Associate & Assistant Skills for Professional Projects

photograph of "Billy Eliot" Lighting by Craig Stelzenmuller


Working as an associate or assistant on large-scale projects has become a viable career option. This course will examine the associate and assistant role in a large-scale Commercial (Broadway) production. You will also gain skills that can be applied in other areas of lighting careers.

As with ALL Studio School of Design ONLINE Courses, each session will be videotaped and shared with participants for a limited time in case you can not attend a specific session. 

Studio School Courses are open to participants from around the world. 

Eight (8) 2-hour sessions meeting online on Mondays (except May 28), 6 pm – 8 pm (EDT) (2200-0000 UTC).

This course is designed for early and mid-career professionals

Price: $600 ONLINE, Early Bird Special: only $500 if you register before April 1, 2024.
Program Facilitator(s):

Craig Stelzenmuller and Guests

Photo: “Billy Elliot” Scenic Design by Campbell Baird and Robert Andrew Kovach; Costume Design by Dustin Cross; Lighting Design by Craig Stelzenmuller. Pictured: Sam Faulkner Photo by Curtis Brown. Production at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, North Carolina Theater.

More Information:

Technology or equipment needs for your own computer to be installed prior to the first class You don’t need to be an expert in all of these platforms!

  1. Vectorworks 2024 (Educational Version is ok!)
  2. Lightwright 6 (Educational Version is ok!)
  3. Microsoft Word & Excel
  4. Filemaker 18 – 30-Day Trial – (Do not start trial until first Session!)
  5. Moving Light Assistant – Free Reader
  6. VLC Player or other way to view MP4 video files
  7. ETC EOS Family v3 offline software (available from

Class 1: Monday, May 6: 6 pm-8 pm (EDT) UTC 2200-0000: What is an Associate?  Getting started

After introducing ourselves, we begin with an overview of contracts and negotiating. Then we discuss the first meeting with the LD and hear about the show and some of the initial design ideas. How do you begin to work with the scenic designs to create a drawing that the LD can use to layout the show? How do we begin to list and organize the Scenic Electrics? What sort of specifications will the scene shop require and when do they need them?


  • Introductions
  • Dropbox Organization
  • The job of the Assistant vs. Associate
  • Contracts, Weeks Proposals, Riders, Negotiating
  • First meeting with the Lighting and Scenic Designer
  • Real Estate and Position Drawings for LD to layout the show (Project)
  • Set Electrics Specifications (Project)

Class 2: Monday, May 13, 6 pm-8 pm (EDT) UTC 2200-0000: The Site Survey and Scenic Bid Session

This session will begin with preparing for a visit to the theatre space and how best to utilize the often times limited access. Do we have enough information to begin a light plot? A second meeting with the LD will provide more information that should allow us to make a preliminary light plot. Meanwhile, the scenic bid session will be taking place and the ALD will be tasked with reviewing the scenic electric specifications with the production managers and the scene shops. Did we provide the scene shops with enough information so they can accurately price our ideas? 


  • The Site Survey 

  • Compile a Lighting Ideas List (In Class Activity) 

  • Drawing the Light Plot 

  • Review LD’s Rough Layout (Project) 

  • Scenic Bid Session

Class 3: Monday, May 20, 6 pm-8 pm (EDT) UTC 2200-0000: Shop Orders and LightWright

Now that we have a light plot well underway, the next task is to see if the production can afford the equipment! We will take an in-depth look at creating a professional shop order. It’s also time to get the Production Electrician involved to sort out the details and make sure the equipment list covers all the things we didn’t think about. As is often the case, we are a little over budget, so cuts will have to get made. We will get firsthand experience in the heartbreaking reality of cutting down a show and hopefully find ways to make it less painful next time!


