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Stage sound and lights?!

ronyaronya Arrrrrf.the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
edited November 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
So, I've been drafted into managing sounds and lights for a small play that a few friends in a drama group are staging. It's apparently a comedy?

My only experience with sounds and lights is in making sure that audio-visual aids work right in lecture halls, not in drama productions, sadly. So I know zilch about this, and the only reason I've been asked is because everyone else knows even less. So I can't bother them for directions. What should I know?

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ronya on

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    oncelingonceling Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Most small venue's don't require a lot of work with sound. The actors can usually project enough to reach the back row just fine.

    Most sound work would involve any sound effects they want. Get a CD or whatever medium the venue uses, and on the computer just make sure the clips are nice and tight. No white noise at the start and finish and if they want something to start in the middle of a song, chop it and have it ready, don't rely on setting up songs paused halfway through or anything, it's a pain in the ass when you have other things to do. Throw on a few light hearted songs you can play while the audience are coming in and during the intermission and that should be enough work on sound.

    Lighting might already be set up in the venue, they may have a standard rig you can use (or might have to use). The absolute basics involve a wash of the stage in a neutral color to light everyone and anything set-related that needs to be seen. Make sure the lights don't light the audience (unless necessary), the roof, the black curtains and the backstage area. Lights generally want to be on a 45 degree angle from in front and above the actor, shining down to the stage floor. Bad OR unusual effects are created by lights from behind (shining in audience's face), side, underneath, flat onto the face and so on. That's the basics.

    Sometimes you might want a single spotlight or something (assuming there is not someone operating a moving spotlight), some basic standard rigs will have a couple lights in obvious places (like the middle at the front) so you can have a single actor lit while the rest of the stage is dark. Ask your cast if they need that and find out what the venue offers. It won't be too hard.

    Lighting and sound operation boards usually involve sliding knobs up and down like you see in a recording studio. There's usually a master slider that does everything/nothing and individual sliders for a single sound source (like the CD player) and a single or small group of lights. I would be surprised if it were even this complicated. Depends on the venue.

    Could be a CD player and a single light switch, best go and check it out to reassure yourself.

    onceling on
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    sligmastasligmasta Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Onceling gives a good crash course in sound and lights.

    if you need to edit any songs to begin or end at a certain point i recomend using Audacity/

    Also for more detailed info the kind of equipment you'll be working with, the performance, and what kind of venue it is would be really helpful.

    sligmasta on
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    oncelingonceling Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I was just thinking that a lot of places will even have someone there that knows what they are doing for these types of evenings. They would just need you to show up with your CD and tell them when to play which tracks and when to take the lights up and down.

    But if you find that you are doing the operation yourself, just take and post some pics of the equipment and stage/lighting areas and we can walk you through.

    onceling on
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    ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    There is no way they are using/renting a space with theatre equipment and there is no one available who doesn't know how the equipment works. You need to be shown how to adjust the lights, set and run cues, etc.
    There is no way you are being given access to easily several thousand dollars worth of equipment with no technical director. Do not try to "figure shit out". You might be able to but I assure you, this place has someone for you to speak to and they want you to speak to them.

    Soundboards look very confusing if you don't know what you're looking at, but everything is vertical. At the top (usually) is the input and below the input is all of the controls and adjustments for just that input.

    Onceling, very good primer on basic lights and sound!

    Edit: Its weird that your friends are putting up a production but have never run any tech themselves. Most actors have done some tech.

    Improvolone on
    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
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    sligmastasligmasta Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    There is no way they are using/renting a space with theatre equipment and there is no one available who doesn't know how the equipment works. You need to be shown how to adjust the lights, set and run cues, etc.
    There is no way you are being given access to easily several thousand dollars worth of equipment with no technical director. Do not try to "figure shit out". You might be able to but I assure you, this place has someone for you to speak to.

    Or they could have rented a room at a rec center who are letting them use a PA system that no one there knows how to use anymore. either way, more info means more help.

    sligmasta on
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    lonelyahavalonelyahava Call me Ahava ~~She/Her~~ Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    A good Neutral lighting combination usually consists of equal parts amber and blue gels added to the lighting.

    never light with green gel of any sort on any piece of flesh, as you will turn the actor into a zombie. Unless that's what you want.

    Anything, any look you want, can be achieved with the strategic placement of gels and angles. If you have a lighting and sound supply store in your area, go check them out, they will have gels in stock. You will want a solid Amber and true Blue, and then depending on the rest of the show, perhaps a chocolate if there is night time scenes.

    Sound, I don't know, I only ever pushed a button to play the cd, or called the cues.

    lonelyahava on
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    ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Thanks, Onceling!

    I can only find out more about the venue later, I found out today that the venue they were thinking of (a nearby school theater hall) was already booked so now they're scrambling around to find another one. It's not really the most organized of affairs...

    ronya on
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    ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    You might want to be "busy with other plans" during their performance dates. Unorganised shows are torture.

    Improvolone on
    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
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