Seeking tips to add efficiency to my lighting, sound, props and paint.

James D

Hey everyone,
I'm going to be doing a presentation on "Efficiency in Tech" at a local teachers conference to try and provide fellow teachers with tips, tricks, strategies and products to help them more efficiently run their classes, shops, and productions.

The main topics that my section of the workshop is going to be discussing is electrics / lighting, sound design and engineering, props, and scenic painting.

Current suggestions range from marking the tops of the lighting fixture barrels to allow you to more easily locate the degrees of the barrel, to creating a gel cutting station / template, to only keep fifteen ROSCO imitation (we're high school...) colors in stock and teaching students to mix instead of purchasing production specific paints each time.

If you have any suggestions that you think would be helpful for middle school and high school teachers, please share!

Useful and safe knots to use for hanging masking, curtain pullbacks, cable ties, etc. Different screw sizes in their own used peanut jars (or equiv.). Use of paint brush spinners to really clean a brush. Use square drive screws instead of phillips or (shudder) nails. Battery operated drills and drivers - and charging stations. How to coil an extension cord without twisting it. Software tools to capture sounds/videos from YouTube and the like.
Just a couple things off the top of my head. I'm sure everybody will have more.
"Join CB and ask lots of Questions" Having Excellent, Expert resources close at hand almost always improves efficiency.
Stock scenery. Having a stash of identical well built platforms and flats has sped up my designs and installs. Drill leg holes for carriage bolts using a template made of masonite, and any leg will fit any platform.

Ditto for lighting cables and aircraft cable. Having a well labeled storage location and color coding system for everything makes it really easy to say "Grab me two orange dmx cables and a white edison to IEC." Even a first time helper makes the process go faster, lets me focus on training them on hanging and cable dressing instead of digging through boxes of schlocky mismatched cables.

Stock everything was one of the biggest things I took away from my college theater, and it's served me well ever since then.
Lots of great ideas .
you mention marking the top of the barrels, i have always liked painting the gel clips of a unit so i could id size of the light from the floor.
A well labeled storage area is a needed thing, i have found that adding photos to the labels help them learn what the are grabbing, and makes strike easier as well

Dont forget the place for beam bender spray and beam be gone spray

David Bortle
Exploit storage opportunities (gel is a great place to start. If you can score a filing cabinet, boom, you now have a gel station). Make sure everything has a spot so people know where to find it. Whenever possible, buy consumables in large quantities for economy of scale and for the 'have it when you need it' safety net. Colour code cables to indicate length. If they haven't thought about a maintenance cycle, they should--problems are best solved when you have set aside the time, not in the middle of something mission critical. Plan student succession for important positions. If students are helping train each other, it's less load on the teacher. Maybe include a section with theatre hacks: just had a burn-through in your R80? Cut it in half and flip the sides, tape like a split gel. Good for another couple shows. Need a donut? Blackwrap is your friend...etc.

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