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Title: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Adam Griff on December 11, 2020, 11:21:55 pm
I work for a summer camp and we're building a new performing arts center. It's really a multi-purpose space, and one of those purposes will be our twice/summer play. We'll be spending around $100,000 on theatrical lighting, and I want to make sure we're making smart decisions. We typically have campers helping to run the lights for the play, and college age theater kids as staff members working with them. Typically it's a musical.

How much of the $$ should we be spending on fixtures vs. control systems? We're planning on doing all LEDs. Do we need ETC brand stuff, or are there more economical options that will be reliable? This is a 10,000 square foot space. It's not technically a stage, but rather a platform. The design includes 3 lighting bars.

Thanks for any guidance you can give!
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Jeff Lelko on December 11, 2020, 11:29:50 pm
Thanks for any guidance you can give!

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Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Adam Griff on December 12, 2020, 10:18:36 am
My mistake! I believe I fixed it.

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Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Jeff Lelko on December 12, 2020, 11:23:03 am
Thanks!

So my two cents...  If you’re only using the system twice a year - rent it.  That $100k can likely be spent on other portions of the project with better return on investment (so to speak). 

If you must buy, I’d strongly suggest hiring a dedicated company in your area to spec, sell, and install the equipment.  It protects you from any liabilities or performance issues, and the extra money you pay for the service is easily offset by not having costly “learning moments” or needing to add more equipment  if things don’t turn out how you envision.  Most integrators can also facilitate equipment demos in your venue to help make choices.  Hope this helps and good luck with the project!
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Tim Weaver on December 12, 2020, 12:59:00 pm
Thanks!

So my two cents...  If you’re only using the system twice a year - rent it.  That $100k can likely be spent on other portions of the project with better return on investment (so to speak). 

If you must buy, I’d strongly suggest hiring a dedicated company in your area to spec, sell, and install the equipment.  It protects you from any liabilities or performance issues, and the extra money you pay for the service is easily offset by not having costly “learning moments” or needing to add more equipment  if things don’t turn out how you envision.  Most integrators can also facilitate equipment demos in your venue to help make choices.  Hope this helps and good luck with the project!
This. You'll be able to rent it for many years before you spend 100k on rentals, and during that time you'll have zero maintenance to do and you'll like get fancy new lights to play with every couple of years.

Barring that, I'm having extremely good luck with Chauvet Pro fixtures. I have both the Leko's and the Fresnels and they are awesome.
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Adam Griff on December 12, 2020, 01:35:42 pm
So, we are using a lighting vendor, but because it's a large construction project, they report to the Electrician, who reports to the General Contractor, and I'm not always getting the access/answers I want.

While I agree rentals would probably make more sense, unfortunately our budget doesn't work that way. We have money as part of the capital project budget for theatrical lighting that won't necessarily be available in our annual program budget. I know that may be bassackwards, but such is life. We may be able to rent a few lights for each summer's show, but we won't be able to spend thousands of dollars on it. Also, we will use the lights for other camp productions - our dance show, Rock concerts, etc.

So, back to my original question. For a middle-school level theatrical production, is our money well spent on an ETC Colorsource 40AV console, or is it worth upgrading to Element 2 1K? Or are neither of these appropriate for our use? Any general tips - if we're buying 20-30 LED fixtures, what are must haves? Stick with ETC or are there good alternative options? Finally, important to note this is technically a platform and not a stage. There is no curtain.

Thanks for any insight!
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: John Fruits on December 12, 2020, 06:57:43 pm
How large is the stage (platform)? how high is the ceiling going to be above that?
Going with ETC is a great idea, you get tied into their legendary service.  The Colorsource controller is interesting but still somewhat limited.  The Element2 will be familiar to a lot more people since it is an EOS console.  The latest version of EOS also adds augmment3d, a 3D visualizer.  You might also take a look at fixtures from Chauvet Pro and Elation. 
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Jeff Lelko on December 13, 2020, 12:31:13 am
So, we are using a lighting vendor, but because it's a large construction project, they report to the Electrician, who reports to the General Contractor, and I'm not always getting the access/answers I want.

