Rigging Movers

For a performance at The Concordia Theatre, I needed to rig three moving washes (Mac 301’s) FOH, however, didn’t want different heights from one mover to the next. As such, I used a drop bar. The drop bar is a metal bar with couplers on either end. At the top I attached the coupler directly to the lighting bar, then on the bottom used a short bar tightened into the coupler.

Next, I ensured that the mover was ready to be rigged, this involved checking the omega brackets were correctly tightened, the C Clamps were correctly attached, that the safety cable was attached correctly and that the power cable wasn’t going to get caught. This ensured that I wasn’t going to run into any problems whilst lowering the mover onto the bar, which I had already checked was the correct size.

After lowering the mover onto the bar, I tightened the wing nuts and attached the safety cable to the lower bar. Below is a picture of the mover rigged on the dropped bar.

Drop Bar Mover Rigging

All of this was done without guidance, the only assistance was another technician carrying one of the three movers above FOH so I didn’t need to go back down.

From Stage & Screen Dance Show

Two local dance schools have recently finished their joint dance show. This show started slightly different as most of the production team were unable to attend the first day of get-in. This allowed for me to rig most of the lighting on my own before projection and stage arrived. This can be seen in the time-lapse below however, most of the lighting from the first day (Forst 15 Seconds) was side light and as such I am out of shot. This was followed with projection arriving the next day, whilst projection was rigging there projectors, I continued to rig a series of cyclorama floods on a hemp bar, however, these were latter moved back onto a motorised lighting bar to ensure that no shadows were cast from the projectors. After the projectors and cyc floods were ready, I worked to help projection rig the theatres white cyclorama as stage wasn’t present.

Following on from the get in, I programmed the show using multiple Cue Stacks on the venues Ion, a method that allowed me to separate each number clearly. This allowed the rehearsals to take place out of order as some cast were required to leave early due to exams the following morning. Whilst I programmed, two theatre technicians assisted by focusing stage lanterns using the bounce method. This required bringing the bars in focusing and then flying out. This was repeated until the desired focus was achieved. When the technicians moved to the Front of House lighting to focus specials, I called the focus from the auditorium and the stage.

As we wen’t through the technicals, I decided to cut several fixtures as they weren’t much use or would have taken too long to implement correctly and I didn’t have time. An example of this is the ground row of floods at the front of the stage for facelight, certain Gobos, and a breakup wash.

Below is the final version if the lighting plan, which is what was actually used.

Bekki Maddox Main LX Plan V2 - Web

To accompany this I also produced a colour call and Patch sheet (Both below).


From Stage & Screen Patch Sheet

To assist with the running of the show, I also created a Running list for the LX opperator, this was required as the theatres standard boot sequence would no linger have worked. I also created a document for the running order that included information about the multiple cue lists.

Godspell

The musical theatre students have just finished performing there only show this year, Godspell. For the show, I worked as part of the stage team, working to ensure that the set and props where set before each show and that the confetti drop was prepared.

The confetti drop was a simple system where by a piece of cloth was suspended between two pieces of conduit. One of the conduits was secured to a lighting bar in the grid. The other was balanced onto a rope which was fed through a series of pulleys. When the rope was released, the second piece of conduit dropped, releasing the confetti. The diagram below shows how the confetti drop worked.

Godspell Confetti Drop

The confetti drop worked most of the time, however, it had a simple flaw. If the rope was pulled too tight, the knot would pass through the pulley due to the tail running up the rope making it twice as thick. This could also lead to the cloth being caught in the pulley. This fault did occur twice, once when testing the system, this required me to climb up to the drop and reset it, the second time was on the last performance resulting in the drop failing during the show. Luckily, we had loaded more confetti than usual which meant we were able to shake some out of the cloth.The rope was secured to a lighting bar on the side of the stage. This allowed for us to easily tie and untie the system. To secure the rope, I used an Italian Hitch around the bar. This is because the knot is easy to tie and untie. This allowed for us to easily drop the confetti without the risk of the knot getting stuck.

This method of the confetti drop was decided on after our original system proved too problematic. The original system worked on a system of washers and stage pins, the washers were held together by the stage pin and when the pin was pulled, the washer confetti dropped. In practice, the system didn’t work. We were unable to add enough washers to keep the confetti in. The system was also taking too long to rig, taking over a day to rig half of it. Therefore we changed to the newer system which offered a quick rig time and the reduced chance of a failure.

