Lighting Pallets and Making Programing Quicker

Ryan Dohoney

New Member
Sep 13, 2016
Longmont, CO
Hello all,

I am a freelance lighting designer and I work on several different consoles depending on availability at the venue, mostly the ETC Ion. I currently own an ETC Expression 3 (I know...I need to catch up with the time. Not very helpful when it comes to movers and leds) paired with DasLight for easier controls of moving fixtures.

The problem I keep running into for shows is the time it takes to program the console every single show. My company designs and produces close to 25 productions per year ranging from all styles including dance, live theater, musicals, live music, corporate and even lighting for DJs.

What I am really looking for is different methods by other lighting designers to streamline the process and make programming quicker and easier for all types of events. It could be anything from custom magic sheets, to programing tips, to live music cue lists, etc. I'm really looking for help in any area to help speed up my programming for shows making it easier to produce shows on such a tight timeline. (Normally I have between 3 to 4 days to hang and program an entire rig including LED wash fixtures, Movers, and Conventional's.)

I would also like to know how to make busking easier for live music shows using movers and LEDs. I find it takes me a very long time to program effects and I know it is in part due to lack of knowledge and organization. I would love any help or advice on making the process easier where changes or edits can be made quickly, especially at the whim of a director.

Any advice, sample show files (console does not matter), magic sheets, or other paperwork would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the help all!


Well-Known Member
Sep 18, 2009
Spokane, WA the great "Inland Northwest"
My opinion is that prep work is key.

I routinely teach folks working in the same space to make template file(s). Having base cues, groups, presets or whatever that can be updated from light plots is a huge time saver. Walk into the theater with as much done as possible. Same goes for busking, have subs, magic sheets, macros all set up and ready to set levels and colors.
Apr 8, 2015
Chicago IL
I would have to second RickR.

As a programmer/ LD for a corporate event company, I find myself on different consoles, and in different venues almost daily. I find that prepping paperwork such as Plots, Magic Sheets, Channel and Dimmer hookups etc., incredibly helpful with short turns. Also offline editors are your best friends in these situations. Most major consoles have an offline editor that you can use to build a show file from anywhere. Then all you have to do is show up and plug in a flash drive and you're ready to at least flash out.

Another suggestion would be start building a base show file. That has all your macros, effects, color, beam, gobo pallets (if you use the same fixtures), etc. This can help speed up your programming time. then as you use different fixtures you can add them to your base show file so you are ready the next time you use them.