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Title: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Sean on May 27, 2004, 06:44:02 pm
Hi, I play in a band and we are now to the point where we are thinking about lighting rigs for our show. None of us has any experience with this and dont even know where to begin. Any suggestions on where to start?

Thanks in advance.

-Sean
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Alex_C on May 28, 2004, 06:12:49 am
Can you be a little more specific:

- What size venues are you playing in?
- What kind of budget do you have?
- What type of music do you play?

Alex
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Sean on May 29, 2004, 04:14:10 pm
alexc wrote on Fri, 28 May 2004 06:12

Can you be a little more specific:

- What size venues are you playing in?
- What kind of budget do you have?
- What type of music do you play?

Alex


1: 300-400 cap
2: Lets say $1000-$1500
3: Heavier stuff...not metal...but a heavy rock thing.
Title: Small Band Lighting - The [Almost] Definitive Guide
Post by: Alex_C on May 29, 2004, 06:03:21 pm
Hi Sean,

That narrows the options down a little! Lighting equipment eats up the cash prety quick - a single moving head light will cost more than that.

Basically, what you need is:

1. A controller ("desk")
2. Dimmer pack(s)
3. Lights
4. Stands
5. Cables & Connectors

I don't know that much about this end of the market, but to give you some idea, let's address each one of these in turn:

1. Controller
Behringer Eurolight LC2412 (~$200). This is a budget 24-channel DMX (digital) console, but has a lot of features for the price. Some people have mentioned reliability problems, but we've had one in our rental stock for almost a year and not had any reports of problems. Maybe someone else can make some other recommendations in this area.

2. Dimmer Packs
2x 4-Channel Dimmer (~$150+ each). I was about to recommend the 6-channel Behringer LD6230. It's a cheap, competent, DMX-controlled rack-mount dimmer. Then I remembered the American DJ DP-DMX4B. This is a little over half the price of the Behringer, and has the advantage of being small and light enough to mount on the lighting stand. It also has all the output sockets built-in, whereas you'd have to make up input and output cables for the Behringer.

3. Lights (aka. Fixtures Smile)
8x PAR56 Cans & 300W Lamps (~$50-60 each inc. lamps). The PAR can has for years been the foundation of rock lighting. Large shows will use 50, 100, or even more 1kW PAR cans in addition to the 'intelligent' moving-head stuff, but 8x 300W PARs is a good starting point. You will also need gels - the color filters which you cut to size to put in the fixtures' color frames.

4. Stands
2x Tripod Lighting Stands (~$50 each). Pretty self-explanatory. Each one holds 4 fixtures. You can pay about $20 more for stands with additional side-bars, allowing them to hold 8 fixtures each. It might be worth spending a little bit extra on these if there's any chance you'll want to upgrade in the near future. Also, the side-bars would be a good place to hang the American DJ dimmer pack from - it's designed for truss mounting.

5. Cables & Connectors
The PAR cans will come (usually) with a short heat-resistant cord, probably about 2-3ft. If you get stand-mountable dimmer packs (like the American DJ), you might be able to get by with the included cord, in which case you'll just need to buy a 3-pin Edison plug for each fixture. Otherwise, you'll need to make up (or buy) some appropriately long extension cords. The cost of these can mount up surprisingly quickly. On the subject of cables, you'll also need DMX cables to connect the controller to the dimmer packs, and a terminator to connect to the last pack in the chain. The cables go:

Controller --> Dimmer 1 --> Dimmer 2 + Terminator
Where '-->' represents a cable

The total for everything here, excluding cables & connectors, is about $1100. The cables could add anything from $20-$200 to that, depending on what you need.

Hopefully I've covered everything you need to know here...

Good luck,

Alex.


(Note that my approximate prices were from a 10-second search on Google. You can probably get most of this stuff substantially cheaper if you look around.)
Title: Re: Small Band Lighting - The [Almost] Definitive Guide
Post by: Ray Abbitt on May 29, 2004, 06:17:22 pm
alexc wrote on Sat, 29 May 2004 15:03

2. Dimmer Packs
2x 4-Channel Dimmer (~$150+ each). I was about to recommend the 6-channel Behringer LD6230. It's a cheap, competent, DMX-controlled rack-mount dimmer. Then I remembered the American DJ DP-DMX4B. This is a little over half the price of the Behringer, and has the advantage of being small and light enough to mount on the lighting stand. It also has all the output sockets built-in, whereas you'd have to make up input and output cables for the Behringer.
Actually for about the same price as the ADJ you can get the Leviton/NSI D4-DMX which is 1200 watts per channel rather than 600 (although you are still limited to 2400 watts maximum), has breakers instead of fuses on the channels and (probably) has better reliability and more manufacturer support.

