I now admit it... I'm overwhelmed


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Hi every one.

I am probably one of the most fortunate drama directors in my area of the world as I just got a new stage with new lights and sound. My school administration was very generous with equipment. Here's a little back ground on me:

I used to use a stage in our high school gym. The play area was 32' wide by 24 feet deep. I would light it with 8 PAR 56's, 6 6" Fresnels, 6 8" fresnels and 8 6" Ellipsoidals. Needless to say, "mood" was an impossibility as washing was barely done.

We now have the following light inventory:

34 6" ellipsoidals (they look like they have 12 - 16" top hats).

18 6" Fresnels

6 8" Fresnels

12 12" scoop lights

6 3-cluster cyclorama lights.

I have a strand 300 series 24/48 light board and a full rack of cd-80 dimmers.

The channels are 1 - 20 first house
21 - 38 first electric
39 - 56 second electric
57 - 75 third electric

76 - 84 are stage right and left ports for future side lighting and specials (4 of those channels are wired non-dimming... "on/off" switches the guy from Vincent Lighting called them).

85 - 96 house lighting.

My poor tech director is overwhelmed and I have never worked with size inventory before.

Any ideas to help us organize our lights? As of now, I have divided our 34 x 28' stage into 12 circles roughly 8' in diameter. I am having them work on lighting each circle 45 degrees left, right, straight and one back light. That is 4 lights per area using 48 fixtures. I will use the rest for accents of various scenes (we're flying in three trucks with scenery).

My question (finally)... am I doing the right thing? What more can I do to help get all of this organized. I've gone from famine to feast and am uncertain with what course to start.


In my opinion its not necesary to cover every part of the stage so throughly. try thinking about what you need where insted of someone might walk here so i will put a light here. the major thing i find is this now that you have all these lights does not mean you have to use them all. shadow is a good thing it is real play with it.

If i am creating a wash of the stage i usualy break it down to squars.


then depending apon your needs you can break it down even further by spliting the boxes into fourths but i doubt you need that much controll for just a general wash.

Hope that helps.

IMO put McCandless's book in the trash, and enjoy your new toys, you earned them and are lucky to have them. No need to feel overwhelmed--nothing has changes except you now have more choices which is a good thing. Now to your problem, IMO a modified dance plot would probably be most flexible for your needs. I would suggest the following:

2 or 3 color top wash with your 6" fresnels and/or scoops or 8" fres, from 1,2,3 electrics, focus straight down wide flood (warm, cool and neutral--or medium pink, no color amber and a slightly saturated blue--think R64 range). In calculating, you would end up using 18 or so fixtures total for a 2 color top wash on all three electrics--at three positions spaced at 1' increments for tops in each area on QL, CL and QL.. and 27 fixtures total for 3 color. (QL is Quarter Line--or half way between the stage edge and the stage center (usually about 10'-12' from center) and CL--Center Line--self explanitory). 3rd color is helpful in that the no color amber either becomes work light for you, or an extra daylite punch on stage for brightness.

A single color (blue usually) heavy saturated back wash with your 8" fresnels or scoops (think r80 range). But actually you can use whatever deep color floats your boat.

Then I would take your leko's and use 3 positioned hi-side light pipe-ends (3 fixtures each pipe end for side light). You will use 24 leko's for this. X-Focus at QL, CL and QL... Color choices you should think one side Red and the other side Blue or a pink and blue..or you could leave them open white as highlites.

Use the rest of your leko's for front wash--3 or 4 area, or even 5 area, depending on the coverage of the fixtures from FOH--plus 2 or 3 no color specials at QL, CL and QL. If I had more leko's or zooms I would use those on 1-3 electrics as US-DS Center and Quarterline specials, but I don't think you have enough to do all that.

As Jon said--No need to use every fixture...but if that is what you want (and your stage is significantly large enough to utilize this many fixtures well) this is how I would use them.

ASCII art example of an electric (make overhead electrics 1,2,3 look like this):

SIDE LITES (x) TOP(X) and BACK(Z) lite Side lights (x)
x x x------------XXZX---------XXZX--------XXZX------------x x x

Thats my two cents... Enjoy your new toys and congratulations on the new gear!
Just my opinion of course... hope it helps give you ideas.
Darn, you're lucky!!

Here's my 2c.

