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Sound Advice

Calling Spot Cues by Howard Ungerleider

Calling spot cues usually involves remembering the names of at least 12 IATSE union workers who change on a nightly basis!

So that you are not calling the name of a prior evening’s spot operator, it’s a good idea to produce a visual spot chart handy at your lighting console. This can sometimes be the most disappointing aspect of the show for a variety of reasons; namely, these individuals do the same job every time for different shows and can be less than enthusiastic about your show or the standards you like to uphold. Novices have trouble with timing and have been known to pick up the guitar tech for a solo rather than the artist. Seasoned veterans, on the other hand, sometimes like to sit in their chairs expecting two or three cues; because I sometimes use spots to create part of a look, I may call 30 or more cues they’re not expecting. I often hear them say I’ve given them a good workout. Some directors use computer-operated spots controlled from the console. I don’t use this method for two reasons: one is that the look becomes very mechanical and does not have the element of subtlety. The other has to do with lack of control when the computer inevitably crashes!

Howard Ungerleider, (Art in Motion, Internal Affairs International) has designed shows for Rod Stewart, Rush, Def Leppard, Queensryche, Tesla, Kim Mitchell and Larry Gowan. He also designs for movies, videos, television, corporate shows and architectural structures.

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