What you should expect from your SM and PM

What should you expect from your production manager and stage manager. For those new to the industry you are often confused by the various roles and what they should be doing. So let us explain some of these roles and what they involve.

Stage Manager

The role of the stage manger is a very demanding one. As they are responsible for the actual smooth running of the show once it hits the stage. But before it is on stage there is a whole host of things that a stage manager needs to do. In a lot of productions the stage attends as many rehearsals as possible, and during those rehearsals they make notes in their prompt script of actors moves, entrances and exits, possible cue points. Their prompt copy will become the show bible, it will have copies of the lighting, audio and AV cues, it will have copies of all the plans – from set plans to lighting plans. Also relevant information such as contact lists, budgets, props etc will also be in this folder. 

Many productions will have the stage manager call the the lighting, audio cues to the operators. This is often down over a communications system. They will also make sure all cast are in place, sometimes calling them a page or two before their entrance. They will make sure that props are in place, crew are ready and everybody is present and ready to do their best for the show.

So what skills does a stage manager require? The actually need a large variety of skills. They need an understanding of lighting and audio, therefore if there is a tech issue they can understand what is the problem and possibly suggest solutions/ They need to understand safety and how to implement safe work practices, they need to be able to work under stress and deal with people, from cast and crew to the general public.

A stage manager manager that has no tech understanding etc really is not a Stage Manager. They are in control of what is happening on stage. They need to be able communicate precisely with the crew about any tech issues. A good stage manager will always keep up with changes in technology. They won’t necessarily know how to use it all, but they will know the principle behind the equipment and what it is used for.

Production Manager

So what does a production manager do? The production is a major player in a production. Their task is to make sure all of the tech elements come together and on budget. The role of the production manager requires that you know a lot about all of the various technical aspects of the production you are currently working on.

This will involve dealing with matters ranging from the procurement of staff, materials and services, to freight, set construction, logistics,  labour relations,  venue booking, scheduling, operations management, mending delay problems and workplace safety.

The skill set is quite extensive. Often production managers come up through the ranks, having worked in a variety of other technical theatre areas. They may have started out as a lighting tech, or set construction. From these roles they have expanded their skill set, done further training and then made the step up to Production Manager. So they know about all of the backstage roles, and also about time management, budgeting, payroll systems, union regulations.They will have extensive knowledge of WHS in the workplace with special emphasis of the performing arts.  Their knowledge is very extensive and they will keep on learning everyday.

Therefore these two roles are critical for the smooth running of a show. Without them the show is likely to grind to a halt. So when you get a SM and PM respect them for their knowledge, but be very concerned if they have very little experience in theatre. I have had this happen and the end result was not pretty.


Philips Strand offers ideal LED alternative with new SPX LED WW profile

Conventional stage spotlights in a wide range of environments can now be replaced with this high-output, energy-saving, smooth-dimming LED alternative from Philips Strand.

The SPX LED WW profile fromPhilips Strand offers a powerful, energy efficient alternative to conventionalspotlights
Conventional stage spotlights in a wide range of environments can now be replaced with this high-output, energy-saving, smooth-dimming LED alternative from Philips Strand.   Las Vegas, USA – Signify (Euronext: LIGHT), the world leader in lighting, today announced the launch of the new Philips Strand SPX LED WW, a high-output, warm white LED profile spotlight fixture which offers a powerful, energy efficient alternative to existing models. The SPX LED WW was officially unveiled at the LDI exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada.   The SPX LED WW is targeted primarily at applications such as education, houses of worship and themed environments. It has been designed to meet the requirements of consultants and specifiers looking for quality, efficient and reliable fixtures to serve as straightforward replacements for conventional profile fixtures. Dimmable either via DMX or via a conventional forward phase dimmer, it provides a smooth, stepless fade right down to zero – the perfect dimming credentials for performance lighting.   The SPX LED WW uses the latest energy efficient warm white LED light engine to produce an output equivalent to that of a 575W fixture. Its beam is crisp and precise, directing light only where it is intended. Thanks to the SPX filter frame system there is zero light leakage, so no additional masking is required. With reduced fan noise, the SPX LED WW is also quieter in operation than comparable LED fixtures.   The SPX LED WW uses the same proven, high-precision, high-performance gate and lens sets as the renowned Philips Selecon SPX Profile fixtures, with secure locking shutters, while other lens sets can be used via an adaptor plate. It also employs a Philips Selecon ‘box’-style gel color holder. DMX connection is via familiar, robust XLR connectors.   Bill Richards, product manager EMEA for Signify Entertainment Lighting, says, “The SPX LED WW will appeal where quality LED alternatives to traditional light sources are needed. The conventional profile fixtures still in use around the world will ultimately need to be replaced with low energy product, and we believe this is the best mains-dimmable LED fixture available. It is the ideal candidate for direct, one-for-one replacement of existing profile fixtures.”   Signify became the new company name of Philips Lighting as of May 16, 2018.   Signify Entertainment Lighting comprises the Philips Vari-Lite, Philips Strand and Philips Selecon brands, as well as the Philips Showline range of LED stage luminaires.  ENDS   Image Caption: The SPX LED WW profile from Philips Strand offers a powerful, energy efficient alternative to conventional spotlights.   Images: © Signify

