The question is, "What are fixtures supposed to be doing when not on?" It sounds a bit...off! That was a question which turned into a topic of discussion for an Advanced Programming Class (AP03) at LDI 2011 moderated by Brad Schiller, Jim Ohrberg, Jon Griffin, and (I'm sorry but I forgot the last guy's name. If anyone was there and knows his name, please give him credit in the comments section below. Thanks!). To elaborate on the original question:
What should the moving light fixtures be doing when their intensity is off (at 0%)? Ever been to a concert and seen a group of moving lights ballyhoo-ing like crazy yet their intensity is off? That's the essence of this blog. This topic is debatable, but in my opinion depends on the situation or designer.
Some prefer when the lights are not on, should be in their "home" or 50-50 position. That is, the default position of the fixtures. Typically, pointing straight down with all color/gobo/beam set to open. This is desirable because the fixtures are ready to go for their next use, just as we would expect while programming. When programming, we usually grab a group of fixtures from their default state and start assigning paletes, i.e. color, position, etc... However, before the fixtures can turn on (in the cue stack) they must get to where they have to go. For example:
Cue: 12 - The audience fixtures are in their home position.
Cue 13 - something happens not relevant to the aud. fixtures.
Cue 14 - something happens not relevant to the aud. fixtures.
Cue 15 - The audience fixtures turn on and move to their "Audience Fan" position.
We don't want the intensity and the movement to happen at the same time. We can deal with that movement in a few ways. We can simply delay the intensity, or create a Mark Cue or sometimes called Move-In-Black Cue. In any case we can get the job done, but the point here is the audience will see the "Audience Fixtures" start to move from pointing straight down and know something is about to happen.
An alternative approach is to have the fixtures move to the next position needed in the stack, even if it is 25 cues away. The audience may notice the lights turned off and then moved to a new position, but hopefully they will forget about them until we turn them on again. For example:
Cue: 12 - The audience fixtures are ballyhoo-ing.
Cue 13 - Fade out intensity.
Cue 14 - Audience fixtures move to their "Audience Fan" position.
Cue 15 - something happens not relevant to the aud. fixtures.
Cue 16 - The audience fixtures turn on.
Either way, the fixtures have to get to where they are going and the audience will be able to see them move. More importantly is the Bally Hoo and movement effects on fixtures who are off. Give your lights a break and don't cause a distraction from the act on stage. If the movement effect isn't needed again until the next chorus, let the fixtures be still. This follows for all attributes inside the fixture.
I hope i'm not the only crazy one who notices this stuff...