The Load-In and Focus Packet
the sunset can be activated and then recorded into a
group. The sunrise cue in another scene can be con-
structed more quickly by activating that group and
piling it onto any other memory in the show.
Groups can be programmed to copy the system
wash memories. These groups can then be used as
building blocks to activate entire systems while creat-
ing cues. When groups are used in this way, however,
close attention should be paid to the recording process.
Errant channels recorded in the wrong group may then
be incorrectly recorded into memories. For example, an
errant channel, accidentally assigned to the cool back-
light group, may not be seen when the cool backlight
is activated on top of other systems. Unfortunately,
every time the cool backlight group is activated, the
errant channel will then be accidentally programmed
into every memory. Not only can it confuse the lighting
designer to no end until the discovery is made, but since
the errant channel has been recorded in several cues,
eliminating the error will waste precious board time.
Groups can be built that duplicate the hanging
position memories (position groups). Sometimes the
flexibility to turn an entire electric on or off can be
useful. When an overhead electric is flying out to
trim, for example, turning on every instrument on the
entire electric with one set of keystrokes allows all
of the lenses to be seen from the sightline point. Not
only does the position group expedite the trimming
process; it confirms that the border conceals all of the
lenses on that electric.
Position groups are also useful as a means of
eliminating the contents of an entire hanging position.
For example, when a midstage drop flies in during a
cueing session, light from overhead instruments may
splash onto the face of the drop. Time can be wasted
while the errant instruments are located and turned
off. On the other hand, position groups can be used
to deactivate all relevant overhead electrics to zero.
Individual channels can then be activated to build the
cue, and errant channels can immediately be seen.
Figure 8.18 is a portion of the group list for
Hokey, showing the programmed contents for groups
1 > 31. This series of groups includes both system
wash and hanging position memories.
Note that the channels in the Hokey groups are
all recorded at Full. The contents of a group must
be recorded at a level above 00% for the group to
function as a software pile-on submaster. If channels
1 > 10 @ 00% are recorded as group 1, activating
that group to any percentage (Group 1 @ Full) will
still result in the channels reading at zero. Since the
groups for Hokey are all recorded at Full, each group
can be activated at any intensity range. Group 1 can
either be used as an inhibitive submaster (Group 1 @
00%) or as a pile-on submaster (Group 1 @ Full).
During a focus session, the lighting designer instructs
an electrician where to point and how to shape the
beam of each instrument in the light plot. Typically,
each instrument is turned on one at a time, so that
the beam can be seen. The instrument is targeted to a
designated focus point and immobilized (or “locked
off”). The beam is then sized, softened or sharpened,
and the edge of the light may be shaped with shutters
In an ideal world, each instrument in a system
would be pointed to its individual focus point. After
all of the instruments in that system were focused,
the entire system would then be activated and visu-
ally checked for symmetry. While this idealized focus
process makes perfect sense, it takes too much time.
Moving ladders to different hanging positions in order
to get to each instrument in the system may take more
time than just focusing the instruments. Rather than
choreographing the focus so that lights are pointed
system-by-system, the need for speed forces most
focus sessions to be choreographed instead by ladder
movement. The typical objective is to gain access to
and point the most number of lights while keeping the
number of ladder “moves” to a minimum. After all
of the instruments in one position have been focused,
the ladder is moved to the next hanging position. The
need to return to a hanging position a second time can
be seen as a waste of time.
Conducting a focus session based on hanging posi-
tion means that completed systems can’t be viewed
until every hanging position possessing instruments
in that particular system has been focused. Using this
method, once a position is accessed, each instrument
is rapidly focused one after another. As an example,
focusing a sequential series of instruments on an over-
head electric may result in focusing a downlight, fol-
lowed by a backlight, then a frontlight, then a special,
and so on. Since each instrument is focused “out of
context,” overall decisions about the individual focus
and the shape of each instrument in a system have to
be determined before the focus begins. Consider the
process that occurs to focus a single instrument:
1. The instrument’s unit number (position identity)
2. Referencing that unit number to the instrument
schedule, the corresponding channel number
is identified and communicated to the console
3. The channel number is activated, and the
instrument turned on.
4. The assigned purpose of the instrument is
communicated to the lighting designer.