G/046 Lighting Rig
- This article is about a piece of equipment. For more information on what it is for or how to use it, try its documents wiki article.
YSTV has a free-standing truss lighting rig, that was purchased and assembled in April 2015 following a crowdfunding campaign. The rig was named after Pete Bowles, the highest donor of the fundraiser.
The old rig, which had been in place , was essentially scaffold bars clamped onto bolts that ran into the ceiling. Given the size of the bolts and general sturdiness of the entire thing, it was considered (by many generations of YSTV) to be perfectly structurally sound. This was reinforced by the apparent lack of it falling down when lighting, set, and possibly the occasional technician hung from it.
During the week before freshers week 2013, Robert Walker had the idea of hanging one of the large CRT's still in the studio from the rig - thus removing it from the floor and freeing up some space. It was then discovered that YSTV was not aware of any documentation stating any load limits for the rig. This was mentioned to YUSU, (who also had no documentation concerning the rig), who then organised for an engineer from TSS to come in and assess the rig. This initial assessment happened during October, and the report back was that the rig looked perfectly safe for the loads we were hanging. However, the engineer had been unable to fully assess the rig, as asbestos in the ceiling prevented him from inspecting how the bolts were attached to the building. In early December the engineer returned, along with a member of the University asbestos team, and inspected the remainder of the rig. It was discovered that some of the bolts were not actually attached to the building, but to pieces of wood that were held onto the building by ordinary wood screws. To make it even worse, the bolts that were attached directly to the building were done in a less than ideal way. Immediately after this inspection, all fixtures were removed from the rig, and it was condemned.
After the rig was condemned, studio lighting was limited to the two heavy-duty lighting stands YSTV owned, plus whatever could be put on the floor. This made anything other than simple sofa sets difficult to light.
Due to a lack of progress and communication, it was mistakenly believed by YSTV that the rig was at immediate risk of failure, and should have been arranged to be taken down immediately. Instead, the rig remained in situe for nearly two terms following it's condemnation. At the beginning of July 2014, the studio was due to be repainted. After emptying out the studio in preparation for this, the Tech team decided to take down the grid as well. This would both allow the painter to paint the ceiling unhindered, and (as far as they understood) make the studio a lot safer. The scaffold tubes were kept in the hopes that they could be reused in any new grid design.
It was decided not to tell YUSU about the removal of the old rig, lest they overreact negatively to the news. YUSU would not find out about the grid removal until January 2015, despite 'frequent and thorough' studio inspections by their H&S team. In a meeting to discuss options for a new grid, it was let slip that the old rig had been removed. It was at this point we were told that the grid itself was safe unloaded, and that it had been left in place out of concern for disturbing asbestos. This led the entire studio being made off limits until a check could be done by Estates to ensure this had not been the case.
Despite the immediate concern, a ticket was not put in to Estates by YUSU for four days, and only after further prompting by YSTV. Within 40 minutes of the ticket being submitted, a member of Estates Asbestos team had been deployed to investigate, noted that we couldn't possibly have disturbed any asbestos by removing the grid, and closed the matter.
Cost & Funding
Following the condemning of the rig, various solutions to the lack of a rig were proposed. Unfortunately all had the side effect of being rather expensive, so the discussions quickly turned to who's going to be responsible for funding. Despite initial discussion that YUSU or the University would foot the bill (after all, they failed to perform the necessary safety checks), YSTV were eventually left to find the funding themselves.
It was decided to forget about any chance of having a rig build into the building, as costs were far too great, and there were issues with asbestos in the building. Instead, it was decided to explore options for floor-supported truss. Truss had the added benefit of being able to move with the rest of the equipment if YSTV is ever moved from G/046. A quotation was provided by TSS for such a grid at over £7500. With no immediate funding options available, the issue of getting a replacement grid was put on hold until the following year.
Towards the end of 2014, the issue was reassessed, with calls put out to other lighting suppliers to get quotations and opinions. It was discovered that installing truss did not require any specialist skills or training, and in theory could be put together by YSTV's members, so long as it was inspected afterwards. After some discussion with YUSU and the University, it was agreed that we could do this, and avoid some of the hefty fee TSS had asked for. By working backwards from the parts quotation, we also figured out the design that TSS had planned. Knowing this, and that we would be able to install it ourselves, we shopped around for the best quotation for the required parts. This gave us three main options, depending on what funding we could get:
- A basic 5x3m grid, covering the main set area only, installed by YSTV for £3500
- A 5x5m grid, covering a majority of the studio, also installed by YSTV for £5500
- A 5x5m grid, professionally installed by TSS for their original quotation of £7500.
