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Everything Master Electrician

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Wolf, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. Wolf

    Wolf Member

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    Hey,

    I have a general overview of what a Mater Elec does but I do have several questions (including some questions I Think I know the answers to). Any information on Mater Elec would be appreciated even if its as simple as always have something to write with.


    -What design ideas should the Mater Elec purpose (or none unless asked)
    - What paper work should the Mater Elec have
    -What should the designer write up opposed to the Mater Elec
    - Should the Mater Elec be in charge of the crew or just the technical aspect
    - What do you expect the Mater Elec to be doing for load-in and performance
    - What should the Mater Elec have the assistance (if there is one) do

    I know I probably have thought of more but I did not write them down when I thought of them.

    Again any information would be appreciated, and thanks in advance.

    Wolf
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    First, check the glossary, I believe there is a large entry on this one. Also, is this in the world of education (if so, what level), professional, or community?

    #1 Rule.... YOU ARE NOT THE DESIGNER, DON'T GIVE ANY DESIGN INPUT UNLESS ASKED FOR IT, even then its usually a "How do you guys usually do ________".

    The designer should give you a plot, instrument schedule, and channel hookup. You will then take that and add in dimmer numbers and figure out circuiting. You will also be resposible for ordering all color and expendables. The designer does not care how things get done, as long as they call out the channel number the right light turns on in the proper location with the proper color and template.

    You are in charge of crew, the only time the designer should ever talk to the crew is during focus.

    For light hang (electrics load in) the stage is yours. For scenery load in you should be there to make sure nothing happens that could get in the way of lighting or if something does need to move you can move it. Durring show run, some M.E.'s stay on to run the console for the show, some come in for lamp check and go home, some never show up again after the show opens.

    I usually like to have an assistant, makes life much easier. I usually assign them to one thing and let that be their area that I don't have to think about. Usually that involves all color media and/or everything FOH.
  3. Wolf

    Wolf Member

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    It is education and H.S but this is not a normal H.S. I go to School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) in Cincinnati, Ohio and major in Lighting Design. We pride our selves on doing professional grade work/experience. We are doing are upcoming show at the P&G theatre at the Aronoff Theatre Cincinnati, Ohio for the second year in a row and before that we were at the Taft Theatre. I have worked professionally as well and grew up in theatre and fell everything should be approached as if it was a Broadway production whether it is at school, community theatre, or a well known professional theatre.
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Be careful with that type of statement, many regionals feel that Broadway is the worst part of theatre, not all do, but some. Just an FYI.

    I'm a TD at a school very similar to yours. I expect all of the above from my electricians. Right now I am doing most of the design type things because I don't feel the students have the physical stuff solid enough yet. I will be letting them loose by the end of the year.

    I expect my electricians to get their job done. Now, because I am the one with the keys I am at every hang anyway, but I try to let my kids figure it out for themselves. At your level, don't expect to be perfect. Hopefully your instructors will be there with you. Also, who is the designer? If the designer is an upperclassmen you could have some control issues. I try to give all the responsibility to the student in charge and then stand back and make sure everyone follows otherwise the one senior in the room trys to rule.

    Take it slow, ask plenty of questions. I'm sure you will be fine.
  5. Serendipity

    Serendipity Member Premium Member

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    I also go to an arts high school. For almost all of our shows (we have one in a union house, another two there are student MEs and MEs that come from the rental company) the master electricians are students.

    The Master Electrician should be given the plot (and hopefully paperwork) from the designer. The ME then handles anything that needs to be purchased or rented. Always keep in contact with the designer, as well as everyone else on the crew who will be assisting you. (Ex: Do you have a lighting supervisor? An ALD or AME?)

    When it's light hang, the ME should direct the electricians, keeping track of what has been taken care of already. (Organization is important.) At focus, our MEs do focus lights. During rehearsals and programming, the ME should keep (or be sent, depending) a list of work notes. These could be adjusting shutters, switching color, etc.

    Before opening night, the ME is there for chan/dim check, and often leaves before the show. This is assuming the dress rehearsal went well. Then, the duty of lamp check and paperwork goes to the board op (who may be the Master Electrician).

    After the show, our MEs assist in strike. As with any position, be nice and efficient.

