A Process for Designing Lighting for the Stage (Part 10): Hanging Cardboards and Instrument Schedules

Once the light plot is in the hands of the lighting crew, they can begin hanging lights.  In educational institutions this is sometimes performed over the course of several day of short sessions of work by a small crew.  It is more common in professional circumstances to have a very short period of carefully scheduled time in which a moderately large crew of electricians installs all of the lighting equipment.  If this is to be done efficiently, organization and preparation are key.  If many people are to work on lighting in a short period of time, a light plot is an inconvenient document to use to guide such a session since it cannot be in the hands of the crew in the beam position at the same time another crew has it on the SL FOH Boom position and at the same time another crew uses it to hang the first electric.  Therefore, once he gets the light plot, it is not uncommon for the Master Electrician or the Assistant Light Designer to create a series of Hanging Cardboards.  The hanging cardboards are individual drawings of each position (usually in 1/2 inch scale)  each containing the important information from the light plot and any additional note that will expedite the hang of that position  See an example below.

In past years when the light plot was hand-drafted (often in 1/4″ = 1′-0″ scale) the hanging cardboards would be hand drafted in 1/2″ = 1′-0″ scale with technical pen on  art board so that it would be rigid, durable and easy for the electricians to read and write on.  Once the hang is complete, the cardboards can be collected and any notations made on them can be updated to the plot.  With the advent of CAD,  hanging cardboards can be created using the same light plot file with the use of viewports and visibilities to eliminate extraneous  detail.  Once plotted to paper, they can be spray-mounted (I use 3-M spray 77) to bristol or heavier drawing or mounting board. Note that the Cardboard for the 1st Beam position above does not have the auditorium details beneath the fixtures that the plot did.  This increases the clarity of the drawing which, otherwise might be confused by the fragments of detail that would otherwise be there. A close examination of the sample Hanging Cardboard will reveal that the electricians appear to have already used this one to hang the position because they have filled in the circuit numbers, indicating which circuit and dimmer each instrument was connected to.

Another important document is the Instrument Schedule.  The instrument schedule is a non-graphic table listing all of the fixtures in a show by position and in instrument number order.  Each entry includes all pertinent information concerning each fixture.

SAMPLE, Prima Donna Instrument Schedule: Fixture on 1st Beam

Take an opportunity to compare the sample of an Instrument Schedule.  Notice that important information having to do with each instrument in included in the table and organized by Hanging Position and by Instrument Number.  Notice also, that the circuit numbers from the hanging cardboard are included for each instrument.  Two hanging positions are included on this page of the Instrument Schedule.  They are clearly labeled “1st Beam Position” and “SL FOH Boom”. Compare the Instrument Schedule with the Hanging Cardboard.  Both document the First Beam position but do so in different ways.  At certain points in the process, one may be slightly more useful than the other, but they work together to provide the information in the most appropriate format for those in need of it.

Next time we will examine more of the necessary supporting paperwork

That’s enough for now! Have fun!  Be safe!

SJM

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