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Technical Disaster Inspires Strict Letter

Discussion in 'Safety' started by ukilledthecat, May 5, 2005.

  1. ukilledthecat

    ukilledthecat Member

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    Tonight was amazing fun. Our drama club decided to put on a club-like Comedy Night in our new senior caf. Everything panned out pretty good, with a few minor difficulties. The percussion ensemble was pissed at us because they thought they would be able to have food for their event in the same caf as we were performing in, the woman, however was not aware that there was a difference between the 2 cafs and had signed up for the old one on the master schedule. So they got screwed, but luckily they were out of there before the performance because we needed a "backstage". (The two cafs are connected, out "stage" on the wall adjacent to the old caf.

    I am the master lighting tech for our school as of current, so I rigged up a couple pars on trees in the caf, ran them to a dimmer pack and from that straight to the board we took down from the booth. I hooked up everything and everything was golden. So, being that I was performing in the show, I scurried off to get ready for our skit. As our skit starts, there are no lights except the evening light from the skylights. So I knew something had gone wrong and the person I set in charge of the board was unable to fix it. Then, in the middle, the caf lights come up. The switches are in a locked snack shack accessible only from the main hall by a master key. So after my scene, I went to figure out what went up. I find that the dimmer pack overheated and the circuit was cut. After letting the whole thing cool, we were able to reset everything and get the lights back up. So we go an turn out the caf lights. And 5 minutes later, the pack blows again. And after a few minutes, again. So we gave up and finished the show with the lights up. Boo to that.

    So afterwards, we're looking at everything and the pack is burning up, as well as the extension cords, etc. So I knew that crap was f'ed up. And I thought back to our spring musical, where we had to satellites hooked to the same dimmer pack. And we had a problem where the lights, on both nights, were out of control and we couldn't turn them off other than by cutting power at the breakers for the outlet we used for those lights. And now that I'm thinking, if the lights were hardwired and dimmed by the pack and the pack kept overloading like it did, the lights stayed on because the pack was a piece of crap. And if the system tonight almost set fire to everything in the room and overload the wall socket, then this equipment failure is a fire hazard and a danger to the rest of the equipment, and a nice strongly worded letter explaining the age of the equipment and the fact it almost burned down their $45 mill rennovation/additions might be a good reason to buy some new lighting equipment. ;)

    So I'm hoping to appeal to the BoE, which just had it's budget pass on the first time around might be able to find a few dollars to spare. Hehe.

    Anyway, tonight was good. I wouldn't proclaim myself a lighting genius or electrical wizard, I'm still learning, but I faired pretty well. We needed one additional light, but all the ones in the storage locker (or should I say streaming mess backstage) were either blown or missing the fixture all together. So I stole a fixture out of an ellipsoidal that did work (probably a technial no-no, but I was in a jam and our school doesn't have a reserve, inventory or any extra bulbs), of course it wasn't the right type for the application, so I improvised. I removed the fixture and had to take the plug apart and rig it into one of the pars simply because I needed a light of some sort. And it was acceptable, no one noticed. Of course, I have to go back and rewire that so they don't toss the working bulb around.

    Also, I was never very familiar with the board, which is funny because I can crawl in the dirtiest cove and rig up lights without a problem, but it came time after the performance when I had to hook the board back into the system. My younger brother is actually the tech wizard for the board. I basically learned really quick. I had saved over the presets for the auditorium for our performance, which is probably stupid, but it let me learn. But there was only 2- full stage and house. Luckily, one of my friends who has some knowledge of the lights and worked with them for a middle school student performance had penciled the color and location of the coves and stage lights and we keep hand notes of what each of our presets do, therefore my reprogramming took less than 10 minutes, perhaps even 5. So I went one further and set up one preset for the house, one for the full stage, one for stage only, and one for coves only. Redundant? Not at all, especially in situations where equal amounts of each are not acceptable. The former lighting pro for our school probably would have disagreed. But, alas, everything is dandy and I am a few ounces more intelligent.

    I hope my letter to the board will get us new equipment. Some of our lights are originals. And trying to find gels was like looking for God. I found 3, but of couse it was impossible to find some holders for each, so I improvised and just slid them in the lights as is. And that was my night, great comedy with some hectic technical malfunctions.
     
  2. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    I'm hoping that instead of replacing new with old or nothing against you but steak to swine, that your school instead hires professional technical staff to teach you instead of letting you figure it out as you go or have to both act and be the master of all electric.

    So many little things noted, so much later you will learn and think differently upon the cause of effects of. This all you are ready it would seem to learn, but the school itself is failiing you in instruction, management and supervision and not as much so it seems in equipment.

