Nobody's Perfect

in Editor's Note

PLSN Editor Justin Lang takes a working vacationDuring the course of the month, I talk with a wide range of folks from the industry. From leaders, manufacturers reps and the guys out there on the front lines — those who make the magic happen on stage night after night. Over the course of just this past month, I have talked with a number of people about what’s going on throughout the industry and their views in general. There were a few comments, questions, and ideas brought up that struck a chord with me, and I want to share them with you to get your opinions as well.

No Gel Books?!

I was asked to visit a regional show in my area. I got a chance to hang with a good friend of mine as well as chat with some stagehands working the load-in. During one break, I gathered with some of the hands talking about random things. Somehow the subject turned to gel. A younger stagehand who aspired to be a lighting designer stated, “Gel books are so antiquated, you should get the app for that.”

I’ll wait a moment while you, too, pick your jaw off the ground. It took me aback that he was completely serious about that. After a quick demonstration of how light cannot pass through an iPhone and a not-entirely-unjustifiable berating from his peers, he began to understand why his statement was so outrageous. I don’t point this out to make fun of the guy, but as a point that, while the digital age has helped our lives considerably, sometimes the old way of doing things is still the best way.

The A and W Don’t Matter?

LEDs are clearly the hottest trend in the industry, and have been for the past couple of years. They keep improving month after month, sometimes daily, it seems. We all know about RGB or Red, Green and Blue LED fixtures. There are some fixtures that include either an Amber and/or White LED. The more the merrier, right?

It was recently suggested to me that adding an Amber and/or White LED to a fixture does not increase a fixture’s color range. It sounded a little baffling to me at first. Then I began to understand why that might be the case after it was explained to me. I might still be a bit skeptical, but I want to do some more research on this before I form a stronger opinion. For now, I’ll go with the theory that either Amber or White or both can be beneficial. It certainly helps get a tunable white with higher output, and paler and softer colors. At least that is what I perceive through my eyes.

There is No “I” in Team

I’ll admit, when I began in the industry, I thought that lights were the most important part of any production. Since then, I have changed my tune and see value to every aspect of every production. While I still give the ampies a hard time about lifting a case, it is all out of fun. It’s an old stereotype that they’ll never live down. It is not true, of course; just playful bantering.

On a more serious note, it breaks my heart to hear someone speak ill of any who are working hard to make our industry great. When I overheard a couple of roadies speaking ill of a local truck load crew, I almost lost it. Pushing boxes is one of the most thankless jobs, but is still just as important as any other on deck that day. These four guys break their back lifting, flipping and rolling huge case off hot trucks as fast as they can to get the truck unloaded and the gear to the stage.

I was on those crews early in my career and wish never to do it again: Crew heads screaming for the next case in the morning and then the never-ending stream of cases coming on to the truck. A break only happened when you finished one truck and walked on to the next. It is a tough job, and they deserve as much respect as the guy calling orders.

When a crew is a bit slower on the cases, don’t yell and scream at them. No one deserves that. We all understand that things need to happen quickly. Give them time to sort their next move and to safely bring down that three high with wheels to the sky. An extra minute of safety never caused a missed show; leave that to the artist.

I don’t bring these things up to call attention to people’s mistakes or to poke fun at someone. I point them out as helpful insight and help everyone understand what is going on in the industry. And yes, sometimes, it is kinda funny what comes out of peoples’ mouths, especially mine.

For a video introduction to PLSN's July 2013 issue, please visit