Creating a "Rough Plot" from Notes
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Creating a "Rough Plot" from Notes

Creating a "Rough Plot" from Notes

Now that your color keys are as streamlined as possible, your list of specials (which includes practicals – lights on stage that actually need to light up) is complete, you can begin to place instruments on your plan.

Be sure that your list of specials is truly complete. You may have a note indicating a window. Does that mean a light inside the apartment that appears to be motivated by the window, or does that include light outside of the window for the “backing flats” or trees? If you are responsible for a fire effect (in the fireplace) will one unit, circuit and dimmer suffice, or do you need three instruments individually dimmered? Write it down – some lighting positions may get cluttered, and if those important extra lights are not noted anywhere; they may be easily forgotten!
Cue Plot (aka: Cue Synopsis)
Cue Plot
Color Key

Rough plot area A
Area A's SL (Stage Left) front diagonal R-02 (listed under “Direct Address Specials” on our color key) would ideally go between FOH (Front-of-House) 2 and FOH 3 (or, further off stage / away from center on eitehr; but the pipe isn’t wide enough for that).

Since I want the light to be 20’ away from the area, I’m going to put both of the front areas (“A” and “B”) on FOH 3. This is an opinion call – which lighting designers often have to make. Thinking about what the light in this case is suppose to do: I feel it’s more important to light the character’s face during their direct address than it is to make them more dynamic with a stronger angle – which is why I’m going for the more forward-facing angle.

Rough plot area B
Area “B” has a similar challenge. To keep the lighting somewhat consistent (since technically they’re both sharing the same sunlight) I’m going to put the front lights on FOH 3 to match what I did for area A (above).

Rough plot area C
Area C’s SL Front Diagonal poses an even greater challenge. “Pipe A” is so close is would nearly be a downlight. “FOH 1” would have to be shuttered tightly to avoid bleeding on the proscenium wall and the 1st leg set. While “FOH 2” will still need to be shuttered off the leg: it would be less restrictive, thus there would be more light actually getting through to the performer. I would put the light on FOH 2 so that more light will be able to illuminate the intended area.

The light from FOH 2 covers more of Area C (more of the yellow circle) compared to the throw from FOH 1 which makes FOH 2 the wiser choice.

Area C comparisons

Rough plot area BView Larger
Quickly going through the rest of the area lights.

Major accommodation for the back diagonal due to the curtain leg.

Area "F" needed major adjustments. Luckily, as is often the case with difficult areas to light - because it's a "weak" area, not much action happens here.

I am a professional lighting designer, and I rarely draw a lightplot when I first get to work on the plot. First I create a rough draft. This allows me to make notes and adjustments on my first sheet of vellum or “canary paper” (an inexpensive translucent paper that is often yellow – used for “rough drafts” – be aware: it rips easily!), and lets me concentrate on the creation as opposed to the drafting quality of my “first attempt”.

My rough plots look very much like this one.
Be sure to make your “rough plot” truly functional. Simple tick marks are often not enough for you to draft from later on. Note not only placement, but also color and area of focus. This is also the point that I make specific instrument choices so that I can see if I’m effectively using the inventory I’m supplied with.