-ray
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Alex_C on May 29, 2004, 06:24:23 pm
Thanks for the input Ray, I'll look into that one.
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Sean on May 30, 2004, 02:27:52 am
Thanks for the help guys...this well definately get me started.
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Will Sanders on June 01, 2004, 08:35:47 am
If you are looking for all inclusive packages with lights, controller, and dimmers, try looking at American DJ.  They have several packages to choose from.  Another option is to try www.cheaplights.com.  They have a package from Chauvet that has a 24 channel controller, two dimmer packs, cables, and four par 56's with lamps.  You can always add more to this.

Will Sanders
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: len woelfel on June 01, 2004, 08:58:42 am
I've been a dj for 25 years.  But I'd never venture into live sound reinforcement because it requires a totally different skill set.  If I were a band member and newly looking for lighting, I'd not buy anything.  I'd contact a rental house and see if I could hire them to run the whole thing for me.  A bit more expensive, but I'd end up getting more and better and newer.  

More:  they'll have someone who knows what he's doing with the lighting and can better utilize its features, i.e., you get more bang for the buck and the learning curve is shorter.

Better:  Instead of you buying and maintaining, they will do that.  Plus, if you're not working over the course of a month, all that investment is sitting there doing nothing.  The rental house will keep it working with other people.  

Newer:  Because they keep their stock working more often, they can afford to replace it more often.  

Plus, no new skills to learn, no extra load in and set-up time, no equipment you're stuck with if the band breaks up, no worries about who's responsible for bringing, storing, maintaining it, etc.  

So what would I specifically rent:

2 - 4 HES Color Commanders.  These are color mixing fixtures and will do the work of multiple par cans.  

2 - 8 moving heads.  A HES Studio Spot or Martin Mac series is what you want.  Depending on the venue, you'll want a combo of wash and spot fixtures.  If you're doing a higher energy set, you'll want more spots, a more mellow set, more washes.  You may also want to consider adding/replacing some moving heads with some scanners, such as HES Technobeams or Martin 918 or MX-10.  A moving head doesn't have the fast movements of the scanner, but has a wider range.  

The headliners (Sting, Jay Z, Rolling Stones, Rush, Britney Spears, Michael Buble, etc.) don't own their equipment.  They lease it.  When the tour's over, the equipment goes back.  No worries, no maintenance, no nothing.  

Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Mike Greene on June 03, 2004, 03:04:53 pm
Just continuing from what Len said... I've worked with the HES Technobeams, and they are pretty nice fixtures... I'm doing a show in the fall with a bunch of them also.

Sort of off topic, but I thought I'd mention it...

I was in London last year a couple of days before Robbie Williams did his tour that started at Knebworth... During my private tour of VLPS London they had 4 tractor trailers loading up with basically the entire stock of VL1000's and Mac's that they had... Williams had something like 160 moving lights for the first night... turns out they called VLPS the morning I was there and said something to the extent of... "we're filming a movie opening night and want it to be a little better, so we'd like 80 more moving fixtures"... god it must be sweet to have an open budget when producing a show. haha.
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Alex_C on June 03, 2004, 03:41:19 pm
Quote:

god it must be sweet to have an open budget when producing a show


Exactly - which is why I would hesitate before recommending rental as an option for small bands. Sure, these major international acts rent, but they do have a budget of several $1000s for lighting each show.

I think the bottom line is this: If you're only rarely doing gigs in clubs/bars with little or no stage lighting, then yes, spend a few hundred on renting a good lighting rig and someone competent to operate it.

If, on the other hand, you'll be needing to sort out your own lighting regularly, then buy a small rig. It may not look as good, but it should pay for itself in 5-10 shows, whereas the cost of renting will probably be taking quite a large proportion of your night's pay at each show.

