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the kid

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When I leave school I would like to set up a gigging business for small time bands etc and I obviously I need some kit like trussing, lights,dimmers, desk etc. But what are the best for the least amount of money in each category. This might seem to early to think about but when I only have a weekend job I don't want to blow all the money on other things, so I want to have some idea of how much to keep for this.





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Well to be honest you'd want to get semi-reasonable kit otherwise it'll let you down, as I'm sure you'd be aware.


Perhaps look at getting some Parcans (you can pick them up for £40-45 brand new (for a DTS can with a lamp, hookclamp etc) or slighly less on Ebay (or other sites) for second hand cans. Of course you'll only get one angle lamp (choice of CP60-62 or 95) so for lots of choice means more lamps and more cost.


Of course you could look into ETC Source Four cans with the 4 angle lenses come with the lantern, so you'd only need one lamp - which means less storage space needed, and cheaper lamps - however the can is a more expensive intial buy.


Then you'd need to think of dimmers and desk to power this all, I suppose at an inital level you could get some 2nd hand Zero 88 Betapacks (or similar) and a cheapish desk, and it would do the job. Try playing with the equipment before you buy it to see if it suits.


You'd also need some TRS / Distro to power this all - perhaps make it up yourself to save on costs - but of course it'd need PAT testing before going out on the road.


Best thing to do is to work out the ideal rig, perhaps starting off with 12 pars for a simple 3 colour wash (with appriopate dimmers / distro etc) and then when you've got a bit more cash look into getting another 12 pars and the dimmers etc - of course if you buy a largeish desk you (say a 48 channel desk) you wouldn't need to buy a new desk each time.


Look at Ebay (http://www.ebay.co.uk), AC Lighting (http://www.aclighting.co.uk) and 10outof10 (http://www.10outof10.co.uk) for initial 2nd hand ideas. Thomann are good for new stuff (http://www.thomann.de).


Anyway I hope this is off some help - I'm sure others will add other opinions and ideas to the melting pot.



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I would say first thing to find out is what sort of venues you will be going to to start with. if they have a good kit then use that and build on it. if they have nothing then you are looking at much more of a basic start, lots of venues may have rigging points so that truss is not so important, however those with nothing will need rigging, same goes with all the kit, try to find out what local venues have nad see if you can save on initial costs, then start to get the things you are using alot when you are earning money from the gigs.
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In addition to Stu's comments, a couple of Doughty Club 35 stands and some lengths of scaff will do you well - I'm assuming your bands will be gigging in all sorts of venues, so having stands as well as truss is always a good plan.
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I would advise that you start by sub-hiring the kit - so that you can find out what you will use most often.


You will need to bear in mind that most venues will expect your equipment to be PAT tested, and for you to have a record of that, so you will incur expenses with it. You will also need to take out public liability insurance which isn't cheap, and will need to check that this covers you using your own rigging equipment (such as truss and stands) which again will need some kind of testing/checking on a regular basis.

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Guest lightnix

My advice would be to start out working for such companies first, in order to get a good grounding in the business and develop some understanding of how the business "works" :huh:


Showbiz is a competitive world, to say the least. There are already too many companies chasing too little work, which has resulted in massive downward pressure on prices and squeezed profit margins to a bare minimum for many, if not most companies. This situation seems very unlikely to change in the near future, particulary given the growing uncertainty over the economy.


One LD friend of mine, who runs a small design consultancy, recently complained to me that the freelancers he was using were earning more money than he was. I think he's actually gone back to freelancing himself now, having abandoned any dreams of greater glory in order to simply feed his wife and children :(


But don't be disheartened, a fascinating life and career awaits you in the Wonderful World of Showbusiness :P There'll be plenty to occupy yourself with, without having to saddle yourself with hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of debt.


Good luck and stay in touch :)

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A couple of bits of advice

find out how much the bands will be willing pay (usually not a lot)

use this to set a budget for the gear

Par cans can soon draw a lot of power at 1k each

Better to start with a couple of colour changers and scanners

quicker to set up and require no dimming as well as pulling a quarter of the power of a p64

Boom bases and scaff are often better than stands as they take up less floor space and can be tucked on stage.

Keep it simple and have fun cos it isn't an easy way to make money

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First thanks to everyone


Now the replying question's


I know that DMX is expensive and the price is apparently slowly coming down but what would you think of a DMX dimmer and desk for gigging?


what type of rigging scaf would you say just normal scaf or something better like trilite etc?


this is primarily for lightnix but everyone will have something to say -

What companies are there in 'the gigging business etc?



I heard from my friend who used to work for vari-light that some of the designers there got astronomical sums for designing rigs what sort of availability is there in the designing side of things?


I think that this is it but I'm sure there will be more questions in time.