    Ask for someone to instruct and maintain the equipment first. Than when it's the equipment and not "operator error" and only than, blame it on tne equipment given it can't be upgraded sufficient to your needs. Now working is not part of operating sufficient to your need either. The fact that gear is not working instead means that someone needs to ensure both shows run without problems, and all gear is up and running safely. You, nor the rest in your program have training or experience in doing this. Instead of asking for new gear, ask for an instructor.
     
  3. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    I'm hoping that instead of replacing new with old or nothing against you but steak to swine, that your school instead hires professional technical staff to teach you instead of letting you figure it out as you go or have to both act and be the master of all electric.

    So many little things noted, so much later you will learn and think differently upon the cause of effects of. This all you are ready it would seem to learn, but the school itself is failiing you in instruction, management and supervision and not as much so it seems in equipment.

    Ask for someone to instruct and maintain the equipment first. Than when it's the equipment and not "operator error" and only than, blame it on tne equipment given it can't be upgraded sufficient to your needs. Now working is not part of operating sufficient to your need either. The fact that gear is not working instead means that someone needs to ensure both shows run without problems, and all gear is up and running safely. You, nor the rest in your program have training or experience in doing this. Instead of asking for new gear, ask for an instructor.
     
  4. AVGuyAndy

    AVGuyAndy Active Member

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    You're lucky. My town's education buget was cut by $1M this year. So. I'm hoping my position isn't cut for the summer as it was last year...
     
  5. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    sounds to me like you're just using the wrong dimmer packs. they may not necessarily be crappy - just not intended for heavy use. 'DJ' dimmer packs usually cannot handle a constant theatrical lighting load.
     
  6. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    as far as it being hot, that doesnt sound right at all. you would think it should keep blowing fuses if there is a short or overloading situation.
     
  7. DJErik07

    DJErik07 Active Member

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    If the extension cords powering the dimmer are hot then you are pulling too puch power from the dimmers. Make sure to check to see what the max power you can pull per pack. My school borrowed some that allowed only 2400w per pack and 400w per channel. On the other hand our installed NSI Dimmers can handle 2400w per channel.
     
  8. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    I beg to differ, we use American DJ dimmers in our theatre and they work without fail.
     
  9. Minion

    Minion Member

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    Gah that just now was me, I forgot to login. :oops:
     
  10. AVGuyAndy

    AVGuyAndy Active Member

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    Sadly, that's the same here. Originally after the BOE cut the AV position, which controlled the auditorium, the principal said I couldn't be on the catwalk. This is after 30 years of students doing everything on the catwalk. He wanted me to direct maintenance people from the ground, telling them how to focus, aim, etc. So thankfully the musical director told him that was not possible and now I'm allowed to go up there. Honestly, if I had to direct the maintenance crew to aim lights, I'd probably have quit. lol
     
  11. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    sorry - thats me
     
  12. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    We are running par cans, ellipsoidals, huge floods, strips and source fours
     
  13. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    you must be using one of the few models that supports that heavy of a load.
     
  14. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Directing the maintinence crew from the stage in the focus of your lights would be great experience in dealing with other unions or non/union relations in getting the show up in running. If the floor sweepers want to play lighting tech person, than I'm all for the extra crew members. Just be sure to get them a show/production shirt for each show they helped with. You never know, they might get into it instead of being grouchy about having to hang lights instead of plunge a toilet. Hmm, plunge toilet or have a designer on stage either looking at the light beam or looking at his shadow in focusing the light. That's how the pro's do it. The designer don't climb the truss. Much less, if that Par shocks the maintinence person while spinning the bottle, if it's their responsibility as it would no doubt seem to be to repair such things, you bet you are either going to get working gear or new gear.

    While it's something better learned in college and pro-world while in high school one is better off learning how to focus in the first place, if the program is not large enough in development for a principle to have this role in how you do stuff, than take the extra crew you are given and run with it. There is no glory in focusing a light. If the maintinence staff don't do what you want, than you complain to the person that is sending them to work under your direction and their boss. Mission statement is still art, but if safety is in question, and extra help is given by the staff, instead of thinking "I can do this" think, that's what it's like in the real world where you wont get to touch your gear, and instead you have extra staff you need to work on your personal skills to inspire into getting done what you need done. Or at least settling with what you can live with.

    Learn how to focus from the stage. Between the two techniques, both are superior than you being on the catwalk in focusing upon your design. If not designing, sure these extra crew members are shorting you of experience, that's something in a large program to fight. Otherwise, never pass up extra man-power when mandated to you. Art is one thing, making it be also art even if you are not physically adjusting the equipment is part of being in school and dealing with the real world.

    Such direction in getting what you could do but can't, than still getting what you want takes practice thus it's not all that bad of a thing.
     

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