Just my $.02,

Alex
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Craig Leerman on June 04, 2004, 03:35:34 pm
Quote:

   If I were a band member and newly looking for lighting, I'd not buy anything. I'd contact a rental house and see if I could hire them to run the whole thing for me. A bit more expensive, but I'd end up getting more and better and newer.
     




At the local and regional level, renting is not an option. The prices for even a small lighting rental will far exceed what the band is making for the entire gig!

While some rental houses have put together very basic systems for rent (like 2 trees with 4 pars each, tree dimmers and a small controller) that may be reasonably cheap, the fact is that to rent any moving lights at all will cost over $100 ea!  A small system like you described (4 Color Commanders and 2 moving heads will start at about $800 including labor and skyrocket up! Most local and regional bands don't even make that kind of money per gig to spend it all on a simple (and probably boring with so few fixtures) light show.

Craig
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: len woelfel on June 04, 2004, 03:54:52 pm
[quote title=Craig Leerman wrote on Fri, 04 June 2004 20:35]
Quote:

 

At the local and regional level, renting is not an option. The prices for even a small lighting rental will far exceed what the band is making for the entire gig!

While some rental houses have put together very basic systems for rent (like 2 trees with 4 pars each, tree dimmers and a small controller) that may be reasonably cheap, the fact is that to rent any moving lights at all will cost over $100 ea!  A small system like you described (4 Color Commanders and 2 moving heads will start at about $800 including labor and skyrocket up! Most local and regional bands don't even make that kind of money per gig to spend it all on a simple (and probably boring with so few fixtures) light show.

Craig


A.  Rentals aren't that expensive in every market.  4 moving head and 2 color commanders can be rented for around $450 in Chicago.  Labor would be another $200.  But then, you'd have a professional show.  

B.  They'd only be boring if the programmer doesn't have any imagination.  In my hands even a crappy band would look good.  Maybe not sound good, but they'd look good.
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Craig Leerman on June 04, 2004, 05:42:19 pm
Quote:

    A. Rentals aren't that expensive in every market. 4 moving head and 2 color commanders can be rented for around $450 in Chicago. Labor would be another $200. But then, you'd have a professional show.

B. They'd only be boring if the programmer doesn't have any imagination. In my hands even a crappy band would look good. Maybe not sound good, but they'd look good.        



A.  $450-650 is still more than most bars bands make per night!  I also wouldn't call a 6 fixture rig a "professional show". While it may be comprised of 6 expensive fixtures, its still just 6 fixtures.  Also, 4 moving heads are quite heavy. In most clubs your rigging options will be limited, unless you want to ground stack the units or place them on trunks. Otherwise, you will need additional rigging to hang them (like trees or truss) adding to the cost of the rental. And last, many moving fixtures need more than a simple 15-20 amp Edison outlet for power. Many units require 20-30 amps or more per fixture, or even 220 volts. Most clubs are hard pressed to get enough power for the band's backline and PA. Adding high power movers may not be an option, and even if the club has the available power, you will have to rent a PD or other power accs to make the show happen, adding more cost to the rental.

B.  There is only so much you can do with 6 fixtures.  While I'm sure a good programmer can make them move around and look cool and different for every song, the fact remains that there are only 6 fixtures. You can barely light up a trio in a club with 6 wash fixtures!  One of the main goals of stage lighting is to ILLUMINATE the performers so the audience can see them. For that you need an adequate stage wash. 2 Color Changers are not what I call an adequate stage wash, even for a trio.

A way better choice for a small local type band is lots of smaller wattage Par Cans or color changers and if you must have some movers, go with smaller moving mirror fixtures like Martins or  HE TrackSpots. But get a bunch of wash light on the band so they are illuminated!


Here is a shot from a rig I designed for a small band. The back lights are 12 Par 46 cans that all plug into 1 NSI tree dimmer. The rear also contains two Par 56 cans, 2 Mini Moon Stars, and 2 AMDJ strobes.  Front lights are 4 Par 56 cans.  The entire system runs on 2 20 amp circuits.  While the picture is a little dark (I used a film camera with the wrong settings and then a flatbed scanner to get it to digital), the small light rig does provide a lot of light on two outlets, and was very affordable.

