Lighting Instrument Schedule

Lighting Instrument Schedule

Lighting is essential for stage productions, concerts and other theatrical productions. Lighting designers use their expertise to set the mood — with just a few alterations, they can use the lights to create a comprehensive style.

Lighting designers and directors use various documents to keep lights organized throughout a production. From the initial list of lights to details about dimness levels to lighting cues, they help light crews keep the show running smoothly. One of these documents is a lighting instrument schedule, which lists each light instrument in order of hanging position. Light crews use these schedules when setting up lights and throughout the life of a production.

What Is an Instrument Schedule in Lighting Design?

Overall, an instrument schedule helps lighting workers keep track of light positions. An instrument schedule is a list of every lighting instrument used in a design, organized by position. It also includes a description detailing the:

  • Purpose of the light instrument.
  • Light color.
  • Channel number.
  • Dimmer number.
  • Accessories for the piece.

An instrument list typically numbers the lighting instruments consecutively by hanging order in the theater or venue. Workers can then use the list to make sure they put each light instrument in the correct order.

You can also use the instrument schedule for problems you might encounter later. For instance, if a director or another worker notices an issue with a specific light, the instrument schedule will help the electrician determine if it’s set up as intended.

Why a Lighting Instrument Schedule Is Helpful

A lighting designer is responsible for illuminating stages with the right amount of light at the right moments.

Lighting directors, designers and crew workers can understand lighting placements with a lighting instrument schedule. They can keep track of where lights are supposed to be placed and ensure they stay in the correct location. The schedule makes it much easier for lighting designers to complete their jobs and light the stage.

Here are more benefits of a lighting instrument schedule:

  • They keep the show running smoothly: A lighting instrument schedule gives you a quick reference for lighting structure positions. Creating this central document lets you double-check light placements quickly during the show. If a light shows signs of malfunction, it’s easy to get its location from the schedule and resolve the problem as soon as possible.
  • They help you stay organized: Instrument schedules make it easier for lighting designers to stay organized while setting up lights. The list provides a concise and detailed record that designers can reference whenever necessary, making setup much simpler.

How to Create a Lighting Instrument Schedule

How to Create a Lighting Instrument Schedule

Since the schedule lists every lighting structure onstage, your first step is to get or create a record of all the light structures you will use for the show. Once your record is complete, organize every lighting structure according to its position on stage. You might list the lights from stage left to stage right or from downstage to upstage. You can choose whatever method you prefer as long as it’s consistent and clear to everyone using the schedule.

Once you have listed all the lighting structures in location order, you can fill in the additional information about each structure. A lighting instrument schedule usually includes details about these features:

  • Position: The position of the light is where it is located on stage. This information specifies its particular place on the stage. For example, a light’s position might read “2nd Bay.”
  • Unit number: A light’s unit number displays where it fell in the counting order. For example, a light with unit number one means that it is first in location order, while a number ten means it is tenth in line. Unit numbers typically restart at the beginning of the next position. You might list the unit numbers one through 20 for the 2nd Bay position, then start over at one again for the 3rd Bay position.
  • Instrument type: List the light’s technical name so that light crews know what type of structure it is.
  • Wattage: If using LED alternatives, list the wattage of the light to inform light crews about the strength of the light while using it. Wattage is used less in the industry now due to the shift to LED instruments. Lumens can be used to communicate the brightness of an LED light.
  • Purpose: Under the purpose section, you should list what you will use the light for during the show. For example, you might write that it will light a specific character or section of the stage.
  • Dimmer or circuit number: This number corresponds to a number on the lighting control desk. This centralized desk gives power to the appropriate units throughout the show, so it’s essential to list the correct number on the lighting instrument schedule.
  • Color: List the color of the bulb or gel in the lighting structure. This note helps the light designer keep track of what colors are being used throughout the show. The color should appear as a letter and number explaining the specific shade rather than a generic color name.

You should list each of those pieces of information alongside each light you use. Once you complete your lighting instrument schedule, be sure to have someone else look it over before you finalize the document.

Example of a Lighting Instrument Schedule

Lighting instrument schedules vary depending on preferences. Some might be highly detailed, while others contain only brief descriptions. Here is an example of what an entry could look like on a lighting instrument schedule:

  • Position: 2nd Bay
  • Unit number: 3
  • Instrument type: SOURCE 4 PAR-MFL
  • Wattage: 575w or 750w
  • Purpose: Front corner of the stage
  • Dimmer number: 4
  • Color: R05

You can also use this as a lighting instrument schedule template when you create your own.

Learn More About Designing Lighting With Illuminated Integration

Learn More About Designing Lighting With Illuminated Integration

Creating an accurate and detailed lighting instrument schedule is critical for lighting success. The details help lighting designers keep track of information about light fixtures and set them up correctly.

If you have any questions about the process, it’s often better to ask a professional for help. At Illuminated Integration, we understand the necessity of proper lighting design and work hard to help our clients achieve it. Our team’s expertise in the lighting design field will help you on your next project. Enlist the assistance of our dedicated and experienced team today to ensure your production goes smoothly.

Contact Illuminated Integration today to learn more about how we can help your next lighting project.

Previous ArticlePresentation Design Ideas Next ArticleLight Layering: Why It's Important and How to Incorporate It
An Empty Bar With A Stage And Green Neon Lights.
A Teal Lighting Icon.

Tell us about your project

Contact Us Today!