The Process of Lighting a Show

Welcome to my series of five videos providing a comprehensive look at the process of lighting a theatrical production. The 2008 Norwich High School Musical Club production of My Fair Lady is the example used to explain the process. In the first section I talk about what lighting design is and I introduce basic lighting documentation. In the second section I talk about how to analyze a script and how the scenery affects the lighting. In the third section I talk about how to get from the script analysis to the lighting paperwork, in other words, how to develop the layout of the lighting equipment. In the fourth section I talk about how to implement the design. In the fifth and final section I talk about what the result of the design is and I review photos from the production of My Fair Lady. Even though My Fair Lady is the vehicle used to describe the process it is not necessary to be familiar with the characters or story to understand the material presented in the videos.

Questions answered in the videos

  • What are the goals of the lighting designer?
  • What are the controllable qualities of light and how are they controlled?
  • What documentation is used to communicate the layout of the lights?
  • How does someone learn how to design?
  • How is the script analyzed?
  • What impact does the scenery have on the lighting?
  • How is the layout of the lighting equipment created?
  • How is the layout of the lighting equipment implemented?
  • How is the design created using the lighting layout?
  • How is the lighting operated successfully during the show?
  • What is the final result of the design?

Watch the videos now

If you are really interested in the material by all means, watch away, but if you are a casual observer I would suggest watching the videos one section at a time as it is convenient for you. Each video has a table of contents that will enable you to jump forward if you want to, just click on the button with the table of contents icon. The first and last videos include, respectively, an introduction and conclusion for the entire series of videos. I have made the videos available in an embedded Flash format so you will need Adobe Flash Player installed in your browser to view them.

How the videos were made

I used several different programs to create the series of videos. The content was compiled within a PowerPoint presentation and I recorded my computer screen as I narrated and annotated the PowerPoint in order to produce the videos. At a couple points in the third section I left PowerPoint to demonstrate VectorWorks Spotlight and John McKernon’s Lightwright, two programs used for lighting design. The screen recordings were created using a 30-day trial version of Camtasia Studio in combination with my Adesso tablet and Power Presenter RE. The 13 individual screen recordings were saved as AVI files, edited together using Roxio Videowave, and resaved. The finished AVI files were brought back into Camtasia Studio, indexed to create tables of contents, and produced as Flash video files embedded within HTML pages.

Comments and corrections

Though I invested many hours preparing, recording, and publishing these videos they are far from perfect. Perhaps in the future I will produce a better series of videos, but it is not practical at this time to go back and make revisions, improve the organization, or manage the time differently. As a result I have created this section for comments and corrections that I feel are necessary as I review the videos. As the videos are viewed by others this section will also allow me to answer questions or clear up confusions if they arise.

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