ME Handbook


To begin, it has been a project of mine for the last two years to compile useful information on lighting into an informal book for my College's next Head Lighting Tech. I call it the ME handbook (original and inspiring title I know) so far the handbook includes job descriptions for Electrians, ME, BO and etc, manufacturer specs on all the instruments in out theater, a few catalouges for ordering equiptment, and list of the books related to theater lighting and tech work in our College library (most of which has been purcahsed on my behest).

So my question that I am possing to the comunity is, What items would you include?

Again this handbook is being put together to aid the next and subsiquent Head electrians that will follow me, this way instead of spending four years searching for the answers high and low, and far and wide, there will be a centeralized data base for it.

Hopefully when I am done compiling the info, I can kinko's it and start spreading it around.

Let me know what you think...


Well-Known Member
id like a copy once you get it done


Some thoughts:
- Working with light plots - how to understand them and what not
- How to re-wire lights or atleast change plugs
- How to work with a lighting designer
- The theatre and its dimmers - so as to check the designer's work (i.e. knowing the capactiy and making sure no one tries to over-load the dimmers)
- Information on electricity to help have a thorough understanding of the medium they shall rely on so heavily.
- Specs on each type of light the theatre owns or rents.
- How to hang and focus lights (though hopefully they'd know this one and wouldn't need the info...)
- A basic run-through of the design aspect to atleast inform the ME of what the designer does
- Focusing and info on standard light plots.
- Info on where to buy things, typical stores used and such, and what to buy in certain cases like what kind of lamps you commonly use in your lights.
- Info on card-boards - what they are, why they're convenient, and how to make them (not that it's hard) Normally the ME makes card-boards but sometimes the designers will.
- Definitions of frequently used terms and slangs.
- How to draft or atleast basic information on the process
- Info on the lightboard so they know how to use it.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Over-all the ME should be able to answer any question the electricians have about what to do and how to do it, should be able to fix basic problems with the lights, and be able to put together a simple light plot if neccessary.


that's really cool! :)
I have one for our techs, but nothing quite that complicated...
more just diagrams of how to switch everything on, troubleshooting for our Lighting and sound boards, testing guide for on our units and their uses, wiring diagrams, old lighting plans and ideas, useless information ... that sort of thing..
I'd be really interested to see what you're doing too. :)


Active Member
Premium Member
Traylen totally beat me to mentioning cardboards, but those are a big "I wish I'd learned about those sooner!" type thing.

Also, if you go to John McKernon's website, he has a killer article on doing shop orders. It's slightly skewed towards a designer doing it rather than an ME, but it's pretty much the same no matter who does it, other than that certain decisions lie in the hands of the designer whether he does the order or the ME does. Even as a sound designer, I took a lot of what I learned from John's suggestions and adapted it when I started writing up bid specs (really another term for the same paperwork, for all intents and purposes) for my sound designs that went out for rental bids.



How many cuts of color you can get from a sheet of gel for the lights you have.
What size gobos your lights use.

things I would add.


Active Member
While I really can't provide much as to what to include, you should think about what will happen to this in the long-term:

Include the location of the as-built electrical drawings (and HVAC drawings since their electrical may be separate) at "Building Services/Engineering" or whoever is in charge of such things. If you include copies of the actual drawings, parts may be out of date in several years, unless some one has the initiative to replace the drawings. (You probably have a better handle on how things are changed and recorded.)

Consider putting the date on every page. If something changes in the future, then people have a good chance of knowing if they have the most current version if they find more than one copy. You should have some instruction about how to revise it – note revision date on cover, write the revision date on the page, etc.

If you really want improve the updating and tracking, include a page in the front to note revisions and dates.

If your manual will be updated regularly, then you may not want to make too many copies of it, because someone will have to update all the copies, or worse, they won't update the other copies. Make a note in the manual as to who has the copies that must be updated and where these copies are located. Ideally, the copies can be kept in an office and always returned to it. (At the least, designate one copy as a Master Copy that gets updated in any case.)

Consider a 3-ring binder to make it easier to update and to copy (but also easier to lose. Or 3-hole punch everything, but use screw-post binding or steel-band binding to hold it together, but still allows for taking it apart, copying and or replacing pages.

Avoid using color – it’s a pain to copy later.

Not withstanding updates, scan it into pdf.


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