Glossary – By Letter

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A TYPE
See JACK.

A-D CONVERTER
Short for Analogue / Analog to Digital Converter. Changes a continuously varying electrical signal into a stream of binary data. Found in computer soundcards, Minidisk & CD Recorders etc..

A.J. / AJ
n. Jargon for an Adjustable Spanner. (UK) Known in the US as a C Wrench (short for Crescent Wrench).

A.L.D. / ALD
Association of Lighting Designers.(UK)
ALD Website

A1
Lighting Industry Forum code which identifies the (original) recommended usage of different lamp types. A1 coded lamps are for use in projection. See also CP, T, P2, K.

AB
A technique used to record in stereo. Two (identical) microphones are placed next to each other, parallel to each other, and pointing in the same direction. As you're looking at the action, the one on the left is panned hard left on the mixer and the one on the right is panned hard right. There are some problems with this technique, such as reflections off each microphone, leading to comb filtering and also a narrow coverage. Some sound techs try to overcome the coverage problem by spacing out the microphones, although this can lead to 'muddy' sounds due to delays. See COMB FILTERING and XY.

AB POWERING
See PHANTOM POWER.

ABO
Association of British Orchestras.
ABO website

ABOVE
An actor move upstage (e.g. Clive moves above the chair).

ABSORPTION
The ability of a surface to absorp sound. The absorption coefficient of a material is a figure between 0 and 1, representing its degree of absorption.

ABTT
The Association of British Theatre Technicians, which was formed in 1961 as a charity, to provide a forum for discussion among theatre technicians, architects and managers of all disciplines, and disseminate information of a technical nature, to all its members.
ABTT Website

AC
Short for ALTERNATING CURRENT.

ACAPELLA
A sung performance which is not accompanied by musicians. (From the Italian A CAPELLA, meaning 'as in the chapel')

ACETONE
A flammable solvent used in some prop/costume-making processes. Used by make-up artists to remove skin adhesive from the netting of wigs and moustaches by immersing the item in an acetone bath, then removing the softened glue residue with a stiff brush. Also one of the primary components of some nail polish removers.

ACL / A.C.L.
Acronym for AirCraft Landing Light. See AERO.

ACN
Advanced Control Network. A new (2003) ethernet-based control protocol between control desk, dimmers & moving lights. Developed by ESTA and Strand Lighting. DMX nodes are used to communicate with non-ethernet devices.

ACN
Advanced Control Network. A new (2003) ethernet-based control protocol between control desk, dimmers & moving lights. Developed by ESTA and Strand Lighting. DMX nodes are used to communicate with non-ethernet devices.

ACOUSTIC PICK-UP
See PICK UP

ACOUSTICS
The behaviour of sound and its study. The acoustic of a room depends on its size and shape and the amount and position of sound-absorbing and reflecting material.

ACT
1) Subdivision between sections of a play. A short play is a 'One-Act-er', a play with one interval has two Acts etc. Acts are subdivided further into Scenes. 
2) The thing Actors can do which makes them different from Techies (!!).

ACT CHANGE
A change of either scenery, lighting, costume, props or other technical elements between acts of a play or musical. Theatres with little backstage space may have to reconfigure scenery stored offstage during the interval so that the next act runs smoothly.

ACT DROP
Victorian stretched framed and painted canvas. Used as a visual stimulation during scene changes, and to indicate that there was more to come (the end being indicated by the HOUSE TABS). There are believed to be only two operational today - an original one at Gaiety Theatre, Isle Of Man, and a 1996 reproduction at Her Majesty's Theatre, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.
Term now used to refer to any front cloth or tabs lowered during intervals. Especially pantomime / musicals. 
In ballet, the act drop permitted pre-interval curtain calls to take place. 
Gaiety Theatre
Her Majesty's Theatre

ACTING AREA
That area within the performance space within which the actor may move in full view of the audience. Also known as the playing area
This term is also used to describe the smaller subdivisions of the main stage area which are lit separately by the lighting designer (e.g. 'The stage is split into 6 acting areas, 3 downstage and 3 upstage').
(Also the name of an early Strand down-lighting floodlight - known as 'Ack Ack').

ACTING EDITION
Published copy of a script containing notes for the actor and technicians, often credited to the design team of the premiere production not necessarily the playwright.

ACTION PROP
A hand-held practical prop used by an actor for combat or for a specific purpose.

ACTION VEHICLE
A car / van / bus / other vehicle that takes part in a stunt during a film / TV shoot. See also PICTURE CAR.

