Author Topic: Writing Standbys & Cues  (Read 7959 times)

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Katie ~

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Writing Standbys & Cues
« on: May 13, 2008, 12:38 pm »
How do you write standbys & cues down?

I'm stage managing my first show and although I've had a lot of ASM experience, I don't really know how to write down standby's or cues in a professional manner..

Can someone help me?
« Last Edit: May 13, 2008, 03:10 pm by zayit shachor »

sievep

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Re: writing standbys & cues-----
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2008, 01:24 pm »
I would use post it flags and write out exactly what you need to say on that flag, and put it where you need to in your score or script.  Once you get more used to calling a show, "SB" can replace "Standby" on your post its, and you don't need to write out "go" . . . just have them on a green post it or whatever color coding system works best for you. 

The point, especially for your first shot at it, is to make it unmistakably clear what you need to say over headset and when.

Let us know how things turn out.
"This lovely light, it lights not me" - Orson Welles

Britney

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Re: writing standbys & cues-----
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2008, 01:59 pm »
In addition to what Sievep said, I'd also suggest:
-circling (or boxing) a word or words on which you will begin to call your standbys/gos. Some cues need to be timed precisely, so it matters when you start calling them and how fast/slow you say your actual standby/go. Time it out if it's tricky; have your ASMs say the dialogue exactly as the actor(s) usually does and practice calling it so you'll call it the same way each time.
-Color code your post-it flags by cues.  I do sound on green, lights on yellow, flys on purple, and any special effects (gun shots, etc.) on red just for a basic layout.  I do all my standbys on blue. This way I can tell just by looking at the color of the post-it what kind of cue I should be calling. 
-Make sure you space out your standbys and Gos appropriately.  Don't give a standby 3 seconds before you have to call the Go; by the time you finish reading the standby and your board op(s) has replied, you'll have to start calling the actual cue.  Again, time it out and make sure it works. Tech is great for figuring those things out.
-If I'm doing a show that will be running for a long time, I often type the entire script into Microsoft Word (usually at the beginning of the process) and insert my cues (post-tech and previews, of course) directly into the script in Word.  This way I'm ensured that my cues won't fall out of my book (which sometimes happens when you use post-its to cue). There is probably some better software, but I just use Word.

Those are just a few suggestions.  You will be brilliant, I'm sure. 

-Britney

ScooterSM

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Re: Writing Standbys & Cues
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2008, 05:08 pm »
I like to use a slightly different method.  I prefer to write my cues directly into my book, because I am afraid that post-its will fall out (paranoid, I know).
You will need a 6" ruler and an eraser for the many changes that will happen in tech.  Copy your script so you have a wide margin on whichever side you prefer.  Use a ruler to draw a horizontal line from the edge of the page to where the cue happens, then a short vertical line down into the text to mark exactly where the cue needs to happen.  You can also add notes along the horizontal line (as Susie crosses, etc).  If you have multiple cues happening together you can list them under the line, i.e. one GO per horizontal line.
I do the same for standbys, and write out both standby and go (SB/GO) at the end of the line at the edge of the page.  It seems redundent to write it out, but I have found after many years of trying different things that I like to be able to look at the page and know exactly what I am saying, even if I have 15 people talking on headset or am in the middle of a crisis.  As everyone has said, it will take some work on timing everything out to get it right, so don't be afraid to practice on your own or with your ASM's.
 Once the cues are set, I use 1/4" color coded labels to differentiate standby's (red), and GO's (green), and different color highlighter/highlighter tape to mark flies, sound, etc (colors depend on cue light colors).

Try many different styles, keep those that work for you, and ditch those that don't.  Don't be afraid to try something you see another SM doing (I just "borrowed" an idea from my new ASM the other day after doing things the same for several years).

Best of luck, and you'll be amazing!!

