But why would I need to do all that - don't the lights just do the same thing every time?

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If only they did! But this is rarely the case. Moving lights aren’t always completely consistent from unit to unit - their position, and in particular their edge focus, may vary, often quite dramatically. Swap a unit out and you’ve got no reference as to exactly what the light was doing unless you’ve documented it in some way. The focus of conventional lights drifts over time. And that’s just when the show’s in the same venue!

On tour, things get harder. Conventional lights will need to be re-focussed. Moving lights rigged in exactly the same relation to the set will probably be about right, but positions aren’t always consistent - particularly front-of-house. If you don’t have a record of what the light did, how can you be sure you’ve got it back to the right place?

And what if you need to change the type of lights you’re using, perhaps in a new production. Newer consoles will try to adapt the programming to older lights, older consoles will need more help. In either case, you’ll want to be able to check what you’re doing against how things used to look!

Plus, even if the lights are in the right place it’s good to have a record when the director accuses you of leaving an actor unlit: you can show that they’re standing in the wrong place!

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