Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fancy a Pop Up drama Studio?

or How to turn a multi use space in to a Drama space


We'll write some more words soon about this little project we've just completed for a primary school - they wanted a drama space in a canteen whilst retaining its use as a canteen. The video shows the finished result...


It features a front curtain that can be pushed back against the rear wall of the 'stage' area when not in use with tab tracks along each side of the stage to form wing space. The Lighting is LED as there was limited space available and there's an Ultra Short throw projector mounted on the rear wall along with a basic sound system with four wall mounted speakers.


A lockable door on the sound rack to keep things secure with the lighting desk sat on top.


The sound rack open showing the rackmount mixer, four digital radio mike receivers, CD player, plug in points for wired microphones or laptop sound and the amplifier that drives it all.

Lighting a small space

The stage lighting presented a little more of a challenge - as well being a low ceiling in the room, the school didn't have the funds to enhance the power supply to the room to use conventional dimming. We found a near solution again from our friends at Prolight in the form of the LEDj Stage Colour Quad.

LEDj Stage Colour Quad
It's a 4 colour LED unit so can give RGB colour mixing with a white LED source to mix pastels or give a passable 'open white' and reasonably small so folk aren't going to bang their heads plus it doesn't have fan cooling so it's quiet in a small room.  Alongside 5 of these units we installed a couple of small UV wash units for seasonal shows and school parties - again the LEDj offers a compact LED UV unit in the form of the Stage Wash UV. It doesn't need to warm up, can be controlled by DMX so can be dimmed and also flashed for special effects and it doesn't take a huge amount of energy to run.

Stage Wash UV
There are a couple of  convential lanterns in the rig - we're still struggling to find an LED Profile that fits in to a small budget so that schools can have a solo or gobo's - and they're reliable CCT Minuette Profiles running from ShowTec Single 3s
Showtec Single 3 dimmer
It's all controlled by our old friend the Transcension Scene Commander (we first blogged about it back in January here). One pair of the Stage Colours are running on the same DMX address to fit in to the channel spacing but as bar end washes that's no great loss and the school has a couple of DMX addresses left if they want to run a smoke machine or strobe at a later date.

Filling a small space with sound

We tend to not go very over the top with school sound systems in small spaces - very often the customer wants a system they can turn on and use without complex setting up. The system we put in here was no different in that respect, it's mounted in a lockable rack so it's secure and has just 4 radio microphones and a CD player with a couple of inputs for corded mikes and for a laptop.

The radio mikes are our system of choice again - the System 10 Digital from Audio Technica - a year since we first blogged about them (refresh your memory here) and they seem to go off the shelf on legs! They're reliable units and easy to set up and we can fit them with headworn microphones for that all important X Factor style term talent show.

The mixer is a generic rack mount mixer, it doesn't have lots of knobs to twiddle to make sound come out of it nor oodles of routing options - it fits the brief of "turn it on and use it" quite nicely.

Dressing the rooms with curtains

The customer was emphatic that although the room was also a canteen for the school - in theatre mode it had to look like a theatre with front curtains and wing masking! Luckily we've had several projects over the years where customers have needed curtains that could move back and forth onstage as well as open and close. It's also not uncommon in TV studios to use curtain tracks to help move scenery about - mostly in news style studios in remote locations so there is hardware available off the shelf.

As you can see from the short video at the start, it's a matter of moments for two people to bring the front curtain track to "performance position" and to set the side masking drapes. What seems at first glance to be a complex system actually works quite simply and reliably - our biggest challenge was finding suitable hanging points above the ceiling for all the points we had to put in to support it.  The curtains were custom made for the space out of a nice durable black material that aids the blackout, some blackout blinds over the windows either side of the room (courtesy of a local company we work with) complete the project.

If you're intrigued in finding out how this might work with your space - then give our sales desk a call!