  • Review Preliminary Light Plot
  • Creating Lightwright using Data Exchange (Tutorial Video)
  • Organizing Lightwright
  • Create a Shop Order (In Class Activity)
  • Making Cuts (In Class Activity)
  • Communicating Revisions to the Shop and Electricians

Class 4: SPECIAL THIS WEEK: TUESDAY, MAY 28, 6 pm-8 pm (EDT) UTC 2200-0000: Set LX Drawings & Final Prep 

The pre-production process continues at pace as we take on the task of creating set electrics drawings that detail the integrated equipment and layout of circuits. What else do we need to accomplish before load-in begins? Now that we have an approved bid from the shop, we can channel the show and get final color & gobo choices from the LD. Do we need to design custom gobos or make construction drawings for custom lighting positions? It also may help other team members to begin making magic sheets or a moving light layout.


  • Set LX Drawings
  • Channeling Considerations
  • Incorporating Color & Gobo Information
  • Paper Magic Sheets

Class 5: Monday, June 3, 6 pm-8 pm (EDT) UTC 2200-0000Followspots: Cueing, Calling, and Documentation 

The job of tracking and calling followspots for musicals is often given to the assistant and can be someone’s first experience working with a design team. It can also be one of the hardest jobs for a lighting designer of any age. How do we organize, call, and create paperwork for new productions that may be getting rewritten daily, or for touring productions which have new operators every week? We will practice creating spot cue sheets after a tutorial of the FileMaker database “Spot On” and talk about the new technology of using remote control moving lights as spots. 


  • Job of Tracking and Calling Followspots
  • Creating Followspot Paperwork (CLASS ACTIVITY)
  • Spots for Tours and other large productions
  • Remote Lamp & Moving Light
  • Multi Language Spot Sheets 

Class 6: Monday, June 10, 6 pm-8 pm (EDT) UTC 2200-0000: Focus Charts, ML Focus, and ML Documentation 

Load-in is underway! How do we occupy our time in the theater and what are some things to watch out for? What needs to be prepared in order to focus the show? We will look at what goes into a productive and well documented focus call. The programmer is also beginning to work on focusing moving lights. What do we need to consider to maintain and document a large moving light show? We will get some hands-on training with Moving Light Assistant software and hear from a programmer about how they work with the designers to document a show on broadway and on tour.


  • Brief Load-in Discussion
  • Review Set LX Drawings
  • How to prepare for and conduct a Focus Call
  • Creating Focus Charts
  • Pre-Dry Tech ML Focus
  • How to prepare for and conduct a ML Documentation Call
  • Moving Light Assistant Software
  • ML Focus for Tours

Class 7: Monday, June 17, 6 pm-8 pm (EDT) UTC 2200-0000: Care and feeding of the LD and Lighting Team

Before the cast gets onstage, there is typically a few days of dry tech where the team first sits down at the tech tables together. This class session explores setting up the tech table workspace so information can be accessed readily, including magic sheets (both paper and digital). We will look at the technology involved in rehearsal video recording and playback systems, as well as brainstorm how ETC’s Augment3D and other visualizers can be incorporated into our workflows. What does this part of the process look like in other arenas of live entertainment?


  • Dry Tech
  • Organizing the Workspace
  • Review Paper Magic Sheets
  • Console Prep
  • 3D / Augment3D
  • EOS Magic Sheets

Class 8: Monday, June 24, 6 pm-8 pm (EDT) UTC 2200-0000: Managing tech, previews, and getting to opening night

The tech and preview periods can involve long hours and pressure as opening night approaches. Developing robust organizational habits for tracking details and distributing notes can allow the ALD to focus on the design process and self-care. What responsibilities are involved in archiving the lighting design so it can be maintained and replicated later? 


  • Tech 
  • Cue Synopsis
  • Taking and Giving Notes
  • Digital Archive, As Built Documents

This course, and especially Scholarship Support, has been made possible by donations from generous supporters of the Studio School of Design. Please become a supporter today to help us continue to achieve our community’s mission to make our profession stronger through knowledge, access and belonging.

Register HERE - Only one slot left

Program Facilitator(s)

photograph of Craig Stelzenmuller

Craig Stelzenmuller

Advisory Board. Facilitator.