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Stupid Front of House Lights

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Schniapereli, Nov 21, 2006.

  1. Schniapereli

    Schniapereli Active Member

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    Location:
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    In our auditorium, the front of house lights are directly above audience chairs. (about the 6th row from front) There is no catwalk or anything leading to them. They are connected to a fly, and so the only way we have to focus them is to fly it in, guess on where the light will be, then fly them out. There is no way to focus and point the lights while they are hung at the right height. They used to raise a guy with a harness, but now they can't do that. We thought of maybe putting a giant flat board out, and then calculating all the angles out, but the board would have to be HUGE, and the other techs don't want to do that. It is also harder because, they don't always bring it up to the same hieght. (sometimes 17' or 18' or even 20'10")

    Is there maybe some other way to fix this that we haven't thought of.
    Or, should we just try to measure on the floor of the auditorium, try to ignore the seating, and calculate in the slope? (that would be REALLY retarded.)
    Or, we could just continue guessing and correcting...

    Any suggestions or thoughts would help...
    Thanks
     
  2. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    A long stage brace and perhaps for some knobs, replacing the knob/handle with one that is much easier to adjust from below? At least it's a fly, other places need a ladder to each.

    Should be able to do your focus dia with bringing it in and out. Perhaps that only leaves shutter cuts and focus left to the stage brace. Not the best way, but at least you don't have to climb every time.

    If you get really good with the stage brace, you might be able to both insert and remove gel without needing to re-focus each time thus some while not very flexible, only gels changed from show to show in front fill light.

    Otherwise if focused as per a rep. plot, just bringing it down to gel the fixtures could be a easy enough thing to do. A few fixtures towards area A, a few more towards area B... etc along the pre-focus. Just a question of lining up spike marks with the lock point for the pipe in having lights that are pre-focused once gelleld.

    At very least in while you might add specials this should save time.
     
  3. Sylak

    Sylak Member

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    It helps to spike where the bar goes with Gaff-tape or an actualy metal spike, or neon paint, since sometiems gaff tape wont stick to a Nylon rope or airplane wire


    Also, look into purchasing a Cherry-Picker that uses a 120VAC Edison Outlet to operate indoors and make sure its goes high enough, my school will take one from the Janitorial staff every once in a while, adn it reachers the top of our house no problem.
     
  4. Dcdjdrew

    Dcdjdrew Member

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    what about the posabality of adding a Lighting bridge to the Fly then someone could focouse at height?
     
  5. SHARYNF

    SHARYNF Well-Known Member

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    I am guessing that the house seats are not easily moved, and are bolted to the floor. It is possible to get a painter/plastered rolling scaffolding setup that can be rolled out, and (is the floor under the lights flat or sloped) can be leveled.

    I once came up with sort of a wild solution for this type of crazy install, and the RIGHT ARM mentioned on this forum brought back memories..
    Here goes, sort of way out there but...

    I got a series of Pelco pan and tilt units mounted them to the pipe hanging, and modified the mounting plate where the camera usually went to to mount the yoke of the instrument. I got a security controller to adjust the pan and tilts. While you could not focus or gel the instrument, you could position it quite well.
    Lots of this security gear comes up on the market as airports and businesses upgrade and convert over to dome type units where the position of the camera is hidden and there for harder for the "suspect" to avoid.

    Anyway sort of way out there, but ebayed pan and tilts went for about a 75 bucks each, and the controller was a few hundred. There are versions that run the control all over coax or multi pair.

    Don't you just love it when a design was done based on no one ever really using the system.

    Anyway sort of out there, but the people running it thought it was pretty neat since you could use it during performances. Cameras were pretty cheap also so eventually we mod'ed it to add a cheap security camera and now you could actually see where the light was pointing.

    Sharyn
     
  6. Schniapereli

    Schniapereli Active Member

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    Location:
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    We have the levels spiked, we have a genie lift. Our entire school is going to be rebuilt soon (entirely torn down) so no expensive or long-lasting solution is needed. I wish we could just change only gels in-between show, but our apron is sometimes removed for the pit, and we have stairs on each side of the stage leading into the audience which our director wants lit sometimes, and not other times. We only have 8 circuits (repeated so it's 1234567812345678 along the batten) so that makes it less versatile. The height also vaires according to show.

    So, basically nothing stays the same in-between show except the fact that they are Src4 ERS's on a 8-circuit batten...
    If there were some 17 foot ladder that could be placed with the legs between seat rows, that would be ideal, but since nothing exists like that...