    Yes, always have something to write with. Actually, make it two somethings, and a highlighter!
  6. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    As ME, generally your input in the design process will be minimal at best. Your job is to find a way to do what the LD wants done. Now, there will be times when you're asked by a designer to do something which you simply can't do. Reasons can vary: time, budget, lack of expertise, Fire Marshal says no, etc. When this happens, it is usually appropriate, though not always, for you to present alternatives to the designer.

    I'm going to agree with Footer4321 on what paperwork you should have and add to it. You need to keep an accurate inventory of your lighting and effects equipment. You should also keep a maintenance log of any work you have done on your equipment.

    Basically, anything having to do with the lighting design other than the ME's notes on what was done to make it work are the responsibility of the LD, but as ME you are responsible for passing your plot notes on to the LD.

    Generally the Master Electrician heads the lighting and electrics crew. I do not, as I have no crew to lead.

    This will vary depending on where you are working. Personally, when the Pageant is running I slip into the role of Deck Electrician.

    Off hand, I'd say if you have an assistant, have him do whatever he is capable of doing safely. Just don't try to make the assistant do your job for you.

    This too will vary from designer to designer. Some will want no input from you at all. Others will want all the advice you can give about working in your space. Most will fall somewhere in between. At the Pageant there are certain aspects of the lighting design that I have free reign on with no input from the designer at all, but we've been working together for nearly a decade, and he trusts my judgment in these areas.

    I'd be happy if my LD would at least give me a plot.:evil: It would make my job a whole lot easier than the make it up as he goes along approach he takes to lighting currently.:rolleyes:
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2008
  7. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member

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    The ME is responsible for making sure everything lighting is safe before it flys.

    As for organization, a lot of MEs I know use calculator/register tape and mark it with all pertinent hanging info per electric. At hang, they just have to strech them out and tape them to the pipe and the electricians can start the hang (as opposed to measuring out and marking the pipes as you go or just calling it off the plot).
  8. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I've seen this before. It's a bad idea in my experience. Our TD tried it for a while. Every time we had to restore the rep plot we'd roll out focus tapes on the floor under each lighting position to designate where a light's hot spot should be. It was more a pain than helpful. What we've stayed with though is using packing tape and printed labels to "permanently" mark where lights should be hung and plugged into on each electric, and that works really well. The problem with focus tapes is simply the time it takes to set them up, be it for hot spots or for hang positions. If your crew is unable to read a plot to put lights where they belong in a timely manner, you have a lot more problems than any kind of focus tape will solve.
  9. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Its not a focus tape, its a HANG tape. What you described about is the holy grail, but always fails miserable. Hang tape takes about 2 min to put on a pipe, and if they are correctly made can cut the time it takes to hang a show in half. Chalking pipes works, but it does not give enough info. Hang tapes are the only way to go as far as I am concerned.
  10. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Yep, hang would be quick. Circuiting on the other hand would be very slow. It takes twice as long to get something plugged in then it does to hang the light.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2008
  11. Sean

    Sean Active Member

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    I'll add my opinion.

    If you properly prepare the paperwork, color, templates, scrollers, etc, using HANG tapes will cut roughly 1/3 of the time off your hang. ANY method of hanging electrics that involves measuring on the pipe, or any hang with more than 3-4 electricians will be dramatically improved by using the hang tapes.

    I'll preface this by saying we DO NOT have a rep plot. Everything is hung per the LD's wishes.

    I use 2"x4" printed mailing labels. The infomation on each label is as follows:

    Position
    Unit number
    Instrument type
    Accessories
    Color
    Template
    Dimmer
    Orientation (SR, SL, etc)
    Address (for smart devices)


    On each end of the batten I hang a page of information. That includes:

    Lineset number
    Electric number (1E, 5E, etc)
    Weight of equipment (expressed in number of stage weights)
    Trim
    Mults
    Single circuits
    data lines (type and gender)
    Any important information ("must fly to deck" or "trapped above scenery--short cables are fine")


    This system allows me to hand the packet of information to someone else, and they have enough information to hang the position without any input from me. I'm still around to answer questions, deal with other things, etc, but it puts all the information (and JUST the information needed for the task) in the hands of the people doing the work.

    Please feel free to PM me, or ask here for more information.

    --Sean
  12. Sean

    Sean Active Member

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    Remember, I'm talking about overstage electrics only. Though, I have to say, I really DON'T like raceways in FOH catwalks either. I'd rather have boxes with long pigtails every 10' or so. A continuous raceway often gets in the way of moving equipment around (and is less flexible).

