Tech Talk: Four Ways to Keep Mud off Your Lights

Posted on April 14, 2011

Written by Mike Graham, product manager for CHAUVET Professional

Mike Graham looking pensive in front of MVP video panels

Spring is in the air. Warm air is finally returning to the northlands and people are ready to start partying outside. Ah yes, outdoor festival season is upon us with all its glory. Mud, mud, and more mud. Cables running through mud, generators running “around” the kind of power you need, midday rain storms, wind, and my personal favorite, people throwing mud balls onstage. What are we to do to survive these rites of passage into summer? Here are four easy tips:

1. Bag it! When you are hanging moving lights in areas that are prone to getting soaked by a passing shower, put a plastic bag over it. Pull the bags off before the show opens and you are good to go. While the show is running, as long as the lights are on, keep them on unless you are in the middle of a driving thunderstorm. In that case shut down and head for the bus.

2. Shield it! If at all possible, shield the ground row. Keep the mud off of your strip lights. If you are using COLORado IP fixtures you are good to go. Just hose them off for the next show. If you are using COLORado Tour products, make sure that the powerCon connectors are covered if you are not using them. Also make sure that the DMX connectors are covered as well. If you are using the COLORado Batten 72 TOUR, make sure that the airflow to the fan is not obstructed.

3. Meter it! Make sure the generator is actually working at the voltage you want it under the load you intend to use on your show. DO NOT USE home generators for powering your show. Those are fine for keeping your fridge and a few lights going at the house during a storm, but are not meant for running entertainment lighting.

4. Check it! As in the weather before you load in. Every year we hear about someone who has set up their roof system only to have it blown down or hit by lightning. While sometimes this is completely unavoidable, the dangers can be kept to a minimum. Take every safety precaution before doing the load in. Keep an eye on the weather reports. There are a ton of websites and applications that can warn you of impending thunderstorms. If you see the sky clouding over and hear the thunder rolling in the distance, time to get off the rig.

After your show is over and you are packing the truck, try to leave as much of the festival at the festival you can. It’s always a good idea to make sure to pack a bunch of towels so you can wipe down your cables and lights. This will save time at the shop and keep your truck cleaner. If your movers or other electronics did get soaked, make sure to get them dried out as quickly as possible. Nothing worse than putting an expensive wet moving head into a road case, storing it in the back of a hot truck, then opening it up a few days later and smelling the mold grow. Good luck, be safe and send us pictures from the road!