Author Topic: CALLING: Calling Spot Light Cues  (Read 10988 times)

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TroyPSM

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CALLING: Calling Spot Light Cues
« on: Nov 11, 2006, 12:20 am »
Question for all:

What method do you use for calling spot light cues?  I've heard several different things but haven't found a method that REALLY works for me.  The last show I did, I ended up having to explain to two spot ops what each spot light cue is and how the spot should be focused, how large, what gel color, etc.  As you all know, in a heavy cue sequence, this is not possible.  Any tips or ideas of a reliable way of doing spot cues?  Any advice/help would be much appreciated!

Thanks!

TroyPSM
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 11:54 pm by PSMKay »
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Mac Calder

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Re: Calling Spot Light Cues
« Reply #1 on: Nov 11, 2006, 01:24 am »
My opinion is your dome operators should make themselves a cue sheet (or your LD make one up for them.

There seem to be two types of dome ops - those that are used to largely unrehearsed shows (like concerts, festivals etc) and those who are used to a more rehearsed environment. Both seem to be specialties. Dealing with the first variety, they usually work fairly loosely, and are used to receiving conversations like the following through cans:

"Dome 1, pick up Fred Smith, Up Stage Left, open white, upper third. Go!" then they do some fancy flying with the light, and pick them up as they enter.

Rehearsed/More theatrical dome ops usually get "DomeQ1, standby" "DomeQ1, go"

Doing theatre, type 2 is preferable. Turning a type 1 into a type 2 is often not too hard - give them a cue sheet describing each cue, and give them at least 10 seconds standby time.

Usually they do fine.

Turning type 2 into a type 1 is fraught with problems, but that is outside the scope of this thread I guess ;-)

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Scott

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Re: Calling Spot Light Cues
« Reply #2 on: Nov 11, 2006, 10:09 am »
I generally give all the detail information in the Spot Q Standby and then the actual G-word moment  is a little simplified.  My book might look something like this:

Standby, Spot 2, P/U Luna UR, in 3/4 Body, Fr. 4 & 6, at 30%

and then:

(w/ 3rd note), Spot 2, P/U Luna UR, GO

Where: P/U is spoken as Pick-up,
Luna is the character name,
UR is Up right,
3/4 Body tells the op the size of the spot,
Fr. is pronounced Frames, which tells the op which frames to use, which have already been loaded with color as per the lighting designer,
and 30% is the intensity.

I've used commas above to indicate the various clauses that are actually seperated by penciled-in boxes in my script (if you know what I mean).

(w/ 3rd note) is my notation on when to call the Q and is not given to the op.

Hope this helps.



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RuthNY

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Re: Calling Spot Light Cues
« Reply #3 on: Nov 11, 2006, 10:22 am »
As Mac says, in a run of any length, cue sheets are also my preferable way of working with the spots.  Cue sheets will remind them of color, focus, size etc.
I consider my job to be getting the spot ops. to time their ups and outs with the other technical elements of the show, most importantly the other lighting effects.

Also, I've found it helpful not to call absolutely everything they do.  For example when a spot-covered actor leaves the stage the operator has already had a standby such as: "Standby Spot 1 out, on your own."

However, unlike Mac, I don't use cue numbers for spots although most ops like to know an electrics cue number in the vicinity of the Spot cue just for reference.

For example:
"Standby LX 93, Sound 47, and Spot 1 on Sally"
(Waiting time)
"LX 93, Sound 47, and Spot 1.........GO"

If the standby was for both Spots happening at the same time, even on different actors, I simply say "Spots.....GO"

And as a run progresses, if you have the same operators at each performance, you have to help them less and less with certain reminders like "Standby spots out in a bump, "stay off the proscenium,"  or "keep her feet in the spot."  It's like riding a bike, once they've rehearsed and run it, it gets into the body and muscle memory works in your favor.

Hope this helps,

Ruth



Question for all:

What method do you use for calling spot light cues?  I've heard several different things but haven't found a method that REALLY works for me.  The last show I did, I ended up having to explain to two spot ops what each spot light cue is and how the spot should be focused, how large, what gel color, etc.  As you all know, in a heavy cue sequence, this is not possible.  Any tips or ideas of a reliable way of doing spot cues?  Any advice/help would be much appreciated!

Thanks!

TroyPSM
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Balletdork

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Re: Calling Spot Light Cues
« Reply #4 on: Nov 11, 2006, 11:10 am »
I always give the Spot's stand by's that go:

"Standby Spot 1, Frame 2 (blue) for the Nutcracker Prince coming from CSR"

And the Go is: "Spot 1, Go"

I also make cue sheets for the spots... It is very out of the norm for the SM to make cue sheets for Spot Ops, but I've worked with the same LD for 7 years, and chances are always VERY high that I am only going to give what he already intended. Also, since I'm in the rehearsa lroom, and he doesn't come in until the last run through's it just makes sense that I make the cue sheets.

