Anyone know of a good book that includes drawing lightplots? (Hopefully on amazon, lol.) I've designed a few shows and my light plots have been made just from looking at other's plots. I'd like to get more information on them and how to do them. Thanks in advance!
I learned and was always able to kick out a design with following "The New Handbook of Stage Lighting graphics" by William B. Warfel - ISBN #0-89676-112-6, 1990 from Drama Book Publishers.
That's the text book we used back in about 1991 in advanced lighting design class. While dated now I'm sure to some extent, as said, by following the directions in how to mechanically at least do the plot, you could cover all the bases in making what art you intend become realized as part of the lighting plot. This is a book only on the drafting and equipment schedules and expectes other books on design or those more general in nature assumes that you already have that part in going into greater detail now about the plot and shedules themselves.
Were I designing a show now, while I might not need it in knowing the steps and format, I'm sure I would be grabbing it for some details provided.
Once you learn the myriad of symbols and techniques, remember to keep it simple. The main purpose of a plot is for your M.E. to be able to hang the show quickly and easily, and to have a quick reference for future troubleshooting.
The best plot I ever saw had very little annotation on it. The key was super simple and had just a few simple marks to denote different focal lengths. Apart from the basic symbol, there was just a color number by one end, dimmer number by the other, and if there was more, a number that referred to a note in the paperwork.
Actually in my experience a very simple light plot is very bad. Without the plot keeping track of all of the most vital details, it generates confusion later on, especially for designers that rely a lot on magic sheets for focus and color systems.
Also, rarely does the M.E. take the actual light plot for hanging. In my experience we've just used hanging cardboards and given them out to sections of the theatre since most large spaces. A detailed lighting plot doesn't necessarily mean a messy one, it means it provides all information that the M.E. AND the designer will need for the show.
I dunno what theatre you work in, but I've seen and been the M.E. hanging a show and four hundred units don't just jump onto bars without a little organization. The best advice I ever got was to keep the details in the paperwork but be able to easily reference one to the other. Sorry, don't mean to sound condescending, everybody's used to what they're used to. I suppose if you could deal away with the paperwork by having a busy plot that could be cool too on a smaller show.
I'm sorry, I don't mean to sound negative, I've been the M.E. and seen/worted with many M.E.s and in the larger theatre's I've never used the original plot for hanging. It was always hanging cardboards for sections of the theatre. They were mostly off-broadway and university shows with a large space. I've just found that most designers like to have everything right there so that they can save the magic sheets for colors and specials. To each his own though.
It might be noted here that both opinions are technically right. The Plot must be on hand, but a "cardboard" with a part of the plot for each hanging pipe might also be of use.
Once you do the design, having a sheet that just details say the 1st electric might be of use to hand out to the lead electrician in managing that all the lights needed and circuited get hung to that pipe.
While I agree with the full plot in that the ME had at best know how to read a "full plot" concept, also specific bar per bar drawings are useful for the hang so you don't have to refer to the main plot during the hang given individual sheets per bar later drawn up, cut and pasted after the plot's done.
Such sheets in say having circuit numbers perhaps don't need dimmer/patch numbers in further symplifying them. Hang specified light in X-position - given when not a huge amount of them such distances off center is specified at times, plug that fixture into X circuit, install X gel and gobo and as long as the specified light fixture, plug general aiming position along with notes such as barn door, Iris or top hat, you have sufficient data for the hang. You don't need the plot in keeping it simple and fast.
In addition to this, others it would seem have mentioned a more simple "magic sheet" or some form of them in also being useful while at the light board. You could spend forever and a day in figuring out how to correct for a black hole in the light plot once realized if you did not design the show. Actors move ect. thus at times a more simplified blue line will be needed for the light board operator in telling him or her what area is lit by what lights and channel as opposed to needing all the rest of the info. Such a magic sheet might even have lines of focus from instrument to focus area drawn in so that if they need a little more from the left, such equipment needed to punch it up a few levels can be easily tracked. Other lights such as specials in such a plot noting the general wash and key light can be left without lines and more focus areas such as the Plot would be useful for. Given a hundred or more instruments in a single light bar say, what would be easier, going along lights in looking for the noted focus area and if it's gobo or normal, much less color temperature, or tracing lines from focus point to source of light.
Given even this might become complex in coloring of it, perhaps one magic sheet in showing a more amber, another for cool blue's, and another for other colors on acting areas might be of use. This way should the board operator wish to by direction sneek in a little more blue to light the scene, they can go to the blue page and trace back fixture to channel from acting area.
The designer designed the show and should be able to quickly remember on the plot what does what, the board operator in being directed to or in correcting for what's not designed on the other hand might need a magic sheet or three to find which light is best quickly.
Always have an extra copy of the plot in the light booth also. Once the designer has left the building, such a plot if not available becomes needed.
Believe there was a past debate on templates a few years ago or a year ago that might be of use to read somewhere else in the forum.
Depends what type of template you want. For instance, Design Lab in Chicago used to give out 1/8" templates for free, yet such a template - even if a "field template" with graph lines to make it easier to lay out, won't be of much use on a 1/4 or more common 1/2" scale drawing.
Beyond this, there is templates for side views and top views. Much less far in the past there used to be a templatesystem that is getting really old now in probably not on the market, but it had templates for beam spread of certain lights in making it easier to choose.
In templates, scale is the first consideration. Than the USITT standardized templates are the key. After that the "Field Template" brand name of template is the king of all in being more easy to use even without a drafting table. Both side view and most useful top view. There is also some types of template with as opposed to one of each fixture, there is a multitude of them equally spaced so as to be useful in laying out a pipe with fixtures of similar types at equal spacing.
Other even non USITTtemplates are also useful - especially when noting something that's unique or not within the ability for the other template to show. Say you have a projector, perhaps something not USITT would better show it. As long as the symbol is in the drawing's key, you should have options. Also say you have a 3" fresnel with barn door. Such fixtures to my knowledge won't be on a stock 1/2" scale USITTtemplate no matter the brand. Perhaps a 1/4" scale Fresnel than might be of use even if you never draw a 1/4" or 1/8" scale plot. Different scales in templates when standard, different directions of them you look at, and other options in fixtures are always useful.
For starters, I would go with the "Field Template" brand in 1/2" scale. Than as you see more templates, even non-USITT standard, buy them. Sometimes you will need the other options, at others in making one brand of fixture more different looking than another as might be useful in the hang, having more than one choice in symble even for a similar type of fixture can be useful. Say you have a radial verses axial type of Leko in the inventory. Perhaps the other than ANSI symbol will for a 6x9 be of use here.
Where available: Most Theater Suppliers will both stock and if you ask, and they are worth their while as a supplier, be able to specialize other types. Otherwise architectural supply stores will have available template special order books that often offer the other than ANSIline of fixturetemplates. Both sources are of use.
Love templates, as a designer you can never have enough.
Even early on in doing CADD, I both had a Anderson Windows and Morgan "Mor Trim" symbols library for use I got to help with designs. Symbols libraries are of just as much use as templates by hand.
Spent the day in catching up with a few months worth of PLSN. In the end of the latest issue, there is an article by Nook the LD on this subject. It's a free magazine if not also available on-line. While not of huge use in technique, it shows where the industry is going.