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Question for High Schools: Deeper apron or deeper US?

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by BillConnerFASTC, Apr 19, 2017.

  1. TNasty

    TNasty Active Member

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    You couldn't have said it better. This is just like the hoists that I mentioned earlier- great for putting up new equipment and using moving lights (no worries about bringing equipment through a crawlspace, or hanging something worth more than $1000 while you run the risk of dropping it 30-50 feet), but a pain to aim and focus anything (observe, lower, do some dance to appease your respective greater power while it's lowering, adjust fixture with only a slight clue of how your change is going to appear, raise, repeat). Thank god that the custodial staff have let me use the Genie lift as long as my supervisor's on site. Not to mention that our over-stage battens are dead hung, and that the classic cherry picker is scarier than climbing a rather thin utility pole during a hurricane.

    Sadly, whoever planned the rigging didn't take into account that the vertical pipes on the walls were going right next to seats, too far away from the isle that stretches across the auditorium for the Genie to safely reach, and right over a slope. We're just lucky that I was able to borrow my dad's extending Werner ladder (which just hardly reached at its longest state, and had to have a chunk of a 2x4 under it to keep it level), I swear, everybody on the technical crew will lay a curse on anybody that touches those lights.

    So yes, access is everything. Any apparatus or rigging that will grant easy(er) access to fixtures and mounted objects will be greatly appreciated by any school (and some professionals too).
     
  2. JonCarter

    JonCarter Active Member

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    Yes, the fore stage should be as "lightable" as the area above the P/L, but it usually can't be due to the differences in available mounting positions. And I think in a decent looking house you can't have overhead capabilities equal to those available on-stage. Balboa.jpg

    And as to space, no matter if you had the prosc. width x depth to cyc times 6 (equal to it SL & SR, 3 x it up stage), it wouldn't be enough. As the saying goes, "You-know-what expands to fill all available space."
     
  3. np18358

    np18358 Active Member

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    I agree, US is better. No one has brought up difficulty of sidelighting dance DS of the proscenium. You either end up with no side light, and this huge apron that is unused, or you have to see the instruments.
     
  4. AudJ

    AudJ Active Member

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    I agree with upstage also, but I am curious about the final use of the room. If there are concert band/ chorus/ orchestras commonly performing there (without sound reinforcement), it is acoustically desireable to move them forward of a proscenium as much as possible. Of course there are other ways to handle acoustics while keeping the added depth upstage.
     
  5. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Well, starting on four simultaneously, but it was a private HS that occasioned this specific post. I think a good shell will satisfy acoustics. Only 1 of 4 appear to have any interest in planning for strings. The rest is not so hard.

    Convincing everyone to plan for shell tower storage is underway.
     
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  6. TheaterEd

    TheaterEd Renaissance Man Fight Leukemia

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    OMG THIS! If there was a planned space in my last theater for the freaking acoustic towers I certainly don't know where it was. They were a freaking nightmare to work around. The worst part is, had they been 2' shorter, or the loading door 2' higher they could have very easily just gone across the hall to the shop....

    Almost as bad as my current space where they made the doorways in the back hall too narrow to get the grand piano through, so we have to pull a door off it's hinges every time we need it for a concert (8-10 times per year)
     
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  7. Scarrgo

    Scarrgo Active Member

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    Or a doorway that is 7'-11 1/2'' wide, so you cant roll an 8' platform from the shop to the stage, oh, and only 8' high...what a pain...
     
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  8. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Shop to stage, along with a loading dock/area to stage has a lot of issues. My undergraduate theatre had two 6-0 x 6-8 doors ans a short corridor between shop and stage and didn't seem to prevent us from doing anything. That said, unless shopp is specifically for an active wagon use, I tend to fall in the 10 X 12 to 12 X 14 range for shop to stage. The problem becomes if noise isolation is a requirement - simultaneous use of stage and shop - and then that size gets really expensive very quickly. I can do an 8-0 x 8-0 door with good attenuation for not much more than 6-0 x 6-8 standard double doors. Loading docks into building - 8-0 X 12-0 should be big enough for anything off a truck, as long as the path is more or less straight. My basic criteria is that you be able to get a car on stage and a 21' piece of pipe. That covers most challenges.

    And how do you weigh a bigger door versus a couple of linesets or another dozen lights, the kind of choices I influence every day. Which is why I ask here.

    What's hard is when I'm brought in and there is a plan with the auditorium and shop plunk in the middle if a huge building and completely land locked. Then not only is it doors, but getting major parts of the building redesigned.
     
