I often walk into churches where I either a) see something unsafe or b) go “what were they thinking?”, when I see how the lighting rig is hung.
I often see fixtures hung in every which direction, fixtures upside-down, gel frames falling out, etc. As always, I don’t mind “silly-ness”, or fixtures focused in strange directions. However, safety matters a ton to me. There are people under these lights- whether performers or congregation, they matter.
So, with that said, here are some things you need to consider and do when hanging a light:
Make Sure the Light Is Complete
Before you even get up in the air, you need to make sure the light is complete.
This means it needs to have a lamp, clamp and safety cable, all securely attached, and the fixture is tilted straight down, in line with the side yolks.
The clamp needs to be tight to the fixture, but open to be receive by the pipe easily, so you don’t have to fumble around in the air trying to loosen the bolt to make the light fit on the pipe.
Make sure that they clamp also has a lock nut or lock washer attaching it to the fixture. The safety needs to go through the yolk of the light and the pipe or truss that it is hung on.
The fixture needs to be facing forward, so that the cord coming out of the back of the fixture is in line with the clamp. This keeps you from having to spin it later when you focus.
Hanging Your Lights
Once in the air, you need to first place the light on the pipe.
The bolt on the clamp should face backwards, so that you can adjust it if needed while focusing the light from behind.
The only exception to this is if your hanging position makes it especially difficult to tighten the bolt from behind, in which case reverse it- but keep it consistent!
Big tip: If every fixture is hung with the clamp bolt facing the same direction, you will move through a light focus or changeover much faster!
You’ll be able to know where the adjustment bolts are without looking. Next, you want to hand-tighten the bolt and then attach the safety cable through the yoke of the fixture and around the pipe.
If you are near the end of the pipe, run the safety through another fixture so if I fixture hangs by its safety, there is no way it can fall!
Then, tighten the bolt to attach the fixture to the pipe.
After this, tilt the fixture forward into the approximate position it will end up once focused. If it has shutters(an ellipsoidal), open them up. Check to make sure that the gel frame is inserted safely, and that its clip is clipped securely. After that, plug in the fixture into the desired dimmer, and get ready to focus!
Hanging Moving Lights
For hanging moving lights– you may want a buddy up there with you if at all possible. Some moving lights are quite heavy.
You want to hang the fixture onto the pipe with the display facing upstage (towards the back wall) and the clamps also facing downstage, or towards the front of house position. Tighten down the clamps, and attach the safety around the pipe and through the safety point on the bottom of the light.
The only exception to the display “upstage” rule is when a fixture tilts side-to-side as compared to the display – you want that fixture to be pointed so it tilts towards the stage!
When plugging in the moving light, make sure that you and your lift are out of the way of the head, which will “home” or move around to calibrate itself immediately upon being plugged in.
Always plug in the data cables before the power so that you don’t cause a mover to home twice or get confused and go into a auto-program mode.
Hanging the lights in your lighting rig safely is very important, and requires much attention to detail and safety. By properly hanging conventional and moving lights, you are not only safe but also efficient. By using this guide, you can keep your lighting rig consistent and have your volunteers do the same, making changes to your rig easier in the future.
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