Lighting Key to Light Plot

A How to Sheet Addressing Repertory Dance Lighting and Photometrics


Propose a lighting key for a repertory dance concert. Indicate direction and purpose on your key.


On plot, draw acting areas.

Draw 9 focus areas (3 across, 3 deep), using a specific color to draw these focus areas.  Mark the center of each focus area with a +.

On top of these focus areas, draw 12 focus areas (4 across, 3 deep), using a different color.  Mark the center of each focus area with a +.


Think about what systems will be used in full stage looks and what systems will need more control?  Identify what “angles” are wash systems (using 9 focus areas) and those that are area specific (using 12 focus areas). 


From this and your lighting key, fill out the magic sheet.  Assuming that each box represents a focus area, assign a channel number for the fixture in each focus area.

Refer to the inventory and make a guess at what type of instrument you will use for each group.  Note the instrument type on the magic sheet.


On the elevation and section drawing, draw in the boundaries of the dance floor.  Draw a figure in the center of each focus area.  Maintain the color code system you have established in your focus areas when drawing the figures.  Figures should be 6’-0” tall.


Refer to ¼” scale demo.


Decide how steep your lights are.  Downlight is simple.  The fixture is directly above the actor’s head, 90 degs. on the y-axis.  For all other angles, you need to decide how steep the light is to the body.  Note the “steepness” of each system in degrees on you magic sheet.  Chart all lights that are directly in front of or directly behind the actor on the section drawing.  Chart all lights that are directly to either side of the actor on the elevation drawing.  Show how the lights are focused by drawing a line from the top of the actor’s head to the instrument.  Draw the spread of each beam of light by using your protractor.  Have you chosen the right instrument to cover the intended area?  Drawing different systems in different colors will help you to keep track of your lines.


What happens when a light is not hung directly in front of, in the back of or to the side of the actor? Perhaps a light is hung at 45 degs. on the x-axis and 60 degs. steep on the y-axis?  On the plan view, draw a line at 45 degs. from the center of the focus area out in the direction of the instrument.  On either the section or the elevation, chart a beam that is 60 degs. steep on the y-axis.  Start your focus line at the actor’s head and draw it up through the “electrics line.”   Measure the distance along the “electrics line” from above the actor’s head to where the 60 deg. line crosses it.  This is distance “a.”  Transfer distance “a” onto the plan view, starting from the center of the focus area, moving along the 45deg. line.


Using information from both your elevation and section, note the distance from center of acting area to the instrument at the “electrics line.”  Transfer the placement of the fixtures on to the light plot as arrows, with the corresponding channel number and focus area.  Once complete you have a rough plot!