Author Topic: Cue light system  (Read 10364 times)

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Anthony McDonald

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Cue light system
« on: Apr 08, 2008, 07:04 pm »
Hello all and how are you all doing?  I recently was able to shadow the wonderful stage manage of Legally Blonde Ms. Bonnie Becker and i was able to finally see how a professional stage manager calls a show.  But what amazed me the most was the way she flawlessly controlled the light cue system.  Being trained right now at school and hoping to one day make it to Broadway I felt a little unprepared not knowing how to use a light cue system or being able to operate one as I would call a show at school.  Now here is my long shot question, is there any stage manager here that has a light cue system that they are thinking about replacing or throwing away?  It would be a great benefit for me as a student and my classmates as a whole to be able to get the much needed practice on a light cue system.  It only makes us more marketable and more proficient at what we do.  So please if anyone has any help that could extend my way I would really appreciate it.  I go to Howard University in DC and while our facilities may not be the best there is, we do not let it discourage us and we still push to excel in our studies.  Thank you for reading this and very a great day!

sievep

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Re: Cue light system
« Reply #1 on: Apr 08, 2008, 07:36 pm »
Another DC Stage Manager!

I suppose Cue lights systems vary from theater to theater, but most that I've seen are literally a series of light switches that are clearly labeled ON/OFF with a master switch.  It might look fancier, but its really not.  My point . . .if you really want to practice this, go to Home Depot or Logan Hardware and buy light switches and make your own.

However, as a student, there may be . . .more pressing things you should be worried about at this point in your career.  Even some of the bigger houses I've worked in don't use cue lights . .. I insisted they be installed at a theater I worked in because one of the guys on the rail was hard of hearing . . . .he did a great job, he just needed some other way of recognizing a standby and a go, and I thought it was a reasonable accommodation. 
« Last Edit: Apr 08, 2008, 11:48 pm by sievep »
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hbelden

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Re: Cue light system
« Reply #2 on: Apr 08, 2008, 11:07 pm »
Cue light systems belong to the theatre, not the stage manager, and they vary from theatre to theatre.  It doesn't help you too much to practice on a cue light console that isn't the one you're using for the show.

I make a paper mock-up of the particular layout before I go into tech and I place pennies on the paper to mark off/on/group positions.  Then I drill the standbys and cues to an audio recording of the show using my pennies and paper.  That gets me pretty well prepared for tech.
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Mac Calder

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Re: Cue light system
« Reply #3 on: Apr 08, 2008, 11:10 pm »
You could also try and get your electronics department to wire you one up. They are rather simple - the diagrams are available on the web.

Basically, the more "advanced" have a two pole switch - the top latches, the bottom is momentary. Press up, the "Standby" light comes on (if you have the extra money, you can change the circuit slightly so that the SB light will flash at both ends until acknowledged, when they go solid), then when you press down, standby comes off, and go goes green. Being momentary, when you release the cue light switch, it turns off automatically.

When you are used to the cue light system in a venue (as I am sure this SM is), your use of them will be based solely on muscle memory, you know exactly where each switch is, and your hands can do it without watching.

Trevor7

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Re: Cue light system
« Reply #4 on: Apr 09, 2008, 12:09 am »
My school recently put one in just for fly cues, I personally think it makes things easier once you get used to it.

nmno

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Re: Cue light system
« Reply #5 on: Apr 09, 2008, 02:01 am »
First, good for you taking advantage of the shadowing opportunity.  Bonnie is great and that's show has got a lot going on!  That said...  that show has a lot going on, and you will have years before you are on a Broadway show so you'll have plenty of time to learn between now and then. 
Are you talking about trying to incorporate cue lights into some of your shows at school?  I agree that
.if you really want to practice this, go to Home Depot or Logan Hardware and buy light switches and make your own.
  You or someone perhaps in you elex department can rig it up.  But you don't need to spend the money on a fancy cuelight box.  (The show I'm doing right now is basically regular light switch toggles set in a fancy box).  Talk to folks in your department at school (the person who teaches the SM classes, your advisor, etc.) and let them know that you want to know more about this and ask that it be added to the curriculum.

smccain

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Re: Cue light system
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2008, 05:08 pm »
I have never used a cue light system. I have worked many a load-in for the performing arts center in town, but have never really understood how it works. What situations would you use it? Would it be only for fly systems? And, is the stage manager responsible for setting it up? I feel that I am totally missing out. None of the theatres at my college have fly systems, so we haven't needed it. The only time we use flys are when we are at a venue downtown doing a show, and I have always just called a fly cue on headset.
Sean

sievep

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Re: Cue light system
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2008, 05:27 pm »
You can and should use cue lights for deck and rail cues, and we use different color cue lights for cues that happen in rapid succession. 

"Standby Deck Cue C, here is your red cue light, Deck Cue D, here is your Yellow Cue Light, Rail Cue 3 here is your blue cue light, and rail cue 4 here is your green cue light."

As you call the standbys you flip the lights on, and as you call the go you take the light out, so the crew has the visual cue and the audio cue from you, in the case that either fails.  If you have enough time I try to tell the guys on the rail which lineset will be moving, and if it's really complex or needs it I'll remind the carps that deck cue c needs to move at a 3 count and deck cue d needs to move at a 10 count, or whatever the case may be.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2008, 05:30 pm by sievep »
"This lovely light, it lights not me" - Orson Welles

StageMgr2Stars

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Re: Cue light system
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2008, 07:15 pm »
A former student at my school built 2 cue light training boxes. Its bascially a box with about 8 switches the corrospond a small red lightbulb right above it. Pretty each and cheap to rig up.
-C-

centaura

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Re: Cue light system
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2008, 09:35 pm »
They are most often hard-wired into the theatres that are using them.  My college had a cue light system, but the only time we ever used it was once when we were doing a tech and our clear-coms died.  We didn't have enough working headsets to go around, so we turned to the cue light system.  At my road house, we don't have a system in place.  Most of the shows that come in don't miss it - and if they do want cue lights they generally have their own.

I wouldn't stress over it at this time, when you get into a situation where you'll be running cue lights, you will have time to practice on that specific system before your shows open.  Tech is your time to learn show specific motions, just like it is the rest of your crew's.

-Centaura

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