9. A Happy LD Makes for a Good Gig – I should have stayed in closer contact with the LD before the gig and the entire day of the show. I was at lunch when he decided to focus and when I returned he was having problems with some of the gear that he shouldn’t have had to deal with. Had I been there it would not have been an issue. I made sure he was in sight, without hovering, for the rest of the day. Most of the time he didn’t even know I was watching him. In the middle of the show when his set list blew off of the console and threatened to fly away, he stepped backwards to put his foot on it while he kept running the lights. I came up behind him, gently lifted his foot off of it and gave it back to him. He nodded in thanks.
8. Prepare to the Max – Don’t believe everything you are told about the gig. Verify directly with the person in charge and double check if you have to. There was a mix up on the gel colors in the rig and I didn’t catch it. Fortunately the LD was good-natured about it and simply adapted as best he could. In the end, if it made any difference at all in the outcome of the show, I couldn’t tell and I scrutinized it hard.
7. Don’t Wait – Since this was an outdoor gig, doing preset focus on bright sunshine was futile. So the LD disappeared after lunch and didn’t reappear until around dinner. I kept wondering why he didn’t bother to
set up the backup console until he told me that there was no LD for the opening act. Then I realized that he expected me to set up the backup console, program it, and run the lights for the opening act. Fortunately I had enough time to do it because I was familiar enough with the lighting console to patch it and program a few presets before the show started (in bright sunshine). But I shouldn’t have waited to set up the console.
6. Setting Up isn’t Easy – Setting up for a show is still hard work. It hasn’t gotten any easier despite the advances in LED technology, consoles, visualizers, and automation. It was a long day (18 hours altogether).
5. Being the LD isn’t Easy – I feel for the LD who walks into a show not knowing exactly what to expect from the local supplier. In this case he re-designed the rig for the venue the day before, which meant we had a
few last minute additions and deletions, and I think he was pretty much working it out in his head when he stepped onto the deck mid-morning of the show. I know he ran a lot of the lighting on the fly, but this guy just happened to be so good that the show was still stunning.
4. Being the Lighting Supplier isn’t Easy – I feel for the local lighting suppliers of the world who are competing for shows against other companies who are willing to bid it for next to nothing but are expected to supply pristine gear, competent techs, and deal with all of the last minute curve balls that are thrown their way. They have to manage a big staff and deal with all the headaches that go with it, carry the responsibility of meeting
payroll, and try to figure out how to pay for all the gear.
3. Be Cool – The inevitable last second potential disasters are always waiting in the wings. Last night, one of the followspots refused to strike just 15 minutes before the show. On the inside, panic ensued but on the
outside I tried to give the impression of calmness, coolness, and collectedness. It would have been very easy to freak out but instead we got the fixture to strike by working together methodically. I still don’t know why it
didn’t strike originally but I suspect user error since we tested them earlier in the afternoon and they all fired. I simply climbed the spot tower, asked the operator to confirm the power supply connections and then I personally switched the spot between manual strike and auto strike and back, then manually struck
it. It came up the first time. Crisis averted.
2. Be Ready – When the manager of the opening act introduced himself and said his client had just signed a record deal, I took the opportunity to reach into my pocket and pull out a fresh business card and handed it to him. “When he’s looking for a lighting designer please give me a call,” I said. I don’t expect to go on the road with him but I have lots of friends who I would love to refer.
1. Have Fun – At the end of the day you tend to forget about all the snafus, the concerns, the panic and how tired you are, and what you’re left with is a fond memory of a great show. Enjoy it while you can because you
never know what tomorrow will bring.