A Review
The RAM in a computer lighting console is much
like that brain. To be able to change information
in a computer console, the information must be
transferred from the floppy disk or hard drive into
the RAM of the console. Once the information is in
RAM, the information can be changed or altered.
After the information is changed it can be written
back onto the floppy or the hard drive. If the RAM
of the computer reboots, in some cases, it’s the same
as the brain going to sleep. All of the altered informa-
tion may have been forgotten. Whatever information
has been changed in the RAM since the last transfer
back to the floppy disk or hard drive may have been
lost. For information to be written (or stored), it must
be transferred back to the storage media. This topic is
discussed further in Chapter 8.
Computer Lighting Console Control
Understanding the basic logic employed by modern
computer lighting consoles can be assisted by examin-
ing the methods and reasoning used to execute light cues
on manual light boards. A piano or autotransformer
light board, for example, typically consists of six han-
dles, each handle mechanically controlling one dimmer.
All six handles can be mechanically “interlocked” and
controlled by a seventh, master handle. When the grand
master moves up or down, the other affected handles
move with it. The term “grand master” is now com-
monly applied to any fader or handle that overrides all
other intensity output in a light board.
Each light cue on an autotransformer board is
achieved by manually grasping the handles and mov-
ing them at a predefined speed. Figure 1.9 shows two
written cues and their actions on two different light
boards. Figure 1.9A shows the written shorthand for
light cue 1; dimmer 1 and 2 fade up to full in 7 counts.
Next to that is a sketch showing the handles for dim-
mers 1 and 2 moving in the direction of their 7-count
fade up to full. If a light cue requires several handles
to move simultaneously in different directions to dif-
ferent levels, it may require more than one person.
If the light plot is controlled by many autotransformer
boards arranged in the same area, the light cues timing
is typically coordinated by one of the senior board
operators. After the stage manager says the magic “G
word*, the senior board op counts the seconds in
reverse out loud to the rest of the operators, in order
to keep everyone in the same rhythm. SM: “Light cue
1, GO!” Board Op: “6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, complete!”
Once light cue 1 is complete, the board opera-
tors then refer to their individual cue sheets to pre-
pare for light cue 2. Figure 1.9B shows the written
shorthand for light cue 2; dimmer 2 fades down to
5, while dimmer 3 fades up to full, all in 10 counts.
In this cue, while the other two dimmers cross-fade,
dimmer 1 remains stationary. Since it doesn’t move,
dimmer 1 doesn’t get listed; these manual cue sheets
only list the dimmers that move and change intensity.
When the stage manager calls “Light cue 2 GO,” the
affected dimmers move to their new levels in 10 seconds,
again counted down by the leader. Dimmer 1 remains
untouched, “tracking” through the light cue.
Manual preset light boards, with multiple rows
of dimmers, introduced a new way of cross-fading
between light cues and required a new method for
the cues to be recorded. A basic preset light board
has two scenes. Figure 1.9C shows the operator sheet
for the same cue sequence. Both scene X and scene Y
are preset with the same levels that were shown on
the autotransformer board. When the call is made for
Light Q1, the board op moves the Scene X fader han-
dle up in 7 seconds, and the sliders for dimmer 1 and 2
fade up to Full. When the stage manager calls for
Light Q2, the board op cross-fades to Scene Y.
Once complete, the sliders for Scene X are com-
pletely deactivated, and can be re-set for Light Q3.
The common operator tactic is to first move all the
sliders in Scene X to zero. Performing this action
*The magic “G” word is “GO”, but it’s never spoken on headset
(especially by the stage manager) unless used to give a command.
Otherwise, when folks hear the word out of context, if they’re
not paying attention, they can jump the gun, and perform a cue
at the wrong moment in the show.
1, 2
Figure A
Figure B
Figure C
Figure 1.9 Manual Light Board Written Cues and
Moves; A) Autotransformer LQ1, B) Autotransformer LQ2,
and C) Preset for LQ1 and LQ2

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