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Focus Lingo

Discussion in 'Collaborative Articles' started by Charc, Sep 2, 2008.

  1. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    This entry contains phrases, actions, and terms you are likely to hear during focus, or while working with a designer through tech. However, keep in mind that each LD works in their own particular way, so make sure you learn and adapt to their style.


    "Sharp to shutter"
    Pick a random shutter, and cut into the beam to your liking. Now, focus the ERS to a hard edge, with blue halation.

    "Lock That"
    Fixture is pointed in the right direction. Grab your WRENCH and lock the fixture down tight, but not impossibly so. After the fixture is locked, you can begin shutter cuts/barrel runs.

    "Glow/Ghost (that light/channel 10/etc.)"
    Directed to the Board Op, bring up, or change the level of the indicated channel to a reduced intensity, often 25% or 50%, context dependent.

    "Lather, Rinse, Repeat"
    Same focus as last fixture, sometimes the exact same focus, sometimes same focus 8' (or the distance of the next acting area) over.

    "Flag That"/"Flaggit"
    Take your arm and run it in front of the fixture to signal what fixture you are working on. / Tell the designer to stop calling you that. Everyone will laugh. (Usually.)

    "Run the barrel" Let me see the range of sharp to soft focus.

    "Sharpen it" Move the barrel to sharp focus.

    "Soften it" Move the barrel to soft focus.

    "Ho!" Stop! A modifier for any other previously commanded action. Also used as a command from the focuser to the ladder crew when they are moving the ladder. It should be noted that this is poor practice. Using phrases such as "Wo, ho, that's good, okay," may lead to serious injury when motion and operator(s) are involved. The word "Stop," and only the word "Stop," should be used. When on ladder/lift crew, it's common courtesy to confirm actions to the man in the bucket by saying "moving," before yanking the thing.

    "Split the Difference" If a shutter was brought further in, "splitting the difference" means to pull it back out to the middle between the two points. (Also used for softening edges, or fixture focus.)

    "Save (that/the last system/etc.)"
    Change the level of the indicated channel(s) to 00. Often easily accomplished with [REL] on ETC Express(ion).

    "Heat up channel X"
    Same as glow, or ghost CH X, unless it was already at a low level, then it means to bring it to full.

    "Handle# x, please"
    Almost, but not quite, obsolete. Channel x. Lighting control systems use to have large level-type handles, not channels on a keypad.

    "Spin the bottle" (usually accompanied by a hand motion gesturing either clockwise or CCW)
    On a PAR, rotate the lamp so the filament axis aligns. On a SourceFour PAR, rotate the lens (MFL, WFL, and XWFL only).

    "Cut to ..."
    Shutter to...whatever break-in-plane the designer has indicated.

    "No cuts"
    Use no shutters.

    "Off the goods"
    Shutter off the stage draperies, (soft-goods).

    "Beam at my heels"
    Dance designers, particularly with sidelights are more concerned with where the bottom of the beam is than the hotspot, so often they will place their heels where they want the beam to start.

    "Arfoo" Remote Focus Unit

    "Ar-arfoo" Radio Remote Focus Unit.

    "Clamshell, Gameboy" Wired touchscreen remote for ETC Unison system.

    "Pull the color" Remove the color frame.

    "Drop the color" Re-insert the color frame.

    "Moving onstage" Toward the centerline. "Moving offstage" Away from the centerline.


    Designer stands like Jesus with his back toward you. He's not being sacrilegious or ignoring you, he wants you to center the pool of light on the back of his head.

    Arm raised, or somehow extended
    often indicates the location of a shutter cut, cutting to the designer's arm. Sometimes he'll hold out both hands, appearing to make shadow puppets with his fintertips. He wants you to shutter to his finger tips. Other times he make be making shadow puppets.

    A thumbs up/down, or other subtle pointing often indicates which way you need to pan or tilt the unit. (Ex. Thumbs up = hit the LD higher = tilt up)

    Arm extended, palm toward you.
    Stop! (in the name of love, b4 you break my heart...)

    Fist spin (or simply fist raised) often indicates to "lock it".

    DL Editorial: The first focus is usually a very stressful time for the designer. It's the first time he's seeing his ideas actually come to fruition. It's not improper to ask if a crew member can get him, coffee, soda, water or any other nicety he may want to make himself more comfortable. Ideally a focus session would include a minumim of four people: the designer, a person on the console or RFU, an assistant reading the plot/paperwork, and the person actually manipulating the lighting fixture. Communication is the key to an effcient focus session--distractions should be kept to a minimum. Designers often prefer to focus in the wee hours, once all other departments have gone home. Some designers can "multi-task" better than others, and want people in multiple locations. Others prefer to have the best focuser focus every fixture, and are willing to wait while that person relocates. The ME should discuss the designer's preferences beforehand, and be ready with the appropriate personnel and equipment. The ME should direct the crew; the designer is there to be artistic. While this may be construed as "coddling," it's actually in everyone's best interest.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2008
  2. Jackalope

    Jackalope Active Member

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    Central Coast California
    Do you think we should add "gell it" and/or "gellit" as an alternative for drop the color?

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