Elation Adds World Premiere Product Launches to LDI 2018 Lineup

Elation Professional has added three new World Premiere products to an already impressive list of innovative product launches at LDI 2018. Showing October 19-21 at LDI Booth 931 for the first time anywhere will be the Artiste Monet™, Proteus Profile™ and Smarty MaX™, new professional market luminaires that continue Elation’s efforts to bring innovation and best-in-class ROI products to the market.

Artiste Monet™: The Artiste Monet is an extremely bright, full-featured, 45,000 lumen LED Profile fixture offering outstanding projection quality, a comprehensive FX package, dynamic framing and a wide array of colors via its innovative SpectraColor engine. The new SpectraColor array uses traditional CMY colors but adds variable RGB flags for rich and vibrant primary colors. In combination with variable CTO color correction, the Monet produces colors that were previously impossible to achieve from theatrical pastels to the purest reds, blues or greens ever produced by a color mixing system.

The Monet houses a full blackout, 4-blade framing system with unlimited indexing and continuous rotation control that allows shapes to rotate while morphing and transforming for transitions, projections and aerial effects not previously possible. Monet’s comprehensive FX package includes 7 rotating and 7 fixed glass gobos, full animation wheel, dual prisms, dual frost and a high-speed iris. With a fast 6 to 50-degree zoom and an impressive 160mm front lens, the Monet has the power to cut through at even great distances in arena touring environments or large TV or theater stages. Providing up to 45,000 lumens from an efficient 950W white LED engine, the Artiste Monet is ideal for any application requiring superior output, stunning effects and unmatched colors in a quiet and refined luminaire.

Proteus Profile™: The Proteus Profile™ is an extremely bright IP65-rated LED Profile fixture offering outstanding projection quality in any environment. Providing up to 45,000 lumens from an efficient 950W LED engine, the Proteus Profile is the ideal fixture for any outdoor application requiring superior output, bright and powerful beams, and quiet operation, as well as stunningly precise gobos and colors. Proteus Profile provides the designer a comprehensive FX package with 6 rotating and 7 fixed glass gobos, full animation wheel, dual prisms, dual frost and a high-speed iris. Its indexable framing system provides full blackout shutter cuts for precise beam shape control. With a fast zoom range from 6 to 50 degrees and an impressive 160mm front lens, the Proteus Profile has the power to cut through at even great distances in any outdoor concert or special event, and with its fully dust and waterproof design it is an ideal fixture for theme parks and cruise ships as well.

Also showing at Elation Booth 931 will be a preview of the Smarty MaX™, an extreme-output, beam/spot/wash hybrid moving head featuring the new Philips MSD Platinum FLEX 400 lamp. Rated at 480W with up to 4000 hours of smart lamp life, the Smarty X is the ultimate designer tool. Combining CMY and variable CTO, this is the world’s first hybrid incorporating a full iris for dynamic beam effects. Compact and lightweight with a large 160mm front aperture lens, four prisms on two planes, dual frosts plus dual gobo wheels and animation round out the design package.

