Use Specialist equipment

Special effects

The use of special effects equipment requires specialist care and training. The use of materials such as pyrotechnics is controlled by law and all the statutory requirements must be followed.

Pyrotechnics, etc.

No special effects such as pyrotechnics, flash bombs, smoke bombs, smoke machines or effects or candles / naked flames should ever be used in a performance space or in any University premises or grounds unless there has been approval by a member of staff. If approval is sought from the academic leader of the project they will need to contact both the technicians and Head of Technical Services for agreement; you must not proceed until this agreement has been given.

Smoking on stage

Smoking on stage will only be permitted after consultation with the project leader, the technical staff and permission received from the Dean. Please remember that the University has a no smoking policy.

Smoke effects

If you would like to use smoke effects in an activity you will need to advise the technical team at least two weeks prior to the event. The technical team will work with you to ascertain what it is you require and if it will be possible; this will involve risk assessing the activity in regards to Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations (COSHH) and control of potential exposure. In addition you and the technical team will work with the University Estates team on planning control measures regarding fire alarm activation and awareness of the activity taking place.

The following should be considered:

  • Limiting the amount of smoke/vapour to the minimum necessary for the desired effect.
  • Direct and control smoke effects towards the desired location to prevent overspill into audience areas.
  • Printed warnings (if the activity will be advertised to the public this will need to be stated on all marketing material).
  • Warning notices on the premises (reinforced by verbal warnings before the performance if this is considered necessary).

Strobe effects

The use of strobe effects is discouraged as they can make people feel unwell and can, in some cases, trigger epileptic fits. If permission is given for strobes to be used the following must be adhered to:

  1. Never use at frequencies above 8hz;
  2. Never use for longer than 20 seconds at a time, and
  3. Always display warning signs at all entrances warning that strobe effects will be used in the performance. This should also be included in any programmes and publicity material you produce.

As always, the technical team are happy to answer any questions and provide support.

Lighting equipment

Before attempting to carry out any rigging you should undertake the relevant training first and complete the working at heights training.

Lanterns are hung only on lighting bars using clamps. Check these are locked firmly onto the bars and that a safety chain is used for additional security.

Lanterns can also be supported on lighting stands, attached by spigots instead of clamps.
Make sure that any stand is on a level surface; on a tripod stand make sure the legs are as wide apart as possible and locked off correctly.

Lanterns can also be fitted to booms. These booms should be firmly fixed to the lighting grid and where possible secured to the stage using a suitable fixing.

Hanging a lantern

The procedure for hanging a lantern is the same wherever you hang it, as follows:

  • Hang each lantern in place (make sure it's not upside down!), lock the clamp to the bar and secure the safety chain;
  • Point the lantern roughly in the right direction. This helps with focusing and may reveal problems such as overcrowding on the bar or bad sight lines;
  • Put in the gel frame and barn doors if needed;
  • Plug the lantern in making note of the socket number;
  • Note: don't tape, knot or tie a lantern's power lead to a bar or boom. The cable should be left slack to allow for movement during the focussing process;
  • Finally, ensure the plug corresponding to the socket number is plugged into a channel on the dimmer rack.

Operating a lighting desk

As all our performance spaces have lighting desks which are programmed in slightly different ways, specific training is needed for each one; speak with one of the technicians about taking the training.

Once you know how to use the desk ensure that a) the correct power source is fitted, and b) the DMX route to the dimmers is complete.

Ask one of the technicians if you're unsure about anything.

Rostra and seating blocks

Here at York St John we have three kinds of rostra and seating blocks. Before trying to erect any of them for the first time ask one of the technical staff to show you how, after that make sure you adhere to the following:

  • All back plates are fitted to each level;
  • Front edges are clearly marked;
  • All sections are secured using the relevant clips or bolts.

If you're in any doubt whatsoever, ask one of the technicians or a member of staff to check everything is correct and safe.


Sound equipment

Please make sure you follow the instructions below when setting up any of the sound equipment:

  • Connect the line output from the source i.e. a CD player, iPod or laptop to the line input on the mixing desk;
  • Connect the main or mix output from the mixing desk to the input on the amplifier;
  • Connect the output from the amplifier to the speakers.

Note: it's important that the left and right +/- channels are always separated unless a stereo feed is being used.

Use reasonable sound levels at all times - be considerate to others working around you and remember there may be staff working in offices close by.

Loud, amplified rehearsals may only take place after 5pm with the windows closed.

Smoke Effects

Download the pdf here Smoke Machine (PDF 0.1 MB)

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