They have since added 8 AMDJ Pocket Scans and got rid of the Mini Moons and added two more Par 56s to the front wash (now it is a three color wash). The Pocket Scans put out enough light to be effective, and having 8 of em is a really big look!

http://www.angelfire.com/biz/harborsound/par46.jpg
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Brian Ship on June 04, 2004, 10:04:24 pm
Imagine being the moving light department for them in getting that order...  Not only did they have to prep that many instruments at short notice but because it's video it's also very likely that most if not all moving light lamps had to be brand new.   I would assume that there were some grumpy tech people that day at least as grumpy as our tech people get when that happens to us.  He he he.
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: len woelfel on June 05, 2004, 09:32:07 am
[quote title=Craig Leerman wrote on Fri, 04 June 2004 22:42]
Quote:

   


A.  $450-650 is still more than most bars bands make per night!  I also wouldn't call a 6 fixture rig a "professional show". While it may be comprised of 6 expensive fixtures, its still just 6 fixtures.  Also, 4 moving heads are quite heavy. In most clubs your rigging options will be limited, unless you want to ground stack the units or place them on trunks. Otherwise, you will need additional rigging to hang them (like trees or truss) adding to the cost of the rental. And last, many moving fixtures need more than a simple 15-20 amp Edison outlet for power. Many units require 20-30 amps or more per fixture, or even 220 volts. Most clubs are hard pressed to get enough power for the band's backline and PA. Adding high power movers may not be an option, and even if the club has the available power, you will have to rent a PD or other power accs to make the show happen, adding more cost to the rental.

B.  There is only so much you can do with 6 fixtures.  While I'm sure a good programmer can make them move around and look cool and different for every song, the fact remains that there are only 6 fixtures. You can barely light up a trio in a club with 6 wash fixtures!  One of the main goals of stage lighting is to ILLUMINATE the performers so the audience can see them. For that you need an adequate stage wash. 2 Color Changers are not what I call an adequate stage wash, even for a trio.

A way better choice for a small local type band is lots of smaller wattage Par Cans or color changers and if you must have some movers, go with smaller moving mirror fixtures like Martins or  HE TrackSpots. But get a bunch of wash light on the band so they are illuminated!
http://www.angelfire.com/biz/harborsound/par46.jpg


A small stage (less than 30 x 12 deep) can be illuminated by 2 CC.  4 is better for color mixing but 2 will do fine.  And they're not color CHANGERS, they're color mixers.  Each light can produce a much wider range of colors than any bunch of pars ever could, especially for the price, the size, and the power draw.  And 8 par 64 with 500 watt lamps will pull 4000 watts if all on.  That's roughly 40 amps.  4 good quality movers, such as Studio Spots or Mac 250 series will draw about 1/4th that.  Yeah, they could be run off the floor or off cases.  Trussing isn't that necessary.  Likely the only way to put a truss up in most small to mid sized venues is to use ground support.  Rigging would be too costly.  Which is another reason why movers are more economical.  Less time and less expense in set up.  So you drop movers around the stage and they become spotlights for each performer, in addition to adding effect lighting, gobos on the cyc (the back wall), strobing, etc.  And each one could likely be aimed at 2 or 3 performers as needed, as opposed to pars, which can't be moved once the show starts.  
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Nick S. on June 05, 2004, 10:15:54 am
len wrote on Fri, 04 June 2004 20:54



A.  Rentals aren't that expensive in every market.  4 moving head and 2 color commanders can be rented for around $450 in Chicago.  Labor would be another $200.  But then, you'd have a professional show.  

B.  They'd only be boring if the programmer doesn't have any imagination.  In my hands even a crappy band would look good.  Maybe not sound good, but they'd look good.




len wrote on Sat, 05 June 2004 14:32

A small stage (less than 30 x 12 deep) can be illuminated by 2 CC.

A small stage can be illuminated by a domestic lightbulb, but it doesn't mean the illumination is any good. I don't peronally believe from my own experience that 2 fixtures that you suggest (Mac 250s) can illuminate a 30x12 stage - at one venue in a smaller space than you give I've seen 6 fixtures plus pars, floods etc. for a single stand up act.

len wrote on Sat, 05 June 2004 14:32


Yeah, they could be run off the floor or off cases.  Trussing isn't that necessary.  Likely the only way to put a truss up in most small to mid sized venues is to use ground support.  Rigging would be too costly.  Which is another reason why movers are more economical.  Less time and less expense in set up.  

