From Christmas plays to special worship events, it’s probable that if your church has a dedicated space for worship and productions, you’ll need to understand rigging at some point. Rigging simply means hanging equipment from above. If you utilize suspended spot lights, you’re rigging.
Any time you have heavy, expensive equipment suspended in the air, you’ll need to be sure that you’re careful to hang them correctly. Not only could you potentially damage costly equipment, you could also injure someone on stage or in the audience. So for those who aren’t familiar with stage design and rigging, here are some basic tools you need to understand.
A winch is an inexpensive piece of hardware that allows riggers to safely lift and suspend equipment. It is made up of a supportive element like a rope, chain, or cable, which is wound around a rotating drum. It can be operated by a hand crank, or it may be motorized. Most winches that you will find at hardware stores aren’t made for supporting heavy equipment overhead; rather, they are made for lifting something just a few feet off the ground onto a trailer. Be sure you check into the load capacity and the overhead lifting ability of any winches you use.
Aircraft cable is by far the most popular, and safest, option for worship service rigging. This is a flexible yet strong cable that is made of stranded steel. Aircraft cable is graded by the number of wires in each strand, and the number of strands in each cable. So 5×7 cable would have 5 wires per strand, and 7 strands per cable. You can purchase it in black galvanized options so it is hidden when suspending scenery or projection screens.
A cable glider is just what it sounds like: a mechanism that grips onto your scenery or equipment, and allows you to glide it along a cable. This is perfect for holiday plays, where scenery might need to be changed very quickly by actors or stage hands with little experience. Be sure to check the difference between the breaking strength of your cable gliders, which are rated similarly to aircraft cable. By combining the two, you’ll have a good basic rigging set up that allows you to create many different looks for your worship service.
Technology is advancing at a fast pace in the world of rigging. Load cells are digital scales that feed information to a computer monitor. They measure the load in real-time, which is important with equipment or scenery that is moved. Dynamic weight is different from static weight, and if you’ve rigged something that is close to the total weight capacity of your rigging equipment, you could be courting disaster when repositioning occurs.
Load cells can also help you monitor the strength and safety of winches or other hoists as you are in the process of rigging. These are vital safety tools, and if you’ll be doing a lot of rigging, they are a great investment. There are even load cells that can be used as automatic shut-off systems, that will halt a hoist if the load’s weight reaches a critical point at any time during the rigging procedure.
Because rigging for large worship services or conference events can be such a liability, it’s always responsible to hire or otherwise contract a professional rigger to install your equipment properly. This is the only way to ensure that your event will be safe, and that your audio, lighting, and video equipment is set up for optimal performance.
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