I’m sure that can be frustrating, but working through a vendor that’s integrating with your electrician is the right way to do this.  For permanent installations there are a number of electrical and structural (rigging) considerations that must be handled properly for code compliance.  Can you fire the lighting vendor and hire one that meets your desired level of detail?

While I agree rentals would probably make more sense, unfortunately our budget doesn't work that way. We have money as part of the capital project budget for theatrical lighting that won't necessarily be available in our annual program budget. I know that may be bassackwards, but such is life. We may be able to rent a few lights for each summer's show, but we won't be able to spend thousands of dollars on it. Also, we will use the lights for other camp productions - our dance show, Rock concerts, etc.

Unfortunately as Tim alluded to, lighting isn’t a one-time expense even if you own your system.  Equipment WILL need service, repairs, and parts from time to time, especially if you bring moving lights into the mix.  You’ll also need to budget for lift rentals if the equipment can’t be safely accessed with ladders.  I see this happen very frequently in schools especially - school gets a grant for new equipment.  It gets bought, maybe one or two people learn to use it, and when it breaks there’s never any money for repairs.  I’ve lost count of how many moving lights (or even conventional lights with a burnt out lamp) I’ve found sitting in storage cabinet purgatory...  My point is that you might want to educate the powers at be that tech needs the style of budgeting applied to things like set construction, performance rights, etc.

So, back to my original question. For a middle-school level theatrical production, is our money well spent on an ETC Colorsource 40AV console, or is it worth upgrading to Element 2 1K? Or are neither of these appropriate for our use? Any general tips - if we're buying 20-30 LED fixtures, what are must haves? Stick with ETC or are there good alternative options? Finally, important to note this is technically a platform and not a stage. There is no curtain.

I’d spec the Element 2.  Colorsource is okay when used within its intended purpose but I’d never want to run a musical on one.  Is the Element the right board though?  It’s definitely a “diet” theatrical board, meaning that it’s generally better suited to scripted playback versus the “busking” we do at rock concerts where we’re running on the fly.  EOS has gotten better in this regard compared to when it first was released, but you’ll see the biggest limitations here versus other areas of the console structure. 

I’m an ETC owner and user, but I also own equipment from Martin, High End, Elation, Chauvet (Pro and DJ), and the list goes on.  No one make or model is universally the best.  That’s why renting is a good option so that you can have the right gear for your exact needs versus trying to shoehorn things just because it’s what you have. 

Sadly 20-30 fixtures won’t nearly be enough for a proper theatrical light plot.  Having 3-4 times that will get you in the ballpark depending on the size of your space.  That aside, you’re going to need a mixture of ellipsoidals of varying beam angles, fresnels, dedicated CYC lights, followspots, maybe a handful of moving lights, and any architectural lights that help to accent your performance space.  This is one of the reasons why hiring a professional to help you will pay for itself several times over - they can demo fixtures in your space and leverage their lighting design experience to help you get the most from your budget without any gaping holes in your capabilities.

I know this can sound like a lot, but when spending other people’s money it’s important to document and plan your decisions to justify to the project’s stakeholders why said decisions were made - especially if the result fails to meet expectations.  I can promise that saying “I bought this because someone on the internet said they liked it” won’t go over too well!  Best of luck though!
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Steven Cohen on December 13, 2020, 08:47:11 am
I work for a summer camp and we're building a new performing arts center. It's really a multi-purpose space, and one of those purposes will be our twice/summer play. We'll be spending around $100,000 on theatrical lighting, and I want to make sure we're making smart decisions. We typically have campers helping to run the lights for the play, and college age theater kids as staff members working with them. Typically it's a musical.

How much of the $$ should we be spending on fixtures vs. control systems? We're planning on doing all LEDs. Do we need ETC brand stuff, or are there more economical options that will be reliable? This is a 10,000 square foot space. It's not technically a stage, but rather a platform. The design includes 3 lighting bars.