  9. Scarrgo

    Scarrgo Active Member

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    10x12 even a 10x14 shop to stage doors would be great, and also please have at least 10'-12' ceilings as well as all HVAC and lighting above said 10'-12' height, when they added on a nice larger shop, lights and ceiling were nice and hi, than the put all the HVAC at 8', and I asked and asked for a ceiling exhaust fan, but never got it...at least I got a larger shop....

    I would think being brought in after the major parts of a plan would be very frustrating, I can only guess some of the horror stories you must have....

    Sean...
     
  10. TheaterEd

    TheaterEd Renaissance Man Fight Leukemia

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    I tend to lean toward infrastructure that I can't change later. So if I can get the right sized door but it's going to cost me 5 par cans. I'll take it. I can always expand my inventory, but until we buy a more narrow grand piano (not in the foreseeable future) what should be a 5 minute unskilled task is a two man, and half an hour ordeal.

    Shoot, I'd give up my clear com system if it meant that the space was designed with a ramp from the audience to the stage. The fact that my wheelchair bound performers have to enter from the back while their classmates walk up through the aisles really gets under my skin.
     
  11. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Yeah but a 6' door lets you get most grand pianos through - maybe not every bosendorfer. The problem with high schools in the US is that when they build, they have money. After that, until the next bond issue in 10-25 years, zippo. It is unfortunately a now or never situation. I've helped with replacement schools where the one being torn down had dimmer rack space for "future" modules, never added. With few exceptions I have found spending any money for preparing future equipment of almost no value. I don't think that's good necessarily but I'm not going to change the way school facilities are funded.

    An accessible route from audience to stage is mandated in US by ADA and building codes. Your facility is apparently not compliant with the laws of the land.

    PS - Just to clarify - you only have to have an accessible route if there is otherwise a route. Stairs from row 1 to stage are not required but if provided, someone in a wheelchair must be able to do same without leaving the auditorium.
     
  12. Ford

    Ford Sr Product Manager, Chauvet Professional

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    Hi Bill,
    Jumping back to the beginning of the conversation....
    For a Highschool, that may have a theatrical show being built upstage, and a choir rehearsal, or assembly taking place DS of the main, an apron depth of 10-12' or be nice (in my opinion). Any less, and the apron is less usable as it's own space. So the theatre is less versatile. If you go much larger, then it becomes either wasted space, or difficult to control the lighting for (you may have issues with sound support, as well).
    Again, this is just my opinion.

    When it comes to lighting positions for a greater than 8' deep apron, you will likely sacrifice the ability to do effective side lighting there. However, that does not mean that you won't be able to light it well enough for most applications.
    At Cornell, we ended up hanging a fixed electric which was permanently suspended just inside the proscenium arch. This was used primarily for top lighting (wash lights, and gobo washes) for the apron, and worked very well for that application. Between that pipe, and our Box-Booms, we were able to effectively light the apron without using the catwalks (so it was neither flatly lit, nor did performers at the DS edge have "raccoon eyes.") It has the disadvantage of being directly in sight lines (explain that this pipe will be visible 100% of the time), and being only accessible by a lift (possibly an issue for a high school).

    Again, your mileage may vary, but you may be able to find a happy medium with your architect friend.
     
  13. TNasty

    TNasty Active Member

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    Amen to that.
    One night when I was up really late (you know, where you start to think on a different level- your true genius comes out), a bunch of the choices the contractors made for my school's auditorium didn't make any sense started to all come together.
    First off, who the hell uses NEMA twist lock connectors (sorry if I offended any of my fellow twist lock users)? I had read a while before about how there's really no way to tell a dimmed 90v Powercon from a static 120v Powercon (being constructed in the late 2000's, probably like 2008, powercon was probably all the rave among electricians and designers alike), and stagepin has its issues... So, the contractors must have chosen the twist lock connector for that reason. A new high school student certainly runs the chance of mixing up circuits.
    The other thing is the wide assortment of relay'd 120v sockets on all the rigging. All three house hoists have their own relay circuit, each batten over the stage has its own relay circuit. This kinda made sense, other than the fact that the only 120v sockets on the battens are all the way stage left (literally four or five inches from the end of the big metal electrical conduit box directly attached to the batten). I had then realized that the reason for this was that the regular socket was used to allow for control over conventional devices (such as a Wal Mart blacklight), but more importantly, so that it could be turned into a Powercon run with an adapter (thus justifying the placement of the outlets on the battens).
    Then each hoist and batten has a DMX output on it, along with outputs on the downstage-most leg walls on either side of the stage (five pin, on universe two. yes, we have a honking big opto-splitter that I'd love to see, but I only have general ideas as to where it is- its got at least 10 outputs!). At this point, I had realized that the entire auditorium was designed with an absurd level of thought for the addition of intelligent and LED lighting for down the road. Just don't mind the fact that we got a "new" light console when the addition was built (an Express 48/96- wonderful for moving lights. Just wonderful. Lets not forget to mention that it backs up and reads data with floppy disks- cutting edge 2008 tech right here, my friends).
    Sadly, the only intelligent lighting we have consists of two Technobeam-i's (that were donated to us), and four generic LED cans (which don't even belong to us, one of our frequent designers just leaves them there for us).

