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).
A word about Bellows Falls, where we are and which we love. It’s rich in culture and nature, but economically depressed. Bellows Falls has the lowest median household income of any incorporated village in Vermont; more than $23,000 less than the U.S. average, with 22.6% of the population below the poverty level. And yet the community has rallied to support this project by supporting the physical and technical infrastructure, providing professional advice, volunteering time and muscle, and more. If you’d like to help, 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.)
It’s hoped that Stage 33 Live will eventually be able to create at least one paid position in the community, and through its mission contribute to the overall economic vitality of Bellows Falls and the surrounding area.
Items on the list can and do change with some frequency due to acquisition, new research, and newly recognized needs. It’s compiled with a sharp eye on cost / benefit. If you’re familiar with the sorts of things we’re looking for, you’ll immediately 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.
Ugh, this is bad but hopefully will turn out to be good news in disguise. Our retrosexy vintage mixer (we got it at an auction for $40) recently died a good death with smoke and smell. The mixer is a vitally important backbone component. We’re still up and running for the time being with a smaller, borrowed one.
We’re raising $1,000 for a ZOOM LiveTrack L-20, which not only addresses the mixer issue but also provides another important feature — redundant audio capture. The same day that the mixer died, our recording computer locked up during Dayna Kurtz’s set! Ay-yi-yi. We have a multi-independent-camera environment, so if one camera glitches we’re able to cut around it. But there’s only one shot at the audio.
The L-20 will also step up our game with more channels so some can be dedicated for only live sound and others only for recording (a bigger boon than it might seem)… and multiple other features, including more monitor sends than we’ll probably ever use, onboard compression and effects, scene recall, and more.
Microphone stands: We got the cheapest stands we could find just so we could get things rolling. It was the right decision to make. But one by one, they’re breaking. We’re looking at Pyle PMKS56 stands as the best next step up for our unusually well-padded stage. They can be found for about $35 (though they list at over $80 on Pyle’s website).
Video cameras: these are by far our most expensive — and most important — and most complicated—bottleneck.
1. Many broadcasters (including PBS national, which we’re not trying to get on) require HD footage with a minimum 50Mb/s bitrate (assuming it’s in an interframe codec like H.264, MPEG-4, MPEG-2, AVCHD, XDCAM, or XAVC; 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 expensive — about two grand each on the low end. And we run three cameras. Yikes.
2. Some specifications say that AVCHD above 35 Mb/s at 4:2:0 can work if all the post processing is done in the native camera codec — that brings the camera cost down a lot (to a few hundred bucks on the low end; sensor size is still important). This standard is mostly adequate for regional public television syndicates.
3. Going further down the line, standards are more relaxed for journalism/news, where 35 Mb/s MPEG-2 based inter-frame codecs at 4:2:0 can be good enough. This is standard reasonably-good consumer camcorder territory.
4. There’s what seems to be a game-changer afoot: the new 4K ultra-high-def cameras that have started coming out and have twice the information of normal high-def. We’re investigating these as a way to not only bring us up to speed, but future-proof us for a good while.
We don’t have any specific cameras on our list. Almost anything is a step up.
Here’s the thing. We’re currently running one refurbished Canon EOS PowerShot Vixia HF R700, and two el cheapo HausBell HDV-302S with theoretically similar features — except in reality, not at all. (We succumbed to their $50 price because it was what we could swing, and got what we paid for. But… a hundred bucks to get boots on the ground was money very well spent.) We can continue to do marginally adequate standard-def webstream quality with what we’ve got, but a major camera upgrade is needed to get up to TV standards.
As a side note, we also have a totally lo-res eight-camera security system aimed at the stage for specialty cutaways that are purposely blotchy, grainy, and dripping with personality. We love them.
Computer monitors: We’re on the lookout for as many as three biggish screens to monitor audio and video during sessions, and to use in editing afterward. Video editing on one screen is a drag, there just isn’t enough real estate. Wider is better. Used is fine, if you’re upgrading. USB is best.
Graphic EQ: a Rockville REQ231 Dual 31 Band (hundred bucks new) or something like that would totally work. We’re currently using a 10-band ’70s era home-stereo EQ from a post-yardsale free pile that helps a lot but makes the right-side speakers buzz. No buzz plus way more fine-grained feedback control and general sound betterness? Yes please.
Clip-on instrument mics: This is something we didn’t anticipate, but should have. 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 competing with one or more amplified ones (or an accordion!), or the player moves around a lot, things start getting difficult — especially when it comes to working with the recorded tracks. It seems like clip-ons in the $100 range are the best price/performance compromise. (Ry Cooder’s fave clocks in at $500.) Note that some lavaliere mics are purported to work OK in this capacity, but they’re different beasts.
Nearfield audio monitors: Mastering audio on headphones only, no matter how good they are, is a mistake. So is mastering on speakers that aren’t reference-quality. Our headphone mixes are pretty good, but sometimes we end up with a boomy frequency, or a vocal or instrument that sits too high in the mix, and other first-world problems. Powered studio monitors are probably most convenient for us, but passive monitors with a separate amp would also be just fine.
Blue enCORE 100 mics, or Shure SM57/58s: The Blue mics are basically the same as Shure SM58s but with a slightly flatter response, and without the long industry history. SM58s (or SM57s) would be fine too, would cost the same, and are time-honored. Having four or more of either or both would be a fine thing.
Audio-Technica AT2020 mic: Well-balanced and warm, a favored low-cost all-around studio mic.
Monitor wedge, self-powered: Kinda low on the priority scale. Stage monitors are crucial for those musicians accustomed to having them… and getting good recordings means making sure that good performances can happen. We saved up enough to get a couple Rockville RSM12A wedges, which is generally all we need for duos and trios. A full band needs up to four. We’re able to fake a third monitor using a small PA cabinet and an amp head, so really we’re pretty much covered for most situations that we find ourselves in.
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.