Elevating Your Lights-and Your Image-with Trussing
BY KEN KAHN
If you’ve been a DJ for any length of time, chances are you’ve amassed a collection of special effects lights. This is a good thing, because professional lighting can really enhance your show. But when you set up for a gig, where do you display this lighting?
For too many DJs, the answer to this question is “various lighting stands,” or even worse, “whatever tables, chairs or counters happen to be available.” If such a makeshift setup sounds all too familiar, then maybe it’s time to take the next step and invest in trussing for your lights.
There are many reasons why it makes sense for DJs to rig their lights on truss. Not only does a truss structure protect your lights (and audience) from accidental bumps, it gives your performance a more polished, professional look, which in turn makes your services more valuable to clients and allows you to charge a higher fee per event. Using trussing also makes it easier to hang your fixtures at the appropriate height and angle for the room, improving the quality of your light show. Plus, you can use your truss setup for things other than lighting, such as flying speakers and other audio gear, to make your workspace neater and more efficient. Trussing is also great for displaying signage about the event you’re emceeing, such as a corporate logo or congratulatory message to a bride and groom. With the addition of screens and truss warmers, trussing can even become an attractive design element in its own right and enhance the visual appeal of your show-but more about that later.
Manufacturers have made it more feasible than ever for DJs to use truss by introducing new, more lightweight, and affordable products. Which brings up a question we often get asked by DJs: “What type of truss setup should I buy?”
As a mobile DJ, you’re going to want the most efficient setup possible-a rig that’s simple to put up, take down and transport. Given the variety of (often less-than-spacious) spaces you work in, you also need something that doesn’t take up a lot of real estate on the floor. And, of course, as a performer you want your truss rig to look good too. At Global Truss, we have addressed these needs with two products designed specifically for mobile DJs: the Arch System 1 and Truss System 1. Both are compact all-in-one systems, they’re lightweight, attractive, easy-to-assemble and very affordable. Plus, they’re sized just right for a typical DJ booth.
Whatever brand of truss you choose, you should buy from an established dealer with knowledgeable salespeople who can help you choose the right system for your needs and budget, and also provide after-the-sale support and service. You should also make sure the company’s products have been tested, rated and stamped with an industry certification, such as TÜV approval. (TÜV is an international product testing organization.) A manufacturer can claim that their truss can do the job or support a certain amount of weight, but without official certification there’s no way of knowing for sure. Truss manufacturers should be able to show you documentation of industry certification and/or engineering reports.
In addition to the truss itself, you will need accessories to set up your structure and rig your lights, such as pins, R-clips, couplers and clamps. Accessories such as clamps should be certified, too, to ensure they meet safety standards. For example, Global Truss offers aluminum clamps for attaching lights to truss, which are TÜV-certified for weight load capacity – something that’s essential for both safety and protecting your fixtures from damage. Standard C-clamps and O-plastic clamps are not TÜV-certified.
Once you have your trussing and accessories, you’re all set to create your rig. If you’re using a turnkey system like Global’s Arch 1 or Truss 1, which consist of two vertical side pieces plus overhead trussing for hanging lights, you would typically position the truss structure behind you. If, on the other hand, you’re using individual pieces of truss to create “totems,” it’s generally best to put them on the sides of the dance floor.
Wherever you position your truss, you should consider incorporating it into the overall design of your show. Gone are the days when truss was just a utility item to be hidden away. Many entertainers and clubs today value the edgy, industrial look that trussing provides. Truss manufacturers have contributed to this trend by coming out with a variety of attractive products and finishes, such as Satin Aluminum, which fit in nicely with the industrial theme.
Want to make your trussing really sizzle? There are a number of products you can add to turn your truss structure into a standout visual design element that will greatly enhance your show or venue. A fabric truss screen (made of flexible white Lycra) will instantly create an impressive-looking scenic backdrop for your show, such as the Global Screen from Global Truss or one of DJScreen.com’s offerings. The white fabric can be used as a projection screen for video presentations and ambient color light displays.
Truss warmers are products often used to make trussing part of the overall visual experience. Installed inside the truss itself, truss warmers are small colored lights that reflect off the structure’s shiny finish, enveloping it in a glow of color.
When you look at all that can be done with truss these days, you can see it’s no longer just something used for raising your lights-it will elevate your whole performance as well.
Ken Kahn is General Manager for Global Truss America (part of the American DJ Group of Companies).
Filed Under: Issues from 2010, Lighting
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