Terms that Every Stage Lighting Student Should Know

Every profession has its own personalized jargon. These highly specialized terms may seem baffling to people who are outside of that profession, but to experts within those given fields they are an important tool for communicating effectively with others in that area of expertise. In the field of stage lighting, it is no different. It is incumbent upon lighting students to begin to master the specialized words and terms that are so essential to the craft. Here are some basic lighting terms that students and event lighting people should know.


    • ACN: Advanced Control Network. This is an Ethernet-based control protocol between control desk, dimmers & moving lights. It was developed by Strand Lighting, et al in 2003.
    • Backlight: This is a light that comes from upstage, behind scenery or actors. It helps to separate them from the background. Tip: Smoke, steam, and other Translucent work very well with backlighting.


  • Intelligent lights: These lights that can be controlled and programmed by sophisticated lighting software and hardware systems.
  • Non-Intelligent lights: These are basic, static light fixtures that move to music (as in rock concerts, etc.)
  • Vertical and Horizontal Truss: Vertical truss systems are hollow, steel columns that stand on either side of a stage’s floor and support lights. Horizontal truss columns usually rest above or below a stage allowing them to lay over or below it.
  • Digital dimmer: A digital dimmer responds directly to the multiplexed output of the lighting desk. This technology permits the dimmer to report faults and other data back to the control board.
  • Dimmer: This is an electronic or electric device that reduces a fixture’s brightness sometimes with a corresponding loss of color temperature. Optical dimmers maintain color temperature.
  • Dimmer Hookup: This is a spreadsheet that lists each fixture in a show with all its relevant information, including, color, template, accessories, dimmer, circuit, channel, wattage, and purpose.
  • DMX Terminator: This device regulates DMX fixtures when many fixtures are used on a single DMX line (Universe). Its function is to remove excess noise and flickering on the DMX Tx line.
  • GOBO (short for Graphical optical blackout): This is a physical stencil or template that is placed inside or in front of a light source, to control the shape of the emitted light.


Finally, knowledge of these specialized terms – and many others – will help you communicate better with lighting experts if you are outside of the field and help you communicate with peers if you are a lighting specialist.

The Psychology Color in Filmmaking

We all know that light affects mood and perception. During the shorter winter days when there is less sunshine and light, for example, people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is why light therapy is used as a treatment strategy for this disorder. But color also has a huge effect on our moods and our behavior. Advertisers, lighting experts, cinematographers, etc., have known this for some time. In fact, no lighting director worth his or her salt can get by without at least a passing knowledge of color psychology. Let’s explore the mystery of color psychology and how it is used to influence our emotions and behavior.


  • Red: The color red is a very powerful color. It has a tendency to be associated with passion, violence, love, danger, power and anger. Its effective use is demonstrated in Stanley Kubrick’s 2000px-RGB_color_wheel_72.svg2001: A Space Odyssey and it is used all throughout Sam Mendes’ American Beauty.
  • Pink: Pink is used with great effectiveness in the movies Frozen and Hairspray to denote innocence, sweetness, femininity, playfulness, empathy and beauty.
  • Orange: The color orange is perceived to mean warmth, sociability, friendly, happiness, exotic and youth. The color has a higher wavelength than yellow, for example, which is why it is used to draw the attention of viewers. It is used often in the movie Romeo and Juliet (dir. Braz Luhrhamm).
  • Yellow: The color yellow is often associated with madness, sickness, insecurity, obsessive, idyllic and the naive. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining effectively uses this color to illustrate Jack Nicholson’s obsessive behavior, especially in the “Here’s Johnny” scene.
  • Green: Nature, immaturity, corruption, ominous, darkness, and danger are all connected to this color. Wachowski brothers’ Matrix series is filmed predominantly using this color.
  • Blue: Blue is a favorite color used by director Tim Burton for many of his movies which have to do with the melancholy such as Corpse Bride. This color is connected with coldness, isolation, melancholy and calm.
  • Violet: This color is associated with fantasy, eroticism and the mystical. It is used to great effect all throughout key scenes in the movie Avatar.


Finally, armed with the basics of color psychology lighting directors, cinematographers have another tool to use in order to influence the mood and perceptions of their respective audiences. The wireless dimmers and other devices on our site also help in this effort.

The Advantages of Using Wireless Technologies

Businesses are always in a race to find and exploit any technology that will give them a competitive edge and that will also best serve their customers. For several decades, now the preeminent technology that businesses have used to accomplish this goal is wireless communications. In fact, wires and cables have almost become technological dinosaurs. Some businesses and individuals still cling on to wires and cables and these devices do have their function. However, more and more they are being usurped by emerging wireless technologies. At Ratpac Dimmers, we are all about innovation and technologies that give our customers the edge over their competition and that increases the public’s appreciation and enjoyment of our products. For those few people who are not convinced of the virtues of wireless technologies – such as our wireless DMX control which uses Lumen Radio’s CRMX – here are just some of the advantages wireless tech offers.


  • Greater mobility: The elimination or reduction of wires means that equipment can be more easily moved from one area to another. This gives lighting designers, stage directors, etc., greater flexibility in the placement of technical equipment. Moreover, wireless systems can be more easily assembled and disassembled than wired setups.
  • Safer working environment: Fewer wires means that the number of trip accidents can be diminished which increases workplace safety.
  • Greater flexibility: It’s easier and quicker to add other components to wireless systems than it is with wired systems.
  • Greater reach: Wireless equipment can be connected in areas that would be difficult for wired networks. For example, many entertainment venues often have aesthetic styling considerations, which would make the presence of wires and cables impractical.
  • Lower cost: Wireless systems are often less expensive than wired systems since wires and cables are purchased on a perfoot cost. Moreover, wireless systems reduce the cost of installation and the time needed for re-routing and wire maintenance.
  • Greater scalability: The reach of wireless networks can be expanded more easily than a wired system. Moreover, this greater scalability means fewer workers are required for set up and installation.Wireless Dimmer


Yes, the advantages of wireless devices are obvious and explain why they have all but replaced wires and cables in many areas of business. The entertainment industry is just one of the many areas that benefit from this technology. Wireless makes life easier for technicians, artists and the public in general.