Thanks for any guidance you can give!
+3 for the Element. The console will provide a solid base for any students who continue on the Tech theater route + I don't think that the price difference is that much in comparison to other areas you will face. For example, the electrical service, relays, raceways, racks, cable runs, ect will be your major expenses. As far as instruments, ETC just came out with a retrofit Color LED end cap for Source Fours. I am not sure how this prices out if one does not already own the Source Fours, but that product should be explored to see if it is feasible.

Also, as another poster has point out, how will someone get to the instruments to focus them? Will the electrics (pipes that hold the lighting instruments) be on motors? 
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Adam Griff on December 13, 2020, 10:47:36 am
Is the Element easy for non-lighting people to use? I looked at some videos of the Colorsource 40AV and it looked fairly user friendly. Keep in mind this is for a cast and crew of mostly elementary and middle school campers.

If the lights are all LED and can be different colors, do we still need 60-100 lights?? That seems like so many for our simple productions. The performance part of the platform will be about 35' wide, and about 20' deep I believe.

And don't worry, I'm not making any recommendations based solely on the internet :). I'm getting input from many, just thought this would also be a good place to ask some questions.

+3 for the Element. The console will provide a solid base for any students who continue on the Tech theater route + I don't think that the price difference is that much in comparison to other areas you will face. For example, the electrical service, relays, raceways, racks, cable runs, ect will be your major expenses. As far as instruments, ETC just came out with a retrofit Color LED end cap for Source Fours. I am not sure how this prices out if one does not already own the Source Fours, but that product should be explored to see if it is feasible.

Also, as another poster has point out, how will someone get to the instruments to focus them? Will the electrics (pipes that hold the lighting instruments) be on motors?
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Tim Weaver on December 13, 2020, 10:54:33 am
Is the Element easy for non-lighting people to use? I looked at some videos of the Colorsource 40AV and it looked fairly user friendly. Keep in mind this is for a cast and crew of mostly elementary and middle school campers.

If the lights are all LED and can be different colors, do we still need 60-100 lights?? That seems like so many for our simple productions. The performance part of the platform will be about 35' wide, and about 20' deep I believe.

And don't worry, I'm not making any recommendations based solely on the internet :). I'm getting input from many, just thought this would also be a good place to ask some questions.

I don't think he was concerned about color in that fixture count. Besides, full color fixtures usually don't produce great skin tones. Some do, but they are expensive.

When you start using 3 to 5 lights to cover each area of the stage, and there are 6 to 10 areas to cover you can see how they start to add up.

Front lights, left middle and right, then a rear fill or two depending on the look is pretty typical. So a basic 6 area wash could use 30 key lights, and you haven't lit the background yet.
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Tim Hite on December 13, 2020, 01:06:08 pm
Is the Element easy for non-lighting people to use? I looked at some videos of the Colorsource 40AV and it looked fairly user friendly. Keep in mind this is for a cast and crew of mostly elementary and middle school campers.

If the lights are all LED and can be different colors, do we still need 60-100 lights?? That seems like so many for our simple productions. The performance part of the platform will be about 35' wide, and about 20' deep I believe.

And don't worry, I'm not making any recommendations based solely on the internet :). I'm getting input from many, just thought this would also be a good place to ask some questions.

I was drawn to the Colorsource console for my business, after looking at many other consoles at LDI last year. I'm good with audio but a neophyte in the lighting world. The console seemed full-featured and very approachable. I know it has cue lists and such to help run through scripted shows. Your local ETC rep or office likely can send out a console and a couple lights to play with before you make a purchase decision. Not sure what your timeline is to decide.

I never purchased a console due to COVID. I've been meaning to get a loaner over to play with, but have been working full time on things that actually make money, so that got back burnered.

I would echo the sentiments about ETC service and support. They're amazing in that regard. The ColorSource fixtures are a nice price point and squarely aimed at your market segment. Not sue that I'd even consider another brand for this application. I'd suggest contacting ETC directly to see what they think, as well.
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Steven Cohen on December 13, 2020, 02:14:09 pm
Is the Element easy for non-lighting people to use? I looked at some videos of the Colorsource 40AV and it looked fairly user friendly. Keep in mind this is for a cast and crew of mostly elementary and middle school campers.

