Light Plot


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A light plot is the primary document used by the lighting designer to communicate where lighting equipment is to be placed and what type of equipment is to be used for a production. The light plot is generally created after the scenic design has been mostly finalized and plotted. The light plot will contain information regarding the orientation and spacing of equipment in relation to other equipment and scenery pieces. The light plot should contain information such as accessories and color for each instrument as well as notes from the designer.
There are many uses for a light plot. The primary use is to communicate the designers' plan to the lighting crew. The light plot is also used by the TD or lead rigger to determine what is needed to get the gear in the air (mostly in concert/non-theatre venues) or if the plot fits within what the venue and set can handle. A master electrician or production electrician uses the light plot to figure out what equipment is needed. The ME may also use the light plot to figure out how to circuit all of the equipment, determine what can twofered, and how much cable is needed.
==Basic Plot Contents==
A light plot usually contains two basic documents but may contain more. The two documents are the plot itself and a center line section. Both documents should contain the following information as per standard drafting practices whether the plot is drawn by hand or by computer:
Title Block: This is where the LD should put the title of the show, where it is being performed, the names of important people (director, producer, scene designer, etc.) as well as the LD's own name. It should also list any recent revisions to the plot and when they were made.
Notes Section: This is where the LD should put any general notes about the plot and the needs of the show. Some designers also put their tech table needs here as well.
Key to Instrumentation: Any symbol that appears on the plot specifically related to lighting should be displayed here. Next to each symbol should be a written definition of what the symbol represents. For lighting instruments it should also include the wattage.
Key to Typical: This section should include an instrument that is set up with a unit number, channel, accessories, and color and have each part labeled so that a person can reference it if they don't know what everything means on the plot.
Linset Schedule: The lineset schedule is a listing of each lineset in the venue and what it is being used for. The lineset schedule should also contain trim heights for any linesets that are in use
==The Light Plot==
On the light plot, the designer should include a very light outline of the major set pieces (at a minimum). The critical sight lines should also be included in a very light line.
On top of the set the LD should include any lighting positions that will be utilized. Any flying battens in use should be drawn as well as all fixed positions and booms. It is sometimes common practice for the LD or draftsman to tick each position at 18" intervals as this is often the spacing multiple that units are hung on. Both ends of each lighting position should be labeled with the position's name. Vertical positions like booms are usually indicated by drawing a boom base and placing a cross hatched instrument on it typical of the way all will be and then drawing the boom in another location.
On top of the lighting positions the actual instruments should be drawn. The lighting instruments should have the most prominent line weight of anything drawn on the plot so that they are easiest to see. Each instrument should have a unit number, channel, color and an indication of what accessories it should have.
If instruments are not placed at regular intervals the LD or draftsman should include dimension lines indicating distance from center or another fixed reference point. Some LD's will also include twofer information on the plot.
==Center Line Section==
The center line section, often referred to only as the section is a type of elevation drawing of what you would see if you were standing at the center line looking either stage left or stage right (generally which ever has more useful information. This view is used to show information such as trim heights relative to the height of scenery and booms. It is also used to figure out vertical sight lines and where borders and legs can go. Generally lighting positions are drawn with a typical instrument on each. The section also often includes a scale person for perspective.
==Additional Paperwork==
In addition to plot and section the LD may include a boom plate or detail drawing of practicals or set mount placements. A boom plate is just an elevation of each boom for lighting placement. Since the plot is an overhead view, any vertical positions can't be drawn, so an elevation is required for proper placement. The LD may also include any other drawings that the lighting crew may find useful for implementing the design.
==Ways of Creating Lighting Plots==
Depending on the designers choice and experience, light designs may opt to use paper or CAD to create their design, programs such as Vectorworks can help create and even visualize designs for the designer. other tech's may prefer to use pen and paper and sometimes a stencil set to help create their design.
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