How I made walls bleed for Medea:

For a recent production of Medea, the walls of the set needed to bleed as Medea murders her children. After trying several methods, I settled on a VARI-LITE® VL1000TS with an Apollo “Yarn” gobo. By closing the lower shutter completely with the yarn gobo oriented vertically, I slowly opened the shutter as the fixture moved down the wall, colored in blood red. This gave the look of streaks of blood trickling down the wall. As it hit the floor and continued moving, static gobos continued the effect across the floor in different directions with blood pools appearing as the streaks passed.

Bryan Duncan, campus lights director Concordia College, Moorhead, MN

How I turned radio communication chaos into a smooth, beautifully choreographed symphony at the push of a button:

Two-way radio is an important and useful tool for everyone during an event or a production, but it can become a nightmare. I noticed the director was becoming annoyed with the use of his two-way radio. There seemed to be two gaffers named Jimmy who kept missing their cues and a fellow by the name of Joe who could not be contacted. As the director was searching through the radio channels, shouting obscenities, looking very frustrated, I thought to myself, “Wow! What a chaotic waste of time!” And then I heard it. CRASH!! Sliding by my foot was a piece of the now destroyed radio that met its fate with anger and velocity on the production floor.

So, I invented Director-Patch, a software-driven organization tool for radio communications. This tool allows discriminately, sequentially, precisely choreographed communication of all personnel with the touch of a button!

Tony Secilia, technical grip
Altadena, CA

How I deconstructed a box set with three ETC Source Fours:

One way we used to demonstrate the optics of the ETC Source Four was to push the side shutters in until they were almost touching. You end up with a line that's bright, high contrast, with no hour-glassing and no bowing. Years later, I needed a way to take one scene in a box set and make it not be in a box set. We've all heard, “Make the set go away with light.” All the more difficult in a small theatre. I took all three Source Fours and hung them front of house. I used one as a special on the leads down center and took the other two and focused them sharp into a tiny sliver of a line from floor to ceiling into the corners of the box set. The contrast created by the fixtures in such a small space removed the visual structure of the box set and put us someplace yet unexplored within the confines of the play. The set virtually disappeared from our conscious mind as it looked like the corners were actually generating light from within.

Craig Pierce, lighting designer
Los Angeles, CA

How I learned, the hard way, to check a fire alarm system:

One Sunday afternoon, the tech director of an old converted movie theatre “on the square” in downtown Bowling Green, KY, had unlocked the local theatre for me to do some lighting programming on my intelligent lighting system, which was set up for an upcoming show. He had another gig to do, so he locked me alone in the building. I got my fog machines blasting to give that perfect thick atmosphere and then set to work. I went down to the stage to lower the rear cyc (in the dark) and reached to turn on the lights on that box next to the door. WHOOPS. It was the fire alarm, and I just hit it without thinking. With all the alarms blasting in my ears, I made a mad scramble to the tech booth and the phone to stop the fire department from coming with trucks blaring. Turns out they didn't have a connection to them anyway, so I worried for nothing. Then, I realized that “fog” was probably streaming from the vents, and the building was reverberating with the loud alarms, and I feared that some passerby would call the fire department for sure! I called them again to fully explain the situation. So, I learned how to disable the system, which was a good thing to know!

Jerry “Wildness” Wilson, owner, programmer
Wild-Lites Exciting Lighting, Bowling Green, KY