I'm glancing over now at my local supplier's hire costs - Mac 250:
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: len woelfel on June 05, 2004, 02:35:26 pm
First, I said that I could illuminate a 30 x 12 or smaller stage with 2 color commanders, not 2 Macs (or any other moving spot in the 250 +/- watt range, for that matter.  The diffusion isn't wide enough).  

What you can rent stuff for and what I can are 2 different things.  I have rented fixtures of that caliber for that price.  

Finally, if you'll go back and read my original post, it was meant to illustrate that there are other reasons to rent as opposed to buying.  My point is that there's more to a purchase than just what to purchase.  It's how to purchase (cash vs. credit, lease to own), where to buy from, what to buy, etc.  

With renting, you get:

less concerns about equipment maintenance, storage, etc.

less skills to learn

less time in set-up for the band

if the band breaks up, less equipment to sell

And one more thing:  if you find that you like a certain set-up, then you can go buy it, assuming that it makes financial sense.  But rather than tie up a larger money outlay up front, you can rent something and not be married to it.  No, renting is not the be all and end all.  But neither is jumping in with both feet and regreting a purchase in a month.  
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Craig Leerman on June 05, 2004, 11:06:07 pm
Quote:

   A small stage (less than 30 x 12 deep) can be illuminated by 2 CC. 4 is better for color mixing but 2 will do fine. And they're not color CHANGERS, they're color mixers. Each light can produce a much wider range of colors than any bunch of pars ever could, especially for the price, the size, and the power draw. And 8 par 64 with 500 watt lamps will pull 4000 watts if all on. That's roughly 40 amps. 4 good quality movers, such as Studio Spots or Mac 250 series will draw about 1/4th that. Yeah, they could be run off the floor or off cases. Trussing isn't that necessary. Likely the only way to put a truss up in most small to mid sized venues is to use ground support. Rigging would be too costly. Which is another reason why movers are more economical. Less time and less expense in set up. So you drop movers around the stage and they become spotlights for each performer, in addition to adding effect lighting, gobos on the cyc (the back wall), strobing, etc. And each one could likely be aimed at 2 or 3 performers as needed, as opposed to pars, which can't be moved once the show starts.    



I'm not trying to get in a pissing match with you dude, but 2 CC and 4 ground mounted movers is a LAME SHOW in a concert venue, and an impossible show in a club, no matter how you look at it.

First, I know what a Color Command is, as I think I'm the first one on PSW to actually report on them. I also have used them once, and while they are a nice fixture, they are EXPENSIVE! And 2 of them will not adequately cover a 30 X 12 stage IMHO.  Also, they draw over 750 watts of power each, so you may end up running out of power in most clubs, if you try to use a lot of them. Not to mention that if they are your sole source of front light, they will probably be limited to being used with just a few lighter colors, as they will be the main front wash.  For about the same money as 2 Color Commands, you can buy 6 Par 56s and 6 basic color scrollers and actually wash the stage and have 10 or more colors per fixture (Not that I think thats whats required for a local band, but way better than washing a stage with just 2 fixtures)


Second, the term RIGGING includes anything you need to hang your fixtures, including ground support, truss, sandbags or even safety cables. Unless you want to put movers on the ground (which is a pretty lame place for them if they are the only other light aside from your two front Color Commands) you will need some sort of Rigging to get them in the air. That could be as simple as mounting one on top of a lighting stand or tree, or as complex as hanging them off of trussing that is itself suspended by motors, or raise up on crank towers or stands.


While you have used a 30 X 12 foot stage as your model, I can assure you that most stages in bars, nightclubs and lounges are not that large.  I live in a casino town . Out of 12 casinos, the largest LOUNGE stage (where a local band would probably play) is only about 20 X 10' and the largest nightclub stage in town is about the same.  Back in Baltimore, most stages were smaller than 20 X  12. In fact, our most popular stage rental size for bars and nightclubs who were adding a larger stage for a big event like New years was 16 x 12!

Also, Large wattage and higher output fixtures are not the way to go when dealing with smaller venues (which is where local and regional bands play) Since the original poster was talking specifically of a local type band, your Color Commands and Movers are probably the worst fixtures for the application.  

