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Technical Design Focus: What you need to know about scenic electrics design drawings

Scenic electrics refers to lighting that is installed and integrated within the scenic elements of a production or project. Scenic electrics are found at the intersection of the Lighting and Scenic designs. Scenic electrics used to be as classical as marquee chaser lights, but today's scenic and lighting designs utilize highly complex systems driven by technology that is constantly evolving. This has created a new discipline in the entertainment industry, as the needs of the electrics are requiring increased specialization to achieve.

This need for specialized treatment has given rise to the need for dedicated scenic electrics design drawings and specifications.

So, what information is needed to create a scenic electrics design?

First, there needs to be information from the design team. This information includes design drawings and a list of specifications or lighting treatments, usually created by the Lighting Designer, Scenic Designer, or both. On Broadway this information is contained in the Scenic Electrics Specification documentation. (We have a future JWD Deep Dive planned that is all about creating a Scenic Electrics Specification, I will link to that article once it is published).

Next, plans are created by the scenic fabricator which begin to outline the construction details of the scenery. These plans serve as the boiler plate for the scenic electrics design drawings.

With this information in hand, the Technical Design work for the electrics can begin.


Key components of scenic electrics design drawings

The exact requirements for included components will vary from project to project, but the following are present in the majority of work we produce.

Overview drawings

The purpose of these drawings is to communicate the big picture of the project. The lighting treatments and methods are described and an overall sense of the work at hand can be found with a quick review of the information. These drawings may also help to indicate where in the drawing set more detailed information can be found.

Layout drawings

These drawing plates begin to methodically depict the installation details in greater detail. Here you will find construction details, material specifications and detailed information about how lights and the wires attached to them move through the scenery. These drawings may also include close up detail views of certain complex sections of the design.

Riser diagrams

These drawings depict the wiring and control layout of the design in great detail. Risers are sometimes also called "one line" drawings because they depict the flow of electricity and data from starting point to ending point. Here you will find all the details needed to properly hook up the electrical and data wiring, presented in an easy to read format.

Control drawings

This type of drawing depicts the layout of control equipment as it will be installed on a board or in a cabinet. It is an invaluable reference for the technicians who are tasked with assembling the various components into a working system.


The finished product

Once the drawings are created and reviewed, the design package is ready to build. It's important to remember that this portion of the process is where the value of the design work will be realized.

Drawings are a communication tool - Scenic electrics design drawings provide your build team with all the information they need to complete the work on time and on budget. A properly designed plan will save time and money on both labor and materials, and the coordination and forethought that goes into the design will help to create a better product.

JWD is a leading expert in the field of scenic electrics design. We hope that this article has helped to deepen your understanding of the value and benefits a quality design can bring to every project.

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