between 2' and floor level. I was told they don't work and to be honest, I'm afraid to test it out since if it gets stuck, it's on us. And all of the walls are painted white.

The is a lighting grid, it's hard to tell if it's wired back to the booth or not, I do know there is a 7 gang box and a 5 gang box on each side low in the wall near the fire doors. Some are either 2 or 3 pole twist lock and others are standard 5-15 receptacles. This is a quote from our LD:
The lighting that I could see hanging in the space, I believe should be adequate to provide good proper illumination for people standing on the "LIFT STAGE" Meaning the roughly circular area of the stage - what we started calling the "12Gon".

It will not light anyone standing upstage or on the sides...
Furthermore - it won't offer much in terms of CHANGES. Its not really adequate to light Beauty and the Beast...

The project as I see it - is to create a practical and versatile rep plot for the space.
The basic infrastructure appears to be in place.

Below is the equipment that I think would be GREAT!
Existing Console, ETC Express
Existing Dimmers , Genesis (36) 1.2k dimmers (is what i THINK we have)
In terms of Lighting Instruments...
I propose a total of:

  • 48 575w Source Four ERS units
    • 30 for face light (15 areas / from 2 directions)
    • 9 for Diagonal Back lights (great for isolation)
    • 4 for a template (gobo) wash
    • 4 for refocusable specials
    • 1 for the IQ unit that is already in the space.
  • 15 575w Source Four PAR units
    • This would expand the existing 6 down lights to 15
  • 10 LED BACK LIGHTS
    • This I am hoping will a way we can use the to LED Units I believe that HMT already owns.
  • 8 (TBD LED Units) to color the Hard Flats - that don’t currently exist - but if they are made, it would be appropriate to light them.

This list INCLUDES what was hanging in the space.
11 S4 Units
6 S4 Pars
and one IQ unit.
And there were a few units locked in the cage backstage, mostly looked in disrepair.

REGARDLESS of when or whether we can acquire any additional lighting instruments The next step on the lighting project is going to need to be an ELECTRICS CALL to map and trouble shoot the existing system.
I will need at least one day with at least one experienced theatrical electrician to help me create:

  • A Grid Plan
  • A Circuit Schedule
  • and to make sure everything works.
After that we can create a plan for the next step.

The grid is made with what I call Unistrut, the lights are hung with a regular strut nut. There is no provision for soft goods other than some scary looking pipe hung from the grid with tie line. That's coming down soon. Rather than curtains, I heard talk of flats so it looks like I'll be busy in the shop fairly soon. As far as sound, there are 4 speakers hanging from the ceiling but we have no idea if there is a board and what kind of amplification there might be. We have a board and amplified speakers so that shouldn't be an issue. I'm looking forward to exploring both the electrical and the mechanical aspects of this space. The crawl space under the stage is filled with treasures. The LD was pretty excited by the top hats made from actual coffee cans. I rather liked to 20' long oars, That and all of the line shafts and gearboxes that make the stage move. I did figure out why the wheelchair access elevator isn't working and plan to repair and then train others to prevent accidents. It's not as well guarded as I'd like but does have a current inspection placard.

Any guesses as to why the odd shape and why the sections can be raised and lowered? My guess is choir, no need for risers if the floor itself moves.

As for myself, I have a very old degree in electronics and currently work as a maintenance technician for one of the larger backing mix companies. My day can be anything from changing oil in a gearbox to editing the PLC logic that controls the automated batch process. I love to fix broken things and teach others how to use them. I am an amateur extra. I spent 6 years in a steel mill as the only electronics tech and 6 years as a maintenance tech in the compact disc industry. I hadn't been in a theater at all that i can remember until my son was in Madagascar. The poor guy building the set was working by himself on a set designed to work both for Madagascar and Urine Town. Silly me asked if he needed help. That was 7 years ago. I'm now variously the TD, the lead carpenter or just sets and am on the board.

Michael
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Gage

Active Member
I definitely think you are on the right track. The only thing that worries me is the ETC express. Even though they are absolute tanks, even the best examples are starting to show their age. Depending on the model, you may run into channel limitations if you want to patch all fixtures (including LEDs) separately. (also having something like a color wheel/palette on a more modern console can save a good bit of time and make programming more approachable for newer techs). You may also want to look into specialty strut nuts for hanging fixtures from the unistrut (they do exist, and are amazing). You also may want to check what you have available for power assuming the genesis dimmers aren't already installed in the space, even with the s4 fixtures lamped at 575w, you are still looking at almost 50kw for the whole setup. It's definitely a challenging space, but I could see it working out.
 

RickR

Well-Known Member
An added thought to the above strut nuts: the great lighting based ones seem expensive when you have so many needs. There are strut bolts that can make your life easier.
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TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Sections 1, 2, and 3 all down = flat floor, set up chairs any way you like. Section 3 down - "in the round" presentation. They can 'stair step' for multi level use.

