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Amps and Volts important to a Lighting Designer?

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by derekleffew, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    Just found this quote from Tom Skelton's obituary, full text here:
    It jives with Gilbert Hemsley's thoughts (previously discussed in this thread: ):
    Agree/disagree? What's more important to a designer, electrical calculations or Picasso's expressionism?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2009
  2. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    Screw gun for hire
  3. theatre4jc

    theatre4jc Active Member

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    Woodstock, GA
    Maybe I'm different but I'm the resident designer at my facility and also the ME so if I didn't know electrics I'd be in trouble.
  4. cprted

    cprted Active Member

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    BC, Canada
    I agree. I have a history degree and I feel it makes me rounded and gives me a broader skill set and a better understanding of the world around me, for which I am grateful.

    Of course this is not to suggest that electrical calculations are unimportant. Far from it.
  5. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    Iowa USA
    I am the same thing. I think with the economy that is going to become more and more common. I basically have do anything that needs do be done, design, ME, rigging. I've had to stop programming the board, run onto stage and plug in a guys guitar amp.

    I definitely see how knowing history would help you. But you cant just bring in a history major and expect him/her to design a show. I think it would be easier for a designer to research the time period, then it would be for the history major to design.
  6. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Stouffville, Ontario
    I think in ANY art, the more you know, the more valuable you can be. But that evades the question a little bit. If, as the two quotes would imply, the ultimate purpose is to communicate your artistic intentions with others, I think amps and volts often can take a back seat. If I tell a director "In this scene, I'm going for a Rembrandt 'Calling of St. Matthew' feel", I've just said in very few words what would have taken a reem of paperwork and renderings to convey.
    That being said, there's no excuse for not knowing basic shop math that applies to the craft (it should be noted that the quote says the designers in question didn't know MUCH about volts and amps. Not to be confused with knowing nothing). I think a designer can be forgiven for not knowing how to trim a dimmer or how many devices can be driven by a particular PSU.
    And, yea, all bets are off if you're a designer / ME combo.

    PS -- How I miss Theater Crafts magazine!
  7. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Las Vegas
    First of all, I did not go to school as a design major, so I don't know how those programs are set up. I believe that designers need a firm base on the understanding of electricity as well as the instruments that use it. If a lighting designer isn't able to read and understand the available power, he may be faced with a lot of re-design when going into a space. Since the designer and ME need constant communication, the designer needs to have the basis of that communication. Does the designer need to know how to tie-in power, no. He/she does need to know what that power can provide, especially given the equipment available (not everyone has the budget to get what they want) and make his/her design fit.

    I also agree that a designer should have a firm grip on the humanities. Again, this comes down to communication. The designer needs to communicate with the scenic designer, costumer, and director and must be able to understand the references made by them. I don't think it is necessary for him/her to be an expert in fine art, but should have an understanding of the different styles of art and architecture. A firm knowledge of elements of research is vital. If the designer can't sift through all the garbage that is out there to find the necessary information required to make a successful design, then he/she won't be successful.
  8. teqniqal

    teqniqal Well-Known Member

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    Theatre Consultant
    Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas
    Picasso probably won't kill you. Volts and Amps can do it real quick. I'd err on the side of safety.
  9. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Seattle, Washington
    Well I'm a college T.D. with a B.A. in History and M.A. in Education... no theater degree. I feel like I've always got a great grasp on the design concepts having studied the world so much. Glad to hear that Skelton and Hemsley agree with me. ;)

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