The Ten Commandments
Spotlight Operators

  1. ALWAYS turn your headset OFF before moving it.
  2. NEVER let the performers head get out of your light.
  3. In a body spot, keep ALL of the performers body parts in the light.
  4. Listen carefully for YOUR cues, there won't be time to repeat them.
  5. Run the light at Full Heat unless otherwise directed.
  6. Keep your light OUT of the audience unless otherwise directed.
  7. During ballads, keep the moves Slow and Smooth.
  8. Match the Senior Operator's spot.
  9. NEVER change adjustments on another persons spotlight.
  10. Know HOW to operate the spotlight.
  11. Don't make excuses for mistakes, LEARN from them.

In Depth Discussion

ALWAYS turn your headset OFF when moving it.
  1. One way to get everyone irritated is to bang your headset around when it's on. Turn it off when you sneeze, cough, chew gum etc. Better just keep it off unless you have something Incredibly Funny to say.
    Beware... Headset Humor is an Elusive Art!
    Also... you never know who ELSE might be listening.

    NEVER let the performers head get out of your light

  2. At least keep their EYES in your light. That way they will think you have them covered. If you zone out and let their eyeballs get out of your light, they will run to the Company Manager and you won't be happy.

    When in a body spot, keep ALL of their body parts in the light.

  3. Singers LOVE to gesture dramatically, it's an Ego thing. Try to keep their hands in the light just in case they are flipping you off.
    If you don't... they probably will.
    Dancers spend a lot of money learning how to do stuff with their feet - better keep them in the light.

    Listen carefully for YOUR cues

  4. The Cue Caller has better things to do than repeat YOUR cues. He probably doesn't have time anyway, he's trying to call 15 other spots. Figure out what your spot number is and listen for it. If yours is the only light shining on a dark stage and you hear "Blackout A--hole" chances are good that it's probably you!

    Run the spotlight Full Heat unless otherwise directed.

  5. This is the general rule for Las Vegas. Other venues have different standards. For instance, Broadway type shows have a softer, more subtle spotlight look. I actually prefer this more unobtrusive feel, but in Las Vegas the spots usually have to overcome 3.7 tons of conventional lighting, (your actual mileage may vary).
    Therefore we're lucky if we can even SEE the light, especially if stripped out.

    Keep your light OUT of the audience unless otherwise directed.

  6. Sometimes you may want to include an audience member when they hand Celine a rose or when Penn & Teller give something to a poor shmuck in the front row.   A bad time to include the audience is when a dancers shoe, wig, dentures or body part flies into the crowd. The crew will love it, your boss won't.

    During ballads, keep the moves Slow and Smooth.

  7. This one is pretty obvious. Keep your moves smooth in ballads, don't slam the colors in. Take your time, feel it. Go with the music, stupid.

    Match the Senior Operators spot.

  8. If you're not the regular guy, match up with the Senior Operator. Usually this is the center light but every house is different. Try to be the same size as he is. It's easier for the two sides to match the center than for everybody to try to match the stage left light, especially if they are at extreme angles.

    NEVER change adjustments on another persons spotlight.

  9. This rule is more important with Carbon Arcs but applies to all spotlights.
    Don't FIX the adjustments on another guys spot. Don't change the travel speed, mirror alignment, ribbon tension, fine focus, transformer setting, knurled knob, weight & balance or that other thingy. Believe it or not, don't even lubricate it. Just RUN it like it is. If you are a good operator you shouldn't have any problems.
    In other words, if you want a call back, leave it like you found it.

    Know how to operate the spotlight.

  10. If your spotlight career consists of spotting people at podiums, don't take calls for production shows. Get some experience first. As Clint Eastwood said "Man's Got to Know His Limitations". Duh, you shouldn't take the the call if you are a Bozo. Know what the Cue Caller means when he says things like: "strip the group on stage-right", "go up and out" or "stick and iris". Learn how to do Cool stuff such as an Astro Blackout or a Cosmic Blackout.
    Learn how and when to Kanibulate. Know where your light is going to be when you pop that dowser open. If you're not sure, cheat in... just don't get caught.

    Don't make excuses for mistakes, LEARN from them.

  11. Hey, we don't wanna hear WHY you screwed up. Just try not to do it again. It's been my experience that the worst operators have the most excuses. In fact, I have added a list of favorite spotlight excuses at the bottom of this page.


Favorite Spotlight Excuses

Stagehand Jokes

Humorous Spotlight Cues

Additions... Corrections... Comments... Complaints..
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All material by Pat McDonald Copyright © 1996
These guys helped : Jeff Clark (RIP), Bob Beem, Rich Weeteling, Adam Berns, David Day (sound puke),
Cort Callahan, Susan Kelley, Paul Puppo, Steve Ruelle - IA-274, Tom Halpain - LD/PM the Four Tops.

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