    How is multicable more difficult to troubleshoot?

    Overstage, raceways are nice and all....until the electric needs to be 1'-0" upstage of the pipe with the raceway. Lets say you have three raceway electrics with thirty circuits each. What do you do when you need 5 electrics with 18 circuits each?


    The rough order we do things:

    Fly pipe in
    Hang tape and tags
    Snub/safety off lineset (in case those loading go faster than those on the ground)
    Hang lights....start loading weight once most units are on the pipe
    Plug units into breakouts and tie to pipe. Twofer, etc as needed
    Run mults, tied up in a few places
    Run data and clean up ties (adding more as needed)
    Test weight/add weight

    Color is dropped once all the units are on the pipe. Usually someone goes from pipe to pipe dropping color, then moves on to something else.

    Remove tape
    Fly out to trim, spike handline.
    Fly out past trim....to grid if needed (out of way of scenic load-in)


    --Sean
  13. Serendipity

    Serendipity Member Premium Member

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    Yes, yes, yes.

    Hang and cable at the same time, if possible. If we're hanging fixtures we have before the rental dimmer pack (necessary for sidelight, backlight, and footlight in one space on campus) shows up, then it's obviously not possible.
    Dropping color can be done any time but normally during hang or before focus. In the large theater, we have to remove rows of seats to get to some lighting positions, which to quote Charc is a "PITA".
    I just like to get as much done as possible at once. If I'm already up there, I might as well do it all.
  14. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    Are there any Mistress Electricians?
  15. Sean

    Sean Active Member

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    Only if you're naughty.

    --Sean
  16. Serendipity

    Serendipity Member Premium Member

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    "Mistress of Electricity" is what I was credited as on a plot... :twisted:
  17. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I think there have been some very good points made about the hang on this thread. Allow me to add my own.

    A good designer SHOULD consider there space. I might get flak for this, but a lighting designer should not just put a light any freaking where they want and then justify its absolute necessity because "I'm the designer it has to be". look I understand a designers right, but in the end, it makes a person harder to work with, and those reputations stick. The art of lighting design it number one, but a better designer knows what they have to work with. They consider time, budget, space, crew, requirements, the scale of the show and their own experience before creating their design. Look, if the raceway only has 12 circuits, try not to demand too many more than that. Now, that doesn't mean that I as ME won't do my darndest to execute a designers demands, but a little consideration from a designer can do wonders to help the unity between designer and crew. What am I saying here? BE A COLLABORATOR. Sometimes I don't think we emphasize the importance of collaboration on this board. No matter what your role, you are part of a production and/or design TEAM.

    When I design, I want a creative ME, one that knows their business, knows their conventions, but also one who can think creatively to figure out dense placement, limited ciruiting, patching, etc. I want an ME that will ask questions for clarity, but NOT one who will make design decision on their own.

    Also I hope this post gets fully read instead of just skimmed and responded to without full understand. However, if you need clarification, I'll do my best to elaborate my position.
    pat811 and (deleted member) like this.
  18. Serendipity

    Serendipity Member Premium Member

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    I agree. It's really important to be a part of a design team. (And also a whole theater team. As we discussed as a tangent in this thread, it's difficult to design lights without collaboration from other departments too.)

    It doesn't matter if you know 98% of everything about being a Master Electrician, if you're a nightmare to work with, then that's it.
  19. Sean

    Sean Active Member

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    So, Wolf, did we answer your questions yet?

    --Sean
  20. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Yes, "hang tape," not "focus tape."

    For a House Plot, that is always being restored, consider a "Focus Cloth." Made of medium canvas or duck, downstage edge is the plasterline, to a few feet upstage of one's last electric, and wing to wing. I've seen touring shows use a groundcloth such as this, and it's remarkable. The only trick is to make sure the fixtures are hung in exactly the same place (using HANG tapes), and the electrics are exactly 6' (or whatever) off the deck, every time. Magic-marker the outline, including shutter cuts, write the CH# and Color# in the middle. For Fresnels, usually an inner and outer edge is drawn, as well as a notation "3/4 flood, 1/4 spot" or whatever. The ones I've seen were painted black and paint pen was used, so they could easily be "edited," for instance if a special was moved.

    Do touring "Bus&Truck" type shows still use these?

    An M.E. is part of a Production Team, but rarely considered a part of the Design Team.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2008

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