The Stage Lighting Guide


An example of a Rig Plan

THE PLAN is the kernel of any lighting design. It shows, at minimum:

  1. The POSITION of each light.
  2. The TYPE of light in each position.
  3. Any ACCESSORIES, such as barndoors or gobo, required by any particular light.
  4. The DIMMER that will control each light.

The plan should be drawn to scale (1" to 1 ' or 1:25). This helps accurate indication of light positions. And if scale symbols are used for these lights, there is a check on space problems: if it can be drawn on the plan, there will be room for it on the stage. Any shapes may be used to indicate lights, but plans are more easily read if the symbol resembles the outline shape of the light. Either way, the plan should certainly include a key showing the type of lighting instrument represented by each symbol. Colour and dimmer are indicated by number: the usual convention is to write the colour number inside the symbol and the dimmer number alongside the symbol. Lights fixed to horizontal bars are easy to show in plan: the bar can be drawn in the position that it will occupy over the stage and its height indicated by a note (such as + 14') written at the end of the bar. Lights fixed to vertical bars, or stacked on a series of brackets, are more difficult to draw - they must be indicated diagrammatically FOH lights in the auditorium are usually drawn much closer to the stage than their scaled real distance which would make the plan inconveniently large. The easiest method is to work on tracing paper over a ground plan of the scenery and stage.

A good procedure is:

  1. Establish all lighting positions with Xs
  2. Convert these Xs to symbols of available (and/or acquirable) lighting instrument types, drawing them pointing in the approximate direction of proposed light travel.
  3. Write colour numbers inside symbols.
  4. Add dimmer numbers alongside symbols.
  5. Trace through key features of the set and stage - it is usually possible to trace through (in spaces clear of lighting drawing) enough to relate the positions of lights to the geography of the setting and stage.

This will bring the plan to a point where it can be used to prepare and rig the equipment. The lighting designer's own copy will grow many extra markings to indicate precisely where the lights are to be pointed - markings so detailed that they would only confuse if included on all copies of the plan.

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