The Focus Session
light’s shuttered off of the borders, though, the barrel
focus may cause the shutter to produce as sharp an
edge as the original border shadow. For that reason,
the barrel of the instrument is typically softened, so
that the beam edge is soft and fades into darkness.
Border trims define the top shutter cut, and since
they may be lower than drawn on the section, the
instruments used for a leg wash are usually hung as low
as possible. The very bottom of the box boom or the
ends of the balcony rail is the typical position of choice.
The lower the better, allowing the beams to cast light
higher up onto the scenic legs, and under the lowest
border. The bottom cut is usually defined by the height
of whatever shadow-causing objects may pass between
the light beams and the scenic legs. These shadow-caus-
ing objects can include tall hats, spears, scenery, or per-
formers being lifted during entrances or exits.
The number of instruments required for a leg
wash depends on the throw distance, the beam spread
of the selected units, the number of legs involved, and
the overall depth of the stage occupied by the legs. If
there are more than two sets of legs in a typical stage
depth, that often implies at least two instruments
needed from each side. This ensures that the shutter
cuts can be achieved, and eliminates the possibility of
curved beam edges being seen.
Leg Wash Focus
A list to consider before focusing a
leg wash system:
their onstage edges need to be placed prior to
focus. If the legs are hung but can’t come to their
in-trim position during the focus session, the
position of the spike marks should be double-
checked by standing on each spike mark and
looking straight up to confirm the leg’s location.
should be at their performance trim. Approximate
top cuts can be made, but there may be no time to
return to the hanging position for a touch-up focus.
needs to be either in position or spiked. This
scenic element is also masking the offstage
edge of the first scenic leg. Usually, that scenic
element is a black portal leg or the proscenium.
In Figure 12.17, two additional Source Four-26º
ellipsoidals from the stage left box boom will be
focused onto the stage right scenic legs. One for-
mula that can be used to determine the location of
the hot spots begins by measuring the distance from
the masking downstage of the first scenic leg (in this
case, the black portal leg) to the scenic backing (in
this case, the black scrim). In the Hokey groundplan,
that distance is 23′-3″. When the distance is divided
by three, the two intersections will be 7′-9″ apart.
These focus references will be spiked in line with the
onstage edge of the legs.
Figure 12.18 shows the focus chart for the down-
stage instrument in the leg wash. Although the focus
point is indicated, it will initially be used to indicate
the center of the horizontal axis of the beam.
Once the instrument has been pointed towards the
focus reference spike mark, the beam will be raised, so
that the hot spot is halfway up the scenic leg.
Figure 12.19 shows the leg wash instruments
after they have been pointed. When viewed from
the front, the beams are pointed about halfway up
the leg, so that the bottoms of the beams are close
to the bottom of the leg. This is the point at which
the overlap and blend between the two instruments
should be checked. The instruments will receive side
shutter cuts off the black portal masking leg and the
black scrim upstage.
Figure 12.20 shows the leg wash instruments after
the side shutter cuts have been applied. Top shutter
cuts will eliminate light off the borders. Once the top
cuts have been achieved, the designer will stand at the
onstage side of the legs, and raise his or her hands above
his or her head. The bottom shutters will cut in until
they’re touching the bottom of all of the legs. While they
maintain that angle, the shutters will then continue cut-
ting in until they reach the top of the designer’s hands.
Figure 12.21 is a front view showing the com-
pleted leg wash focus, indicating where the top and
bottom shutters were applied. In reality, the shutter
cuts are usually soft and match between the units.
The height of the top cut may be adapted if the bor-
der trims change height during the show. The bot-
tom cut may be adapted depending on the height of
performer traffic moving through the opening.
If shadow-causing objects are tall, the location of
the bottom cut may need to be more extreme. Either
the bottom cut needs to be pushed farther into the
instrument, or the intensity of the leg wash will need
to be reduced when the shadow-causing objects pass
through the beam of light. The focus of one side of
the leg wash system is now complete.
Leg Wash Workarounds
If there isn’t a balcony rail in the theatre, and the box boom
doesn’t get low enough to provide an adequate shot, the
leg wash system can be hung in a third location.