7.10.2011

Sometimes lighting up a room takes some real power.

Power cables running from four diesel, truck sized generators into a 20,000 square foot ballroom.

You think professional photographers are insane about back-up and the need to prevent failure at all costs?  I recently did a corporate show in a splendid new hotel that was still working out a few kinks.  I am good friends with the production company that turned a bare exhibition space into a high tech wonderland for a week.  Acres of computer controlled, color shifting LED accent lights.  Computer controlled moving lights.  Hundreds of pedestals with tech products and demos as far as the eye could see.

They did due diligence months ago to make sure that the hotel was wired with enough juice to handle everything but that was all...........theoretical.  The day before doors opened they brought up all the lights and in a few minutes the exhibition space went dark.  Everything shut down.  The hotel worked on it.  The production company immediately got on the phone and arranged an alternate source of power.  No questions asked.  No prayerful hoping.  All business.  All on.  All the time.

Turned out to be a programming glitch and the hotel ended up having more than enough power on tap.  But the generators stayed in place.  Just in case.  The production company's motto?  "When the credits roll make sure that heads don't."  And that motto is trademarked.  They don't have shows go down.  It doesn't happen.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions over the years, are at stake thru reputation and word of mouth.

Next time someone tells you that you don't go on a job without mission critical back-up please remember how the big boys roll and save yourself from that possible career ending failure.  Pack twice as much as you need.  Make sure it works.  Get ready for Murphy's Law.  

7 comments:

kirk tuck said...

Can you say, "four hundred amps?"

Mel said...

Makes that little ProFoto battery pack seem a bit weak, doesn't it? But I'm sure it fires when you need it, right?

Dave Elfering Photography said...

I chaired a couple of local Greek festivals, and electrical is one of those things that can really sink you. Power lines over heating, intermittent outages ... this all makes stressful memories come back!

Bold Photography said...

I saw a production company filming in the streets near me - very much the same, but everything was rigged onto some trucks (including the car that held the actor(s) and was mobile. They had a spare truck for pulling, just in case the one pulling the car had a problem of some kind.....

And people wonder why they get yelled at when they ask 'what lens' to get for their Rebel camera to shoot a wedding...

Rick Dickinson said...

@BoldPhotography, no kidding. I may have only used a total of three lenses and two bodies when I shot a wedding recently, but I had backups for everything, including a third body, on hand. I also had backup batteries, backup memory cards, and backup flash.

I blogged about it: http://crayonphotos.com/2011/05/equipment-for-wedding-photography/

kirk tuck said...

I wrote post but Murphy's Law bit my ass today. I'm on locations shooting portraits and I have two lenses, two camera bodies and SIX moonlights. Sync cords everywhere. But I decided to this job with me D60's and of course I didn't bring the hot shoe to pc adapters. I'm having to trigger the flashes with me 580ex2.......

Don't I feel dumb?

Dave Elfering Photography said...

Kirk I think you could sing that to "on the twelfth day of Christmas..." :)

My absent mindedness is what makes me most nervous shooting for others. One thing I never forget is to forget something. Guess its how resourcefulness gets tested. Funny, though I have wireless triggers I tend to use the direct cables also for reliability and one less thing to worry about.