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A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO STAGE LIGHTING
of the aspects of the design. In addition to all of the
data, the lighting package for any production physi-
cally exists in space; graphic documents are needed
to show its relationships with all the other technical
elements, and additional drawings are often needed
to illustrate how tasks are performed.
Yes, it could be said there are a lot of documents.
Because of that, while the primary goal of any paper-
work package is to legibly communicate information,
a secondary goal is to present the information for all
relevant parties in the most compact possible form.
Tidy record keeping practices aside, the potential
amount of paperwork required to accurately chron-
icle the paper trail of a production can be heavy.
Fewer documents mean less stuff to carry, and less
strain on the back.
Deciding which documents are needed for
any production is best done on a show-by-show
basis, and this can change during the course of a
tech period. Documents may need to be added or
divided, in order to provide more information, or
they may need to be organized in a better way. One
exercise used to help determine document numbers
for a show is to pose the question, “What infor-
mation needs to be seen by whom, and when?” It
may be possible to combine information from two
documents into one. If that seems feasible, it should
be considered; the fewer documents constructed,
the fewer to update. And any time documents
are updated, human error can occur; if the same
updated information isn’t corrected on all the docu-
ments, the now-conflicting information can cause
problems.
Brilliantly designed paperwork is useless, if the
people assigned to use it can’t understand it. In many
cases, the lighting designer initially constructs the lay-
out of a document so that he or she can read it. After
that document is distributed, however, the lighting
designer may rarely refer to it again. If the document
is the reference source for other people, the lighting
designer needs to ignore his or her personal instinct
or tastes. Discuss the layout and content of the paper-
work with the people who will use it, and tailor the
document’s design to their preferences so they can
read it.
In the ideal world, a complete lighting paperwork
package is assembled and distributed (or published)
long before the load-in. This means that as a complete
package, all of the documents can be compared to
one another at one time, all the better to spot anoma-
lies. The sooner the package is published, the more
time there is available for all involved to recognize,
analyze, and address potential problems before the
load-in starts. Documents may have to be updated
and redistributed, but the sooner the updating cycle
starts, the greater the number of problems that can be
solved before the load-in begins.
For public documents, many designers insist that
some amount of “title block” information is included
on every kind of document. This title block infor-
mation often remains in the same spatial location
on each page—for example, the title block on every
graphic drawing in a series, placed in the lower right-
hand corner. For database documents, the title block
information translates into consistent header and
footer information, with only the document’s name
changing for each document. Fill-in forms may adopt
that same header and footer layout design, or adapt it
to include different reference information.
Title Block Information
Regardless of document type or layout, the basic title
block information should include:
• Thenameoftheshow.
• Thecreationorrevisiondate,ortheversion
number.
• Thepurposeortitleofthedocument.
• Thisdocument’spagenumber,andthetotal
number in this group: “Page X of Y.”
Other logistical information may include:
• Thelightingdesignerand/orproduction
electrician’s name.
• Contactinformation:phone,email.
• Nameoftheperformancefacilityorproducing
entity.
• Referenceinformationspecifictothisdocument:
console, channel and dimming configuration,
for example.
When lighting designers consider what reference
information might be relevant to a specific docu-
ment’s title block, many pretend to analyze a sin-
gle page from the middle of that stack, separating it
from the “herd” (the rest of the paperwork package.)
Next they consider viewing the document as if they
were completely disassociated from the production,
the proverbial “Man from Mars.” Is there enough
information in this orphan’s title block to understand
where it came from, what it was for, and how to use
it? Is enough information included in the title block,
without searching for additional information in other
documents? Finally, they take it one step further,
and imagine viewing the document as an orphaned
archive document twenty years from now. Does the
title block still contain enough necessary informa-
tion for the document to be identified and used as an

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