UPgrade — Technical planning

Technical planning

By Malco Oliveros

The first principle to be aware of, as a touring company, is obviously that the technical setting must be simple.

Famous and internationally acclaimed companies, however, might choose not to put limitations to the scope of the technical support of the show, and in a few cases the use of massive technical settings might even be the aspect that makes the show special and attractive to some promoters, who are looking for shows that are either based on the use of sophisticated technology or are gigantic shows, to be seen by large audiences in huge venues such as stadiums, coliseums or other  outdoor settings.

But if your are not one of those artists who has the possibility to sell a tour, even before the show has been produced, it is recommendable to incorporate the simplicity of the technical setting as the element that might often be decisive for your possibilities to present your show on tour. Most promoters, including festivals, expect the fit-up to take place the same day on which the show is to be presented. Some of them, however depending on how attractive your show is to them, will allow you to start the fit-up the day before the presentation. Very few will accept more days, but only if you are one of the above named artists in the category of stars…

Companies working with ‘pure’ dance are often the ones who easily tour because the main part of the material to be transported is the costumes. They seldom use scenography, and most venues are well equipped with lighting and sound.

 

THE TECHNICAL RIDER

Make a detailed technical rider, and ask the promoter to deliver the venue’s technical rider, so you know the limits for how you might be able to adapt your requirements, if necessary and possible. This way you will avoid unpleasant surprises.

The technical rider can be structured in a way that, on one hand, it includes the standard requirements and, on the other hand, it includes possible specific requirements for specific venues, including the detailed working plan, based on the actual conditions of the given venue.

Make it clear what materials you bring with you, and what material you expect to be provided by the promoter, including the staff to help (specifying function and times) during the fit-up, the presentation of the show, and the strike.

It is a good idea to state in the rider the consequences, if the promoter does not provide the materials at the required times.

Attach the lighting plot, illustrations of the required materials that are special, and any other material that can make it easier for the venue’s technicians to understand and fulfil your requirements.

– Ideal and alternative conditions of the venue (conventional scene, black box?)
– Stage area (ideal + minimum height, width, depth).
– Rigging
– Light and sound requirements (enclose lighting plan)
– Fit-up and strike time
– Local helpers (technicians, other?)
– Dressing room conditions – Catering?
– Detailed fit-up plan
– Contact information to the technician
– Consequences if the required material is not delivered in time

Example Technical Rider

It is important for the contract between the company and the promoter to state that the rider is an integrated part of the contract. The rider shall be signed by the technical representative of the promoter as a sign of approval.

 

Insurance

It is of great importance that the company has a travelling insurance policy that covers the loss or damage of the set, as well as accident or sickness of the personnel. The company must also make sure that the promoter has a responsibility insurance policy that covers the company’s stay in the venue. Both parts must be included in the contract.

 

Transportation of equipment

It is a good idea to research the market before deciding which agency you want to make use of to transport your equipment, wherever it should be sent to. Colleagues with touring experience might be able to recommend the one they use, and this can be a good starting point. But as in any other business you are allowed to ask different transport agencies to give you an estimate for a given task. In order to be able to provide you with a price, most agencies need this information: dates for pick-up and delivery (both ways if it is a simple forth and back tour); address where the material shall be picked up and delivered (again both ways); amount of ‘colli’ (packages) and their shape (are they boxes and of which material) as well as their weight. If the transportation is to a country that is not in the EU, you will also need a detailed and specified list of the objects or elements that are included in each of the packages, either if it is in the official form required by ATA-Carnet (to be filled on line) or the so called ‘pro forma invoice’ (see the example of a pro forma invoice).