As for the 12 sided structure... I'm not finding online confirmation of my speculation... but who used this space 80-100 years ago? My guesses were 'secret fraternal organization' or 'lodge' (Royal Order of Water Buffalo, anyone?). Other possibilities included faith-based users or some technical/scientific/mathematical society (the dodecahedron shape).

As you excavate through the various strata of occupancy you may find some clues.

When can you post some pics? Do you have an iPhone with LIDAR?
 

Lasermike

Active Member
To be honest, I never even thought about power requirements, I was more concerned about the 10’ peri and the large panel gap on the one side.

It’s funny that in all the years and at least several hundred feet of strut I’ve installed I don’t think I’ve seen an integral stud. That would making hanging lights so much easier.

I like the secret society angle. While my iPhone 11 lacks LiDAR, our MD’s husband is an architect and gave it a go with his fancy iPad. Be kind, it was his first try ; )
https://poly.cam/capture/19F1FD89-234C-4FE2-91D0-B13FBDFDAE68
Spherical photos at https://photos.app.goo.gl/9uE6N69kBnQMFP988

Michael
 

gafftaper

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This is such a cool project! I mean the building is insane, but for childrens theater that's great. You'll find ways over time to turn the quirks into assets that set your company apart. Everyone loves good theater in a weird building! I know it's terrifying but I would be all over trying to get those moving floor sections serviced and functional. It would be great part of the quirk to be able to use them and alter your stage regularly.
 

Lasermike

Active Member
@gafftaper Insane buildings seem to be part and parcel of Pacific Northwest history in the 60's and 70's. Think Sunset magazine. This is the southern half of building 4 at Highline CC, it may have been built somewhere between 1964 and 1967. The date codes on the gear boxes imply 1969.

I've not had a chance to return to the site yet, we are in rehearsal for Beauty and the Beast at our present site and I see the layout taped onto the gym floor. The director has plans for creative use of the the 8' periaktoi and the panels from the 10' periaktoi for blocking. We have a bunch of littles in this cast, they need a reliable place to hide. At least it will be hard for them to wander off, back stage is one big room.

Today's project is the rose and it's dropping petals. I've got a good handle on the mechanics and our props guy is fantastic so it should come out OK. I'll post the results in props.

Michael
 

gafftaper

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@gafftaper Insane buildings seem to be part and parcel of Pacific Northwest history in the 60's and 70's. Think Sunset magazine. This is the southern half of building 4 at Highline CC, it may have been built somewhere between 1964 and 1967. The date codes on the gear boxes imply 1969.

I've not had a chance to return to the site yet, we are in rehearsal for Beauty and the Beast at our present site and I see the layout taped onto the gym floor. The director has plans for creative use of the the 8' periaktoi and the panels from the 10' periaktoi for blocking. We have a bunch of littles in this cast, they need a reliable place to hide. At least it will be hard for them to wander off, back stage is one big room.

Today's project is the rose and it's dropping petals. I've got a good handle on the mechanics and our props guy is fantastic so it should come out OK. I'll post the results in props.

Michael
I started out at Shoreline C.C. and the campus was built about the same time. It's a hexagon that seats about 400. Also our mascot was the "Samurai" and the student union was the P.U.B. (Pagoda Union Building). They Changed mascots in the 90's but the buildings are still weirdly 1960's racist impressions of what Japanese art looks like.

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Lasermike

Active Member
I got to explore the booth a bit yesterday.

I see an ETC express and 3 Genesis dimmer racks, two of which are in a welded steel frame attached to the back wall of the booth and the third is sitting on the floor. There is a panel with coaxial sockets and a pile of matching patch cables with stage pin plugs on the other end. There is a panel with 6 stage pin sockets and is labeled "ND". I'm thinking it's relay outputs but don't see a data cable back to the board so I've no idea how they are triggered. My assumption is DMX from board to dimmers -stage pin on dimmers to coaxial on patch panel - patch panel to both NEMA 5-15 and twist lock sockets in the grid, at the base of the walls stage left and right and a snake that is hanging down to floor level up left. I'll grab pictures Monday.

We hung 12 Chauvet SlimPAR t6BT's using the mildly scary A frame ladder with vertical extension. What are the odds that the ETC can control them? I have no idea what the LD has planned, he's in LA for the week. We do have a tiny board to run the SlimPAR's but it would sure be handy to run the SlimPARS from the same board as the big lights.

It's starting to look like theater, which is good, tech starts Monday. Hopefully, the church we are sharing space with starts putting their stuff back stage next week!