Most venues that local bands play do not have high ceilings, adequate rigging points or areas, or hardly any power. In many venues you may have to put the light trees onstage with the band (for fear of having trees in the audience and having them tripped over or worse, pushed over) Many times fixtures are withing feet if not inches from the ceiling and performers. Large fixtures like Par 64s, Source 4 Pars, and YES, Color Commands are too large for most local bars and small venues.

Also, while Color Commands have an adjustable beam angle, they will not get wide enough to cover a stage at a very close distance.

Using movers in a small room presents its own problems. For one, most moving head gobo projectors are not designed for very short throw distances. In the small rooms like a bar, the pattern size will be very small.  While used in a big concert, the image may be as large as 10-15 feet across, but in a bar, the image may  be as small as 1 foot across.  Also, placing them onstage takes up performance space from the band.  Placing them in the audience is too risky from both a damage and a liability standpoint.

Also, how in the world are you supposed to use movers as "spotlights" as you suggested when they will be on the floor. While I guess a performer could stand in front of one (like it was a floor monitor), it would look pretty crappy. Not to mention you would have to dim it down as it would blind the performer at that distance.  Unless you had a way to get them up in the air and infront of the group, which is not an option in most venues, than they are useless as performer lighting. As for providing effect lighting on the "cyce"  you will be out of luck in most venues as well. While the casino lounges and a few nightclubs here in town do has back curtains and nice flat back walls, most bars and small venues do not. A local band is just a likely to be playing infront of a large Budweiser Beer Banner, as they are a plain wall or curtain.   Of course, gobos look great on the Bud Banners!  hehehe

Also in your example you refer to PAR 64s with 500 watt bulbs. Again, these are too large both physically, and in wattage, brightness for most smaller venues. Par 56s may even be too large for some venues. When I owned a company in  Baltimore, we had two basic light systems for rent to bands. One was based on 4 Par 56s with 300 watt medium bulbs on a tree. The other system was based on 4 Par 46s with 200 watt medium bulbs per tree. While we also had bars made up with 4 Par 64s that fit on trees, they were always too large for the locals clubs, so none of the bands would rent them. When I moved  my business across country and had a sale of used gear, the trees with Par 46s were the first thing to sell!

Again, we are talking about doing production in SMALL Venues, with limited ceiling heights, small stages, limited power, and of course ON A LIMITED BUDGET!  2 front Color Commands and 4 movers on the floor is not the answer!

Also, having movers will not save you any time during setup, unless you travel with a preprogrammed board! It takes a long time to program moving looks into most consoles, even for an experienced programmer.

And BTW, you need to figure in a decent console rental price into your budget as well (as well as a dimmer for the Color Commands as they require separate dimming for the bulb) Last I looked, you will not be able to rent a decent quality moving light board for pennies!

Craig

Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: len woelfel on June 06, 2004, 11:59:41 am
For the record, I disagree with your opinions.  And they are opinions.  But I'm bored with this so you can have the last word.  Except to say that yes, 4 movers and 2 cc is a lame show for a concert.  But you're the one who keeps mentioning concerts.  Not me.  And I've worked small bars with a big stage.  And big venues with small stages.  And ... and ... blah, blah, blah.  And done it with just that set-up.  And more.  And less  Spotlights on the floor?  Sure, it can be done.  Using all 4 or 2 opposite can be a pretty dramatic effect.  If done right.  And around here, if you rent a lighting show, delivered and set up for you, the board is included and is the choice of the programmer.  Not having a board included is just bad business.  Kind of like renting lights and not getting power cables for them.