The show also featured a suspended washing line. This was suspended between two lighting bars. The first side used a Clove Hitch onto a vertical bar. The second side used an Italian hitch, allowing me to easily control the tension, and therefore the hight. It is also possible to tie an Italian Hitch using bight’s meaning that I only had to work with the length of washing line I needed.

During the final performance, the washing line had to be lowered for a goodbye video from the students to the director as it was there final year. To achieve this, I used a ladder to climb up and untie the washing line at the end of the show. When the washing line was let down, the other members of stage crew helped to ensure that the area was clear and safe for the line to be dropped. This was to ensure that the cast and any crew remained safe at all times.

During the show there were no cues. The entire set and all props were set from the very start and never left the stage. This meant that we simply monitored the show to ensure that everything ran smoothly. At one certain points through out the show I left to inform actors of there upcoming entrance through the auditorium.

For the show I also helped produce a series of wooden blocks, these where painted and the main piece of set in the entire show. This boxes are made of 6 MDF panels, screwed together in the corners.

In two of the panels I helped produce handles to allow the cast to move the boxes. To do this, two large holes where bored into the wood using a hole saw. Then I removed the wood between the two holes using a jigsaw. This gave the holes rounded corners which gave a better aesthetic. Then I sanded the edges of the cut down using sandpaper and files. This gave the handles a smooth edges which makes them easier and safer to lift.

Arts Festival 3: Lighting/Sound

For the last show of the Arts Festival I was the Lighting Operator and Programmer. The show also featured the final piece from Arts Fest. 2, which had been postponed due to the power cuts experienced on the show day. The piece was called ‘Compact Failure’ and was based around inmates in prison. The piece was simple, only requiring the lights to go up and down, moving between a few similar scenes.

Throughout the technicals, the house lights were set to never go lower than 40%. To do this I created a custom dimmer curve for the House Lights, pictured below.

Custom Dimmer Curve

This meant that when the the house lights were at 0% or out, the desk actually sent the value for 40% to the dimmers, therefore ensuring that there was always enough light for the tech team to work and for staff and other students to safely move around the auditorium if required. This also meant that the house lights would still respond to any control allowing us to see visibly when they had been altered, or if a scene required them, for example an actor make’s an entrance, the scene would still work.

The show also required that a special be rigged, this was due to the audience being seated on the stage. This meant that I rigged two Source Four Juniors with a sharp focus. They had a slightly unsharp focus to allow the two fixtures to blend, however we wanted them to be as sharp as possible. These were used as facelight for the scenes where the cast were at a visitation or cafeteria table.

The finale of the show was completely different to the rest of the show. This was due to a lot of colour and special effects as the director requested it be colourful and the lighting designer wasn’t present due to this being a last minuet addition to the show. The video below shows the finale that I designed based on what the directors present asked for.

This scene used the theatres Mac 700 Profiles with a rotating out of focus gobo and prism. The two front of house movers were static providing a wash of the cyclorama. The four movers on stage were in a move effect that allowed them to move around the cyclorama. Due to the masking and the angles involved, there was a sharp line across the top of the cyclorama where the movers couldn’t reach. To finish the wash, I used 6 Iris 1 floods across the back in green and blue, matching the colours of movers.

After Compact Failure, we changed department’s to finish the show that had been postponed due to the power cuts. For this, I changed back to sound. This part of the show was a simple part, everything was run off Qlab, with only a few changes to the sound levels for a few builds and an explosion.

Focusing Lights

When lighting a show, each fixture must be individually focused on where the light needs to be. In the process below, I focus a Source Four Zoom for the fundraising show “Blackadder II’.

Step1

The first step is to open the fixture up so that it is large and sharp as possible, with the centre of the light focused to the centre of the item/area being lit. This is also the time to adjust the field of the focus, so that the hotspot is in the centre of the beam with no/little dark spots.

Step2

The next step is to try and match the angle of the set with the shutter.

Step3

The Source Four has a rotating gate, which allows the shutters to be further rotated to match the angle of the set. This compensates for the limitations of the shutter but also the angles created from it’s rigging point.