If the lights are all LED and can be different colors, do we still need 60-100 lights?? That seems like so many for our simple productions. The performance part of the platform will be about 35' wide, and about 20' deep I believe.

And don't worry, I'm not making any recommendations based solely on the internet :). I'm getting input from many, just thought this would also be a good place to ask some questions.

If I am understanding the documentation provided by ETC correctly, the ColorSourse consoles are limited to 40 or 80 control channels. If this is true, I think this is important for you to understand what this means and how it may or may not affect you. A small venue moving light may use approximately 15 control channels for each instrument if one wants each instrument to be colored differently, sized differently, and focused differently, in other words independent from each other. If you think you have any plans of any instrument that moves in the future, this may not be the console for you. There maybe workarounds such as patching of each show but that introduces a level of complexity that is probably not suited for this application.

Speaking as a former kid who was been around theater's since I was a child. The first thing I would be looking for as a kid would be the movers, then the hazer. 
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Jeff Lelko on December 13, 2020, 04:27:55 pm
If I am understanding the documentation provided by ETC correctly, the ColorSourse consoles are limited to 40 or 80 control channels.

ETC’s nomenclature can be a bit confusing sometimes.  ETC tends to refer to a “channel” as a device, meaning that it can be anything from a single dimmer to a Mac 2K.  ETC uses the term “output” to reference DMX channels.  My Congo Kid is 256 channels but two full universes of DMX output.  The board’s capacity is reached when either type of allocation is full.  I believe Colorsource works the same way, but anyone looking to purchase this should definitely confirm with their ETC Rep.  And yes, ETC is happy to facilitate console demos.  They can come to you or you can go to a regional office to play and compare.

Is the Element easy for non-lighting people to use? I looked at some videos of the Colorsource 40AV and it looked fairly user friendly. Keep in mind this is for a cast and crew of mostly elementary and middle school campers.

While I’m not an ETC Rep, the Element is mostly targeted towards community theaters, high school/college theaters, and other venues that need some semblance of lighting control that’s beyond a DJ board but not to the level of complexity seen in larger lighting designs.  It’s certainly not the most complicated console I’ve ever used, but you’ll still need to learn it.  Once the system is setup, patched, and has some decent “building block” programs made it can be easy enough to work from there, but you’re still going to need two or three resident experts that have learned the console.  I personally view the Colorsource desks as ETC’s answer to the Pathway Cognito and Jands offerings that are targeted at houses of worship, small performing venues, and the occasional personal user. 

If the lights are all LED and can be different colors, do we still need 60-100 lights?? That seems like so many for our simple productions. The performance part of the platform will be about 35' wide, and about 20' deep I believe.