But you need to read my original post.  And every subsequent one.  I never said that a moving show was the way to go for everyone.  For every circumstance.  I never said that 2 color mixers and 4 movers was best for every circumstance.  And in my very first post on this topic I said that renting may cost more in the short run.  I believe it was the last sentence in paragraph one.  My entire point has been and always will be that renting different things BEFORE YOU BUY allows you to test drive equipment and see what is best for you.  And in the end, isn't that BETTER than making a blind purchase based on no practical knowledge?
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Timmahh on June 06, 2004, 07:17:47 pm
in my area, renting IS NOT an option,  you can get for 50bux a night, 2 trees with 4 par 36s or maybe 48s each, maybe one or 2 dimmers, and a st8 up stomp box type controller. CAN YOU DANCE?  and lets face it, that isnt shit.   20yrs ago a band made 400-500 per night on the low side.  here it is 20 yrs later, and now we re making a WHOOPPING 200+per night TOTAL, not each, if we re lucky... so many things have went up in price, rental, drink prices ect.. but yet so many bands settle for next to nothing just to play out... now you add even a cheapass light show for 50bux a night, after paying a share to your mix guy, unless you do it from stage, which ia a MAJOR pain in the ass. maybe you did good that night n made 400. less the light rental, less any sound rental less any soundman rental. you have just played for 75 bux for the weekend> hardly worth the time to pack up my gear, let alone unpack it set it up, play, tear it down, pack it up move it back to the rehersal studio/ set it BACK up for next rehersal...ect ect ect.....Thank god i Love what i do, cuz as i seen on someones post... if i were in this business to make business, id be out of business>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> thats a simple plain truth...  bar bands get shit on over and over, and they re happy to do it, just to play out....I KNOW I DO IT.
as for the original post.....  i have one word,, www.ebay.com
you can literally rape someone leagally, keep in mind if you dont get a completely automated controller, you ll need someone to push the buttons, faders and knobs,  hmm dont forget to budget more for your new light guy...lol..
sorry for the rant,
hth.
Title: Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
Post by: Brian Ship on June 08, 2004, 12:08:39 am
Ah, Timmahh perhaps on this scale you are the most realist amongst us lighting guys, much less just entertainers without a million dollars in their day trading job attempting to provide some more effect to their art with their surplus cash flow.  

I work for a ... decent size lighting company that would not even consider rentals to small bar bands for anything good without labor provided, and agree with Creg's concept of that, much less anything at a reasonable cost to those not bringing in hundreds of spectators thus being able to afford more bang for the buck, but also have some friends that do bar gigs with their band in needing to perform.  In this case, all the lighting in the world is not going to make for a better show.  Sorry, but to some degree hart will make up for candlelight.  With the proper hart, and perhaps some small work into specific important moments, darkness will go a long way still in enjoyment.  The other option is some good light show but band that spent all their time and money in it?  

What they make at night might cover the bar tab, and perhaps some gear, but that is not the overall enjoyment goal much less in having any more to invest in labor and lights to rent.  What they might someday invest in would be out of pocket and more in helping their enjoyment than investment.  Often such band people are tinkerers and can afford a small amount of their own gear so why not?  The two interests in my purpose of doing this for a living and their's don't mix nor do I push a Metallica look to their show.  Such a look even if afforded would be out of scale with the performance setting and intent.  Instead a single PAR 38 found at a good cost might be just right when placed and used properly.

They work clubs that often have just as many people coming to them for the Cubs game as those automatically E-Mailed about the band playing, much less that are just there because the bar is local.  Such clubs frequently have their own lighting packages of extremely badly focused par lamps - often pointed at the lead singer's feet, and of late now that technology has become less expensive, moving lights as it were that were some sort of internally sound activated to change look with the band's song.  Normally only 2/3 of house lights work - something that the band if interesting in lighting themselves could have looked into with the club.  I don't do moving lights but found such cheap lights at times did still fulfill their purpose.  Focus what the house has, use their cheap equipment and build upon it as necessary first above any ligting package of your own creation you might not have time to tinker with and still have work for your purpose.

For me as a stage lighting designer at least, the sound activated equipment was less harmful to the enjoyment of the performance as the house provided general wash lights in bad focus or color.  At a few times I asked the house management for a broom to focus the crap but was never taken seriously.  Am I to assume that some extent of lighting is not the norm, or is it that a band is expected to operate under fluorescent fixtures or candles?

My point,... it might be a better idea to when possible see if you can do minor changes to the house lighting in making it more appropriate to you as a start, than supplement it.  Five minutes with lights on and band in their spots with someone looking at focuses of the house gear commonly furnished with the night might help a lot.  This assumes a club that has lights.  If not, why not find one with such gear or charge them for you renting such gear as to make you visible as I expect on such a level the norm of necessity would be.    Why loose money on a rental or purchase if it's not provided in the profit?  Go elsewhere, put in your rider that you will be able to be seen and or eventually charge enough that you can afford to buy or rent as needed.

