You Need A Steve Shelley In Your Library

Obviously, if you work in lighting, you have read this book.

Steve Shelley wrote a great text a while ago that has had three excellent revisions, called A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting.  If you’ve studied Theatrical Lighting in a collegiate (and hopefully high school) program, you’ve either taken a class from that book, or read that book as an assignment for another class, or maybe you just wanted to be best at what we do, so you went ahead and read as many things as you could get in between flying, gigging, classes, USITT, that show you have a plot due for, you know — all that.


AND I KNOWWWWW you’ve met Steve Shelley.  He is not the Steve Shelley from Sonic Youth, but I know for a fact that he rocks as hard as the other said Shelley.  Funny guy, big bright green freaking jacket that reflects the light from the planet formerly known as Pluto, like my skull.  Come on, does everyone in the world not have a Field Template?!  What do you do when your macbook decides that it has to update something when you need to be drafting or you previz your video card right out of your laptop?!


The point — have you read Steve’s A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting?  It’s the Third Edition; you need the book.  Get the book.  It’s really not even a difficult choice, it’s as important a book to read in our industry as Richard Cadena’s Electricity for the Entertainment Electrician and Technician.  Which, also you need to read.  Like, you know how you needed to read the rules on drivers’ ed when you took that?  Steve and Richard write content of that importance.

aaaaaaaand, consequently, because you need to read this:

PS:  Nobody paid me to write this, I believe this sh*t down to my very bones.  Be better, be safer, learn the most that you can.

What’s In YOUR Lighting Library?


Perhaps in the next ten years, we will see a big push towards marketing away from actual hands-on paper books.  Right now though, there are only a handful of things better than having a book in your hands, flipping through the pages, making everything tangibly make sense.  If nothing else, once you’re in a position to either have your stuff out of storage at your parents’ house, or once your stuff is out of storage once you’re off the road on tour, or – uh, once your stuff is back out of storage after that other tour, then I highly recommend getting a few, or all, of these texts!

The more you learn, the more you are worth, and the better you feel knowing the new info you learned AND that you’re better than you were prior to reading the information.  Knowledge is power!  I wonder why this is so hard for some people to understand…  you just don’t learn anything acting like you fucking know everything.

One of my favorite three books to teach in University environments — Steve Shelley’s A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting, Third Edition — informative, entertaining, and from a trusted source in the Lighting Industries.  Make sure to check the different book styles, you can get this in hard cover, paperback, and on the Kindle if you want
.  For me, at two bucks more for the paper book, I went paper book.




One of our industry’s few true Product Managers left, Brad Schiller’s book, The Automated Lighting Programmer’s Handbook, is a true testament to a career of experience, profile, and understanding. Read Brad’s book and understand what it is to live your life as a lighting designer, lighting programmer, and touring lighting ninja.





From Richard Cadena, one of our industry’s most prolific writers, Electricity for the Entertainment Electrician & Technician.  This is a book that, if you desire to get into this business as a technician, engineer, R+D scientist, student, lighting designer, or just that person who stands by the loading dock door and looks hard at people without credentials, this is the book to read.





Another awesome text from Richard Cadena
Automated Lighting: The Art and Science of Moving Light in Theatre, Live Performance, and Entertainment
continues to be the most trusted text for working and aspiring lighting professionals. The book is in its second edition, Richard keeps it fully updated to include new advances in lamp sources, like LEDs and plasma lamps, automated and programmable displays, updates for managing color, and new methods for using electronics.



Not having a Richard Pilbrow text is kind of like never having green vegetables — not only are you going to be full of shit, but you are also going to be missing out on vegetably-delicious-important-goodness.  Richard Pilbrow (or Ricky Pilbrizzle, as he is affectionately called) is one of the fathers of this industry, his work has been seen and experienced by so many over the years, and he has shaped this industry into something amazing.  I highly recommend getting this text.  Make sure to get Stage Lighting Design: The Art, the Craft, the Life from Richard Pilbrow, and his new book, A Theatre Project. Life changing stuff.



From W. Oren Parker, R. Craig Wolf, and Dick Block — another of my three favorite lighting texts in the University environment… Scene Design and Stage Lighting is a complete basic lighting design and collaboration text that pushes the message of communication among the areas of design and production.  Several book styles to choose from of course, including a Kindle edition of the Worlf/Parker/Block version.





Michael Gillette has several awesome texts out in the Entertainment market, this is yet another great classroom text, and a definite book to make room for in your personal Lighting library.  J. Michael Gillette’s book, Theatrical Design and Production: An Introduction to Scene Design and Construction, Lighting, Sound, Costume, and Makeup, is in its Sixth edition.  I have two editions myself…  one second, and one fifth.




An AWESOME text from lighting designer Kevin Lee Allen comes Vectorworks for Entertainment Design: Using Vectorworks to Design and Document Scenery, Lighting, and Sound, the Vectorworks text if you’re either teaching or learning in the University environment.  Kevin has a way with Vectorworks that only the giraffes understand out on the Savannah Plain…  so just go with it and get this book, especially if you’re not an AutoCAD-trained, lifetime CAD user.  Kevin will help you to learn.




A later edition of the text… Scene Design and Stage Lighting from Wolf and Block continues the work set forth in the earlier editions ofScene Design and Stage Lighting.  Well worth the read, and a definite candidate for long term spots on the bookshelf.






Another masterful bit of copy from Richard Cadena, Lighting Design for Modern Houses of Worship (Book) is the go-to text if you’re looking to improve your lighting skills in the House of Worship genre. Richard’s style of breaking things down into understandable, digestible pieces really adds to the reading experience… once you’re finished reading his texts, you realize that not only did you just learn something incredibly valuable, but you now want to read more about it. Richard’s good like that.



