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The Ultimate Punt Page

PLSN Staff • Technopolis • October 8, 2007

For years, I have talked about the art of running an entire lighting show from one page on a console — I light television, rock concerts and business meetings this way. So many people have asked me how to construct these pages, that I have decided to reveal the secrets of Nook’s Ultimate Rock ‘n’ Roll Punt Page.

First, the more faders and executor buttons (faderless “go” buttons) on a console, the better. I prefer a console that has a separate wing on it because I like to separate faders with conventional fixtures from faders for moving lights.

Conventionals
I usually assign about eight faders to conventional fixtures. Always run these faders as HTP (highest takes priority). This way, the light cues never release their intensity values when you release all cues on the console. In other words, your stage will never accidentally go black whenever these faders are up.

On these faders, I include an audience wash (moles or colored PARs); on another fader, leko key lights for band positions. In addition, I put in a basic blue wash for in between song/talk looks. If there are any other PARs, I include a couple of faders for red/amber looks or Congo blue and usually have a few sets of 4-lite PAR bars, also known as ACLs. I turn them on in groups and stack three different cues on one fader. This way, I can continually press the flash button on that fader to produce different accents on drumbeats or guitar power chords.

Movers and Focus
Don’t try to build too many focus positions; seven is all you need. I call these positions fan, cross stage, XXX, band, DSC (down stage center), high and audience. I separate my fixtures into hard edge and wash lights. (I’m assuming anyone reading this knows the difference. If not, please e-mail the editor and ask for a review on the basics.)  I have a theory that works for me with these groups: One set lights the artist onstage, while the other set is in graphic focuses. Graphic focus is a term for lighting air (i.e., focusing the light beams in certain aerial positions such as a bunch of Xs onstage).

On the wing faders, I place a few cues that have intensity and focus positions and nothing else. For instance, I always keep my downstage truss wash lights on the band or set pieces such as a backdrop and have one fader that just brings up these fixtures. But I have two cues on one fader so I can choose who or what I wish to illuminate. If I am lighting a set piece with my movers, I use my key lekos to light the band.

On the next fader, I put all my rear wash lights on the band and put the hard edge in a graphic position. But, if I hit the flash/go button on that fader, the lights will swap positions so the hard edge fixtures now light the band, etc. I always put one- to two-second timing on the movement and no time on the intensity.

Every console comes with an “options” list of what you want the faders to do. In the case of these movement faders, I like them to execute the cues as soon as I lift the fader or hit the flash button. I like to repeat the same cues in the next fader over, but change the graphic focuses.

Next, I put all the fixtures in the band focus and place them in a circle effect. Use a random offset so they are all moving out of sync. This is my stage ballyhoo on one fader. On a separate fader, I park all my wash lights on the band, while moving all my hard edge to the audience in a random figure-eight effect. Call that your audience bally. It’s perfect for sing-alongs to rock anthems. Modern consoles come with an option for faders to cross fade their parameters when you bring a fader up and to release them when the fader is pulled back down. These are often called override faders. Use this option on all ballyhoo faders.

Intensity Faders

I have a few faders that control only intensity. I separate the wash lights in one fader, the hard edge in another. Sometimes I only want to see one type, especially on a ballad. I use a movement fader to place the hard edge lights DSC and the wash on the band, but never bring up that fader to full. Instead, I ride these other two faders for a dramatic feel.

I use two intensity chases; one I call the flicker chase. You put all the movers at 70% intensity and then put a square wave effect on the intensity channel. Size the effect so the lights never go all the way off — they will resemble candles flickering. On another fader, make a three-step chase or effect that turns all movers off, except a third of them at a time. Last, I build a two-step cue that turns the odd numbers on and the even numbers off in the first step and vice versa in the second step. These cues should have a high priority option to step on other intensities in the position faders.

Strobes
I make one fader that blasts all strobes full at a fast rate and make another that puts the strobes’ intensities in a random chase. On another fader, I put all moving lights at full in a random chase. Last, I build one fader that makes all movers white and turns on their strobe function so they are all in sync. Use the fader option that releases these cues when you pull the fader down or lift the flash button.

Colors
I like to use faderless cue buttons for these. I make six color buttons that flash all colors at the same time, except the front truss, which I tend to make a little lighter in shade. I use white, cyan, magenta, red, amber and Congo. On the other buttons, I place two cues. On the first cue, I make the wash lights one color and the hard edge another, then I reverse the colors on the next cue. So bumping the same “go” button will keep swapping colors for a cool effect. Build a variety of cues like this with colors that look nice together.

Gobos
This is the same theory as for colors. I always use one button that opens all the lights and removes any patterns. On another fader, I pick two static gobos that are next to each other on the wheel and make sure they are in a sharp focus. This way, I get cool changes by bumping between the two patterns in zero time. Last, I add a separate cue that has a few spinning gobos so I can choose from them for any song.

Building a punt page can be done within a couple of hours, and you can run a whole show off it. Today, I am punting on an Avo Pearl with 20 faders. The house LD at the Avalon in Hollywood (Joel Huxtable) did a fantastic job building all these cues for me in less than two hours. There are not enough faders on this desk, but the console has ways to work around this to give me all these cues. If only every house LD were as fast as this guy…but that’s another story.   

Nook Schoenfeld is a freelance lighting designer. He can be reached at nschoenfeld@plsn.com.

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