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Kid, I hope this doesn't come across as being rude and patronising - that's certainly not the intention. But it's quite clear that you have very little experience and understanding of the way the lighting business works. Rather than setting up your own company, I'd suggest that you'd be much better served by getting some experience with one or two local lighting companies. That way, you'll get to know something about the equipment, working practices, what's involved in putting on a small gig, etc. And don't forget that when you're operating as your own company, with your own equipment, you also have to start adding things like PAT testing and insurance into the equation.


I applaud your enthusiasm in wanting to go out and buy some equipment and set up your own lighting company, but don't be under any illusions - the gear is expensive (unless you buy cheap crap which won't last beyond two or three gigs), the money is ##### (unless you're doing corporate or TV stuff), the hours are long, the rewards are few, and you generally have to have a very specific sort of mentailty to survive in this profession.


Now, to answer you specific questions .... DMX is the *only* option for control really - especially if you want to run scrollers, moving lights, etc. If you're only working with a very small number of channels (up to, say 18) then running analogue control is OK - but any more than that and you really need to be talking DMX.


Normal 48mm scaff is OK as a T-bar on top of a stand for hanging a few small lanterns onto, but for anything more you need to look at some small triangular trussing - of which Trilite is one of the more popular types. It's much more expensive metre-for-metre than bog-standard scaff, but its weight capacity is much greater.


Regarding the design aspect - yes, the top designers do earn big money. But there aren't many of them, and they've been in the business for years and have a vast amount of experience.


As far as lighting companies are concerned - it's impossiblw to list them all here, there are *far* too many. Tell us what part of the country you're in, and someone can point you in the direction of a few good local ones ...

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Many, many years ago I used to provide sound and lighting rigs for 'small time bands'. The big problem running a business to do this is that there just wasn't enough money in it to make it worthwhile. I was lucky, I had a well paid full time job with enough flexibility in it to allow me to leave early to get to a gig on the other side of the country.


In those days, and I doubt it has changed much, a band would be paid the best part of nothing to appear. My fee would be equally small.


Take a bit of basic economics...

Suppose you buy a Par can with lamp for £50. To make that investment make economic sense you ought to have that out on the road at least every weekend and charge at least £1 for each time. So, to cover the cost of the equipment you need to charge, say, £50. Then you need to cover your expenses, how will you transport things? Buy a van? Rent a van for the night? Either way you will find that transport costs anywhere from £50 to £100 for the night. Then there is any help you take along. If you are lucky they will do it for beer money only, otherwise it's going to be another £40 or more for each helper. At the end of the evening you MIGHT just about cover your real costs, leaving you with nothing for you efforts.


The problem with playing at the bottom end of the market is that there are so many people doing it for a hobby where they don't need to make a profit or any money for themselves. In reality, I was one of those people.


As others have said, you are probably better off starting out as hired help, you will ake more money without the hassle and risk. If you then decide that it is the life for you then go out and buy some kit.

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myself, I was also in the same position as you, I wanted to do it as a hobby... so I figured out helping at my local school would be a good place to start.

I just turned up to a house drama competition one year and helped with sound and stuff like that. Through work experience like this I have come accross several people who r in the biz itself, and they have offered me all sorts of advice, in which I have adhered to... and is proving to be a much valid asset to me.


everyone wants to start with good intentions and get into the "big stuff", so to speak, in the beginning but you cant do that, you have got to gain several years worth of experience to be able to get into anything verging on working for your local theatre, as I mentioned, I know a few people in the biz, they initially started off doing this soprt of work for nothing, some for several years, including myself (2 years, only just started getting paid for).


advice: start small, get in touch with local companies asking about/for work experience, as other people have said here. take their word for it, they know what they are saying... half the stuff they talk about on other forums I have no clue about... but is learnign fast, just from reading this!




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I myself run a small organisation which produces concerts both small and large scale (audiences of 1500). These concerts feature small time bands as well as one or two more well known bands bands. If you would like to attend a concert of mine and help with the organisation then drop me an e-mail.



My advice, as with everybody else. Get some experience.

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It's great to hear your enthusiasm. I'm from Abingdon nr Oxford but am currently in my first year of the Lighting Design course at Rose Bruford College. I'm not sure how old you are but Abingdon College have just started a new course - it's basically a BTEC technical theatre course. I would deffinately suiggest looking at doing this course after school instead of A-Levels as it gives you loads of experience about all areas of theatre, events and the corporate spectrum!


Equipment wise, it's pretty much impossible to generally suggest specific bits of kit; but my advice to you would be to first of all find your client base (basic GCSE business studies stuff) etc. and then work from there...buying general, all purpose bits of kit that you will use a lot and then just hire in any special items. Start small and eventually you will start to understand the industry learning bit by bit!


If you want any more advice about good places in Oxfordshire drop me an eMail at jonnybarker@hotmail.com and I will be happy to help!

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im building up a small band rig aswell


par 56 c/w bulb, holder, connector, maybe gel - £25 each


pinspots - £10


4ch DMX dim -£120


safety wire - £1.50


hook clamp - £3.50


from my supplier


ive heard elara is around 250+ mark from SE, nice desk if u dont want too many intelligents

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