What would you buy next for my venue?

Doug Lowthian

Active Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2015
Location
International Falls, MN
New and learning fast. Question summarized. Have some money to spend and looikng to add lights.

The venue; A community center used by many groups for many purposes. Building itself is a three story WPA built structure from 1935. Auditorium seats 1000 with 400 of those seats in the balcony. Town used to be a lot larger; lucky if we can get 300 people for any given show.

Stage is a basketball court. Seriously, it is! Most of the time it is used as a gym for basketball, open gym etc. When we have a show we pull around an enormous background curtain and side curtains that creates an acting area 50 feet wide by 25 feet deep. Our back stage area is twice that size; lots of room for sets and actors!

Lights currently consist of 8 ancient 750 watt ellipsoidal, mounted on balcony front in four sets of two; 3 electrics over the stage with 20 ChauvetDJ Pars LED on each bar for a total of 60.

Occasionally we flip things around, close the front curtain, open the background curtain and put the audience on the stage, using risers to create flexible sized and configured stages. We can seat 200 for a dinner theater at tables or 350 in rows of folding chairs like this.

We have a ETC Element light board with all lights set up for wireless control allowing us to move the light board anywhere we want it.

We have typically about 5-6000 to spend a year on gear and I'd like to add to our light inventory.

Thinking a couple of Source 4 ellipsoidal that we can mount on the stage (behind the audience) for when we configure that way. Other ideas: a number of white fresnels (I don't think the LED PARs really do a bright white) some side lighting from ladders or other from the wings (would have to be set up for shows and removed for basketball)

Any other ideas? I realize this might be better with photos. Will post some tomorrow.

Thanks in advance
 

TJCornish

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Location
St. Paul, MN
How easy is it to get to the hang positions? If you have a catwalk this may not matter very much, but for a space that gets reconfigured a lot, you may want to look at some moving wash lights instead of more lekos or fresnels. The Chauvet Rogue R2 Wash fixture is ~$1250 or a bit less from a good dealer, pans, tilts, zooms from 12°-50°, has nearly the output of a 575w leko even in open white (and much more output than any gel in a 575w fixture), and actually makes a pretty decent 3000K white.

Being able to refocus from the board rather than a ladder is no small benefit. I have really enjoyed mine - they save time, power, and fixture count since they can be re-aimed for different cues.

Make sure that you have the ability to provide undimmed power to your existing LEDs and any new electronic fixtures. Also make sure you have a way to switch the power off between shows so they are not on all the time.
 

robartsd

Active Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2011
Location
Sacramento, CA
Based on your post, I'm guessing that you're wanting to spend most of your 5-6k budget on lighting this year. A little more details on your infrastructure might help some make better recommendations. I'm guessing that you have a dimmer rack with a bunch of unused circuits. You say only a portion of the basketball court is used for your stage; do you have hanging positions with dimmed/undimmed power above all of it or just the typical performing area? Since you I'm assuming you don't have a fly system based on you mentioning pulling around your soft goods. I'm also guessing that TJ is right in thinking you probably don't have catwalk access to your hang positions. You have ancient ERS on a balcony rail, but don't mention if you have any other hang positions in the house. How are lights above the stage protected from stray balls during gym time (could be a big factor in choice of equipment hung above stage)? Operationally, how are you set up for labor for rehanging and/or refocusing your plot? TJ makes a good point that movers can be useful if this is currently a constraint. Overall, it sounds like a fun place to be creative.

Assuming you have the dimming infrastructure in place, I'd go for a modern set of conventional fixtures. You'd get the most bang for your buck and since you're not used as a theater all that much, the energy savings of LED wouldn't add up to much any way. If you don't have the dimming infrastructure, you likely also don't have the power infrastructure, so LED would make a lot more sense in that case.
 

Doug Lowthian

Active Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2015
Location
International Falls, MN
All good stuff, thanks to all.
Some answers to your questions. We do have a dimmer rack. We do not have a catwalk. All our current over the stage lights are on cast iron bars suspended from the ceiling and accessed using a rolling hydrolic lift on stage. We don't have any other hang positions other than over the stage and the balcony. So far the ChauvetDJ LED pars have sustained the occasional hit with a ball with no effect other than knocking out of alignment. If I put anything more pricy up there i would likely be looking at hanging only when needed or building some sort of protective cage.