Elation is excited to show visitors to LDI 2018 these never-before-seen World Premiere products and invite lighting professionals to Booth 931 to be the first anywhere to see them.

About Elation Professional
Elation Professional is one of the world’s leading lighting and visual solutions providers and is the global brand of Elation Lighting. Founded in 1992 and headquartered in Los Angeles, with European sales, distribution and support based in The Netherlands, Elation designs and manufactures a comprehensive range of innovative yet affordable lighting and video products that are distributed through a global network of dealers and distributors. Made up of a spirited team of dedicated personnel, Elation is setting new efficiency and performance standards in Platinum lamp and LED technology and is acknowledged for a comprehensive commitment to Total Support. As a company in expansion with a presence in a growing variety of market segments, chances are you’ve experienced Elation lighting at a concert, special event, TV, theater, late night venue, House of Worship, theme park, cruise ship, exhibition, architectural space or elsewhere. For more information, please visit www.elationlighting.com

For more information, contact:

Elation Professional US
6122 S. Eastern Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90040
Tel: (866) 245-6726 (toll free)
Tel: (323) 582-3322
Email: sales@elationlighting.com

Elation Professional Mexico
Av Santa Ana 30,
Parque Industrial Lerma,
Lerma, Mexico 52000
Tel: +011 52 728 282 7070
Email: ventas@elationlighting.com


Lexair Entertainment Pty Ltd
ABN: 16 126 585 028
Phone: +61 418 691 509
Email: info @lexair.com.au

Unmasking Theatre Design: Book review

I received this book awhile ago from Focal Press, Taylor & Francis Group. It is written by Lynne Porter, who is the Resident Designer and Director of the theatre program at Fairfield University.

Theatre production often start off with a germ of an idea, this book explains the process that designers can go through to achieved the finished result that we all see on stage. This book looks at a variety of mediums such as costume, lighting, audio and/or projection. It shows how the nugget of an idea becomes a polished relativity. It looks at the inner workings of the design process.

It uses real life shows to demonstrate the process.It talks about collaboration, vulnerability as a designer in a team. So it covers the design holistically. It discusses such topics as the key elements of design, brainstorming ideas, idea generations just to name a few. This book is suitable for both the novice or the experienced designer. This text will stimulate your thought processes in regards to designing for theatre.

As you make your way through the text you come across different views on the design process, no matter what field you are designing in. It can guide you through the design thought processes. The explains the nature of theatre, how theatre can change us, and how the process of good theatre is collaboration. It explains the goal of the designer, and the key elements of design. 

It also covers things like”Thinking about thinking”, the generation of ideas and defining the creative process. You exposed to a variety of thoughts on how to design, how to cope with mental blanks and gathering inspiration. It gives you some ideas on script analysis and researching. It includes some good little exercises to go through. It breaks down the design process and examines it in detail. It then puts it all together for you to present a complete design that will complement the show and stimulate the mind.

As a lighting designer I found this book stimulated me into thinking about my design process, and to look at other methods into arriving at my lighting design. I am sure other designers will find this book very useful. Weather you are a beginner or a seasoned professional you will get a lot from this text.

You can get this book from Focal Press.
Unmasking Theatre DesignA designer’s guide to finding inspiration and cultivating creativity
by Lynne Porter

ISBN: 978-0-415-73841-5 (Paperback)

Obsidian Control Systems to launch first products under ONYX™ platform at LDI 2018

NX 2™, NX Wing™ and NX DMX™ ready for demo at LDI Booth 1135. Obsidian training to be held October 19th and 20th at Las Vegas Convention Center

Obsidian Control Systems is pleased to be showcasing at the LDI Show in Las Vegas October 19-21 the first three lighting control products under the ONYX™ lighting control platform. Designers, programmers and operators are invited to Obsidian Control Systems Booth 1135 for a first look and hands-on demo of the extremely powerful NX 2™, the portable NX Wing™ and the convenient NX DMX™.

