Tech Topics

Tech Topic: To Timecode, or Not To Timecode?

Posted on Monday, May 30th, 2016

By Chris Lose

Whether “Tis Nobler” Is Not the Question. Here’s a Roundtable Discussion of When It’s the Answer.

For some, timecode is the auto tune of lighting designers — a lazy choice. Others insist that timecode is doing the job of the operator, freeing him or her up from being chained to just punching the “go” button for each and every cue. But the truth is that when properly implemented, it can be used for a show’s greater good.

I recently had the pleasure of working on two major rock tours that were large and required precision cueing. The major difference between the two was timecode. I manually executed 600 cues each night on a Fleetwood Mac tour. Later, I filled in for LD Matt Mills for a week on Mötley Crüe; where 97 percent of the cues were fired by timecode. This allowed me to focus on tending to four buttons, two faders, and call spots (plus make sure that Tommy Lee and his drums were bathed in a smoky haze thick enough to make Shanghai call the air pollution hotline).

I assembled a virtual roundtable of some of the best designers in the business — Mark Butts (Shania Twain), Baz Halpin (Katy Perry), Nick Whitehouse (Justin Timberlake) and Rob Sinclair (Queen with Adam Lambert) to discuss the pros and cons of timecoding.

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Rules for Free Labor: Okay vs. Not Okay

Posted on Monday, May 9th, 2016

Written by Chris Lose

Your boss heard that you really love the theater and would appreciate some extra hours on show site, so he offers you the chance of a lifetime to come and work on his next show for no money, as an intern of sorts. You jump at the chance to gain experience. The next gig comes along, and he asks you do it for no money again. Now you realize that you have no way to get to the show site because your gas tank is empty.


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Seven Rules of a Successful Touring Lighting Director

Posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

By Chris Lose

Q: What’s the difference between a Lighting Designer and a Lighting Director?

A: About $20,000…

As a touring lighting director, I get asked this a lot — and the reality is few people outside the industry really understand it. The roles are similar, but the responsibilities are vastly different. The lighting designer is responsible for pitching, selling, and securing their visual concept for the show to their client. The lighting director is responsible for implementing the design and making sure its vision remains intact for the duration of the tour.

We all know what it takes to be a successful lighting designer — imaginative brilliance and business savvy. But what does it take to be a successful — and always working — touring lighting director? I have outlined my seven most successful tips below.

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Tech Topic: Smoke Signals

Posted on Friday, January 29th, 2016

hqdefaultby Brad Schiller

Typically, an automated lighting programmer is concerned only with programming the lighting elements. However, there are also often circumstances where we are tasked with programming control of various types of smoke effects. From hazers to blasts of fog or CO2, we must use caution when programming atmospheric effects. Depending on the production, there may also be strict guidelines that must be adhered to. As with any fixture on the desk, an automated lighting programmer needs to be informed and prepared to work with atmospheric effects.

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Tech Topic: Talking Photometry

Posted on Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

LED Array Uniformity

Talking Photometry is a technical blog from Photometric & Optical Testing Services in the UK  that helps you keep up to date with developments in LEDs, solid state lighting and the world of photometric measurements.
If you’re interested in the technical aspects of light sources and light measurements this blog is well worth a visit.

Included among recent postings are topics such as:
What is “Flicker” and why is a problem with SSL?
Measuring colour uniformity of LED arrays
LED colour zoning
Colour difference metrics
Are halogens history?
Understanding photometric data files
Claimed vs. actual CCT
Useful lumens and Energy Efficiency Index (EEI)
Guide to colour rendering
Guide to Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT)


Tech Topic: Fabulous Faders

Posted on Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Avolites Arena consoleBy Brad Schiller

For a very long time, lighting controllers have had faders as a key component of the front panel. This is because faders are a very useful tool to manually adjust the level of something. Automated lighting consoles required additional control-ability than conventional desks, and now there are many different things that your faders can do. From controlling intensity to adjusting rate, and even allowing programming, the faders on the front of your console are extremely powerful. Let’s look at some of the more common uses of faders.

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Tech Topic: Advancing the Rig

Posted on Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Written by: Nook Schoenfeld

So I’m rapping on the phone with my buddy Scott Plummer. He owns the finest little mom and pop lighting company down in Tucson, Arizona called Total Lighting Support. One of my acts is coming to his local casino, as they do every year, and it gives us a chance to catch up. Of course the main reason I’m calling is to advance my gig and make sure he has all my lighting plots and I have his. But somewhere along the way he stops me and asks a question.

“Hey I just want to know something. Is it my gig to find out who you are and what you require, lighting-wise, when you come to my town? Or are you the one who’s supposed to call me?” Scott asks, in all sincerity. I reply that by all means it is MY gig as the traveling representative with the act, to make sure that I can simulate the light fixtures, truss structures, hang points, smoke, backdrops etc. that I require for my scenery. I also advance the video with each place. Scott’s simple reply made me sad. “Well, I wish you would let all these other LD’s know this, cause I’m really tired of having to hunt down these people and do their gig.”

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