Knowing that we could get some kind of grid for half of the original quote, the decision was made to run a YuStart campaign to raise the funds required. Helen Hobin, as current Station Director, took the lead in managing the campaign.
In preparation for the campaign, a video explaining the issue and why we needed funding was filmed (twice) in early February 2015. It was decided to make light (literally) of the problem by having members of YSTV stand in a mostly-dark studio, lit by a single light fixture that was turned off-screen to focus on whomever was speaking.
The campaign went live on 11 February, with an end date of 5 April. On 15 March, the minimum funding of £3500 was reached, and on 2 April the next target of £5500 was met. By the end of the campaign, a total of £6150 had been pledged. The total amount eventually received was £5190 (plus gift aid) after some failed pledges.
Helen had also asked Greg Dyke if he would be willing to support the campaign, but it wasn't until after the campaign had ended that Greg agreed to fund the entire cost of the rig. After explaining that the campaign had already raised enough, and there was only so much lighting worth buying, Greg agreed to give a donation of £5000 to YSTV as a parting gift - this being the last year he was Chancellor for.
With funding mostly secure, plans were put in place to have YSTV members install the larger 5x5m grid. Thomann was found to be even cheaper that the supplier we were going to go with, and an order was placed on 10 April with the expectation it would arrive to be installed the following week.
On 14 April, a final meeting with YUSU took place to agree the particulars of the install. In preparation for this, a method statement was written up detailing exactly how the grid would be installed, complete with a diagram and a risk assessment. After brief meeting (involving straws), the final green light was given by YUSU to start installation.
Install was pencilled in for Saturday 18 April, on the weekend before Roses. Unfortunately, the Thomann order had not yet arrived by then. The order arrived early morning on the Monday, leading the Tech team racing from their beds to help unload the lorry it had arrived on. The install was rescheduled for Tuesday evening.
The install itself was mostly without issue, taking approx five and a half hours (including emptying and putting-right the studio). The only issue that hindered completion of the grid was discovering that one of the truss pieces had been bent in shipping. This meant that one of the beams could not be installed until a later date, as the part had to be shipped back to Germany.
After a preliminary inspection by Estates H&S on the Thursday, the green light was given to be able to actually use the grid. Given we had Roses studio shows planned the following day, this was very good news. A more thorough inspection was completed by TSS once the replacement truss had been installed.
Produced by Helen Hobin, 'Hello Goodbye' was the commemorative show for the new rig. It was held on Friday 19th June, despite the rig having been in place for the entirety of the third term and used for Roses. The title was inspired after Helen was shown the Beatles song of the same name - this being the show where we said 'goodbye' to the old rig and many leaving members of YSTV, and 'hello' to the new rig and (hopefully) new members at the following freshers. As part of the YuStart rewards, Lloyd Wallis and Michael Prior-Jones were guests on the show, and the name and plaque were revealed. And thus the Pete Bowles Lighting Rig was welcomed into YSTV.
To be added
It's always nice to have a list of people who've helped make it all possible!
- Helen Hobin - Station Director (2014-15) - YuStart Campaign Lead. Generally awesome person.
- Sam Nicholson - Deputy Station Director (2014-15) - H&S Lead and YUSU wrangler. Kept everyone sane, despite the station (literally) falling apart around him.
- Peter Eskdale - Technical Director (2014-15) - Effectively the Technical Lead, despite quiting the Tech Director role two months prior to install.
- Robert Walker - Technical Director (2013-14) - The one who caused the problem by asking a sensible question. Promptly failed his degree and became an AV tech.
- Tom Cheyney - Generally helpful all-round on campaign and tech planning. Filmed all the timelapses, and battled YUSU Finance to get the whole thing ordered.
- Alick Perigo
- Sarah Mesterton-Gibbons
- Sam Willcocks - Wouldn't become a YSTV member for another week or so.
- Grace Winpenny - Also the first aider. Was given a helmet with a green cross on to prove it.
- David Heaton - Bravely risked asbestosis helping to remove the old rig. Mysteriously dissapeared shortly afterwards.