During the design phase of your project, keeping yourself organized is critical to the overall success of the project. Knowing where your fixtures go is really important not only to you, but to the people who are building your rig. By following a few simple steps, keeping your fixtures numbered in order will greatly help your crew to build the rig as you envisioned it relatively easily.
So, you have your structure designed. All of your trussing is in place and you have figured out your scenic elements. It’s time to start placing fixtures in your design. For me, the first things that I add in are my essentials. These are fixtures that I know I have to have to make my design work. This would include any truss warmers and lights that I have to have to make my design work. After that, I add in the lights that will make my show look cool.
This image is from our WYSIWYG design of LDI 2015. This is the circle truss that was in the center of our booth.
Once you have all of your fixtures placed, you need to go back and number them. The method that I use for this is a combination of fixture ID numbers, DMX addresses, and IP when we are using Art-Net enabled fixtures. On my plot, you will typically see three things, the name of the fixture, its ID number and its weight. OK, I am going to stop right here…. Why do we add in the weight of the fixture to the plot? Well, I do it to try to make my riggers life a little easier. The riggers have to calculate weight loads per point. If I include the weights of the fixtures, it saves them a lot of time, and their time is not cheap… Now back to our regularly scheduled article… I always start my ID numbers with Truss warmers. I number the truss warmers first because they are always the first lights that go into the truss and I typically use DMX universe 1 for all of my truss warming. This does two things – 1 all of my truss warmers are in numerical order from upstage to down stage. They are also in DMX order from upstage to down stage. This makes pixel mapping them much easier for the designer. Once this is done, I continue labeling fixtures ID numbers in a linear manor from upstage to down stage from stage right to stage left. I also try to keep my DMX numbers in the same configuration. This way, I do not have to run multiple DMX universes to the same areas of the truss. This minimizes confusion during load in.
This is from our CAD file for LDI 2015. This image shows our numbering of the fixtures. The Fixture number is in blue, which will be for universe 8 the name of the fixture is in magenta and the weights are in black. The red lines are our power runs, which we will cover in an upcoming blog.
I use a separate document that has more details related to the fixture addressing, ID number, type and any notes that I need to communicate to the load in crew. After that is done, I then print out two sets of labels. One set is attached to the truss, the other is attached to the fixtures. This makes it much easier on site to know which fixture goes where. Also, if we have to replace a fixture during load in, the DMX address information is right at the fixture location.
The stickers contain all of the information that is needed to make sure that the right fixtures are in the right places. Universe 8 is designated as blue, the DMX addresses are present, along with the fixture ID numbers, and finally the type is also shown.
As I have said before, a good design starts with good planning. You should always be thinking about how the show will load in while you are designing it. The whole key is consistency and communication. Keeping your fixture labels consistent between all of your documentation will save you a ton of time on site and will make your crew’s life much less stressful.