Basics on AUDIO and VIDEO.

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What you need to know about HOME THEATER.

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Glossary of AUDIO TERMS.

Glossary of STAGE TERMS.


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Below are simple but important terms that you should know for working in this field. Where appropriate, common abbreviations are shown.  Many times you will find these abbreviations stenciled onto the road cases. Also, it is common for only the abbreviations to be used on stageplots.  With that in mind, it is important to also familiarize yourself with the common abbreviations.

Perhaps the simplest and most commonly used terms are stage left and stage right.  These terms are referring to the performer’s perspective as they are facing the audience. Standing on the stage and facing the audience the area on your left would be stage left.  Obviously, following form, the area to your right would be stage right.

Backline: This term refers to, and is interchangeable with, band gear. This includes guitar amps, drums, etc.. This refers to the items themselves and NOT an area of the stage.

Band Engineer (BE): The engineer that actually mixes the group.

Center Stage (CS or C): This one is self explanatory.

Crew Chief/Stage Manager: This person(s) will direct the load in, setup, set change, and load out to see that it all occurs in an orderly fashion.

Distro (PD): AC distribution center. Used for larger shows where the system needs more power than a few typical circuits can provide. Also called 'Power Distro'.

Downstage (DS): This would be the part of the stage closest to the audience. You would consider it the front of the stage.

Downstage Left (DSL): Would be downstage (front area of stage nearest the audience) and stage left.

Dressing Cables: Process of making cable runs neat and safer by taping them to the stage with Gaffer's tape.

Drumfill: Drummer's monitor. Can be a simple 'wedge' or can be a larger setup depending on the act's requirements.

Flown Speakers: Speakers that are suspended from overhead truss (or other means) rather than simply stacked near the stage.

Focus: Once the light show is hung and raised the LD may want to ‘aim’ the fixtures to cover certain parts of the stage. This is called the 'focus'.

Front of House (FOH): When this term is used referring to a position then it means the area where the house mixing console is (or will be) located for the show. This is also sometimes referred to as Mix World. When not used as a positional term it can be used such as- FOH Speakers, FOH console, FOH amps, etc . In those usages it is denoting items that are used for the ‘house’ PA (PA for audience sound and not performer’s monitor system).

Gaffer's Tape (Gaff): Professional tape used to 'dress cables'. While similar in appearance to duct tape, gaffer's tape leaves less residue behind, has a non reflective appearance, is easier to tear, and is by far the professional's choice.

Hit: Sometimes someone will ask something such as "When does the show hit?". 'Hit' would be the scheduled start time of the performance.

Loader(s): These are people who are assigned in the truck/trailer to be unloaded. They remove items from the truck and then others take it from there to the stage during load in.

LD: Lighting Director. Main lighting operator.

Monitor World (MON): This is the area, almost always offstage, where the monitor mixer is located. Also called 'Monitor Beach', 'Stage Mix Position'.

Off-stage: This refers to the area just off the main performing area of the stage.

Pin 1 Lift: This is an adaptor or balanced microphone cable where the shield is intentionally not connected on one end of the cable or adaptor. This is a much safer way to attempt to lessen or remove the noise noise caused by a ground loop. Lifting the AC ground is dangerous and NOT recommended.

Pusher(s): These people take the equipment from the 'loaders' and 'push' it to the stage area.

Set Change: This is the process of clearing the stage of the opening act's gear and preparing the stage for the headlining act.

Show-call: Anyone scheduled for 'show-call' will be doing work that must be done during the show.  (Note: Proper decorum generally dictates that anyone working show-call wear 'blacks'. That refers to black pants and a black shirt.)

Sidefills: Stage monitors placed on the side of the stage to supplement the individual monitors of the musicians.

Sound Wings: Separate risers on each side of the stage (or sometimes can be part of the main stage) where the speakers for the house are stacked. Sometimes the name is shortened to 'Wings'.

Spike the Stage: A term that means to mark the position of items that might or will be moved so that they can return to their original position during 'set change'.

Spot Bay: Area reserved for spotlight and operator. Can be a riser, scaffolding, or purpose built area. Also called 'Spot(light) tower'.

Spot Op/Spot Operator: Person whose assigned duty will be operating the followspot during the show.

Stacks: Term used to denote house speakers for the audience (FOH Stacks).

Stagehand(s): These workers await the equipment at the stage area and position it as the 'pushers' bring it to them. Also called 'Hands'.  (Note: 1. Loaders and Pushers may assume other duties once their initial roles are complete. 2. On load out the loaders will still be assigned to the truck/trailer but many times all other hands will tear down and then push their own ready work to the truck rather than having designated pushers for load out. This can vary so check with the Crew Chief.)

Stage Left (SL): Left side of the stage from the performer's perspective facing the audience.

Stage Plot: A stage plot is a 'map' of sorts showing you a rough layout of the stage.

Stage Right (SR): Right side of the stage from the performer's perspective facing the audience.

Strike: An item to be 'struck' is meant to be removed from the stage. You could be told "Strike the guitarist's vocal mic". In that case you are being told to remove the mic from the stage (or to skip it on the stage plot if before setup).

System Engineer (SE): The engineer whose job it is to see that the system is configured and operating properly.

Tech: Generally refers to anyone with a 'technical' knowledge of the system or a part of the system.

Upstage (US): This would be the part of the stage farthest from the audience. You would consider it the rear of the stage.

Wedge (MON): Common term indicating a stage monitor.

Other common stage position terms and abbreviations are:

  • Downstage Right (DSR)

  • Downstage Center (DSC)

  • Off-stage Left (OSL)

  • Off-stage Right (OSR)

  • Upstage Left (USL)

  • Upstage Right (USR)

  • Upstage Center (USC)

Note: The term 'backstage' does not apply to a position on the stage but rather refers to the area behind the stage (or sometimes beside the stage) that is used for dressing rooms, storage, production equipments, etc.. This area is not viewable by the audience.