SSM
I've never been paid a lot, but the theatre has kept me, and for that I shall be eternally grateful. Tony Church

AshevilleSM

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Re: Writing Standbys & Cues
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2008, 06:07 pm »
I'm a new stage manager also but I was fortunate to take a class that required me to create a prompt book of a show (ASSASSINS) by watching a taped DVD of the production our school did years ago.  It was stressful to get through but it gave me the opportunity to try out  and see many different ways of marking cues.  I landed on using small bright colored label stickers (that you might use for a yard sale), about 1/2 an inch wide and writing (LQ3 or SQB) on them.  Then I used the same color sticker, only 1 inch wide ,which had the line the cue was to be said- or what it did : "BO after P X C"   That way I could place it like this:

BO- P "it shall be"        LQ3
                               SQB
                               SL and SR Fog

This allowed me to call groups of cues together, and be clear on what line I called them on.  I did one color for Lights, Sound, Fog, and Rigging, and Flash (a sub fader lighting thing independent of light cue sequence).  I wrote on the stickers in a fine point sharpie, and wrote standby's in by book in pencil.

I'd add- if your going to use stickers in your book- be aware of what level/color your booth lights are.   Our booth lights are gelled blue, and my maglite was gelled another color.  You may have to alter your maglite color and sticker color to come up with a combination you can see DIFFERENCES.  Orange/Yellow/Green magically turn to mud sometimes. Just buy a stack and try things out- and hold on to the rest for another show.

Also, write a one page explanation of how to best call the show- what your keys are.  Our school just did "The Tempest Project" an original script off of Shakespeare's The Tempest-- using Object theatre. It was entered in the KCACTF competition and was passed on.  I won't be able to stage manage the show if it goes to competition, so I had to make something that could be easily used by another stage manager.

You'll find something that will work for you- best of luck
« Last Edit: May 13, 2008, 06:16 pm by AshevilleSM »

shorty

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Re: Writing Standbys & Cues
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2008, 06:21 pm »
i had the fortune of sm-ing two shows in school.  i do a similar process as scooter does.  pre-production i create the script how i like it and still the same according to the actor's script.  then when it's time for tech, i have a pencil and one of the 45-90 degree triangle.  i then draw line to the right, where the cue is suppose to right it in. i then write in a standby cue and do the same thing as the actual cue.  once all of the cues are finalized, usually after opening, i highlight the standby's in one highlighter (usually an orange colour) and then the actual cues in another colour (usually green) so that they stand out.  hope that makes sense. but it works for me.
*o*
Sarah

ericjames

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Re: Writing Standbys & Cues
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2008, 11:24 pm »
I also do something similiar to scooter.  I draw a line from the line and write the cues where they are called.  If the cue is word specific, then I will circle or box that word in the line.  The thing I do differently is that I don't put my standbys on a line.  I write out the standby in the middle of the margin and then draw a box around it.  I don't like to use flags or colors (no real reason.. I guess its because its hard to change after a highlighter is used).   If I see a box, then I know it is a standby, but if I see a line, then I know it is a "go"


PSMKay

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Re: Writing Standbys & Cues
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2008, 01:26 am »
I would make a suggestion when choosing colors to mark your book - make sure they are visibly different in booth/prompt desk lighting.  If you will be calling under blue-gelled lights, some colors will look identical and others will not show up at all.  When shopping as a stage manager for office supplies (and clothing!) a blue-gelled flashlight will save you a world of grief.

Scott

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Re: Writing Standbys & Cues
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2008, 12:31 pm »
I'd add- if your going to use stickers in your book- be aware of what level/color your booth lights are.   

I would also imgaine they'd need to be removeable stickers: you can expect Q placement to change until the show is "locked" -- long after you write your intial book.

ScooterSM

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Re: Writing Standbys & Cues
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2008, 05:46 pm »
I would also imgaine they'd need to be removeable stickers: you can expect Q placement to change until the show is "locked" -- long after you write your intial book.

Avery brand makes a kind that are "semi-permanent" so they stick, but you can move them around if you need to.  They come in all sorts of shapes and colors.  Ah... office supplies.  A SM's best friend. :-)
I've never been paid a lot, but the theatre has kept me, and for that I shall be eternally grateful. Tony Church

Amie

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Re: Writing Standbys & Cues
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2008, 10:19 pm »
Avery brand makes a kind that are "semi-permanent" so they stick, but you can move them around if you need to.  They come in all sorts of shapes and colors.  Ah... office supplies.  A SM's best friend. :-)


Haha! So true. So true!
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This whole creation is essentially subjective, and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once: scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.