Hanging and Focusing Lighting Instruments, Part 2

LESSON 6: Hanging and Focusing Lighting Instruments, Part 2



Students will demonstrate their ability to hang and focus lighting instruments by hanging lights for a 5-minute scene.


Materials Needed:

Lighting Instruments:

Lamps, Scoops, Fresnels, Par CANs, Ellipsoidals, Striplights, and Follow Spot.


Lighting Equipment

C-Clamps, Safety Cables, Gobos, Gels, Gel frames, and wrenches.


Other Materials:

2 ladders, and a certified student to run the light board.





Anticipatory Set/Hook: Have the battens down and ladders set up. As the students come in tell them to put on their gloves.


Step 1: Guided Practice—If there were any students that did not get to practice hanging and focusing last time with the battens down, let them practice at this point. When they are done, move on to the next step.


Step 2: Direction—Explain to them that they will each get a chance to focus lights from up on the ladder, and to hold the ladder for someone else.

Discussion—Go over with the students all of the information they learned last class time.


Step 3: Guided Practice/Checking for Understanding/Assessment—For the rest of the class period, you will be walking them through focusing lights and making sure that they understand what they are doing. Again, you will act as the designer, and as the designer, you will go through the following things with them. You don’t need to go through it word for word, just do it as if you were the designer and it was an actual hanging and focusing session: (this is stuff from last lesson)

  • When you start to focus the instrument, first get it pointed in the right direction.
    • With the designer directing you from the stage, point the instrument in the proper direction.  Many designers will simply stand in the right place and tell you to “hit me.”  Look at the beam of light coming from your instrument – there is a bright spot near the center.  This is called the hot spot, and you should put it right on the designer’s face.  After all, the face is what you want to see most clearly. Above all, listen to the designer.
  • Lock it off.
    • Once the instrument is in the right spot, tighten the bolts. Do this before you move the shutters or put in the color.  Otherwise the instrument will move, and you’ll have to go back to the previous step.
  • Insert the template, set the shutters or adjust the spot/flood knob.
  • Once the designer is satisfied, drop the color in.  Then, move on to the next instrument.  It’s helpful if the light board operator turns the next instrument on “at a glow,” or at a very low level. This makes it easy for you to see which one it is. Continue this way until you are done.
  • You will also want to make sure that there are no dark spots, or shadows, or abrupt color changes in the lighting. Have someone walk in all areas of the light, and watch and see if the they cross through any dark spots, shadows or abrupt/noticeable color changes. If you see any of these problems you will need to make adjustments to the lights, and possibly add more lights or colors, until the problem is fixed.
  • Other things to know:
    • When your teacher tells you to cut the light at a certain point he wants you to use the shutters to cut the light off at a certain point. You adjust the shutters by pulling them out or pushing them in. (Demonstrate this.)
    • When your teacher asks you to flag the light it means to swing your hand back and forth in front of the light. You are asked to do this so that your teacher can see where the light spot is.
    • When your teacher asks you to run the barrel he wants you to loosen the hand screw on the lamp housing and to pull down the barrel until he tells you to lock it. (Show them how to do this.)


Step 4: With about 10 minutes left in class, have them stop and help you clean up. As they are cleaning up ask them if they have any questions or concerns.


Assessment: Students can be assessed through hanging lights for a 5-minute scene.