NX 2
NX Wing

NX 2™:  The powerful NX 2™ is the ultimate compact yet fully-integrated lighting controller with all the connectivity and power the ever-increasing size of shows demands. As a member of the innovative ONYX platform from Obsidian Control Systems, the NX 2 is feature rich and never restricted in its capabilities. NX 2 offers a slate of professional features like a high brightness, full-HD multi touchscreen, 8 assignable parameter encoders, an assistive mini touchscreen, full keypad and command section, a dedicated grand master, and 10 full playbacks with four freely assignable buttons. Utilizing the latest in industrial components, the NX 2 contains a powerful Intel Hexa-Core processor, high-speed NVMe SSD drive and 16GB of DDR4 RAM. Fast boot times, instant operation and the ability to process 64 Universes right inside the console without the need for costly external processing networks result in unprecedented power in this small form factor.

NX Wing™:  NX Wing™ is the complementary USB control surface to Obsidian Control Systems’ ONYX platform. Based on the NX 2 console, the NX Wing utilizes the same rugged design and components with an identical footprint and layout. Through its USB connection, the NX Wing provides a responsive professional hardware surface to operate ONYX on any PC system without compromises. Any user of ONYX will feel instantly familiar with the NX Wing and no setup or additional installation is required. Simply plug it into a user-provided PC with ONYX and get started instantly. NX Wing provides extensive connectivity with 4 DMX Ports, MIDI and Timecode ports while unlocking 128 Universes of control when connected to ONYX on a PC.  


NX DMX™:  The NX DMX™ is a USB –powered, plug -and –play, 2 –port DMX Node for ONYX. It provides instant access to DMX In and Outputs as well as RDM communication. The device is plug and play and requires no drivers or additional configuration to integrate with ONYX. It is designed to work with any PC but also works with any ONYX console as a fast and affordable way to add two additional DMX ports. NX DMX supports ONYX on PC systems for up to four Universes without any dedicated license. When connected to an ONYX licensed PC or a console the NX DMX is assignable to any one of 255 Universes. NX DMX allows for the full ONYX system to be used in many applications from small events and tradeshows to clubs and churches. Many technicians utilize ONYX through the NX DMX as an affordable but powerful tests station due to ONYX outstanding library support. 

Training sessions at LDI

Obsidian will be holding two “Introduction to Obsidian” training sessions at the Las Vegas Convention Center at LDI. The first training will be held Friday, October 19th from 10:00 am to noon with the second taking place Saturday, October 20th from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Training in Arkaos media server software will be offered on Friday, October 19th from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm and Saturday, October 20th from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. Interested professionals can reserve their spot by contacting anthony@elationlighting.com.


ONYX is a powerful yet easy-to-learn lighting control platform designed for both hardware consoles and PC systems. It is a rebranding of the well-established M-Series control platform and is designed for use with all new ONYX and existing M-Series hardware (M-DMX, M-Touch, M-Play, M2PC, M2GO, M2GO HD, M1, M1 HD and M6). Designed and maintained by real-user professionals with over 25 years of experience in lighting control systems, ONYX provides a stable and efficient programming platform that is fast to program and fun to operate. ONYX scales from the smallest shows to the largest touring productions with easy-to-use tools and optimized graphical work environments that can adapt to any task and complexity. Obsidian Control Systems products are exclusively distributed by Elation Professional worldwide and are available in various sizes to accommodate any scale and budget. More information on Obsidian Control Systems and the ONYX platform can be found at www.obsidiancontrol.com.

Relevé Spot: 2018 PLASA Innovation Award Winner

About to be released from the stable of ETC this new fixture has already drawn a lot of attention and won a PLASA innovation award. The Relevé could offer venues a versatile moving fixture that is going to give the design a large scope.

Relevé Spot from ETC

A decade of LED optical engineering with 4 decades of theatrical design into an automated fixture specifically for the theatre.

  • Concerts
  • Dance recitals
  • Plays & musicals
  • Community events
  • Band and Orchestra
  • Meetings

What your stage needs…

The calibrated four-color additive mixing system builds on the success of the ColorSource Deep Blue array offering brighter reds, more vibrant greens, and deeper blues than typical event-focused automated luminaires, with the even and calibrated color mixing you’ve come to expect from ETC. Mix infinite shades of warm and cool whites, every hue of your favorite reds and blues, or the perfect sunset or sunrise. 

