School Productions – plays and musicals

We have two ways of boosting young voices on stage.
The lower cost method using shotgun microphones along the front of the stage, and the higher cost method using headset mics and handheld mics  - or a combination of both. 
The real secret to getting good sound at a school production is the even distribution of speakers down the length of the hall – not just speakers at the front by the stage. So, 3 or 4 speakers each side of the room so everyone can hear, even the parents up the back.

Method 1. Shotgun mics. *
Price guide, $2,000.
A combination of multiple mics, using condensor mics, omni-directional mics and directional shotgun mics. We rig a wire above the front of the stage and hang omnidirectionals and have shotguns mics along the front of the stage on stands. 
See Valley School Production here. Usually we include two handheld cordless mics for the soloists share.
Here's some pics of Marlborough Primary School that use the Kaipatiki Theatre at Glenfield College.
We create a 'live stage' with 8 microphones; that's 4 overhead and 4 in front of the stage. Once we set the mic levels and EQs anything said or sung on the stage can be heard – it's less fuss and much cheaper.

Method 2. Headset mics.
 *Price guide $4,000.
Our headset mics are in the new legal frequency range and need special care but the result is incredible. We can supply up to 12 units at once, here's an example of 8 at Chelsea Primary.
Our headset mics are professional grade and each one includes either the tiny hi-tech wire theatrical-style mic or larger aerobics style mic, a belt pack and a receiver unit.
Headset mics need a tech person to manage them at all times, to mute and un-mute them and to give them plenty of level without causing any feeedback – but we're good at it and always get a great result.  
Here's an example of 5 aerobic style headsets at Devonport Primary. 

Price Guides. 

The hire cost can vary depending on length of hire and the number of microphones, also the number of tech rehearsals and the number of performances, whether we tech (operate the mixer) the show or a volunteer does it, and whether we are supplying both the mics and the speakers – which we prefer.
We stock really good gear, upper price category – that's why we're a bit more pricey.
Some semi-professional theatres have all the gear and a great tech crew and only need the headset mic kits. We can do an initial quote and the production team can amend, add and adapt to fit the budget.

Tech ops

We can operate an analogue mixer or a digital mixer but we won't allow inexperienced people to manage multi-microphone productions – the sound of howling feedback can ruin a show and cause serious hearing-loss issues.
We can be flexible, for example, at a recent prodution there were just 4 shotgun mics operating and the students had no problem monitoring the levels. We are also very happy for students to sit in with our sound tech and control a few cues and learn to mix, and sometimes the tech can leave them to it – some kids a pretty smart with sound gear.

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School Installations

1. Greenhithe School Hall – new lights & sound.

A versatile and mobile system for a hall used for both productions and sport. The equipment can be rolled out and plugged up for dance and music events and rolled away when the hall is a used for basketball. Many schools, especially primary schools, have one hall that doubles as a gym and a performance space. Instead of fixing the equipment permanently in the hall we used roadcases on wheels. The speakers are stored away and put up on stands.

Lighting is also portable, rather than fitting a lighting bar, with the costs and difficulties of access involving very high ladder work and all the OSH issues that come with it, we recommend two heavy duty tripod T stands with 4 lights on each. The dimmer and controller is in a roadcase on wheels. The roadcase can be rolled out and the lighting stands set up and positioned where needed. Sandbags for the tripod feet give extra stability and security. The key benefit is that the equipment can also be used for various kinds of events around the school.

SOUND: Two speakers mounted up in the left and right corners of the hall, with inputs plugs for the speakers fixed to wall plates near where the piano is. A roadcase on wheels with the amp, CD /mp3 player, a drawer for the mics (1 lapel mic, 1 cordless mic, 1 regular mic), mixer on top.
LIGHTS:  8x PAR56 lights clamped onto a T-Bar arrangement, 4 per stand. Lights can remain plugged up to the dimmer pack in the roadcase on wheels with the controller panel, and rolled out when the lights are set up.

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2. Marist Girls High in Mt Albert - updating a system.

The requirement was to use much of the existing sound equipment to save costs. Their 8 radio frequency receivers for the headset mics and their amp were racked into a new purpose built custom roadcase by AlleyCat. A new SoundCraft EPM12 mixer was added along with a big drawer to hold the mics. Tidy, robust and easy to use. A roll out solution for a multi purpose hall.

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3.  Mangere College - a student radio station.

The brief included installation of outdoor speakers to broadcast the in-school station. We used much of the existing sound equipment and racked it into a new purpose built custom roadcase by AlleyCat. At a later date we replaced the mixer, monitor speaker, and amplifier with better equipment.