Designer/Technician Guidelines

Lighting Designer Guidelines

There are generally three levels of participation in the lighting design area. They consist of:

  • Lighting Designer
  • Associate Lighting Designer
  • Assistant Lighting Designer

The Lighting Designer is responsible for the visual appearance, function, appropriateness and specification of the lighting for a production. All lighting design is under the direct supervision of the faculty lighting designer. The designer is responsible for all communication with the director and should set up times to discuss the general aesthetic, movement, cue placement, follow-spot cues and anything else that is necessary for the production. The designer will communicate his/her ideas in a graphic way to the director so there can be a full understanding of the ideas – this might include visual research, a lighted model, or other means that are appropriate to communicate the ideas. The lighting designer is expected to be an active member of the design team and to be present at all design and production meetings to ensure cohesiveness of design and to keep abreast of any changes. S/he is expected to attend rehearsals and run-throughs as necessary. It is essential that s/he attend at least one run-through before paper-tech.

The Associate Lighting Designer works with the lighting designer during the design process. Depending upon the production and the student, the associate might be responsible for portions of the show from conceptualization to cueing. This includes, but is not limited to, research, generating lighting ideas, participating in design meetings, generating and drafting the lighting package with all of its components, focus, technical rehearsals, all notes sessions and post rehearsal production meetings.

The Assistant Lighting Designer assists the lighting designer in the design process as required. This may include, but is not limited to, research, drafting the lighting plot, creating the Lightwright file, run sheets, cue lists, follow spot cue lists, focus charts and tracking sheets. The assistant will attend all production meetings, paper tech, focus, all technical rehearsals, note sessions and post rehearsal production meetings. Each day, the assistant will review any design changes with the lighting supervisor so that s/he is able to update all necessary paperwork.

An updated list of stock equipment and a budget for each show is available from the staff technical supervisor. Equipment may be borrowed from other stock only with permission of the faculty lighting designer and the staff technical supervisor.

Design Process

The lighting design process moves through the events as specified in the formalized design process. (All due dates are specified in the production calendar.) Meeting all deadlines is absolutely essential. Missing any due date can be grounds for being pulled from the production and failing Theatre Production I, II, III, or IV: Capstone.

(See also the “Design Process” section for expectations)


After the final formalized design process it is expected that the designer will have visual research for each environment as well as a decision of what is motivating the light in each scene. A start of a cue list will also be developed at this time. 


The designer will then begin to flesh out these ideas in terms of direction and color. These ideas might need to be worked out in Studio 2 or in the lighting lab. The director must sign-off on these ideas (be it verbally, through the research, or a visit to the lab) prior to the student moving forward.


The designer will then move toward producing a conceptual hookup based upon the ground plan obtained from the set designer. A meeting must be set up to present this conceptual hook-up to the faculty lighting designer before moving forward.

CUE LIST           

During this period the lighting designer is expected to generate a complete cue list. Attending rehearsal is mandatory in accomplishing this task. The director must be fully aware of the cue intent and placement prior to the paper tech.

Rough Plot (deliverable to the faculty lighting designer)

Approximately one week prior to the final lighting package due date, the lighting designer must meet with the faculty lighting designer, the staff technical supervisor and the lighting supervisor to look over the plot. Here the assembled group will go over all of the ideas and discuss feasibility and appropriateness. The designer should present:

  • All worksheets
  • Rough plot containing (at least) a 1/2" scale light plot and section
  • Completed channel hook-up
  • Drawings and notes of special effects and practicals

Final Plot (deliverable to the faculty lighting designer)

  • Completed 1/2” scale light plot (vellum copy for show file)
  • Completed 1/2” scale center line section (vellum copy for show file)
  • Completed 1/2” scale detail drawing including all booms, set mounts, and practicals (vellum copy for show file)
  • Lightwright File (Version 4.0) in appropriate production folder on Novell Server.
  • Note: after plot submission all changes will go through the lighting supervisor.

Shop Order (generated by lighting supervisor)

Hang (supervised and accomplished by the master electrician and his/her crew)


Designers will be given a specific focus date and time. All focusing will be done during that time. The master electrician will have the show ready to focus the day before the first focus call and will be prepared to do a channel check with the lighting designer and the faculty lighting designer at that time. Focus time is meant to be used only for focusing – not for finishing the hanging and patching of equipment. The designer should know where each light is to be focused and have the proper paperwork prepared in order to focus as quickly and efficiently as possible. The designer should show up to the focus at least 10 minutes early and have taped out all focus points prior to this time and day. The master electrician will run the remote-focus unit and will track all changes on the hook-up and plot.


Designers will be present to relay all cue information (placement and nomenclature) to stage management. This is NOT a time to discuss the finer aesthetics of the light, but rather to get the information into the stage manager’s book. Design conversations between the lighting designer and director should happen outside of this meeting.

Light-Over Rehearsal (optional and with director approval)

Designers may want to light over the last run-through before tech. This time is first and foremost a rehearsal for the actors and the director, however, the lighting designer may use this time to look at his/her ideas on stage before beginning the tech process. This should be a time to look at focus groups and color choices as they relate to the actors and the scenery and how they can be used to accomplish the needs of the production as discussed. A word of caution, this is not a time to program the show! Use this time to create groups, focus points, colors, etc. to get yourself ready for tech.

Lighting Levels and Dark Time (optional and director dependent)

Some directors may want to look at the lighting before technical rehearsals. If so, the designer will have programmed ideas into the board PRIOR to this meeting. If this is something you and your director are interested in pursuing – you must voice this desire EARLY in the scheduling process. It is very difficult to carve out dark time in the theatre, arrange for a board operator and find people to walk the stage at the last minute. 

Technical Rehearsals

The lighting designer will arrive at technical rehearsals with updated magic sheets, cue lists and follow spot cue lists. In addition, the designer should have at least enough cues into the board to get into the first scene. These include preset, house to half, house out and the first few looks of the first scene. Unless other arrangements have been made, the lighting designer is expected to take his/her own technical notes.

Post Rehearsal Production Meetings

At the end of each technical rehearsal there will be a production meeting where the director will be able to give notes to the entire production team. After this the lighting designer, lighting supervisor and master electrician will meet to develop a list of work and focus notes in order of priority for the following day.

Note Sessions & Dark Time

During the day before each technical rehearsal the designer will be present during all focus notes and be available to answer any questions that arise during work notes.


Upon opening, the designer will present the stage manager with an updated channel hook-up, magic sheets & cue list. 

Before the End of the Semester

Each lighting designer must turn in an updated lighting package as discussed and defined by the faculty lighting designer. No grade will be submitted until the receipt of this document.

The lighting designer is expected to attend strike and assist the master electrician or light cage supervisor as necessary. Evaluations of the master electrician, lighting supervisor, assistant lighting designer and stage manager (if appropriate) should be completed and returned to the department technical director by this time.


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