Somewhere I as possibly Len (not that I can speak for him) is missing the connection between you needing to provide sufficient gear for your band to play, and you not also being paid enough to provide that gear.

After that, one might work on such gear that the base player or who ever can control with his foot and otherwise just changes looks automatically for now as built upon and above what the house provides.  Flip the foot switch and self-test mode at the prime timing to a AF-1000, and you have one heck of a strobe effect that becomes unique to your use of it. In other words, if you E-Bay find a AF-1000 and have cash on hand plus want one, this piece of gear without someone to control it or a controller for it beyond a foot switch just became part of your own enjoyment of performing once you hit the foot switch.  Perhaps what you purchase should be as simple as buying what you want given a base of light provided or rented as the situation dictates.  Or buying lights to supplement that base of light as needed, than still buying toys.

Get to the place you perform and note that there is no way to light the drummer, much less downlight him or her, perhaps it's a trip out to the hurse to grab a PAR a while installing the rest of the gear.  Perhaps a gove box full of gel in that same band transport vehicle of enjoyment.

Give a good wash of light, even an intense one, A few colors coordianted, even something clear and down light, even a few/two trees you provide of full intensity non-dim lights on seperate channels of control for effect, perhaps a few to supplement house provided lights, than with anything left, why not invest in something that is just going to move with the music for now?  A few looks beyond illumination that is assumed to be house provided or paid for in your doing the show, a few changes keeping pace with the beet and you have a simple show that puts you over the top instead of worrying about keeping up with it.

At this point one could purhcase some cheap even E-Bay package or a few pieces at a time to supplement what the house should be providing.  I'll take a focused light over a mac what ever any day because beyond some effect, it's still the eyes that are important.  Eventually you might have your own package and in upkeep for it since the event is no longer providing a basic house lighting package, you can ask a larger price to provide the lighting.  Why should there not be different charges for houses with the gear for you to play under, that which you should focus and supplement, and prices better yet that might even provide funds to puchase more gear with?

Remember howevever liability.  If the house provides the lighting, you are not responsible for it or it's upkeep much less injuries from it.  Anything you add might be very well advised to consult for permission on and wiring expertise of and get insurance over in additon to lots of other details.  Sure a single downlight for that one song you provide might not be much to worry about, but given power availability and safety, the more things you add to your show, the larger the responsibility over enjoyment of the night you also have and thus become liable for beyond the cool look from.  

At some point you will be better off renting over supervising house gear plus what you provide and being liable for the gear you purhase or use.  This in all cases is given someone competent to supervise the application of such fixtures also.  The more involved you get, the more trouble you have in getting a simple night's enjoyment ready to play.  Len I would say has a lot of good points about renting.  Not sure if I agree on all of his price quotes or the need for a Color Command in a single fixture over a wall of PAR cans for effect, but his point is good in that if you are playing a space that does not have lights, why purchase an overwhelming amount of them especially if next week you won't need them and is that more cost effective than renting to supplement your own more basic inventory you might or might not pull from?  Plus before you rent, even for the shows interested and ready to do their own lighting, how do you know what works best for you?

This is all well and beyond programmers needed to design your show or operators needed to at least bump you on cue above someone on stage hitting a foot switch.  Very easy to pre-program a light to do it's own thing, a little harder to coordinate egos in a band in addition to the lighting on them.

Note, I don't do band lighting, but both Craig and Len in balance seems sensible as with lots of other voices on the matter.  I have somewhere around 40 of my own lights plus dimmers and a light board to supplement more theater shows I do more infrequently of late.
That's good for me in that in design, I have a base or fall back on base of equipment I can pull from above what the house has.  Where I need specific equipment with specific features, I also have that gear to pull from and rely will work because I unlike the house do upkeep them.  Do I always use all the lights, cable, gel etc for all shows?  Nope, it would be more like having a few cans in the car to supplement what's needed for my design than me pulling into a theater and stripping the grid to install what I expect to be using.

Just a few thoughts on what is necessary and above that highlighting your performance in balance with some inventory of gear that you might or might not either need or always get paid to be using.