Followspotting – an art in itself

Followspot operation is a very skilled task. You immediately notice bad followspotting. Often a friend or relative is assigned to the task of followspot operation. Hate to say this is not a good idea. There is a lot to the operation of a followspot, it might seem simple but practise is the only way you are going to get good at it. The first thing an operator needs to do is set up the spot. First of all familiarise yourself with where all of the controls are that you are going to need. Now the next thing is to get the balance right. A well balanced followspot that also moves nicely will make the job a lot easier. Every followspot will have a different way of adjusting the balance so I suggest consulting the manual. Once you have the balance right you are half way there. Even if you are experienced as a operator it is always good to have some practise with the unit. One thing that can make followspot operation is a sight. If there is no sights I suggest getting some wire and fashioning a set for the lantern. Then spend a bit of time setting them up. It will make your life easier.  Now practise with spot until you are comfortable aiming and hitting the mark.

As you can see it does require skill and attention to be good. A great operator can anticipate the talents moves about the stage. This is often why some one who has been just thrown into the job is blindingly obviously bad at this job. Also it is great to be able to put you hands on the iris, dowser or colour frames without taking you hands of the followspot. Now for those that don’t know the iris makes the size of the spot larger or smaller; the dowser blacks out the light; and the colour frames are used to add colour to the beam of light. It is also a good idea to go through with the Stage manager and the lighting designer what is required from you in the way of moves etc. I suggest you take notes whether you are experienced or not. If you are new do not be afraid to ask questions – and enjoy, you are an impoetant part of the show


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