Upright Stagehand’s Glossary

lighting plot – a diagram that shows the position of every lighting instrument in the performance space. It is drawn by the lighting designer as instruction to the crew hanging the lighting. Also indicates focus, channel, and dimmer.

lumen – a measurement of light output.

LX – an abbreviation for “lighting.”

meatrack – a wheeled rack used to transport pre-rigged light bars or truss.

MIDI – Musical Instrument Digital Interface, allows for digital instruments to be synchronized during a live performance.

out – to fly something up, and away from the stage.

paging – the act of holding back drapery to accommodate a scene change and movement of set pieces.

PAR – Parabolic Aluminized Reflector, a lamp that contains a filament, reflector, and lens in one unit. 

patch – a hard patch is to plug a lamp into a dimmer. A soft patch is to program a channel to a dimmer through the lighting console. Also applies to plugging audio signal connections into the audio console. 

phantom power – microphones that need a power supply to operate but do not have batteries receive phantom power from the audio console down the microphone line. This is typically 48 Volts DC.

practical – a lighting instrument that is used on set for its intended purpose in a scene: a table lamp, wall sconce, or chandeliers are examples.

preset – to place props, set pieces, and other objects in designated positions before the show to be retrieved later during a scene by the actors or technicians. 

prompt book – the stage manager’s copy of the script with blocking notes, technical cues, and other pertinent information used to call the show.

props – any handheld item that the cast interacts with on set during a show. This includes dishware, glasses, weapons, and books.

run – the entire duration of a production from opening night to the final performance.

running lights – dim lighting backstage (usually blue) that allows the cast and crew to see while the stage and audience are dark.

rider – information sent to a venue by a touring production that details requirements for lighting, audio, rigging, and other technical elements. Will also include specifications for dressing rooms and other accommodations to be provided by the venue.

scrim – a course gauze fabric used as a backdrop.

scroller – a lighting instrument attachment, which can be controlled by DMX and can scroll through several different gel colors.

shotgun – a type of condenser microphone that is highly powerful and capable of picking up sound from long distances.

shutter – metal plates inside a lighting instrument used to block light in a specific pattern.

SMPTE – a time code defined by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers for synchronizing music to something else. Commonly used in theater to synch lighting and audio cues.

spike – to place a mark, usually with colored spike tape, that indicates specific positioning for set pieces, actors’ blocking, or any other purpose on stage.

stage left – the left side of the stage determined by the actor’s perspective looking toward the audience.

stage right – the right side of the stage determined by the actor’s perspective looking toward the audience.

strike – to remove. Generally refers to striking sets, props, and other objects from the stage.

TDtechnical director.

teaser – a short piece of drapery hung above the stage to block the audience’s view of fly bars and lighting above the stage.

thespian – a follower of Thespis, the Greek actor who is considered the founder of Greek tragedy. An actor. A member of the International Thespian Society.

three to one rule – microphones intended to pick up the same sound source should be three times farther from each other than they are from the sound source.

top hat – an attachment on lighting instruments that limit spill light. A black, metal shoot that resembles a formal top hat.

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Working on a film or TV show might as well require foreign language training. Check out our glossary of film terminology for answers

travellers – any curtain or piece of scenery that travels on a horizontal track across the stage.

trim – the predetermined height of a flown flat or other piece of scenery above the deck at its in-most show position.

truck – a wheeled platform that carries set pieces on and off stage.

tweeter – the part of a speaker that handles the highest frequencies of an audio signal.

upstage – position or movement toward the back of the stage, away from the audience.

vomitory – an entrance to the theater under an area of elevated audience seating, like the locker room tunnel in a basketball arena or football stadium. Name refers to ancient Roman architectural design. Most commonly known as a “vom.” 

wash – a type of lighting fixture that produces a very wide beam, or the practice of covering the stage in a wide spray of fill light.

West Coast – the practice of tying a cloth backdrop to the fly bar to be flown out of sight in theaters with limited height.

wings – the area just off stage where cast and crew enter and exit.Get In Media

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