    We have a college student who graduated from our High School says a nice harness would be cool, but the easiest is just the guessing thing.
    Most of the techs there don't really care much though to do anything major to help with the problem. The seniors just barely learned this year what an ellipsoidal was. I'm still stuck as a sophomore running spotlight though, even though our light op/TD/LD just learned how to patch, and the sound op has never even heard of comb filtering, let alone come to any rehearsals...

    So, it has to be a simple solution like building something to go over the seats that is tall, durable, easily moved. We have a really good stagecraft teacher who does a lot of set building and has done a lot in his lifetime (he's now 76, and still going...) If we could come up with a design for something like that (basically just a more stabile version of the 17 foot ladder), that would probably work best for our situation if it were incredibly easy. (We could move the "ladder" under each fixture as we focus, so it doesn't have to be big enough for the entire batten)

    If it's an incredibly dumb idea, then we'll just keep doing the guessing system...


    (or, just read Sharynf's response which she posted while I was writing. I could talk with the teacher about the pan and tilt mounts. if she thinks that would be in our budget. I also don't know if she would want to go through all the trouble. That's a REALLY good idea which could be also very cool for some effects. Also, does that kind of rolling scaffodling come up in that height, and also, I would hate to get one where the legs don't fit down the rows because they are spaced incorrectly.)
    (yes, the seats are bolted down hard, can only be taken out as rows of 14, and are extremely heavy.)

    ...wow...It's a lot harder to descibe this online...for me...

    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2006
  7. disc2slick

    disc2slick Active Member

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    Hey,

    You can't find a big hefty a-frame ladder with an extension? We had a similar situation in my high school except the pipe did not lower, so we always focused from this ladder. Probably cheaper than $75 per unit plus a couple hundred for the controller.

    -Dan
     
  8. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Standard construction scaffolding is availible in a wide variety of configurations. I have seen it used it this type of situation. there are a lot of safety considerations to be taken into account. But your problem doesn't reall sound insurmountable. In college we had an A-frame ladder that we used to span the seats they raked and slanted down to the sides of the house. In High School we constructed our own catwalk from the sides of the house over the top of the FOH posistion. I'm sure you'd never get away with that now days, nor would I suggest trying without a structural engineer.

    here's a link to Waco they supply a lot of scaffolding all over the country.
    http://www.wacoscaf.com/
     
  9. Schniapereli

    Schniapereli Active Member

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    I found a 18 foot ladder online, with the feet 4 feet apart on the floor. I guess we could also get a scaffolding, but that might be harder to get into the audience, and hard to store. I'll run all this by the director, and she will make the final decision based on how much she cares...
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2006
  10. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    What model of geni do you have? Geni makes a "straddle" that can lift the lift over seats. They work rather well and are very stable. Go to page 6 on the PDF. It only works with certain lifts, but if you have that model its the way to go.

    http://www.midwestaerials.com/AWP SUPER SERIES.pdf
     
  11. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    It simply amazes me what some architech's manage to do to theatre space.

    We have a new high school auditorium a few towns over where over 4 million dollars was spent in construction and outfitting. It seats 500.

    Things that are screwed up.

    1. FOH pipe is on motors without means to access it at trim height (just like the above problem.)

    2. Trim height of the onstage electrics is 10'8". Pipes are racked with Source 4 pars. Can you see the spots on the floor?

    3. The FOH Torms supply a 5 degree angle to the stage, can anyone say shadows?

    4. Upstage has two motorized flys. They operate at a speed of 10' per minute.

    5. All microphone recepticals are wired with two conductor non shielded cable back to the booth.

    6. No intercom system was spec'd into the job.

    The Architech should be shot!
     
  12. NABster07

    NABster07 Member

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    wow, i dont know how you guys can function in these places. And I thought it was bad that our legs were hung in the wrong places.
    Maybe for the FOH problem you take a day and just bounce focus everything, spike the trim height, and for all your shows you use it as it is, but with gel changes. If you are doing mostly school productions where somebody is designing in house, I think they should be able to work around that. If you have professional groups coming in every month, wanting the FOH pipe rehung, like we do, then your in trouble. Maybe you go with either 2 or three color washes or you go with having areas. Or even better yet go with 3 areas, 2 different colors (I usually use an R33 and an R54) and then go with two full stage color washes. That uses all 8 circuits.
    Thats probably not the answer your looking for, but its an option.
    -Nick
     
  13. SHARYNF

    SHARYNF Well-Known Member

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    The ladder would work, but most schools would freak out having a student up on an 18 foot a frame ladder, I can tell you from experience even after doing a lot of rock climbing it can be a bit nerve racking. In general the schools don't want high school students on really high ladders, or lifts, Sometimes you can get away with a scaffold since it looks and is a bit safer. My Pan and tilt was a wild solution, but after it was put in the gang running lights decided it was a blast to use.

