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Production Glossary: A Handy Guide To A Unique Vocabulary

Bridging the gap in tech terminology between disciplines

By Craig Leerman July 14, 2013

Arc Lamp: A bulb that produces light by an arc created between two electrodes inside a glass envelope that contains a gas.

Aspect Ratio: The width of a picture or projection screen in relation to its height, usually expressed in a “width x height” manner, i.e., 4×3 or 4:3.

Audience Blinders (a.k.a. Molefays): A fixture that contains multiple bulbs (usually PARs) that is pointed at the audience and bumped for accents or used to illuminate the crowd.

Barn Doors: A unit that is mounted at the front of a lighting fixture with adjustable doors that shapes the beam and helps control spill.

Barrel: The part of an ellipsoidal fixture that contains the lenses.

Batten: Metal pipes suspended in rows above a stage, used for the rigging of lighting and scenery.

Black Burst: A blank video signal that synchronizes video sources so they’re moving in step from one frame to the next.

Bump: A quick level change in lighting, usually to full.

Coffin Locks (a.k.a. Roto-Lock): A mortised connector used to couple stage platforms or scenic items together.

Color Temperature: The measurement in degrees on the Kelvin scale indicating the hue of a specific type of light source.

Component Video: An analog video signal using three conductors, one each for luminance (with sync and green reference), blue minus luminance and red minus luminance.

Composite Video: A single-channel analog video signal carrying all information.

Cyc Light: A wash fixture normally used in multiples to light up a cyclorama, or now more commonly any backdrop.

Cyclorama: A curved wall or curtain at the back (upstage) of a theater stage.

Dichroic: A glass filter that allows a limited range of color to pass through a light fixture while reflecting the other colors in the spectrum.

DMX512: The standard digital lighting protocol that can send 512 channels of control information to dimmers, automated lighting fixtures or special effects.

Dress Kit: Drapery surrounding a portable projection screen, helping control spill light and giving a finished appearance.

Ellipsoid Reflector Spotlight (a.k.a., Ellipsoidal, ERS, Profile or Leko): A spot stage lighting fixture with an ellipsoid shaped reflector that directs light through the barrel and lens, allowing focusing of the beam.

Footcandle (fc): A unit of measurement of illumination – one footcandle equals one lumen per square foot.

Gel: Common name for a color lighting filter.

Genlock: Synchronization of the video signals of multiple devices to a single source, like a black burst generator.

Gobo (a.k.a. Pattern): A glass or metal plate with a design etched or imprinted on its surface that can be projected when inserted into the pattern slot of an ERS type fixture.

Intelligent Light (a.k.a. Intel or Automated Light): A lighting fixture that can be controlled from a console that can pan, tilt, color or shape the light beam.

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About Craig

Craig Leerman
Craig Leerman

Senior Contributing Editor, ProSoundWeb & Live Sound International
Craig has worked in a wide range of roles in professional audio for more than 30 years in a dynamic career that encompasses touring, theater, live televised broadcast events and even concerts at the White House. Currently he owns and operates Tech Works, a regional production company that focuses on corporate events based in Reno.


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