Author Topic: Help? Running board and Lights...  (Read 4080 times)

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Help? Running board and Lights...
« on: Jan 07, 2008, 11:36 am »
Hi Everyone,

So I'm in a stressful situation. I'm a college student(freshman) who has SM'ed 3 out of the 4 years of highschool. I am now working at a small size theatre as SM doing a show consisting of 4 smaller acts
(like 4 smaller shows in one).
I am very comfortable with calling the show, organizing crew to set and strike transitions, I get along very well with the cast and crew.
However I am running the lights and sound and I am new to this area. There are multiple areas where there are very rapid lights and sound cues in succession.

So what I am asking for, is any advice on how to set up the cues in my script and how maybe to get better at multitasking in the booth. ???

Thanks everyone!

zayit shachor

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Re: Help? Running board and Lights...
« Reply #1 on: Jan 07, 2008, 07:04 pm »
I would also recommend calling standbys, even though you're taking your own cues - that way, no one will be talking on headset when you need to concentrate.

You'll get the hang of it - once you do it a few times during tech you'll figure out exactly what you need to do.  In terms of setting up your calling script, just make sure all your notes are big and legible.  When I run sound and lights, I like to use bright post-its.  Good luck!


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Re: Help? Running board and Lights...
« Reply #2 on: Jan 09, 2008, 04:14 am »
Oh, running lights and sound when you're the SM... happens more often than it should. Here's a few things I find to be helpful:

If possible, when I have to board op my show I like to set up the light board on one side of my script and sound on the other so that everything is in reach.

If you're using a digital light board, make sure you have some glow tape by the "go" button as well as having the "blackout" and "back" buttons marked with white gaff or something that shows, just in case you need to find a button quickly.

If you're not using a go button, I have kind of a crazy solution that I had to use before, but it worked really well because I had lighting cues that were literally three seconds apart for completely different channels and levels. It's a lot of work and may not make sense, but bear with me: I took peices of cardboard and cut them out so that they were a kind of template for each cue: if the channel was supposed to be at 0%, I would cut out the vertical space on that peice completely, and if the channel was supposed to be at a higher percent, I only cut off the top so that when you have a quick change, you take the cardboard "cue", put it at the bottom of the x or y scene, and slide it up so that it puts the sliders at the correct level. Then if you have 24 different channels to set at all different levels, you can do so quickly. Your peice of cardboard ends up kind of looking like a cut-out shilouette of the new york skyline. It isn't always perfect, so I wrote the level for each channel on the cardboard too, in case I needed to make any adjustments. Make sure each peice is labeled with which light cue it is, as well as the scene, so that in case they get out of order you don't find yourself in a nightmare.

I agree with putting all of the sound cues on one CD (if possible; if not, make sure the place where you would have to change CDs is a place where you have enough time to). I usually prefer using letters for sound cues when I have a sound board op (so that it can't possibly be mistaken for a lighting cue), but for the sake of simplicity, i recommend your sound cue numbers correspond to the track numbers on the CD. And I like to add a couple silent seconds to the end of tracks just in case it's a short cue and you can't pause it quickly enough- then it won't play into the next track when you don't want it to.

And because I tend to make a lot of paperwork so that I feel more prepared, in addition to having everything in my prompt script, I like to have a page that is just cues- both sound and lights so that I know the order they're coming up since you personally get to go back and forth from board to board. And hopefully you don't have to, but make sure any cues that go at the same time are really clearly marked and have a standby that says so.

Break a leg!


Mac Calder

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Re: Help? Running board and Lights...
« Reply #3 on: Jan 09, 2008, 06:13 am »
For sound, see if you can obtain a laptop.

Then use some software like Sound Plant (URL), or QManager (URL). For Mac - QLab.

Also, see if your two scene lighting desk can be programed as a scene master desk (most desks can these days)

Otherwise, good lighting so that you can see the boards well is almost essential.

It can be a pain in the backside running half the show yourself, but it is very doable.
« Last Edit: Jan 09, 2008, 06:17 am by Mac Calder »


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Re: Help? Running board and Lights...
« Reply #4 on: Jan 09, 2008, 10:09 am »
I will be running a 2 scene light board and it's such a huge hassle.

I have my tabs telling me what cue it is (In my prompt book), and I have a cue sheet with all of the channels and numbers

It might make sense to put the channel information directly into your script, so that you don’t have to look back and forth between the script and a cue sheet, and risk loosing your place or setting up the wrong channels in the process.  If you have the text on one side of your script, with Qs written in the margin, you could use the back of the facing page for this.  Even if you write your Qs on the facing page, you could probably move them close to the binder rings and have enough room for channel info.  Anything you can do to put all the info you need to complete a particular sequence in one spot, in sequential order, without extraneous info surrounding it, will be helpful.  I’d even write out all the steps for myself  (ex:  CD Track 10, Channels X, Y, Z at 50%, vol up for CD, look up and watch slap, then check Master fader is up on lights …take Q on arm drop), since the more your run the show the better you’ll understand where the challenges are and how to work efficiently.  Just like a backstage run sheet would be very detailed and improve over time.  If putting the info in your script doesn’t work, maybe an index card for each script page or sequence, with both lights and sound on it, or one for each, would work.  I’d personally just be very worried about accurately translating the channel sheet to the board during a busy sequence…so many numbers….so little light. 
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)