Yes.  The phrase “need” can be variable, but to do things right you’re going to need more fixtures than you’ve likely anticipated.  Not to put you on the spot but as an honest question, have you ever designed lighting for a full-blown musical?  I ask this as someone who’s instructed tech workshops at community theaters and realizes that those who have never seen the inner workings of lighting design don’t yet grasp the “why” behind the “what”.  Shadow control, boundary definition, color/texture in negative space - all things you’ll see leveraged in professional design that up your fixture count, on top of the key lights that Tim already mentioned.  COVID aside, try taking a field trip to your local regional theater and have a look at their system.  There’s a reason why we pack so many fixtures in there! 
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: John Fruits on December 13, 2020, 08:48:34 pm
This will be a bit meandering but it goes to how many lights do you need.
The old school technique was based on the McCandless method.
https://www.controlbooth.com/wiki/Collaborative-Articles:McCandless-Method
This divided the stage into acting areas, at minimum 3 zones across and 2 or 3 zones downstage to upstage.  Sometimes on larger stages is 5 zones across.  This would use at minimum two fixtures from the front for each acting area.  They ideally would be 45 degrees up and 45 degrees to the left and right.  For the downstage areas this would usually be Ellipsoidal Reflector Spotlights (aka LEKOS) which have framing shutters to block spill onto non acting areas.  The next area to be lit would also be 3 or 5 zones across and usually be lit with fresnels or in Europe PC spots. 
Then you learn to throw out the McCandless method:
https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/45-degree-rule.8858/#post-103453
Here is another basic guide from Mainstage:
http://www.mainstage.com/PDFs/lighttheory7.pdf
So for a minimum 6 or 10 ERS for the downstage area which would be mounted on an electric above the audience, plus maybe a couple of extras for specials.
Then 6 or 10 washlights (fresnel or other type of fixture) for the mid stage area plus extras for specials.
Then lighting for the upstage "cyc" or sky drop.  Smooth lighting for this is essential and can add a lot to any production.
For the ERS I would suggest the Colorsource units with appropriate lenses.  Chauvet Ovation is another good choice and Elation is also a good possible choice.
For the mid-stage areas, the Colorsource pars  which would require suitable lenses also. Chauvet Ovation has a full color fresnel that might be a good choice.  I think Elation has one too.
For the upstage drop the ETC Colorsource cyc wash fixture has gotten good reviews.  There is also a lot of great comments about the Chauvet Ovation B-2805FC 6 foot striplight.  It is incredibly bright.  In fact several people have used it on their upstage black velour drapes and gotten very nice colored drapes!
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Adam Griff on December 13, 2020, 09:14:03 pm
This has all been really helpful. One more question - I just got a different quote that uses the ChromaQ system with a Vista Ex Control Surface with 1024 channels. This company says "We have found in the past though that volunteers and non-tech people find the Chroma-Q Vista console much easier to operate than ETC consoles."

Any thoughts on the ChromaQ/Vista system? Again, this is for a summer camp, mostly operated by non-technical people, though some of our users might be high schoolers or college students who know a bit about theater. We run a play 2x per summer, a dance show, and some rock performances. The simpler the system is to operate, the more it will get used! Thanks for everyone's input and suggestions!
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: John Fruits on December 13, 2020, 10:09:02 pm
https://www.vistabychromaq.com/
Just by a quick glance I don't see how this can be any easier to use than the Element2.

EDIT: As far as the stripped down, easier to use by novice consoles, it used to be the Pathway Cognito.
https://pathwayconnect.com/index.php/products/dmx-show-controllers-and-consoles/103-cognito2
Then there were the ETC ColorSource and ColorSource AV
And Chauvet/ChamSys has the QuickQ consoles.
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Jeff Lelko on December 14, 2020, 12:45:48 am
Any thoughts on the ChromaQ/Vista system?

What’s the system?  Without seeing any actual proposed plots, fixture lists, and similar it’s impossible to say what will work best for you.  This where actually getting hands on hardware will be very helpful.  I’m not sure I agree with the statement of something being easier to operate than an ETC console - it depends which consoles we’re comparing.  My ETC Congo Kid is not a beginner board.  An Element2 is.  Try both the Element and the Vista to see which one is more approachable to you.

I’m glad this thread has been helpful to you.  Hopefully one of your main takeaways is that there’s a lot more to theatrical lighting design than just pointing a few dozen lights at a stage.  My hope is that you’ll continue to work with an experienced integrator who can actually design a system for you that will work well in your space.  Debating pros and cons of a console or fixture is one thing, but when building a fresh install the entire design needs to be integrated before money is spent.     
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Steven Cohen on December 14, 2020, 02:11:22 pm
What’s the system?  Without seeing any actual proposed plots, fixture lists, and similar it’s impossible to say what will work best for you.  This where actually getting hands on hardware will be very helpful.  I’m not sure I agree with the statement of something being easier to operate than an ETC console - it depends which consoles we’re comparing.  My ETC Congo Kid is not a beginner board.  An Element2 is.  Try both the Element and the Vista to see which one is more approachable to you.

