TECH TALK September 2013: LOAD OUT!

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s that time again — Mike Graham, our Moving Heads Product Manager, has written another excellent Tech Talk article for the Chauvet Professional Blog!  Check it out below, and welcome Mike Graham!



One of the happiest times of any show is the completion of load out.  Especially if it is complete before  last call at the nearest bar.  However, load out is also, in my opinion, is often an overlooked event of show planning.  By organizing your load out in the same fashion as your load in, you can be sure that there is a cold beer with your name on it waiting for you.

The best time to start thinking about load out is during your show design.  At the same time you are thinking about how cool your show will look, and how much it is going to cost to load it in, you have to already be thinking about how much it is going to cost to load it out.  Typically, your goal is to make sure that your rig can come down in less than the four hour minimum that you often time have to pay your crew.  So, in the same way you can estimate how long it will take to load in, estimate the load out as well.

During your show pack, keeping track of exactly what goes into what box is really important.  Having a complete and accurate packing list as critical for load out as it is for load in.  Knowing what needs to go back into every box will greatly assist you in keeping your pack time down.  This will also help you to make sure that everything that you brought to the show goes home with you.  It is also a great idea to label each case that you take with you.  On that label, you should have the following listed:

  • Your show name
  • Names of items
  • How many of each item
  • Road case number (of total cases)

When you get to the venue and start setting up, As you empty cases, use the empty cases to store your truss carts.  Make sure that you label the cases your truss carts are in so you can easily find them, but this will keep them all in one place and save you time in looking for them at the beginning of load out.  Making sure that all of your cases are prepped to return in the order that you will need them is also really helpful.  I also suggest that having all of your spare items in its own case so you can easily find them if you need them.

As you get to load out and your cases start showing up, keep them in order.   As you load one up, the next one you need is there for you to use, this will also keep your “case clutter” to a minimum.  Once you load a case, get it moved away from your work space and staged for packing back into your truck, then load the next one.  As to cables, I suggest taking all cables that five feet and under and bundling them in packs of 10.  This will make counting them easy and they can be easily stored.  Typically, the most common lengths of cable are 5ft and under, so you will save tons of time by not rolling them up individually.  As you get to your trussing dollies, set them up and keep them to the side until you need them.  Always load your cases outside of your rig s footprint.  This way, you can keep dropping your rig to the ground without having to move a bunch of half full cases around.

Keeping the process moving is important.  By the time that load out comes, everyone is getting worn out and could be getting a little complacent.  Keep an eye on how your gear is being packed is important, especially if you are working with a local crew that is not going with you to the next show. Firstly, you need to know where your gear is getting packed, but you also have to make sure that they are not just jamming it in a case with no care.  Also, because it is the end of a long day, or in many cases, a long few days, your crew will be tired.  Make sure that they are still following safe practices and not standing on the “OSHA approved chair” for taking lights out of the rig.

Remember that load out is not complete until all of your gear is on the truck and the door is dropped.  It is important that not only is all of your gear in on piece, but so is your crew.  Keep safe and stay organized and you will all make it before last call.

Stay tuned for more Tech Talk articles from Chauvet Professional — we’re here to help you own the road!


My (Way) New Year’s Resolution

Written by Mike Graham, product manager for CHAUVET® Professional

I have seen The Matrix a ton of times. Not only do I like the story, but the effects were really cool. The problem with cool effects is that you start to see them over and over again. The effect known as “bullet time” was developed so that the viewer would be able to see an action sequence in a scene move around in 360 degrees like it was a still frame.  Unfortunately, there have been about a million films shot since then that have killed this effect.

Designers face this problem every day. Having to keep it fresh and not fall into the trap of doing the same effect over and over again. I’m not going to point fingers, but you all know what I am talking about. So we have to keep on changing our bag of tricks out. We have to say “NO!!” when a producer asks us to create the look they saw on The X Factor last night. (Well, maybe not “NO!!”, but creatively say that would not be a good idea.)

For me, when I was working on various cruise lines, it was especially difficult to keep fresh looks all of the time. It is the same room with no changes for six months at a time.  Honestly, how many ways can you design lights to “My Way”? It became a case of having to challenge myself to not do what I did last week. I had to go beyond conventional looks and start really working the controller for all it was worth, to build multilayer effects and work time fades a little differently.

The other problem is just having a creative block. Creative block leads to overused looks. For me the best way to combat this to let my mind wander onto anything but lights. Clear my mind and not focus on anything in particular, then after a little while, I could start to visualize the music in colors. Then the colors get some shape. Soon, I’m sitting back behind the desk just moving lights around and creating looks again.

This year, let’s all make a resolution…No stale, used-up looks for shows! Me, I’m still looking for another look for “My Way”.