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In a couple of weeks I'm holding a 2-hour Beginners' Lighting Workshop, and I'd like to know what you guys think of my syllabus:


General theatre safety.

Tour of the venue and its safety features.

The different kinds of lighting fixture - what they do and how to tell them apart.

Gel! That wonderful colourful stuff...

Rigging and focussing fixtures.

Patching and dimmer packs.

Simple lighting control desk operation & programming.


Is that a sensible set, and is there anything important I've overlooked?


The aim of the workshop is to teach them to be valuable rigging and operating crew, with an eye to them developing into fully-fledged amateur lighting technicians in the future.


(Manual handling and fire training are covered in other professionally run workshops)


Thanks guys!

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I know you've got a lot to get through in 2 hours, but it might also be worth giving them some idea of lighting design principles - A least that way when you tell them to get the tallie out 'cos you need to refocus the backlight, they'll put it in the right place! Seriously, the better an understanding they have of what you're trying to do with a design, the better they'll be at opping (ie they'll spot something's wrong in the state they've just brought up), and the more you can ask them to do without such direct supervision.
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thats a good idea... although you might be including this in the "rigging and focusing" section, you teach them about the proper rigging/storage of cables, and the reason why you keep power away from signal... or would that be too much to teach in such a short space?



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I've done several of these before and can offer the following advice:


Get one of everything down off the rig and set up a stand with at least two lots of power to it. That makes it easy to demonstrate lantern types and, more importantly, gives them all a chance to have a go without wasting time going up and down the tallescope/ladder.


Put something in writing for them to take away at the end, cos they'll undoubtedly forget a lot of what you say otherwise.


Concentrate on all the good things lighting can do and don't cover too many drawbacks if you want them to come back again!


If you have, or can borrow, anything that moves, rotates gobos and/or changes colour by itself set up the best demo you can and use it. My local hire company always lends us stuff FOC when I do workshops as it helps publicise them (they give us leaflets to hand out). Go for the "wow" factor!


Hope this helps.



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Thanks for the advice everyone!


Pat - thanks for the offer, that would be very useful!

I've emailed you my postal address.


Incidentally, are the Cantata profiles still in production?

Two of our 11/26s went missing over the summer and we'd like to replace them with the same or equivalent fixture if possible.

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Incidentally, are the Cantata profiles still in production?

Two of our 11/26s went missing over the summer and we'd like to replace them with the same or equivalent fixture if possible.

I think I've seen them kicking about on a couple of sites.


You could also try AC Lighting's 2nd User page - they've got Cantata's for £100, but I'm not quite sure what version it is!



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Having done a couple lighting workshops over the last year, I would agree with getting in the ìwowî factor.


A good demo I have used is having the three primary colours focused on a screen, then showing how these can be balanced to produce white light. By dipping the blue or the red you can make it look warm or cold. You can use the same light to make two actors dressed in red and blue, first on a white back drop and then a black back drop, ìdisappearî. Always a good one to show set and costume designers. B-)


Most of all have fun with it. :D

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Well, that could have been worse.



I did the workshop twice, as there were more people asking for it than fit in the patch bay.


Day 1

Arrived nice and early. Photocopied handouts, all is well.

Signed out venue keys.

Got out & tested example fixtures, rigged all but one. So far, so good.

Got out lighting desk, psu DMX line, table etc.


Problem 1 - Lighting desk doesn't work!

No tools, no longer enough time to get tools from home.


Problem 2 - 20 min to go, and a dance society turn up.

"We've got this room booked for a dance lesson." [You've WHAT!!!]

-Erm, how? Who?

Check with venue services, arrange alternate venue for dance.

Dance secretary turns up.

"It's okay, we're actually booked back in our normal place." [And you tell me this now?]

-Okay, that's great. I'll send your dancers over there then.


People start to arrive.

Expecting 9, one sent apologies.


5 finally turn up, give up on others.


Finally give poor workshop due to lack of poise. Wonder why bothered to volunteer to do this.


Day 2

Search interweb for cheap replacements for PSU. Find possible unit.

Arrive extremely early equipped with screwdrivers and multimeter.

Dismantle PSU, check outputs of PCB. Is fine, check cables.

The fuseholder is knackered.

PSU fine, lighting desk works, all happy, so long as I hold the fuse in the right place

Attempt to get Union van to go get replacement for fuseholder.

Union van keys have vanished. Van is happily sat outside, no-one knows where keyholder is.

Walk to Maplin


Maplin don't do usable blade fuseholders.

Change spec to 20mm fuse, get fuseholder and fuse.

Walk back to venue


15 minutes to go....

Look for soldering iron - am not surprised to find it isn't where it was on Sunday.

Give up and use LX tape to bodge PSU into working state.

Create exclusion zone around PSU, as it's now got its guts exposed to the world.


Expecting 6 people, and they all turn up! Things are finally looking good.

Give much better workshop, but a bit out of breath. I got the points across, and think they found it fun! (Or at least not boring)

Realise why I volunteered - maybe I could be a teacher! Or maybe not.


Of course, now I have to repair the PSU properly.

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