Step4

Next we shutter the bottom, allowing us to define the area of the beam.

Step5

Next we shutter in the other side. Due to the fact that the left and right shutter share a layer, there is only so far you can shutter before the opposite side is pushed back out.

Step6

Next we shutter the top so that all sides are correctly shuttered.

Step7

Finally, we change how sharp the focus is, allowing the light to easily blend back into other face lights.

Arts Festival 2: Sound Operator

Another Arts Festival show, however, this time I was the Sound Operator. The show consisted of four individual shows, three of which were separated by an interval, with one (A series of monologues) taking place during the interval. The show included a dance piece with a heavy amount of projection. Due to this, several changes were being made which would have pushed us up until doors open, and we were on track to make these adjustments, until there was a power cut. This resulted in the building being evacuated and us being unable to make changes.

When the power was finally restored, crew returned and hurried to restore the systems required for show and finish the changes. Fortunately, the computers were unaffected by the power loss and sound was restored quickly. This was also due to the sound for all the shows being simple, consisting only of Qlab.

We were able to complete one of the shows and begin the first interval before the building suffered another power cut. This resulted in the monologues taking place outside and sound tech no longer being provided. Power was again restored shortly after the building had been evacuated and the teams were able to restore the show during the monologues.

At this time, it was decided that Lighting would run without moving lights, as the power fluctuations could have damaged them. We continued and run the second show before power was again lost resulting in the final show being postponed.

For the set up, the Sound computer was run through an isolator into the two stereo channels on the desk. These were sent straight to mix and were in mute group 1. This allowed me to easily mute the sound mac with a single button. The channels were also sent to auxiliaries’ 3 and 4, these being the monitors on stage for the actors.

The Video computer was run into two channels on the sound desk however, we unfortunately didn’t have another isolator which resulted in some interference. The interference wasn’t noticeable when the computer was playing the video and the channels were muted at other times. The channels were sent to mix and were part of mute group 2. These channels were also sent to auxiliaries 3 & 4 for the cast’s monitors.

The final device connected to the sound desk was a microphone for the DSM to make announcements pre-show and during the intervals. This was run into channel 1 on the desk, which was sent to mix and part of mute group 3. This channel wasn’t sent to the auxiliaries as there wouldn’t be anybody on stage at the time of the announcements and were not important for the cast to hear.

All of the other channels on the desk were in mute group 4, this allowed all of the unused channels to be muted with a single button.

Arts Festival 1: Stage Team

The Arts Festival, otherwise known as HE Festival has begun, starting with us working on the stage team. The first three shows have all taken place, one after the other. To assist with the scene changes, I created a running sheet that details all of the changes and gives a layout of everything. The show has three acts, with intervals between each.

Act 1

Arts Fest 1 - Act 1 Stage Plan
The first act, was also the most complex. It consisted of a full living room set. The set was designed to be run down as it is owned by a blind man who is incapable of looking after himself. As shown in the plan above, this is also the show that was using the lamp post, stage practical. As you can see this is set Stage Left, in front of the down stage tabs. This was only used briefly with the majority of the act taking place stage right.

Act 2

Arts Fest 1 - Act 2 Stage Plan
The second act was simpler than the first consisting of a centre stage kitchen. The kitchen had a oven in the centre, which the theatre already had. Either side of that was a piece of stackable rostra (2 High). Stage Left of the oven was a special rostra construction that housed a sink. On the rostra was a microwave and kettle. Finally there was a table and chair set, was covered and had four cups set on it.

Act 3

Arts Fest 1 - Act 3
The final act was the simplest, consisting only of rostra placed around the stage, which were moved through out the performance by the actors.

To assist with all of the changes, I created a running sheet with all of the changes that need to take place between the acts. This is pictured below.

Arts Fest 1 - Stage Running Order

Hall of the Mountain King Lighting Video

As proof of our ability to program a show, we produced a light show to the music “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. Below is the video of the show I produced for this task, however, we were not the operators, which resulted in the show being out from the music in several areas as the operators had never seen our piece.

