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Category: Lighting Lingo

DMX Splitter/Opto Splitter

DMX Splitter/Opto Splitter – A device that takes the signal from one DMX cable and splits it into multiple outputs. Tech-Head note: Although most lighting instruments have a DMX input and a loop out to go to the next instrument, many lighting designers will only group so many instruments together that way. If there is a failure in a cable or light in the chain it can affect every light that is cabled together.

The AV Logistics Checklist

Here it is – the down and dirty, no-frills check list for dealing with AV logistics for your event.

Contactsevent planning

Have a list of those people you will be dealing with on site and have their phone numbers. Make sure those people know how to contact you or those working for you. Also, make it clear to everyone involved who is in charge and who has authority over what.


Make sure your audio visual provider has a detailed schedule, including start and end times of each session, times when door are open for the audience, rehearsals and walk-throughs, meetings, and any other times that AV crew or equipment will be needed. Also helpful are schedules of other vendors or crews that might cause any conflicts.

Load In and Load Out

Conditions for loading in and out are important, especially when it comes to dock space and traffic. Too many companies on the dock at one time is a recipe for chaos. Also, room availability, amount of time required for set-up and strike, and the availability of in-house personnel such as electricians and technical people are important considerations in event planning.

Room Dimensions & Details

Make sure the room where your event is going to be held is big enough for the attendees AND all the equipment. AV equipment takes up space, not just on the floor but in the air as well. Make sure you account for ceiling obstructions such as chandeliers, ceiling coves, air ducts, and so on. How and where the audience is seated will also make a difference in what kind of AV equipment should be used.


Check to see if arrangements have been made for needed power drops and electrical service, keeping in mind that they are rarely free.


Now days many presenters need access to the internet for their presentations. You should plan on proving a wired internet connection with a QOS (quality of service) setting. Also, internet is rarely free.

Facility Requirements

Many facilities and venues have special requirements, such a putting covering over carpets, use of hallways and elevators, or hiring security personnel. Ask a venue specifically if they have any such requirements and get them in writing. Facilities often have a packet listing all of the rules and requirements.

Union Requirements

Find out if your event is in a union contracted facility. If so, take time to know the rules and budget accordingly

Speaker and Talent Requirements

Ask talent and presenters for their needs and requirements well in advance. This may include things such as internet accessibility, specific types of microphones to use, someone to operate a PowerPoint presentation, and so on. Oh, and pass that information along to your audio visual provider. If you have talent that has a rider (the part of their contract that lists their technical requirements) make sure you send a copy to your audio visual team.

Changes & Add-Ons

Changes and add-ons are inevitable. Keep a detailed record and, if possible, get sign-off when it comes to changes. Confusion later just costs money and causes headaches.

Contract & Payment

This may sound trivial, but make sure you have a contract, that you know what the payment terms are, and that you understand what is included and what is NOT included. Ask questions and get answers BEFORE your event or production begins.

Follow Spot

Follow Spot – A powerful lighting instrument that is mounted on a stand and can be pointed in any direction by an operator to “follow” a person or object. Follow spots can be focused to have a sharp edge, or unfocused to have a soft edge. The beam of light can also be made smaller or larger (to a certain degree) and most follow spots have several color filters to change color.


Gel – A colored, transparent material used to change the color of light coming from lighting instruments. The gel is like a thin sheet of plastic that is held by a gel frame and placed in front of the lens of a lighting instrument. Most lighting instruments have a slot to hold gel frames. In addition to color, gel can also be used to diffuse light (make it softer), or change the intensity of the light.


PAR Can – A lighting instrument that actually looks a lot like a can and has a PAR lamp (a specific kind of lamp, much like a round car headlight) mounted inside. PAR lamps come in 3 varieties: wide, medium, and narrow which indicate how wide the light beam is. The actual “can” is what houses the lamp and has all the mounting hardware, power cord, and gel holders. PAR cans may be used for a general stage wash, or for effects and color washes. Tech-head note: PAR actually stands for Parabolic Aluminized Reflector and is used to describe the actual lamp which is round, has an aluminum reflector, and a glass cover, very much like a traffic light.


DMX – A digital communication protocol used mainly in lighting that allows different pieces of lighting gear, controllers, and effects to talk to each other. Tech-Head Note: DMX, also called DMX512, uses 512 pieces (or channels) of information. Dimmers, moving lights, and effects units (like fog machines) use different amounts of DMX channels. For example, a moving light might use 12 channels: a channel to control intensity, another for movement in one direction, yet another for color, one for patterns, and so on. A lighting tech will have to program that light and tell it which channels (out of 512) it will respond to. A show with a lot of lighting will quickly run out of DMX channels, so additional sets of DMX channels called “universes” will be needed. Each universe has 512 channels. Professional lighting controllers usually have multiple universes.