August’s Tips & Tricks
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Show Support. Those interested in the thought processes of a top Showie should by all means read on.
1). Engage in a professional manner with clients and crew.
Remember: you’re there to assist your client by following their instructions; not the other way around.
2). Learn the pace and the workflow of your clients.
Often you’ll work more than once alongside the same people, be aware of their methodology.
Everyone has a different approach. Respect their decisions. It’s good to provide second opinions, but in the main keep your thoughts to yourself. For some clients, certain techniques have worked perfectly well for over 30 years. You are not there to reinvent the wheel.
3). Learn the venues.
Most likely you’ll be at the same venue more than once. Learn and remember the location of the toilets, the loading dock and access to the goods lift.
Some venues requires digital sign in, swipe passes and security checks.
Clients may not have been in the venue and may not know the protocols.
Knowing how the loading dock operates and the venue’s entry points and rules can significantly speed up the load in.
Some venues provide free or discounted coffee and lunch.
4). Be respectful to the catering and house staff.
Do not place cases around their workplace. Always provide a clear walking path. Do not block the lifts and do not move anyone else’s gear without asking.
If you don’t respect the house staff, most likely on your next gig in their venue you’ll be loading up the stairs!
5). Always concentrate on your task.
It’s the key element on all of our gigs. Ask for clear instructions as early as you can, remember them and take responsibility for your work. Don’t ask 50 times where the empty cases go. Don’t ask 50 times what to do.
6). If you find consumables after finishing your gig, give them back to your client.
Return gaff, electrical tape and any tools you find to their rightful owner. Always keep the workplace clean and tidy.
7). Always finish what you’ve started!!
There’s nothing worse than leaving tasks half done. Remember: You’re only as good as your last job.
8). Don’t harass the client.
If your onsite contact doesn’t pick up the phone, do not call them 20 times!
Most likely they are driving, opping the gig or some other important job. If you don’t have an answer in 5-10 mins, you can always text to introduce yourself with your name, location and that you are there for Show Support.
In the rare cases you don’t receive a response, call the office for assistance and stand by.
Our ops are ready 24/7 to assist you.
9). Identify the person in charge.
Once you find them, follow their instructions only.
10). Stick with your client until the end of the gig.
Do not engage on other activities unless you’re instructed to or you are standing by.
There’s nothing worse than crew chatting with the lighting division when they are paid to work for another department.
11). Something in your way?
Is the walkway blocked by something? Are there cables where you’ve been instructed to place your gear?
Get permission to move the obstacle and then make your way through. Don’t wait for someone else to move it for you. Do not roll cases over cable runs.
12). Never wear sunglasses in trucks!
We prefer to know where you’re looking or IF you’re looking at all, when double stacking or ramping gear in and out.
13). Never talk on the phone or bluetooth earpiece.
We prefer to know if you’re listening to instructions and paying attention.
14). Don’t take unauthorised photos.
Always ask your client or crew chief for permission before taking photos. Many gigs are private functions that may attract interest from the outside. No one wants breaches of confidentiality agreements. No client wants their competitors armed with knowledge of their success. Whatever happens on stage, stays on stage. Be discrete.
15). Identify your client and your client’s gear.
99.99% of your clients and their crew are wearing their company uniforms.
99.99% of your client’s equipment displays their company logo or associated labels on their road cases.
It’s dumb if you are seen loading a P.A rig into an LX truck.
16). Always follow and respect your crew chief’s instructions and decisions.
Do not argue in front of clients with your fellow team members. It looks bad, disorganised, and chaotic. If you have any concerns or innovative working methods, discuss them discreetly.
Nine out of ten issues can be resolved before the the start of any activities. The tenth is the one that you have to go with. Like it or not. Life is a bitch and you’re no exception.
17). Treat road case wheels with care.
Take care not to drop cases too heavily onto their wheels, you will most likely damage them. No one wants to have to carry a cables packer or double motor case all the way from the truck to back of the warehouse.
18). Pay attention to labels
Most road cases are clearly labelled. You’ll often be pushing them to specific locations such as front of house or backstage. If you don’t know where to go, then ask.
19). Don’t tape cables on truss prematurely.
It is time consuming to have to remove the tape and start all over again, if plans change or there’s faulty equipment
If you’re taping on silver truss, ask for silver lecky (electrical) tape. If the truss is black, use black tape.
