Time Savers

December 2, 2010 By IT.Team

One of the constants in entertainment lighting is that there is never enough time in the theatre. We work in a world when opening night is going to happen at a given date whether you, your lighting, the scenery or even the actors are ready. The other constant is that many companies cannot afford to rent the theatre for a lot of time to set the lights or run the show many times to work the kinks out. This is why time saving gear and design approaches are valuable.

When I would design a show going into a limited time set of rehearsals, I would pre-write my lighting cues and dimmer levels. I had stage managers look at me strange as I gave them the cue sheets for the board op to punch in while they were running up dimmers for focus. Yes, the cues are not accurate or even close to the “look” in some cases, but at least it was a start and forced me to think through what I was planning to do on the stage. It also saved a lot of time during cue setting which is golden. Any extra time, whether it is minutes or hours, can certainly be used by many folks from scenic artists touching up the paint to choreographers running a dance piece one more time.

Apollo makes several products that a smart designer or electrician can employ to buy some extra time. The Right Arm is a remote control yoke that allows you to refocus a light or video projector from any DMX board. I used to get requests to add a bit more light upstage left or add a down pool for a performer that was added last night. The Right Arm is a life saver for this application. No more hunting for circuits, dimmers, or space to hang another special. Another valuable time saving tool is the color scroller. Apollo manufactures a one string Smart Color Pro and a 2 string MXR color mixing scroller. I would hang my backlight electric and use color scrollers to allow floor washes of variable colors. These worked great for multi designer festivals as no one could agree on one backlight color. They were also valuable in fine tuning a stage wash for a particular costume color or mood that the director was going for (which I COMPLETELY missed in the script). The EZ Iris DMX is valuable to tighten or open a down pool to include more people or tighten up on one performer. All of these DMX controlled devices will keep you from dragging out a ladder to recolor, refocus, or replace lights during the “golden time” in the theatre. They are not only an added convenience but also a time and MONEY saver over the years of service. They will pay for themselves.