Jump to content

Black outs


mrtc
 Share

Recommended Posts

If a company wants to include a total black out in a performance is there a legal limit as to how long this can be? Some one suggested it was 45 secs can anyone confirm this?

Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you mean total black out as in all emergency lights and signs off, all walkway lighting off, absolutely no light whatsoever It will all depend on what your risk assessment says, what your premises licence say (and or what variations a licensing officer will allow) and what your insurers say they will allow; there is no legal number. If this is the sort of black out you mean then also be aware that in order to (effectively) bypass lots of fundamental health and safety protections you would have to demonstrate a compelling NEED for the total blackout.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd contend that the need for an absolute blackout with no exit signs or aisle lights is rare enough to not require describing in your usual package.  If a show really, actually needs it, they will call and negotiate.

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many years ago, I used to work at the ICC in Birmingham. There was, and maybe still is, a button in the control room that would kill all the exit signs and step lights for I think 45 seconds and then wouldn't activate again for I believe 3 minutes. In 4 or 5 years there, I can only recall one time it was used for a science demonstration of some sort, and extra stewards were posted in the audience with torches. I can't imagine most places would have this facility, and it would involve pulling fuses or flipping breakers in plant rooms, most venues just aren't designed to make this easy. Our H&S people were reasonably happy because the light would only be off for a set time, it would restore automatically and it was a designed system being used as designed. For use these days, I would imagine some pretty compelling reason would be needed. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it is a contract for visiting companies (ie you are writing a general T's&C's), just make it a case by case basis, and don't offer anything up, rather, make them ask for what they want -

Quote

Extinguishing exit, isle, safety, catwalk and backstage running lights is by written approval of the venue technical manager only, and will require a detailed risk assessment including duration to be blacked out and reasoning behind the blackout.

and then take it on a case by case basis. I worked on a 2 act show where all safety lighting was required to be blacked out - but we had safety plans in place - including additional staff to assist with evacuations placed beside each emergency exit, who's sole job was to pop the cover off of the emergency exit signs, and we had the corridor outside the exits lit with red light and slowly increased brightness up the corridor to make sure that getting startled by transitioning to bright light was not so much an issue. I know they adapted the venue some what too around seating layout and capacity - but since that didn't involve anything technical it was less in my remit.

It was a black light puppetry & laser act. It was really cool to watch, but they were very precious about light spill.

Edited by mac.calder
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Problem with pulling fuses is that the lights are on battery as well, although I guess that there may also be a battery kill system?
In one venue I worked what we did was have marshals with the lids of A4 paper boxes on bamboo sticks. They were made to be lightproof with a bit of fabric.

so in case of emergency the marshal could reveal them.

harder to deal with if there is stair illumination etc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It really depends on the exit locations and signs. 

Local venue with a central battery system has an exit hard up against the pros line.  The signs at full brightness trash any blackout.  Thus the auditorium gangway and exit signs are fed via a large resistor to knock back the brightness in normal circumstances.  This is bypassed in the event of a power cut by a suitable contactor/relay arrangement.   

There is a second contactor controlled by a dead-man's switch that blacks the auditorium out; as others say, it is seldom used.  Panto UV scenes are the only time I can recall it being used regularly.

 

This has all been in place for nearly 40 years and insurers / fire brigade have never queried it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember about a million years ago at a touring house I was working in a show came in which needed an absolute black out and achieved it by touring a load of wooden paddles on long poles which they gave to FOH staff who would on Q hold them up to cover the word Exit and the downlight below it which lit the exit way. It worked and didn't involve any adjustment of the exit/secondary lights. If there had been an incident the covers would have been removed from the Exit signs. Apparently they did this every where they went.

I would not even consider offering anything like this in the technical rider for a venue. Make the show ask for it and the get them to tell you how to achieve it with their Risk Assessment, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So I did a show 8?years ago , cannot remember anything about it, other than black out . 

B L A C K  O U T 

I mean your hand cannot be seen infront of your face after 10 mins of sitting in the dark. 

B L A C K  O U T 


The rig was a day putting foil on windows, then tape on the micro holes that you get, tape on the cracks on the floor. Emergency lights were drained and swapped for ones that were button triggered , and their LEDS were taped. There was a really big RA about how it would work with a fire, given the whole eye adjustment issues also.  


There is a level of "acceptable" IF your show needs a blackout of some form more than a normal one, you need to talk to the venue. We had a space that a blackout was almost impossible. and in another venue the designers cleverly placed exit lights right at the entrance BESIDE the stage, and another in each wing roughly 1m from the stage, though those were fixed.   

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
On 3/21/2022 at 11:19 PM, J Pearce said:

Still one in Symphony Hall's lx booth (historically part of the ICC). I've been doing bits there on an off for 6 years and never seen/heard of it being used.

Seeing as I was in SH’s booth today I took a photo:

83E5D22B-0299-4683-8547-BF05459B0D64.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...