My cue sheets are divided by Spot number, Frame number, Character, Entrance and Exit Points and then a column for notes; ie- time up, time down anything special about the cue.

Hope this helps!

Rebbe

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Re: Calling Spot Light Cues
« Reply #5 on: Nov 11, 2006, 11:13 am »
I haven’t had the pleasure of SMing a show with Spots, but I have run Spot a couple times.  On the most recent occasion, I had a Q sheet listing who/what I needed to pick-up, how large the p/u should be (head & shoulders, waist up, full body, face), gel color, where the person would move to if the sequence was fast or complicated, and what Light Q would bring my spot up, and out.  The SM would call “Stby Spot,” but did not give a Spot Go or Spot Out, since I’d know when that happened based on my Q sheet (and I didn’t control when the Spot came on; it was linked into the light board, so I just had to be positioned correctly when it came on). 

I don’t know how feasible this is in a non-academic setting, but in college I worked a show with four follow Spots, so we were on a separate headset channel, and had a Lead Follow Spot Op.  The Lead had a script with notes and gave us Standbys that included target, size, color, etc.  The SM basically didn’t talk to us, though he could switch over to our channel if he needed to.

Both methods worked pretty well.
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Jessie_K

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Re: Calling Spot Light Cues
« Reply #6 on: Nov 11, 2006, 11:26 am »
In some larger houses, it is true that a lead spot op calls the cues.  But most of the time when I have SMed w/ spots (or run spot myself), the spot ops follow a cue sheet as described by the posts above and the SM called a simple version w/ small reminders like Ruth said.

kokobear

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Re: Calling Spot Light Cues
« Reply #7 on: Nov 11, 2006, 03:30 pm »
I must be blessed.  My LD makes his own spot Q sheets and he just tells them what LQ #'s are theirs.  I don't even have to call them, they just listen for the LQ's that bring their spots up. 

Of course, the ops don't control their power up/down.  They're run right off the board, but they do change gels, iris up/down, etc. according to their run sheet.  I will generally stand them by, but then I just call the LQ go.

I did have to do a summer of 2 Gentlemen & The Scottish Show for a community theater's "Shakespeare by the River" season, where our LD disappeared after 1 production meeting, leaving me to design the lights on my own, and relying heavily on 3 followspots.  They sat on top of my booth (A plywood box on top of scaffolding, 3' from the train track) {did I mention the TRAIN that STOPPED and LAID ON IT'S HORN while an audience member moved their car off the tracks?}

Anyway, I had to explain each spot cue, in full, to each op, each night of the run!  A tricky thing to do while splitting 2 headsets between 3 ops. Whoof!

I figure there's a special place in theatre heaven for those of us who make crap like that go!

BalletPSM

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Re: Calling Spot Light Cues
« Reply #8 on: Nov 11, 2006, 06:10 pm »
Generally, in my pre show crew roll call, I'll do a quick run down of how I'm going to work with the spots.  Something like:

"Spots, your Act I frames are 1 & 4 (I only say this if they stay the same through the whole Act); take all entrance and XT pick ups and fade outs on your own; anything that comes up while the dancer is on stage, I will call for you - unless I tell you otherwise."

(they can see better than I can when the dancer is actually on stage and coming off stage)

Then in the show I give a long standby to give time to set the spots up, something like:

SB Spot 1 to p/u the Swan Queen entering L4, Spot 2 to pick up the Prince from R3, both frames 2 and 5, on a 5 ct.

(I don't have to say "on your own" because I already established that convention top of show). 

Or,

"SB spot 1 to fade out on the prince and pick up the Queen, she'll be upstge left on the throne."

....

"Spot 1 to Queen GO"

(because the Queen is already on stage) 

Sometimes you have to give a bit more explanation; like I would add "the swan queen will be one in the short white tutu with the crown, the prince will have white tights and a black jacket on."

My LD will sometimes do a Q sheet for them, but not always.  He mostly gives everything to me and I just call it -- that way they don't need a Q sheet, I know where all the entrances and XTs are since I've been in rehearsal (unless of course we get to the theatre and they decide to change what wing they enter in!).

