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Loaded Questions, Weighty Solutions

Staging and rigging products right for house of worship projects.

By Carolyn Heinze   •  March 29, 2017 4:03 pm EDT

Tags: avl design, rigging, staging, worship staging,

What goes up, must come down—there’s even a song about it. But when a house of worship has, literally, tons of audio, video and lighting equipment hanging over its worship leaders and congregation members, nobody wants to witness the basics of gravity. While AVL technology manufacturers are constantly finding ways to make their gear lighter, the fact of the matter is, this stuff weighs a lot. Without the proper infrastructure to support it, churches are putting their people in danger.

Predictably, however, there are solutions out there––many of which aim to take the “human error” factor out of designing staging and rigging infrastructure. Here, Church Designer offers a few to keep in mind.

Knowing your weight ... for real

In a recent article in Church Production, Church Designer’s sister publication, Noga Eilon-Bahar, vice president of business development at Eilon Engineering Ltd., emphasized that possessing data on how much each loudspeaker, lighting fixture and video display weighs isn’t enough information to prevent a rigging structure from being overloaded. “The problem is not only the total weight of the suspended load but the distribution and possible redistribution of that load,” she notes. “Whenever there are more than two hoists on a truss or more than three hoists in a structure, it becomes statically indeterminate, resulting in an unpredictable load distribution.” As a result an imbalance can occur whereby one hoist may be overloaded while another isn’t carrying its fair share of the weight.

Eilon’s solution to this, as well as other staging and rigging issues, is the Ron StageMaster, a wireless, multi-point load continuous 24/7 monitoring and overload prevention system.

It works like this: the load cells installed on a structure’s hanging points transmit (via radio frequency to a portable Bluetooth-compatible receiver) data on their load in real time. Both visual and audible alarms will command a motor to stop if an overload (or under-load) is detected. The system will monitor up to 200 load cells per second.

Weight on the move

At Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif., a recent video system upgrade involved the integration of two 18-foot by 10-foot LED video walls, enabling the church’s tech team to conduct quick––and elaborate––strikes and setups between its traditional and contemporary services. The LED walls, which would serve as a backdrop that could separate the traditional orchestra and choir area from the praise band’s area on the platform, offered more efficient “movability” than the house of worship’s previous video displays.

At the same time, the renovation project called for the stage size to be reduced, mandating that the screens be moved 28 feet downstage, and then lowered to eight feet above the stage. Idibri, a theatrical and technology design firm based in Addison, Texas, along with Pacific West Sound, a local AV firm, turned to JR Clancy for a rigging solution. “Clancy had done LED gantry systems that moved up and down or in and out, but this one had to do both,” explains Chris Berendsen, installation manager at Pacific West.

The solution combines a custom LED hoist and gantry system and other systems by JR Clancy, along with a StageTek Seated Riser by Wenger. “We designed a way for the screens to travel upstage and store flush with the back wall,” recounts Patrick Finn, product manager at JR Clancy. “It required a custom hoist and gantry system, using components of our PowerLine line shaft hoist, but configured in a custom way.” The LED gantry system is controlled by JR Clancy’s SceneControl 5200 control console.

“If you can imagine, we actually strike most of the orchestra pit, and we do a whole audio changeover between services, in about 15 minutes,” says Jason March, director of engineering at Valley Baptist Church. “Having the screens move forward has improved the dynamic of our services, without a lot of extra effort. The LED screens and movable gantries have allowed us to put them wherever we want, without worrying about how the projections will appear.”

Climbin' high

Intended for environments where traditional hoist solutions aren’t an option––such as buildings with domed, peaked or plaster ceilings––ETC’s Prodigy P75 Self Climber Hoist (designed in collaboration with Tomcat) combines an ETC P75 Hoist incorporated into a Tomcat 20.5-inch truss. The system has a working load limit of 2,000 pounds and will travel vertically up to 75 feet.

Rising to the occasion

GLP’s Cosmic Truss range of staging risers offers a selection of standard sized platforms, as well as a number of add-ons to accommodate differing stage designs. The risers lock together, and legs are interchangeable and can be used with or without castors. The risers are designed with quick tear down in mind for those facilities that need to store them after an event, or for portable applications.

Control in motion

Founded on the principle of developing solutions that are suited for the rigorous touring world, while at the same time taking into consideration the creative demands of cue-based control in the permanent installation environment, Kinesys is a UK-based manufacturer of intelligent motor controllers, variable speed chain hoist systems, automation technology, and load cell systems. The company’s DigiHoist intelligent control system for fixed speed chain hoists provides positional feedback, load sensing, and a group halt safety feature. The system is compatible with Kinesys Vector and K2 motion control software, but operators may also opt to control it manually from the front panel.

Libra is the company’s range of load measurement products, including LibraCELLs, which can monitor up to 100 cells (multiple systems can be linked together). Libra’s constantly connected digital data transfer technology eliminates the need for remote junction boxes, RF communications, or remote power supplies, and the system connects with DigiHoist for overload prevention and emergency stop triggering.

Finally, the Kinesys Elevation system, featuring the elevation1+ drive unit, is a locally mounted variable speed machinery control solution that can be positioned near the chain hoist or beam trolley it’s charged with controlling, cutting down on cabling requirements.


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