I’m glad this thread has been helpful to you.  Hopefully one of your main takeaways is that there’s a lot more to theatrical lighting design than just pointing a few dozen lights at a stage.  My hope is that you’ll continue to work with an experienced integrator who can actually design a system for you that will work well in your space.  Debating pros and cons of a console or fixture is one thing, but when building a fresh install the entire design needs to be integrated before money is spent.     
+1 for Jeff's comments. While a console is important, if this is a complete install, think of a console as a steering wheel on a car, and the rest of the car as the lighting instruments, electrical system, cabling, dimmers, relays, house lights, permits, hardware, ect.
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Don T. Williams on December 14, 2020, 05:56:34 pm
Don't get stuck in this kind of situation.  A local college "upgraded" their 250 seat theater system to LED lighting.  They pulled out 96 channels of working ETC dimming, and the ETC console, and replaced it with 96 channels of a much lower grade (in my opinion) of dimmers and a console that I don't think ever worked.  The reasonalby professional LED instruments specifically state they should not be used on a dimmer channel!  The dimmer manufacturer actually has non-dim modules for the racks, but a truly unqualified person working at the college worked with an unknowledgable local electrical contractor (their first theater system) put together the system specifications and bid.  They not only threw out (literally- I think it went to a landfill) good gear, but replaced it with cheap gear that is the wrong gear.  I believe the college instructor involved was fired for other reasons that same year.  The theater lighting system was unsuable the one time I worked an event there.  After spending much of two days (donated to a local arts orginization I support), and getting nothing usable out of the system. I gave up and brought in my own system.  Had to do the same thing with sound.  Hundred of thousands of dollars of tax payer money wasted.
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Tim Weaver on December 14, 2020, 06:21:42 pm
Don't get stuck in this kind of situation.  A local college "upgraded" their 250 seat theater system to LED lighting.  They pulled out 96 channels of working ETC dimming, and the ETC console, and replaced it with 96 channels of a much lower grade (in my opinion) of dimmers and a console that I don't think ever worked.  The reasonalby professional LED instruments specifically state they should not be used on a dimmer channel!  The dimmer manufacturer actually has non-dim modules for the racks, but a truly unqualified person working at the college worked with an unknowledgable local electrical contractor (their first theater system) put together the system specifications and bid.  They not only threw out (literally- I think it went to a landfill) good gear, but replaced it with cheap gear that is the wrong gear.  I believe the college instructor involved was fired for other reasons that same year.  The theater lighting system was unsuable the one time I worked an event there.  After spending much of two days (donated to a local arts orginization I support), and getting nothing usable out of the system. I gave up and brought in my own system.  Had to do the same thing with sound.  Hundred of thousands of dollars of tax payer money wasted.


That sounds like an install (distributed audio) done in the swanky football boxes, bar, and ballroom that was built at A&M when I worked there. The fire alarm contractor won the bid to do the audio system. They literally pulled xlr to the different input boxes and never terminated them. There were tons of other wiring problems too. We ( I worked for the Theater Complex on campus) had to go in and basically do everything except pull wire to fix that install.

OP, I'm sure you are getting the hint now that if you don't rent this rig, it will be a failure that someone down the road has to deal with. It's essentially a waste of money. If you absolutely can't persuade the powers that be to build a rental budget, then just stick with the basics and get a local well-respected company to design an install this system.
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Dave Garoutte on December 14, 2020, 06:23:54 pm
Don't get stuck in this kind of situation.  A local college "upgraded" their 250 seat theater system to LED lighting.  They pulled out 96 channels of working ETC dimming, and the ETC console, and replaced it with 96 channels of a much lower grade (in my opinion) of dimmers and a console that I don't think ever worked.  The reasonalby professional LED instruments specifically state they should not be used on a dimmer channel!  The dimmer manufacturer actually has non-dim modules for the racks, but a truly unqualified person working at the college worked with an unknowledgable local electrical contractor (their first theater system) put together the system specifications and bid.  They not only threw out (literally- I think it went to a landfill) good gear, but replaced it with cheap gear that is the wrong gear.  I believe the college instructor involved was fired for other reasons that same year.  The theater lighting system was unsuable the one time I worked an event there.  After spending much of two days (donated to a local arts orginization I support), and getting nothing usable out of the system. I gave up and brought in my own system.  Had to do the same thing with sound.  Hundred of thousands of dollars of tax payer money wasted.
Sounds like the lighting equivalent of the 'Three systems to get it right' for churches sound systems.
Buy once cry once!
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Jerome Malsack on December 17, 2020, 01:26:05 pm
true on the three systems,  but consider that the system needs to support theater and for each play comes a different configuration and changes in location for the lights to meet the scenes and the  movement on stage.   Light has to be reconfigured for each new performance and will take time,  plan, and adjustments,  programming.   How many scenes and will there be changes from act 1 to act done ? 
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Tim McCulloch on December 17, 2020, 03:14:48 pm
I guess "summer camp" has changed since I was a kid.  We did skits around the campfire.  This sounds more like a way for parents to more ethically dump their kids somewhere for a couple of weeks - "hey, Billy and Susie, you can be Shreck Jr or Seusical the Musical!"

