Since we make no secret about the rates we charge our clients and the rates we pay our team members, many times we are asked to explain the delta between the two. Now, for those unfamiliar with those rates (which you can find here), I don’t think those asking thing the difference is unreasonable. The conversation is more about justifying what is often mistaken as profit. In fact, the cost of labor, especially in states with strict definitions regarding contractors, can be stifling. And the indirect costs of labor can get so out of control, that many clients and contractors are overwhelmed by the challenges the average crewing company must face.
So we decided to publish an article the fully describes the cost of labor, from the direct costs such as payroll, payroll tax, benefits and insurance to indirect costs such as payroll processing, operating costs, invoice exceptions and time theft. The sections to follow will not only explain the rationale behind our rate system, but can be useful for companies requiring a contingent workforce to analyze their own investment into their workforce and determine if a staffing or crewing company is a better model for them to pursue.
Keep in mind, companies can have subtle differences in business model, have a higher tolerance for risk or work in states with less impactful regulations - but for the most part, this article is applicable to a broad range of employers in countless industries. This does not pertain strictly to the live event industry, but frankly, it applies to just about any industry and company requiring an employee - and in many cases applies to freelancers also.
Bring On The Specialty Shapes
This is a pretty slick display panel. The DESAY Series E display was designed and developed around the needs of indoor touring applications.
The series E may not be a game changer, but it's already available as a 1.5mm, 1.875mm, 2.5mm to 3.75mm. It boasts a precise, quick connector system safe for even displays super fine pixel pitches.
Like most popular touring display tiles, the series E is 100% front serviceable. It offers a wide viewing angle, high contrast ratio and high refresh rate, making this suitable as an indoor touring module - and I suspect we'll see more of these specialty shapes and sizes
The LED world is really starting to pick up speed.
Basic Safe Practices
I was working with some younglings last week, and it's part of my regular conversation, we spent a good amount of time on workplace safety. As I listed various practices, I spent a little time on "the why" behind the practice, and share examples of how a failure to follow procedure might result in an accident - or worse, a tragedy.
As I went through the most common, I started to realize how many of my examples were from accidents that I witnessed or affected someone I knew personally. Albeit, I've been doing this for a number of years, but I was still shocked at the number of accidents that I could personally speak to. At one point, I even stopped and said, "Damn, this job really can be dangerous." I say that to mean, as we go about our day, so much is process and procedure that we can take for granted the actual danger that surrounds us.
So I figured I would share some common, important best practices and safety protocols and the "why" behind them. This is for the new kids, of course. But also, as much for us vets that forget how dangerous the job can be - not only if we don't follow protocol, but if we fail to teach and correct those around us.
"Lift[gate] Coming In" [dock safety]
When loading or unloading a bobtail truck or any box with a lift gate, always call it when you start to move the lift gate. Loading and unloading can be fast paced, but mindless - and often filled with a number of conversations. A stagehand that's not paying attention can lose a toe under the gate or a finger in the chain or maybe take a rider to the side of the head because they don't realize the head, and hastily set load is now moving.
Although I've seen a few accidents, some more costly than other, the one that involved human injury is what were focused on here. So I'm reminded of a load-in where the truck's owner was screaming at his crew. As they unloaded the truck, he berated his guys, screaming obscenities and insulting them. I guess we know why the lift operator didn't call out that the lift was coming in - but it was and good ol' company owner didn't hear it over his own voice. In fact he didn't turn to face the load until the lift was inches from his feet, and caught off guard, he didn't jump back in time until he came down on his foot. He didn't finish the load-in,. His guys did, and at least it was quieter.
Radio Do's & Dont's
DO keep chatter to a minimum. Carrying a radio is already distracting and it becomes annoying when you have to keep shifting your focus from the task in front of you to the comments on your radio.
DO hold (key) your talk button for a full second before you start to speak, otherwise we lose the first part of your sentence, which is usually who you are.
DO NOT change off your assigned channel without notifying your group that you're changing.
DO NOT use you radio to play jokes or have inappropriate conversations.
DO remember to return your radio to its charging station at the end of each day.
DO record the serial number of your assigned radio, in case you lose it or it gets accidentally swapped
Are you new to the Stagehand world? Do you listen in on a conversation between two stagehands and feel like you're way outside of an inside joke? Well, here's a little peak at some of our trade & colloquial terms we often use and the true meaning behind it.
"Best Gig Ever!"
Worst gig ever!
"We only want to do this 'twice,' once!"
Let's first do it [producer's] way, then we'll do it the right way.
Black pants, black shirt, black shoes, and the entire right side of a stagehand's closet.
Black slacks, black button-up shirt, and the other side of a stagehand's closet.
Black slacks, black coat, black tie, all of which is commonly found balled-up in the stagehand's trunk.
The mammoth road case filled with every tool ever used, and every contraption ever devised, and every possible roll of tape, and food menus from every city ever visited. But really, the workbox is a 400 pound security blanket.
A box or road case full of random crap we couldn't fix in the Work Box.
One of the few tools we really ever use.
Left-handed [or Metric] C-Wrench
See "Flux Capacitor"
Also known as electrical tape, which is a pressure-sensitive, non-conductive insulating tape that's useful for binding looms, cable stress reliefs, identifying microphones, minor first aid, marking bad gear, fixing loose latches, dressing speaker stands, resealing lunch containers and holding open crash doors - and occasionally used for insulating cable.
A heavy cotton tape with strong adhesive and tensile properties, used for everything else.