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Labeling Electrical Lighting Equipment

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/16/2010

Here are some tips on how to label your electrical lighting equipment on a film production set.

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    Video Lighting Equipment

    Film production sets are much more electrically volatile than almost any other working situation. The lighting set up under direction of the gaffer is, on its own, a major source of electrical pull. Video equipment in general needs to be cared for and properly labeled, but electrical equipment used in film and digital video production needs an even more extensive and specific type of labeling.

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    Label Stingers

    The first thing you and the gaffer department needs to do is to make sure you label your stingers, or extension cords. The main reason for labeling these stingers is to make sure that everyone knows which cord is going to what light. There will be so many different lights being used on set and the likelihood is that all of them will be run from a stinger. Each stinger, and each light, will have to be spread out among all the available outlets so that you do not blow a fuse by drawing too much voltage. On each stinger label the proper name of the light and the wattage of that light so that you can know the total amount you are pulling off of that circuit. You should then analyze that circuit to see how much power is available and make sure that the stingers and lights plugged in there do not exceed that. Do this on all power cords, not just stingers. Do this even on cords that run directly from the light to the outlet.

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    If you are using an intermediary device you should also do a second set of labeling on your stingers and cords. If plugging into something like a lighting dimmer board you will want to indicate the channel number on the stinger.

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    Dimmer Board

    The number situation is going to be especially true when using a lighting grid, such as is found in a sound stage. Each light should be identified by a number with a label the gaffer, grips, and directors can see from the floor. Here you should label the outlet sources from the power boxes as well as the lights that are being plugged in to them so you have a clear map. You may want to do the same on a piece of paper so that you can look at it and see a clear atlas of your power grid. You should also be making sure that you properly label your dimmer board whenever you use it. You should label the lights above and then the dimmers that correspond to them so there are no questions when the gaffer is controlling the lights on your set. Dimmer boards are usually plugged into a studio interface separately and are not always built in. This means that you will have to change the labeling each time you use it.