Ultimately it depends on what the finished product needs to look and sound like.  If parents are attending is the expectation a polished, professional level production; or is it cardboard and tempera paint or somewhere in between?  Shows staged mostly for other campers?

If this is a theatre camp where kids are supposed to learn things then a dead hung rep plot is going to be both visually disappointing and unlikely to create much enthusiasm from the techie kids who will only learn that actors get all the love and that they are, as Frank Zappa put it, "evil barbarians with a wrench in their pocket".

Ease of use is a misnomer... how about "ease of learning almost nothing?"  Obviously, products that are impossible to use are not helpful, but if this is all set up for ACTORS to just walk in a do a show, then never mind.  If it's to teach kids some tech, too, and get them some experience they might not get at school, using equipment their schools may not have, then this is a disservice.

So is this about the product or the process?
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Dave Garoutte on December 17, 2020, 03:41:00 pm
true on the three systems,  but consider that the system needs to support theater and for each play comes a different configuration and changes in location for the lights to meet the scenes and the  movement on stage.   Light has to be reconfigured for each new performance and will take time,  plan, and adjustments,  programming.   How many scenes and will there be changes from act 1 to act done ?
The three systems thing refers to:
First buying something cheap to save money (#1). 
Then buying something better, but not the right tool(#2). 
Then when the complaints keep coming, finally spending the money and hiring the expertise to get the system you should have gotten in the first place(#3). 
The false economy of not getting the right thing the first time is the point.
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Tim Weaver on December 17, 2020, 06:59:13 pm
The three systems thing refers to:
First buying something cheap to save money (#1). 
Then buying something better, but not the right tool(#2). 
Then when the complaints keep coming, finally spending the money and hiring the expertise to get the system you should have gotten in the first place(#3). 
The false economy of not getting the right thing the first time is the point.

To be specific, system 1 is always DIY shopped on price alone. System 2 is always because, "hey ask John he's got a bitchin home theater so he definitely knows what he's doing", then system 3 is when you crawl bakc to the integrator which gave you that unbelievable price quote in the first place! lol
Title: Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
Post by: Erik Jerde on December 18, 2020, 11:47:51 pm
Regarding the lighting company.  Make sure they are competent in theatrical/entertainment lighting and not just an architectural lighting firm.  Get references.  If they aren't into theatrical/entertainment lighting then do everything you can to replace them.

Regarding access.  You need to have a plan of how you're going to get to the fixtures for focus and maintenance.  If the floor is raked this becomes more difficult.  If it's not a slab on grade this will restrict your ability to use boom lifts and a structural engineer should be consulted.  Fixed seating makes it even more challenging though not impossible.  Bucket lifts are the most economical but rigging movers from them can be difficult to impossible unless they're really small.  Based on what you wrote about budget the smart thing is to buy a lift (look for a used one).  That way you can do maintenance when needed and not have to find budget/say mother-may-I whenever something breaks.  You'll need a little money yearly for inspection.  Your dealer should be able to give you a price.  Don't skip the maintenance - this is a life safety issue.  Sell it to management in that the lift can be used by the maintenance department for their needs and they come in super handy for hanging decor etc.  You need to have a place to store it!  Of course if your lighting bars are moving then it's a lot easier though a lift makes focus much easier.  Otherwise it's a lot of up and down and that gets old REALLY fast.