I think its important to work it out with your LD how much info you are giving the spots and how much info he/she will give them.  And then its also important to make sure the spots understand who you are talking about -- remember that to them a character or actor/dancer name doesn't necessarily mean anything.  On their first rehearsal you will probably have to be very descriptive and pick out some distintive points about who they're going ot be on, so they know who they have to pick up -- then once they know it, you can probably take the description down.  E.G. at the first rehearsal with spots, you may want to be as descriptive as, "....p/u the King; he'll have a green jacket on and a big gold crown and will be standing DR"

Of course, if all the men on stage have green jackets and gold crowns, this won't be much help!

I recently had a situation where two dancers were dressed exactly the same and were standing next to each other when the spots had to pick them up -- at first I tried to explain it to the spots by saying where they were on stage, but that was still too confusing so I finally ended up doing it this way --

"Spot 1, your girl is entering on the ramp right now - keep an eye on her...Spot 2 -- your girl is entering on the ramp now -- keep an eye on her.  These will be your next pick ups after you fade out on who you're on now."

I was able to do this b/c they were pretty skilled spot ops so they could multi task like that...but yikes!  It took a couple rehearsals to finally get it right (I think maybe on opening night was the first time no dancer was left in the dark!

I think its mostly a matter of figuring out what makes the most sense to the spot ops -- they're the only ones that need to understand what you're talking about.  Sometimes it helps to talk to them directly and figure out the best way to call something so they know what you're talking about.

Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

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Re: Calling Spot Light Cues
« Reply #9 on: Nov 12, 2006, 12:07 pm »
For some reason this one cue is drilled in my head from last year's production of Fiddler On The Roof @ my high school...

"Standby Spot 1 to pick up Tevye in a half body, frame 5"....Spot 1..Go!"

Our previous SM used to make the spot cue sheet as well. This may be beacuse we were in a high school and the LD was a graduate, but either way it helped that they were on the same page as far as how the cues would be ran.

wilsom6317

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Re: Calling Spot Light Cues
« Reply #10 on: Nov 12, 2006, 12:24 pm »
As being a spot myself the way that I have seen and done. The way I like it if I have a cue sheet because then I know a head of time, sometimes I do not get one (Nutcracker is here every year and my sound teacher and boss calls the spot cues, but there is not that many cues know!). Also when we have tours coming I usually do not have a rehearsal, I just get told by the other spot opt when I am suppose to go or the Lighting person or sound. But the cue sheet helps. Sometimes the Light Designer might put the spot opts with a lighting cue, it gets confusing but it does work. If you can sit down with the spot opts before the rehearsal starts.  ;D

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Re: Calling Spot Light Cues
« Reply #11 on: Nov 13, 2006, 12:25 am »
I think, from my experience, and from reading all of these response - there seems to be no standard way of cuing.  (I remember doing an opera where Spots were added between final dress and opening night, so I had to call spots explaining everything to the ops who never saw the show before.) 

In the end, you need to call a cue in the way that works for the show - if you are changing operators a lot, then perhaps you should include more information in the calling of the cues.  The spot ops may not be able to read a a cue sheet.  If they can read a cue sheet, then they should have as much information as that, but cues may come fast enough you may need to prep them over headset.  In the end, it's all part of the tech process to figure out how you need to call cues.
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Re: Calling Spot Light Cues
« Reply #12 on: Nov 13, 2006, 01:17 am »
I worked at an opera house once where the ALD called all of the spot cues.
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TroyPSM

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Re: Calling Spot Light Cues
« Reply #13 on: Nov 14, 2006, 08:11 pm »
Thank you to everyone for your advise/help/recommendations!  It really was helpful!  Basically it seemed like everyone operated pretty much the same.  I do the same thing for the most part and just need to finesse the process.  I'm going to make my own Spot Cue Sheets/Templates for spot ops from now on.  Our LD never does so I'm going to take it on myself.  Thanks for all the advise and help!  I really appreciate it.
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ljh007

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Re: Calling Spot Light Cues
« Reply #14 on: Nov 15, 2006, 09:06 am »
Just a final two-cents:
In addition to calling spot cues with all the details, as some folks have written out above (Spot Cue#, in frame X, [color], picking up Actor [location]), I usually have to do a lot of hand-holding at least at first with spots. I warn them over headset each time wether an actor, for example, makes a false exit - where the spot is supposed to stay up on the proscenium and the actor will walk back into it; whether the spot comes up, for example, DSC and the actor walks into it; any blocking that might make the operator second-guess whether they're doing what they're supposed to be doing. Mistakes with spots are hard to hide, so I take a lot of time to communicate with the ops for precision.

I also indicate over headset if more unusual spot maneuvers happen, and cue these. Ex: iris in/out, "dowse" as opposed to snap out. If the spot fades, I usually give the op a count at first but let them take it without a reminder - I just say "Spot 1, fade, go".

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