We’re a 501(c)3. All support is tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed. This is true for physical and service support as well as financial; if you have equipment or services to provide, even if it’s not on our wishlist, drop us a line at email@example.com — we’re grateful for any attention, and that includes plain old good words of encouragement too (which aren’t tax deductible but sure are appreciated).
Bellows Falls is where we are and we love it here. It’s rich in culture and nature, but has the lowest median household income of any incorporated village in southern Vermont — it’s more than $23,000 less than the U.S. average, and more than 25% of the population lives below the poverty level. And yet the community has rallied to support this project by helping with the physical and technical infrastructure, providing experience-based advice, volunteering time and muscle, and more. If you’d like to help too, here’s a button to make a donation on plastic in any amount via PayPal (you don’t need a PayPal account). A wishlist follows further below if you’re interested in doing something very specific. And down below that, find information on sponsorships and underwriting.
Optionally, checks payable to “Stage 33 Live” can be dropped off at any Stage 33 Live event, or mailed to our administrative address: Stage 33 Live; 8A Atkinson St; Bellows Falls VT 05101. (For tax deduction reporting, Stage 33 Live Ltd’s nonprofit EIN is 82-2349941.)
We hope that Stage 33 Live will eventually be able to create at least one paid position in the community, even if it’s just part time… and through its mission contribute to the vibrancy and economic vitality of Bellows Falls and the surrounding area. And maybe help launch a star or two.
Items on the list can and do change with some frequency due to acquisition, research, and new needs. It’s compiled with a sharp eye on cost / benefit. You might recognize that better equipment at higher prices is available… our goal is the highest quality we can do on a bare-bones budget. The list is in priority order, more or less.
DI boxes(s) — at least a couple, but we should have up to four available. We’ve got our eye on the Samson MDA1 Active Direct Box. They’re only $35 but have darned good user reviews about their transparency, which is exactly what we want. (We have one borrowed passive box that works OK; and one borrowed passive dual box that distorts the audio and makes us weep.)
Computer monitor(s), one biggie or a couple regular ones. Editing video and audio on one normal-sized screen is difficult… there just isn’t enough real estate. Wider is better. We can use a couple regular sized monitors by running them side by side. Used is fine if you’re upgrading. USB is best. 30-inch monitors brand new in the box can be found for $150.
A proper video editing computer. We have one that’s OK. It’s what we have. Sometimes it’s crashy and slow, and sometimes it will render an hour-long file for 12 hours only to get stuck and have to start over. Sometimes we say bad words. Recommended “entry level” editing machines start at over a grand, and the best ones are $3,500+. We’d most likely build one to save a bunch of money and end up with something better. A six- to eight-core CPU is most efficient for 4K work (our has two cores). NVIDIA Quadro video cards seem to be most highly recommended for digital content creation; for 4K footage, a minimum of six GB VRAM is recommended (we have four). A dedicated video card for the video editing program — separate from the system card — is usually recommended. 32 GB of system memory is recommended, we have eight.
4K video camera. Cameras are the most expensive bottleneck. With the help of an angel donor, we recently acquired two 4K ultra-high-def camcorders… a ginormous step up. One more will complete a basic three-camera, ultra-HD setup. If we get the chance, we’ll be thrilled to run more than three.
Our initial cameras included two $50 white-label theoretically-HD knockoff camcorders. $50 was what we could afford… a hundred bucks to get boots on the ground was money very well spent despite the massive corner-cutting. We’ll continue to use those goofy cameras for specialty angles and b-roll.
1. National broadcasters (that we’re not trying to get on, but it presents a benchmark) often require HD footage with a minimum 50Mb/s bitrate (assuming it’s in an interframe codec; otherwise, at least 100Mb/s), with 4:2:2 subsampling (twice as much color information as the 4:2:0 of most camcorders and SLRs). Minimum sensor size is sometimes also specified: 1-inch for a single chip, or 1/2-inch for three-chip cameras. These things are wicked expensive.
2. Some specifications say that AVCHD above 35 Mb/s at 4:2:0 can work if all the post is done in the native codec — that brings the camera cost down a lot. This standard is typically adequate for regional public television syndicates and that’s where we’re aiming.