Using Capture Argo and Capture Polar with a prebuilt model of the theatre, we pre-visualised the show and programmed it into Nomad. This allows us to transfer the file to the venue’s Ion for playback. After creating the show, we moved onto the venue’s lighting rig to fine tune the show for things such as focusing moving lights, this was important as all of the movers were backwards in Capture. It also allowed us to test some effects that we couldn’t test in Capture due to computer speeds. Below is the video evidence of the show being operated by another student.

Below you can download all of the file produced for this task, including the show file, data exports, Capture model and the Cue timings for the song.

TEDx Leicester – Rigging

Today was the technical’s for this years TEDx Leicester Conference. We started by dropping several lighting bar’s in to working height from the deck.

The rig is mainly Fresnels and PC’s hung above the conference section where there are tables set out. Most of the bars didn’t have enough ways on the IWB so this meant running several Soca runs to the bars, where there was a breakout hung on the bar. From this breakout we run TRS to above the fixture, allowing us to replace the fixture easily if we need to.

There was also a Source 4 wash of the stage with a special and a gobo breakup wash. The breakup wash was over the conference seating area, provided by four Source 4 zooms, two in front and two rear. The wash was provided by four Source 4 zooms all of which were FOH, with the fifth providing a special for the TEDx sign. Above the stage was three 2K Fresnels, all of which had a scrollers and barndoors on the front. This however required removing a set of barndoors from one fixture and attaching it to another using a Torx screwdriver as there are no clips on the front of the scroller.

Finally, we flashed through the rig, patched the channels and focused the rig. Unfortunately the Android remote wasn’t working which resulted in one person having to remain at the desk whilst another worked on there own in the auditorium. This slowed progress so, shortly before we finished the day, we put all of the fresnels on and sped through them.

New Rig, New Patch: Part 1

Before starting the busiest section of the year, the annual HE Festival (Higher Education Festival), the Sue Townsend Theatre under goes a bit of maintenance. Part of that is time for the second year students (Who act as the designers for the shows) to request changes to the lighting rig. This year there were only a few changes that needed to be made, mainly adding a three colour Cyc wash, moving a few Mac 700 Profiles and refocusing. However, whilst all of this was taking place, the theatres patch was cleared, organised and re-done.

Originally, the theatre followed a ‘patch where-ever is free’ system, however, this quickly becomes problematic when using a one to one patch on the desk. As such we took the opportunity to base the patch on the dimmers phasing. This allows us to keep the phase’s separate and easy to see, whilst also giving us a structure to work with. As such, it was necessary to find out exactly how the dimmers phase. This meant digging out manuals for our old dimmers, comprising of three Strand SMT 20 racks, a Permus 24 rack and two ACT 6 dimmers. To accompany this, I referenced the building’s own documentation, some of which dated back to 1994. The most useful of this was the report from Stage Electrics which shows the exact dimmer phasing for the entire system.

Next up was to mark up all of the phasing in a few places, first off we needed to mark it on the dimmers, then we need to mark up the patch panel. Below is a series of photos showing all of the new marking’s ready and waiting to begin patching.

Then, working from a hand drawn plan from the second years and the technical director, I began to patch from the most up stage bar, working down stage. Lights are mostly patched following the simple pattern, stage right to stage left. The only exception is when jumping to another address block was necessary to ensure that the phase remained the same.

Next up was testing, flashing and fixing. We started by glowing the entire rig at a low intensity and moving the moving lights around. This ensured that all of the movers had power and allowed us to easily and visibly see exactly what fixtures were working. Then, we slowly made our way around the rig, fixing broken fixtures and focusing as we go. This involved a few PAR Lamp changes and the odd dimmer fuse changing. This worked until we discovered a fault with one of our dimmers (#25 – B.5) and had to re-patch a single fixture to a different address block.

When we were finished, we were left with a working, mostly neat patch, that followed simple phasing rules. Below is the finalised patch.

As the first image shows, the entire Non Dim patch is labelled with what fixture is on the end of it. This allows for a Non Dim to be easily added or pulled and allows for a tech to make the decision of where to put a new fixture based on whats already on the circuit, for example, adding the fixture to the circuit with the mirror ball would make sense as that circuit will have a lower demand compared to any other circuit.

The patch will always remain a dynamic and fluid part of lighting, however, for now, it is neat and clean. Part 2 will contain all of the paper work for the new rig and details of it in it’s final form, as there are still a few fixture’s to put up.