    As I said on other earlier posts re new construction, you would be amazed at the totally stupid things architects do, and the construction companies also.
    Shayrn
     
  14. Schniapereli

    Schniapereli Active Member

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    Our Genie is a pretty old , and can't do the straddle thing. (but that super straddle looks awesome if only we could find something like that at Savers...)
    I know they might disagree with the ladder at our high school, but I'm not sure how we could carry/fit/store a scaffold that High. Unless it's only like 6 by 6 feet at the top, and then maybe tapers our at the bottm (for better support). Do they make any that can be taken apart? If there were a scaffold with at least 6X6 top that could be taken apart, that would be awesome. The WACO site doesn't seem to provide much information. (they have plenty about their 300 footers...)
    Mostly, we're concerns with costs though. If anybody knows a good place to find a scaffold like described above that is still safe and cheap, that would be kewl.
     
  15. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    I would suggest going to the school board and explaining that because of this, you need money to change over the entire front lighting system to moving heads. I would suggest either the Source4 Revolution or perhaps the VL3500 (with shutters of course).

    Short of that, an A-frame ladder would work, though as you said, some schools don't like ladders. Scaffolding would be an affordable and relatively safe option.

    Scaffolding comes in 5 foot tall sections, and you bolt the pieces together. At my high school we had 20 feet of scaffolding, and it was used for everything, from reaching the lights to being incorporated as sets (a set for RENT was designed by me and kingfisher).

    Scaffolding has slightly different sizes, but on average a single piece is 5'x5'x1" pieces that you bolt together like an erector set. Goes up quick, get 6 sections and all cross-pieces and floor pieces and your set!

    You said in your post: "Do they make any that can be taken apart? If there were a scaffold with at least 6X6 top that could be taken apart, that would be awesome."

    Yea, all scaffolding can be taken apart. Search google for scaffolding and lots of sites will pop up where you can buy some.
     
  16. Schniapereli

    Schniapereli Active Member

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    If we got any moving fixtures (which would probably never happen) we would probably get one from Martin, (a MAC TW1 would be sweet, but would never happen). But I don't think so since we still hang onto our old Parellipspheres from the 70's (though we've never used them) Our school is getting ready to die anyways, so no huge advancements will be made, only to be enjoyed for 2-3 years.

    I'll suggest the scaffolding to the dudes who decide things.
     
  17. SHARYNF

    SHARYNF Well-Known Member

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    If you look for building supply rental equipment companies it is possible to rent these types of systems, each section typically is about 20 dollars per week, but make sure you get the kind that has rolling wheels.

    Sharyn
     
  18. lightbyfire

    lightbyfire Member

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    Scaffolding can really make it easier. If your school board has money do that over a ladder, it is significantly safer. If they are ok with a ladder but dont want to invest in scaffolding (which is a horrible ethical decission) than a little giant ladder that extends to 18 or 20 feet would be best as you can adjust each side for the rake in your house seating (just make sure that you keep it level at the top to evenly distribute the weight)

    Also just since I didn't really see anyone else chime in, a harness is a bad idea in a high school program, unless you have trained professionals on hand it is way to easy for accidents to occur. Saftey harness for construction and theatre purposes are not the same as recreational harness for rock climbing. However if you are up on a genie lift at twenty feet it would probably be a good idea to invest in a harness and a training session for each operator.

    Just cause saftey is always a good idea.
     
  19. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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  20. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Beg to differ in a highschool format a harness is a safety demand just as it is in construction, proffessional theatre. While there are a few case I can think of where poor safety precautions are worse than none, those are few and far between. If you are going to be using Scaffolding, lifting devices < genie, snorkle,condor, etc.> you should be also trained in proper use of saftey equipment. Most states will offer training classes for teachers in these situation sothat they may in turn, ceertify students in the proper use of safety equipment in thier venue. Worst case scenerio I'd like to see someone atleast attempting to follow safety guidelinesrather than simply blowing them off.
     

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