3. Going further down the line, standards are more relaxed for journalism / news fly-ins. Reasonably good camcorders and phones can get there.
As a side note, we also have a totally lo-res eight-camera security system for specialty cutaways that are purposely blotchy, grainy, and dripping with personality. We love them but hardly ever get to use that footage.
Graphic EQ: We’re looking at a Rockville REQ231 Dual 31 Band (hundred bucks new) for the PA. We’re currently using a 10-band ’70s era home-stereo EQ from a post-yardsale free pile… it helps a great deal but makes the right-side speakers buzz.
A couple or more clip-on instrument mics: This is something we should have anticipated, but didn’t. Not all acoustic players have pickups, and not all pickups sound good. Sedate soloists and duets playing acoustic instruments without pickups do fine with stage mics… but when there’s three or more people playing in a raucous string band, or an acoustic instrument is competing with one or more amplified ones (or an accordion!), or the player moves around a lot, things start getting difficult. Clip-ons in the $100 range seem to have the best price/performance compromise; we don’t have a specific recommendation. Ry Cooder’s fave clocks in at $500! (Some decent lavaliere mics are purported to work well in this capacity.)
Large old dial-type darkroom timer to use onstage as a fun and functional way to time short slots. The kind with an outlet built in that turns on when time runs out. They show up on eBay for about $40 sometimes. There was one at Twice Time in Brattleboro a while ago at that price, but we didn’t have enough money at the time.
Nearfield audio reference monitors. Not stage monitors, but reference speakers for mixing the recorded audio. Powered reference monitors are most convenient, but passive ones with a separate amp would be just fine. We haven’t done due diligence in our research yet. Mixing and mastering on headphones only, no matter how good they are, isn’t good practice.
A variety of microphones. Different mics are better for different things. Our mic locker is OKish but limited. We’ve got these stage mics on our list in any quantity, they’re all smack-dab in the $100 range new: Audio-Technica AT2020; Sennheiser E835; Blue enCORE 100 or Shure SM57/58; Audix OM2. Really, any and all dynamic and condenser mics (with XLR connectors) are welcome without regard, used or new.
Microphone stands: We got the cheapest stands we could find just so we could get things rolling, and it was the right decision to make. But one by one, they’re breaking. We recently acquired four Pyle PMKS56 stands and they’re awesome (if a bit bulky) on our unusually well-padded stage. We’ll need more of those sometime, or something rather like them. They can be found for about $35.
Insurance: E&O would be great, but trip-and-fall is enough to start
Signage: a 4×4 (3×4 works too) vinyl sign with the logo
Merch: to sell — shirts, hats…
Office: printing, postage, etc
Sponsorship / Underwriting
If you’ve got a biz, or have a seat on a foundation with a social mission to fulfill, or have a bit to spare and a good heart want to create a personal legacy of philathropic helpfulness, our door is also open to sponsorships and underwriting.
Sponsor and underwriter acknowledgements are included in the distributed broadcast files, and permanently embedded in the web files as well. There’s also prominence on our website, venue, and ephemera. As a purely pragmatic matter of capitalism, supporting Stage 33 Live accomplishes a couple things: 1. it lets potential customers know that yours is the kind of place they want to support; and 2. it demonstrates to your existing patrons that your business cares about the same community initiatives they do, which increases customer loyalty.
A halo is nice, but so is bread and butter.
We’re currently offering steeply discounted early-adopter packages.
• Founding Underwriters of $333 or more will be honored in all of the produced programming through the end of the first broadcast season, including perpetual embedding in the web-cached files. Since the first broadcast season might not be for a couple years, this is a particularly lot of bang on the accumulating web side of things. This also includes acknowledgements on the Stage 33 Live website, in the venue, plus ephemera. Prominence will be commensurately weighted among all support received. Noncommercial broadcasting laws apply.
• For Founding Sponsors of $1,333 or more, we’ll work with you on mutually beneficial terms on top of the benefits described above for the first two seasons.
Choose your level of support.