Paperwork is Your Friend

Lesson 7: Paperwork is Your Friend



Students will demonstrate their understanding of the importance of lighting paperwork by creating Instrument Schedules and Channel Hookups for their designs.


National Standards:

TH:Cr1.1.I.a. Apply basic research to construct ideas about the visual composition of a drama/theatre work.

TH:Cr1.1.I.b. Explore the impact of technology on design choices in a drama/theatre work.

TH:Cr3.1.I.c. Refine technical design choices to support the story and emotional impact of a devised or scripted drama/theatre work.



Rulers, stencils, gel books, Channel Hookup, Instrument Schedule


Hook: Designer Warm-up

Have students pull out their light plots so you can check their progress, while they talk in small groups (3-4 students) about how they would light a sunset on stage. After you check the plots, ask them to share their ideas of how to design a sunset.


Step 1: Lecture

Bring out the Channel Hookups and Instrument Schedules. Go through each column of information as listed here:

Unit # — Starting from the left side of the page, each fixture should be numbered starting at one. Each electric has its own set, making a battleship-style setup (i.e. Check 2nd Electric, Unit 6).

Position — The electric, beam, or boom where the light is hung. (i.e. 4th Electric, 1st Beam FOH, SR Boom 1.)

Purpose — Where the light will be focused on stage. Does it go to a specific area? Is it a texture light? Write down a two-three word description of what the light does.

Type –– Write down what kind of light it is. Is it a 19° Source Four Ellipsoidal, or a 6” Fresnel? You can also write what lamp the light needs in this area.

Color — The color identification number, selected from a gel book. (Ex: A2020, R05, L201, etc.)

Gobo — The Gobo identification number, selected from a gobo catalog. (Ex. R79096, A2258, etc.)

Dimmer — The “street address” of the light. Where you have plugged the fixture in.

Channel — A part of an organizational system for designers to help them in programming.


It is possible there may need to be more information given about dimmers and channels to explain how they work. If possible, take your students to your school light board and show them how to patch a light. Explain that the board is the brain of the lights. Channels are how the board/designer organizes the lights into manageable, easily remembered systems. The brain/lightboard then tells the dimmers, which are like the nervous system, how high the intensity of the light should be. Then the lights turn on, acting out what the dimmer told them to do, much like how a muscle moves as a result of the nervous system’ transmission of a command from the brain.


Step 2: Workday

Give students the rest of the day to work, side coaching with questions like “what do these lights do?” and “Point out to me all the lights for this area on stage.” If the plot has been drawn correctly, the only new information on the Channel Hookup and Instrument Schedule will be how the lights are channeled. Everything else should be able to be copied over. This is an opportunity for the students to check their design work.

Note: Another activity you can do with your students: Ask them to look at another person’s light plot and try to figure out their system as a lighting designer.

Another workday may be necessary for students to complete the plot.


Homework: Students will need to finish the plot at home. Also, they should send their concept inspiration photos to the teacher in the form of slides before the day of the presentation.