The stage is used for theater productions about 4-5 times a year. One large cast production facing the main auditorium and 3-5 smaller productins, dinner theater, one act nights, junior productions. In addition we get traveling shows, mostly music but also dance and once in a while theater. We host about 10-12 of those a year. In addition the stage is used for banqutes, community forums, lectures, etc. local dance studio also has a big recital here.

For many years it has been looked at as a gym that occasionall is a stage. We are now uping the game and making it a stage that is used as a gym during the day.

I'll post some photos later today when I go in to the venue.
 

NateJanota

Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
Orlando, FL
I would vote for a sky-drop "cyc" and some LEDs for it. Likely a budget stretcher but in terms of visual impact it's a bargain. A light background that can be color changed at will (LED or conventional) will make the stage feel larger and project a mood based on the color. This is great for exterior scenes but even better for those music concerts and misc events.
This. Anything you can do to accent performance space or mood should take priority to solely lighting accents. I can't even number the times when having a mesh drop or cyc paid off, while I've had plenty of times where new inventory went unused or unappreciated.
 

Doug Lowthian

Active Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2015
Location
International Falls, MN
This. Anything you can do to accent performance space or mood should take priority to solely lighting accents. I can't even number the times when having a mesh drop or cyc paid off, while I've had plenty of times where new inventory went unused or unappreciated.
Thanks to both of you. I agree. When I have seen this at other theaters it looks great. Basically I am trying to up the game for this venue and make it look a whole lot more professional.

Just 3 years ago all they had was 3 rows of 100 CFL bulbs controlled by the breaker panel switch (off or on) and two ancient followspots and the ellipsoidals which were also on or off by the breaker switch!
 

BillConnerFASTC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
Just as minor foot note but I'd be very surprised if you have "cast iron" bars over the stage. "Black iron pipe" is in fact made of steel, not cast iron, and that may lead to the confusion. On the other hand, International Falls is on the edge and anything is possible. I've seen odd things recycled in theatres when they couldn't source the normal materials.
 
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Doug Lowthian

Active Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2015
Location
International Falls, MN
Yes that is my facility. That photo was taken when we had one row of LED pars overhead. We now have 3. The guy who has been making decisions about lights and tech has been at this facility since 1972. i'm learning from him and looking to take from here upgrading sound and lights.

Thanks for all the great input.
 

Doug Lowthian

Active Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2015
Location
International Falls, MN
House lights, yes. They are not florescent, though they do look like that in the photo. However we do have on our wish list the means to controll them from the light board or the wall switches. The lightboard currently connects to all lights through wireless. As it is now, I send a text message to a person backstage who flips the breaker to turn off or on house lights!
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2015
Location
Minneapolis, MN
I would reinforce the some of the earlier comments of adding a Cyc and LED wash fixtures. Along with updating house lights with architectural control stations for safety of everyone that enter the space. Speaking of safety maybe installing some edge lights on the stage for actor safety during a show.
 

RickR

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Joined
Sep 18, 2009
Location
Spokane, WA the great "Inland Northwest"
House lights, yes. They are not florescent, though they do look like that in the photo. However we do have on our wish list the means to controll them from the light board or the wall switches. The lightboard currently connects to all lights through wireless. As it is now, I send a text message to a person backstage who flips the breaker to turn off or on house lights!
Breakers not in the space? No emergency lighting provisions perhaps?
That would definitely be my #1 priority.
 

kicknargel

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Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Location
Denver, CO
Have you ever done The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee? Your scenery is done!

My $.02 would be to get some front light from a better angle. It may take a couple years' budget, but if you could get a pipe hung over the audience that was about a 45 degree angle up from the main playing area (measured from head height), with one or two profile lights (ERS or LED) per 8' x 8' acting area, you'd be a long way toward basic theatrical illumination.
 

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