By Steven Louis Shelley
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Extra resources for A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting, Second Edition
Since this is one of the systems that is more obvious to the audience’s angle of observation, however, care must be taken during the plotting, the hang, and the focus to create the illusion that the instruments are focused “straight” down. While the focus points for downlights in the first zone can be centered in the middle of the opening, they may just as easily be shifted upstage, so that the downstage beam edges land close to the downstage light line. The focus points for downlights in the final zone, on the other hand, are often shifted downstage so that the upstage beam edges land at the upstage light line.
Likewise, the control signal connecting the light board to these devices or the dimmers usually runs through relatively small cables. If the cables don’t work, the dimmers don’t function either. As such, these small control cables, and their connectors, should also be treated with extra respect. When constructing a light plot, attention must be paid to the number of dimmers that will be used and the amount of amperage they can handle. When the number of existing dimmers doesn’t provide the amount of flexibility required to produce a lighting design, one solution is to replug (or repatch) cables during the performance.
The number of downlight zones, and the number of instruments used in each zone, are unique for every show. When a production is presented on an open stage, however, the focus and symmetry of a downlight system will be much more apparent to the audience’s angle of observation. Depending on the overhead electric trim heights and the beam sizes used for the system, the number of zones is often equal to or less than 12 ● A Practical guide to stage lighting the number of openings on the stage. The same criteria also determine a rough number of downlights across each zone.