20). When running 3 phase or power lock, never turn the outlet ON!
There’s the possibility of equipment not being properly shut down from a previous installation or danger of electrocution.
Always inform your fellow crew members or client if the cables you have run are live.
21). Never undo touring looms.
Roll the looms neatly into their correct case.
Always check for numbers on cases and the corresponding content.
Do not extend looms without notifying the client. Moreover, do not shorten them if they seem too long.
22). Know the difference between metric and imperial.
Always express your verbal opinion in numbers. “That much…”, “A little bit…”, “Few more…” helps no-one. Moreover, no one understands. How long is a piece of string?
23). Gaffing cables.
Wait until everything is done and in proper working order before you gaff down cables. Be aware of emergency exits and heritage venues. Pay extra attention where you can gaff down and where you can’t.
In 5 star venues, the aesthetics are highly considered.
Gaff cable runs in perfectly straight lines, as neatly as possible. Always gaff down cables applying the flat “rail-road tracks” method.
Tack down the cable at regular intervals using short pieces of gaff before running your full gaff line.
Extra tip: Keep thinner cables together, not between thicker ones.
When taking off gaff tape, put your foot on the cables gently and keep pulling the gaff slowly. When you finish, put the tape remnants in the garbage bin, don’t leave them all over the place. Especially on top of already coiled cables.
24). Never lie about your abilities.
Don’t brag about your excellence and past success, no one cares.
We will assess you based on your performance and knowledge. Let the quality of your work speak for you.
25). Take care with cables.
Fibres cables are extremely fragile and expensive, so check if there are any on the rig.
When pulling equipment and cables off a lowered truss, never bend fibre cables or pull hard on them while they are still taped down. Never use cutting tools near a fibre cable., instead use your smart cut tool. If you need an SHS Klever Kutter contact supplies.
Important ! When you’re rolling fibre on a drum roll, ask for assistance.
26). Respect client’s equipment.
Give all equipment the proper attention and care.
Nothing is given for free and nothing is replaced out of good will.
27). Do not be afraid of double handing. Work smart.
Don’t risk potential hazards and possibly damaging gear. It’s better to spend an extra five minutes working than $10k on replacing gear and $20k on medical bills.
28). Just because you’re fast doesn’t mean you’re useful.
Just because you managed to fit an 2U flying case in the semi truck, it doesn’t give you any authority to call the pack. You’ll be kicked off the truck on the spot.
Pay attention to the requirements and use your skills wisely.
29). Never break the 3 cardinal sins:
- Being late
- Complaining about the job before you even start.
- Doing nothing while everyone else is working.
30). Never assume everything will go according to plan.
Do not assume the job will be easy. Just because your methodology worked yesterday doesn’t mean it will work today. Always be prepared to make last minute changes and stay back if needed.
31). Find out where the cables drop is on flying truss rig.
Always start taping from point A to point B unless the drop is in the middle. Use your common sense and experience.
32). Never feed cables through the webbing truss.
Always leave the necessary “slack” on signal & power runs. Do not plug gear in randomly! Ask for signal flow plans or instructions. Be aware of the safety chains, never place them over cables. Make sure moving lights are unlocked before flashing.
33). Projection Lens
Never attempt to replace a projection lens by yourself. Do not assume every locking system is the same. Moreover, do not assume every lens fits on every projector.
Always ask your client if you can remove or install it. Remove the dust cups before handing or installing the lens and put them back once the lens is removed from the projector.
Never leave lenses on the ground or in scissor lifts. Always make sure you have the lens case nearby and open before you proceed.
34). Projection screens.
Never use excessive force when pulling the buttons from the frame of the projection’s soft screen.
You can damage the buttons and rip the surface! Always undo button by button.
Clean the area before you place down the screen frame and use a drop cloth is possible. Most likely you will install the surface while the frame is on the ground. Pay attention on the orientation of the frame & the projection surface.
Make sure the screen surface is folded correctly before inserting into the zip bag, without any wrinkles and the buttoned side of the surface facing the zipper of the bag.
35). Line Array P.A.
Always ask for instructions while installing line arrays. Find out about the “locking pin” and “angle pin” and where NOT to place your fingers. Every manufacturer has their own proprietary standards. Do not assume L’Acoustic has the same methodology as Mayer. If you don’t know, ask for assistance.
Do not stay in close proximity of speaker systems during sound checks and when the system is being tuned.