    So yes, very rarely do schools/school districts provide substantial (or even adequate at times) funding for theatre or technical theatre departments (despite the school complaining about only having 1 1/2 wireless mics whenever it holds an event run by guidance). If only I could have a few thousand dollars *poof* into my bank account at my will- that place would be packed to the brim with cutting edge lighting technology (and get a new console).
    I still can't quite comprehend why they put the backstage equipment rack directly 3 feet in front of the fire hose. Luckily the inspectors have learned to go lightly on that issue as to not upset administration, and to not forego the penalty as to protect their job.
     
  14. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I'm sure I have misses in planning. I had the pleasure of being the consultant on one of my own projects 20 years before. I could not for the life of me understand the remote video and minimal DMX I had specified 20 years previous. That part of the technology changes and 1990 remote video quickly became archaic. But does that mean don't put stuff in that will likely change?
     
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  15. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    So little forestage and you have to move stuff for the events that could be on a deep forestage, or derp forestage at the cost of less lighting and scenery options closer to the audience. What I find difficult is that drama and dance events suffer the most by lack of proximity but are the events least well accommodated on a deep forestage.

    Why not just move the main curtain upstage?
     
  16. Scarrgo

    Scarrgo Active Member

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    No, at the time that might have been cutting edge, and I hope that today more thought of the future is being put in to theaters...

    we all understand that yesterday it was amazing, today its normal, and tomorrow its archaic....

    there are times that nothing seems to change, than things seem to change every day

    and I cant wait to see what the day after next will bring us...

    Sean...
     
  17. TNasty

    TNasty Active Member

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    Luckily the standard 120v outlet is here to stay. At least for now...

    I'd love to see what the two pins "reserved for future use" will get used for on DMX. It'll be interesting to see how it affects your DMX runs with certain fixtures, and find out who got the full five wire treatment and the three wire punishment during construction. I know my school got the three wire "money saving option" after I had to repair a DMX wall plate where the connector of a cable would run the risk of getting caught on the curtain and over time break the plate out of the wall and cause loads of issues.

    I should get a factory in China to make a recessed "low profile" wall plate for professional connections.
     
  18. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    I too chime in on more space upstage.

    My layman's explanation is that the stage gets cut into 2 parts. A thrust can be a great thing, but HS productions have a hard time blending the very different needs of the thrust and the main stage. On my kids school stage, you go from audience in front to nearly surrounded, by walking about 15 feet.
     
  19. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    My theatre has a large thrust in front of the grand drape. So much so, that productions rarely get blocked much further back than the midstage traveler. Our trim height above the stage is only around 16' with about 15' upstage of the proscenium and another ~20' in front of the drape. We have adapted, but I would have preferred a more traditional proscenuim configuration. This is a 1949 renovated movie house, and when it was planned/renovated in 1995, there were some who lobbied for the thrust for music performances — those which rarely actually happen in this space.

    This does give the space a more intimate vibe, but it can get a little interesting.
    For lighting, we use lots of front and sidelight (those in the picture have since been replaced by LEDs) and barely any toplight. Since the trim height is rather low and productions rarely block heavily under the battens, eating up 10-20 fresnels for that use just isn't very efficient. Sometimes we will supplement some instruments for when it is needed.

    As you can see, we have a pipe grid above the thrust. It was supposed to be on a motorized winch, but we got a cranky old Genie instead. I do a lot of specials and moving lights from that location. Direct toplight (or even backlight) is more rare unless it's for a certain effect, since the glare from instruments even with tophats is noticeable even from the back row as every seat in the house can see up in to this grid. The photographer in this case is standing near the back row of the 299-seat house.

    Notice that each side of the stage has steps leading up. There are ~7' plugs installed since the original design called for an even more pronounced thrust - apparently to accommodate a pit orchestra since there are no seats in those locations, and there never have been (well, not since it was a movie theatre and the screen was about where the cyc is now. We traditionally put orchestras either in the wings, on stage/behind a scrim, or in the shop which is behind the cyc and separated by 16' sliding fire doors which remain open in those cases.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
  20. Wheezy

    Wheezy Member

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    Les' mention of rarity of US placement jolts my pet peeve with our stage. That is, more US space is useless if the sight lines from the sides of the house are blocked by the proscenium arch or tormentors.
     

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