Michael
 

Gage

Active Member
We hung 12 Chauvet SlimPAR t6BT's using the mildly scary A frame ladder with vertical extension. What are the odds that the ETC can control them?
As long as you are using DMX (and not the built-in bluetooth those slimpars have). You should be able to plug them into the console, as long as you have some spare channels to dedicate to them. Express(ion) has some provisions for controlling multi-channel fixtures, but its not really geared toward LED or additive color mixing in general. I would just patch them as normal and control the red green and blue channels separately. This will be even easier if you are using the slimpars as a single color wash, that way you could address all of them the same.
 

microstar

Well-Known Member
I got to explore the booth a bit yesterday.

I see an ETC express and 3 Genesis dimmer racks, two of which are in a welded steel frame attached to the back wall of the booth and the third is sitting on the floor. There is a panel with coaxial sockets and a pile of matching patch cables with stage pin plugs on the other end. There is a panel with 6 stage pin sockets and is labeled "ND". I'm thinking it's relay outputs but don't see a data cable back to the board so I've no idea how they are triggered. My assumption is DMX from board to dimmers -stage pin on dimmers to coaxial on patch panel - patch panel to both NEMA 5-15 and twist lock sockets in the grid, at the base of the walls stage left and right and a snake that is hanging down to floor level up left. I'll grab pictures Monday.

We hung 12 Chauvet SlimPAR t6BT's using the mildly scary A frame ladder with vertical extension. What are the odds that the ETC can control them? I have no idea what the LD has planned, he's in LA for the week. We do have a tiny board to run the SlimPAR's but it would sure be handy to run the SlimPARS from the same board as the big lights.

It's starting to look like theater, which is good, tech starts Monday. Hopefully, the church we are sharing space with starts putting their stuff back stage next week!

Michael
RE the "ND" stage pin outlets.....at the age of this install, very doubtful they are relay controlled. Probably connected to circuit breakers somewhere and hot all the time.
 

Lasermike

Active Member
@Gage, we have never even tried the bluetooth, I can't imagine it being reliable enough to meet our needs. Good to know that there may be a way to use the ETC.

@microstar, I'm thinking along the same lines, I didn't see anything that looked like a relay control, just the junction box with the stage pin sockets and it's not deep enough for relays or contactors.

The house lights are run from a lutron dimmer box mounted between the two windows. There are standard light switches back stage for on off plus one switch at the entrance. This means we can dim to off from the booth which is handy.

Michael
 

Lasermike

Active Member
I’ll grab pictures Monday. The plugs look vaguely like a welding cable plug or powerCON when viewed from the side. The outer diameter looks to be copper and there is a hole in the center like a powerCON, thus coaxial. I don’t remember seeing any latching mechanism nor bayonets for a twist lock.

My google-fu has failed to find anything even remotely the same.

Michael
 

gafftaper

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Don't dismiss the built in Chauvet "D-fi" wireless DMX without fully exploring it as an option. Yes, it's a DJ quality solution but you aren't talking about a huge space and it might be a really easy solution.
 

Gage

Active Member
I’ll grab pictures Monday. The plugs look vaguely like a welding cable plug or powerCON when viewed from the side. The outer diameter looks to be copper and there is a hole in the center like a powerCON, thus coaxial. I don’t remember seeing any latching mechanism nor bayonets for a twist lock.

My google-fu has failed to find anything even remotely the same.

Michael
Could it be some sort of patch panel? The picture will be the final say, but this is my best guess right now.
 

gafftaper

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I’ll grab pictures Monday. The plugs look vaguely like a welding cable plug or powerCON when viewed from the side. The outer diameter looks to be copper and there is a hole in the center like a powerCON, thus coaxial. I don’t remember seeing any latching mechanism nor bayonets for a twist lock.

My google-fu has failed to find anything even remotely the same.

Michael
Socapex?

220px-Socapex_19pin.jpg
 

Gage

Active Member
Don't dismiss the built in Chauvet "D-fi" wireless DMX without fully exploring it as an option. Yes, it's a DJ quality solution but you aren't talking about a huge space and it might be a really easy solution.
I'm pretty sure the SlimPAR t6BT's are true Bluetooth, with app control. They don't seem to have built-in D-fi unfortunately.

This makes much more sense than some sort of patch panel, I now realize what's being described is very likely a socapex fan-out with 2p&g on the other end.
 

gafftaper

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I'm pretty sure the SlimPAR t6BT's are true Bluetooth, with app control. They don't seem to have built-in D-fi unfortunately.
Bummer, wrong SlimPAR!

Socapex, or some off brand multi-cable makes sense. Hopefully the ports are distributed and located somewhere useful.

Back to the DMX. I've seen two solutions. If you can find a way to get a single line out from the back of the console, run it somewhere central in your lighting rig then install a splitter there to branch out.

If you can't get a line out of the booth then a wireless DMX on the back of the console to a centrally located receiver then branch out wired from there.
 

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