As far as great lighting references go, the IESNA Lighting Handbook might be one of the best references out there for a general lighting designer to have on the shelf.  There’s a funny thing about this though…  you’re gonna pay a few hundred dollars for this book; it’s an option to buy once you’re accepted into IESNA, which I was, and I took advantage of getting it at the reduced price.  Once you’re a member of IES though, you also get the compendium of papers and white materials that goes along with the industry at the time.  I still keep mine as handy as a crescent wrench, there are unbelievably awesome materials in this text.



For the Architectural Lighting minded folk among us out there…  a Jason Livingston text that is well worth the sixty bucks, Designing With Light: The Art, Science and Practice of Architectural Lighting Design.  I picked this book after a reference from LightFair last year, I highly recommend reading this little gem.





The third edition of Jim Moody’s absolutely incredible book, Concert Lighting: Techniques, Art and Business, only gets better after you’ve read the first and second editions.  Jim Moody is a concert industry father — a man who has done more in his days than most — and this book is a good, solid look into what many call the ultimate job.

I’m of course referring to concert industry work.  What were YOU talking about?!




That’s enough for this time…  please check back, and often!

What Do You Want in Light in 2013?


It’s an interesting question to ponder because it requires you to not only think about what you *think* you want light to do over the course of a year, but it requires you to know what it is you think you *thought* about light and imagine where it *should* go.  Right?  Right.


“What the f*ck is this guy talking about?!”
“I have no idea,” said someone.

It’s simple if you work with light; what is it you want to see from light this year?  Do you want to see something change in the industry?  Do you want to see something develop, like a new technology?  Or is it time for an old technology to get a new set of dentures?  For me, I want to see someone come out with a full-spectrum replacement light source for incandescent lamps.  Notice I did not say LED necessarily.  Also, I want to see the Entertainment Lighting Industry as a whole get behind PLASA, because I think that PLASA is the future of everything we will see blossom in what I call the brave new world of Entertainment Lighting.  I think it’s coming, and it’s just around the corner.  Will it be this year?  I tell ya, that would be pretty cool.  But who knows — as I see in software development pretty much all the time, it is amazing how quickly a technology you think you had mastered says “oh, I don’t think so, sailor” and shows you that you didn’t really have anything mastered at all, besides maybe your sleep schedule.

Richard Cadena, in his latest release of the Academy of Production Technology News, says that all he really wants in 2013 from the Lighting Industries is “an accident-free year in the live event production industry. After that, everything else is just gravy.”  I definitely agree.  “But it’s the gravy,” Richard writes, “and maybe some dessert, that make things interesting.”  Check out Richard’s whole post here, he’s hit the nail right sqwar on the head as is usual with his foresight.

Someone else who I shall keep nameless told me at a recent trade show:  “All I want to happen in 2013 is for the lighting companies to quit trying to f*ck each other out of money and just get along.  You don’t have to own the entire world, all it does is make those who could potentially improve our industry and give them absolutely no room to improve the way we do things.”

Do you agree?  What do you want to see happen in 2013 in Light?  Architectural light?  Medical light?  Fun light?  Naked light?

(Ooh, naked light sounds illuminating!)

Leave a comment below, we really want to know what your insights on light are for 2013!

Richard Cadena Needs Our Help to Help Someone in Need

I am kicking myself in the face about this one, which is a very interesting sight (because I’m wearing my Teva sandals).  I scheduled this post at LightFair last week, but I did something that made it not post.  I am rectifying that right now.

I posted last week about Richard Cadena’s South African student friend Titus.  Ogunyemi “Titus” Oladimeji (the audio student at SAE in Capetown, South Africa), needs help with a laptop, and Richard is having a fundraiser to raise some money to buy him a used laptop.  Richard is trying to raise $1500 bucks for this project by May 28.  I’m reaching out to the Community – can you help?

Check out the widget below – anything is appreciated!

A Laptop Donation Call – Help to A South African Student

I am very invested in the future of today’s students, especially in the business – today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders and industry changers.  We owe it to the world to invest ourselves in their future.  I just got an email from Richard Cadena about someone who needs a hand, and I thought I would send out a call and see if anyone happened to be in a  place to help someone else.

Richard’s young friend Titus in Cape Town, South Africa is in need of a Mac laptop for an audio course he’s taking in Cape Town.  If you happen to have a Mac laptop that you’re not using, ready to recycle, or donate, would you consider donating to our friend Titus?  Please send me an email through the contact form and I’ll get something moving.

If you need more motivation besides helping someone, you can take a tax deduction on donations, of course.

Hey, Richard Cadena Wrote A New Book!

Richard Cadena, Electricity for the Entertainment Electrician & Technician

Richard Cadena, Electricity for the Entertainment Electrician & Technician

Richard Cadena, editor of PLSN and a lighting designer, released a new book!  It’s not shipping yet, but it’s on pre-order.

Richard’s new book, Electricity for the Entertainment Electrician & Technician, is all about electricity and its principles for entertainment electricians.  The book is retailing for $44.95, and according to a few sites selling the book, is shipping some time in March 2009.

Richard has some other great books, in case you haven’t read them yet.  My personal favorite, Automated Lighting: The Art and Science of Moving Light in Theatre, Live Performance, Broadcast, and Entertainment, is a big hit and a great book.  He’s also written Lighting Design for Modern Houses of Worship, and constantly writes on PLSN.