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So I have now done 5 shows in Australia with 5 left to go.Chameleon Lighting has done a fabulous job down here of giving me quality gear and a top notch crew. Everything on their end seems to be fine. But it seems like every gig in Australia has a difficult time getting the spot operators in their perch at the correct time.

     Now some folks may think, "AS long as they are there by the time house lights go off, what's the worry?"

Well the worry is that I just need 2 minutes of your time to explain a couple quick things, before I just say the word "GO" about 100 times tonite. I could call both my spot ops to a designated area backstage for a little talk before the show. I do that on tours where I am using 4-10 spot ops, but on this show I only need 2 lamps. So I choose to let them get to their lights 15 minutes before the show. But apparently the ops don't care what I say and they just show up 5 minutes before house lights go out, and then I am screwed.

     Now my spotlite talk takes under 2 minutes. But that's not the biggest problem. I want the operators up at their platform way ahead of time because I need that time to either fix a broken spotlite or fix the intercom patch. Everyday I have guys whine and bitch because I make them go up in the catwalk and fire up the spots. That's my first precaution. I also have them talk to someone at dimmers to make sure they have headset communication. Sound easy right? 

    It should be, but it isn't. After holding the show for 8 minutes in Perth while the local hands ran up stairs to a catwalk way late, it is slowly getting better. Two days after Perth, I find myself at one of Australias' "Big Day Out" events. A stage parked in a winery, some 40 miles outside of Melbourne. Toby Fleming, the local Live Nation rep tells me not to worry, the spot ops will be in place 30 minutes before the show. My band is playing in daylite so it shouldn't matter unless the video guys need the spots on for the IMAG screens to look good. They don't, which is good as the spot ops appear on headset 5 minutes before show time. But I don't need them.

    Next night I am in Melbourne. I have 1 spotlite show up on time and the other is nowhere to be found. Right away we have an issue as the spot ops do not know how to ignite their lamps. Apparently there is a certain procedure with these fixtures in which you have to engage all kinds of power switches in a certain order, for the bulb to strike. The girl op starts freaking out. I ask her to move to one of the other spotlites and try that one. 5 minutes before show and I have no spotlites working. The other operator shows up 2 minutes before time. Fulll of apologies and constant "No Worries mate" as he too finds out he does not know how to turn his lamp on either. Finally, 1 minute before house lights go out, the local dimmer guy gets on cans and informs them of the proper procedure to igniting the lamp. This would have been great 15 minutes ago as now I have to tell the poor spot ops who they are going to cover, while the entire arena is pitch black and I am listening to the intro music.

       I get to Adelaide the next day and this time the spot ops have been read the riot act and are in position on time. This is good as it gives them time to rearrange the spot gels and get them in the proper order for the show. Now we are set to go. "Excuse me sir, this is spot 1". Yes, I say, "What can I do for you?" I have lost power to my lamp and it will not come on. "OK then, is there another fixture nearby you can jump on?" 

     A bulb goes on and yes, he runs to the other fixture and turns it on. But now he needs to go back to his open mic'd headset and literally drag it and his stool along side the metal grill in the catwalk so everyone on headset can be treated to that lovely sound for 30 seconds while he moves. He gets there and says he's ready, immediately turning his light on the guitar player nobody has asked him to illuminate. "Spot 1", I call out. ".Can you please douse your light".An order more than a question. He does. Then I remind him to go back to the other spotlight and take out the gels and put them in the new spot.

      Last night in Sydney it all worked out well. 5th show was the charm, hoping they can get the next 5 down.

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Comment by Adam Williams on January 6, 2014 at 2:02pm
Truth be told, I don't want anything to do with followspots if I can avoid it. Don't want to be calling them and certainly don't want to be running them. That said, I do appreciate what a good followspot team brings to the show. I think it's all too often an under appreciated aspect.

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