Tools of the Trade is a new department in which designers and technicians have the chance to talk about their favorite equipment, from rulers to consoles. If you have a piece of equipment you'd like to wax poetic over, send an email to: david_johnson@intertec.com

Until very recently, all of my design work has been done on a Powerbook 180 using MacLux Pro. Rather than being a suite of programs, MacLux Pro is an all-in-one lighting design program that creates all the paperwork, from instrument schedules to cut lists for color and patterns, from the plot. And it uses only 2.5MB of RAM, just right for my laptop's limited resources. Taking my laptop to the theatre and having it at the production table allows me to update the plot with any changes, and MacLux Pro automatically tracks those changes into the paperwork. No problems with the plot and the paperwork not agreeing with each other.

On tour, I can make changes in my basic plot to fit a venue's inventory, and fax it on ahead from my hotel room. The amount of time I've saved in redrafting and tracking paperwork is incalculable. I've also used the "console" window to type in the cues for the show and send them ahead, so the board can be preprogrammed when I walk in the door. And I love being able to print out an 8 1/2 x 11" version of the plot to carry around onstage while I focus.