What you can’t see from the outside…

The Unique Ani-gobo wheel paired with the dynamic customizable five-position rotating gobo wheel enable you to create textures like never before. This custom designed, laser etched wheel will be one of your favorite features of the Relevé Spot. Relevé Spot wouldn’t be an automated fixture without a smooth, controllable iris, an 18-54° zoom and the most perfectly subtle theatrical frost in the world.

What you’ll barely notice…

Relevé Spot always knows when it’s home. With a startup movement of no more than 1° you can rest assured that these fixtures will never detract from the show running on stage. Want even more control? You can program the parameters of the fixture so it never rotates into a nearby pipe, balcony rail, catwalk, or other fixture. A brilliant feature that will help programmers of all experience levels to fully utilize automated lighting in places they never have been able to before. 

What you’ll appreciate later…

With a modular design you’ll never have to worry about costly repairs or full fixture replacement. Backed by 24/7/365 phone support, you can put your mind at ease that we will be there for you if you ever need us.   

Shipping end of 2018

Defend our Opera House

Featured image
The Iconic Opera House

Racing NSW has gone beyond the pale with the concept of projecting images on the sails of the Sydney Opera House. These projections are just advertising. It is the barrier draw for a horse race thus they are cheapening the arts and the role they play in society.

The Opera House is an iconic arts building, renowned world wide. You show someone a picture and they immediately recognize the building and can name the city and country it is in.It was designed for the performing arts not the betterment of the gambling business. 

Questions need to be asked why the state government has pushed for this projection to happen. Surely the event is sufficiently advertised and patronised without this extra advertising. This smacks of the government promoting gambling and its associated problems. Also one of the key voices pushing for these projections to happen is Alan Jones. 
Gladys Berejiklian the Premier of NSW was also adamant that these projections go ahead, even the Prime Minister had something to say in support and  said the site was Sydney’s “biggest billboard”. So is “commercialisation” of the world heritage asset really the right thing for the government.

What makes matters worse is that radio commentator Alan Jones weighed in and was rather abusive to the CEO of the Opera House. He has since “sort of apologised”. He was incredibly abusive to the CEO, Louise Herron. It really was more like bullying and Ms. Herron is now looking at legal proceeding against Alan Jones.

ALIA, Australian Lighting Industry Association, was one of the key players in organisation of a protest against this travesty. CX magazine was also a big supporter as well. I would have also been there if I had been working this week in Sydney, as had originally been planned.

So the general public has spoken out against this outrageous event. A petition on change.org was started and the response was immense. At the time of writing the number of signatures was over 300,000. The people did not want this desecration of an icon with horse racing advertising to happen during “Responsible Gambling Awareness Week” in NSW. The petition was taken to parliament on Tuesday morning, the day of the event, but the Premier did not want to accept it. This does not surprise me. She is behind the fiasco of the Light Rail and the moving of the PowerHouse Museum. It seems that this government might be in the pocket of Corporate Australia.

So what happened?
Well the event did do ahead. They had to change the time of the event, for security reasons. The decided to not allow gambling until after the barrier draw. And the best part – thousands turned up to protest and peacefully show their dissatisfaction with Racing NSW and the government. They pointed torches etc at the sails of the Opera house, thus degrading the projections. In fact lighting techs in the industry set up a portable generator with half an dozen very bright sharpies on the back of a ute that they then directed from a distance onto the sails. Unfortunately the police kept moving these protestors on. There was several maverick lighting displays that night. This shows how unpopular the Racing NSW projection was.

Unfortunately the government did not listen to the voters. The Sydney Opera House is a icon that is of cultural importance that should not be used as a screen for commercial projects. Next we will see projections on War Memorials, Art Galleries etc., advertising all manner of commercial projects.  We need to make the government understand that this is unacceptable, it is time they listened and had the moral fortitude to stand up to these corporations instead of giving in to their “pay masters”

Disrupted Display
Photo courtesy of 
Lauraine Knight