Take the nine area advice. I like the idea of dividing the stage up in to squares, as this works for most anything. For each square, do a warm and a cool each from the left and right, and add a back light to each. For the overhead wash, do groups of 3 fresnels, with the colors being red, blue, and amber. You can make lots of different colors of wash with this, especially good if the performance space is (as i would guess) also used for dance concerts. For the CYC lights, put the primaries: red, green, and blue. This will enable you to make any color but a pure amber, which can be added witht the scoops if desired. As mentioned above, don't feel compelled to use all of the fixtures. Leave some out for specials. If you also do dance concerts in the space, and have trees, consider doing some sidelighting arrangements with some fresnels (with barndoors) or ellipsoidals for the sidelighting, with the same warm and cool colors used for the front light.

The on-off circuits will come in handy if you ever want to use effects lighting, fog machines, or anything else that doesn't use varied voltage.

Good luck with your rig.

You're really lucky.

My rig is probably half that.
I would definately suggest not breaking up the stage across into an even number of sections, as you will not have a good center stage light. I would also encourage you to split it up into 5 across, not 3, as you can turn multiple zones on to build a bigger zone. In my experience the back third of the stage tends to be more scenery and where you need to light someone you throw a light up. I wouldn't put lights up in the back until you know that you will use them there. I hope your lekos are tight enough to light the area you want but not too much, so you might need an ultratight (19 degree) spot for certain times of the show.

Just my thoughts.
I would not throw McCandless in the trash just yet. While it is "A theory" it is a naturalisitic in look method to start with. This along with the dance setup Wolf advocates as useful. Different strokes and different looks in coverage and effect.

Spread out your lighting for what effects they have. I would tend to hope all your Lekos are not the same for instance.

The 8" Fresnels are pure wash lights and possibly rear/top fill lights. The 6" are a little less in size thus can come from longer throw lengths and thus more of an angle in general also as a wash.

The PAR is more or less effect or bank of wash lighting such as for a night scene or bank of sunlight type of thing amongst other bulk usage type stuff. Note the beam spread of the lamps in them, but I would more save them for secondary and effects lighting.

Scoops are very useful - 12"??? Either 10" or 14 to 16" would be more normal in two very different classes of them. Fill or night lighting for the most part though also useful when photo flash lamp, good for a strobe or lightning effect. Very much the cover all in lighting the stage, or as alternative, soft lighting of the cyc or scenery. Use them for your cover all.

The Leko than is more the question in learning effects and cuts. This in addition to effects with top hats and barn doors with Leko, Fresnel and PAR fixture - all of which take the same size accessery. Most of your fixtures are 7.1/2" gel frame thus can do much with the same accessories.

Direct down lights with a top hat can be very dramatic.

So you have locations of two forms of design, and general classicifications of equipment. Should be a little more simple now. Time to experiment with locations, breaking the rules, shutter and barn door cuts, and in general making art. Nothing you do here sould be intimidating other than lack of time to stay up one night alone in the theater and look at concepts and placement of beams. Than the next day take lots of notes on what you like and hate or need to re-gel or move over a few inches given the blocking and action on stage. Just plain time in writing and looking at cues while alone and thinking however is often a rally good thing.

Ok, I have this monolog that's important, and the actor is down stage center. I need him to pop from the show in an alternate reality. This type of thing you will note in your text books often show diagrams of what a single fixture will look like in effect on a person. It does not show what a multitude of beam directions will look like on this person. Only experimenting and just getting ideas and testing them out will do this.

Design your lights, than worry about how to create the effect you design. Back in college we used to rip a page out of a magizine and attempt to reproduce the lighting of those in the photo by way of simple lighting plot. This by way of beam angle and gel. Peraps this might in it would seem some study on the subject be helpful in getting used to having a lot of gear, but intimidation in making art with it. This experiments in re-producing shadows, color and angle based upon other designs can help you re-produce your own images in your head of what you are thinking would be good to see. Than afterwards, lots of time alone in playing with levels and adjusting stuff a couple of inches one way, than a few inches another. Times when after careful study in time, roostering out a fixture just a few inches makes a world of difference in attaining a look desired from any paint brush of light.
ship said:
I would not ...

Thanks for the advice, Ship.

My scoops are probably not the 12" I said as I was estimating their size from memory (I haven't gotten any light specs yet because of the whole final payment thing and all). I took one down the other day to repair and was stunned at its size, though I never took an exact diameter.

I did play around with back lighting which was something I couldn't do earlier because of a lack of dimmer space and fixtures (I have gone from 16, 1.2 kW satellite dimmers to 96, 2.4 kW dimmers). I love how it made the people on stage seem more 3-dimensional.

I didn't get to play around with any gels. My last venue was so light poor, I barely got the stage washed with what I had. I did shop for gels, though, and about had heart failure at the expense. Glad I have a good boosters group.

Next class is here... I gotta run. Thanks again for the advice e1.

At least your not limited to getting gels by taping your swatch books together ;)

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