ACTIVE
In electronics (particularly audio), an 'active' circuit operates with an external power supply and is usually low power, while a 'passive' circuit operates directly on the signal using the inherent power of the surrounding circuitry.
This is why an active crossover is usually placed before the amplifiers, with integrated circuits and line level signal processing (100 Ohms impedance or greater), while a passive crossover acts after the amplifiers where the power level is much greater (16 Ohms impedance or less). Amp to speaker level is generally between 2 and 16 Ohms, while preamplifier electronics are generally 100 to 100K Ohms.
Submitted by Bruce Trotter

ACTOR
Person (male or female) whose role is to play a character other than his/her own. Although the term 'actress' is sometimes still used for a female actor, many women prefer to have the same title as the men.

AD LIB
From Latin Ad libitum meaning "at one's pleasure".
The presence of mind by an actor to improvise when;
1) another actor fails to enter on cue
2) the normal progress of the play is disturbed
3) lines are forgotten
4) It may also be a bad habit developed by some actors whereby unnecessary "gags" are introduced into the dialogue.

In the past, any business or words that were not in the scripted act 'as known' would be seen as a breach of contract by some No.1 Managements. 

ADAM
See DIGITAL RECORDING.


ADAPTOR
1) Connector which allows two or more electrical devices to be connected to a single power outlet. The connection is normally parallel, that is, each device is fed the same voltage, but the current is divided between them. Sometimes known as a 'Twofer'. A three-way splitter is known as a 'Threefer'. A Series splitter is also available where a voltage is shared equally between two loads.
2) Also an ADAPTOR can be the same as a JUMPER.
See SERIES SPLITTER, JUMPER and GRELCO.

ADAT
See DIGITAL RECORDING.

ADB
(Manufacturer) Belgian manufacturer of lanterns, control desks and dimming equipment. Named after the initials of it's founder, Adrian de Backer.
ADB website

ADB 62.5
Near-obsolete digital lighting control protocol developed by ADB. Uses a 5 pin XLR connector but is NOT compatible with DMX512

ADDITIVE COLOUR MIXING
See COLOUR MIXING.

ADDRESS*
Each item of equipment controlled by DMX512 has an address, which is the first DMX control channel to which it will respond. For example, in a situation where you have three 6-way dimmer racks, the first should be addressed to 1, the second to 7 and the third to 13.

ADJUSTABLE SPANNER
See A.J.

ADN
Advanced Dimmer Network. Networking protocol developed by ADB.
ADB website

ADR
Stands for Automated Dialogue Replacement. Also known as "looping" this is the post-production process on a film / TV shoot where actors re-record their lines after original filming, either because the original production sound was not up to standard or due to external factors (aircraft noise in a period piece) which weren't noticed at the time of filming.

ADVANCE BAR
Lighting bar positioned just downstage of the proscenium arch. Also known as ANTI PROSCENIUM.

AEOLIPHONE
More commonly known as a wind machine, this is a specialist musical instrument / sound effects generator used to produce the sound of a gusty wind.
Video

AERIAL
Cable or rod used to send and receive radio signals (connected to transmitter and receiver or tuner).

AERIAL GOBO
A gobo projected from a moving light or profile which is focussed into the air above the stage or audience, in order to add atmosphere and dimensional texture through smoke or haze in the venue.

AERO
A type of high intensity Par lamp that derives its name from its use as an aircraft landing lamp. The true Aero is 28V and 250W, although there are many variations. The lamp has a very tight beam.

AES/EBU
Audio Engineering Society / European Broadcast Union. Digital audio transfer standard, similar to S/PDIF. Uses 3 pin XLR connectors.
What is AES/EBU

AESTHETIC DISTANCE
Aesthetic distance refers to the gap between an audience member's conscious reality and the fictional reality presented on stage. If the audience member becomes fully engrossed in the illusory narrative world of the drama, the director has achieved a close aesthetic distance. If the director then jars the audience member from the reality of the story, essentially reminding them they are watching a play, the director is said to have "violated the aesthetic distance."

AETTI
Arts & Entertainment Technical Training Initiative (UK).

AGC
Automatic Gain Control. Circuitry within recording equipment which compensates for differences in volume in the incoming sound signal by adjusting the gain automatically. Helps to reduce wild swings in volume.

AGITPROP
The original sense of agitprop was "agitation and propaganda on behalf of Communism", or "a government agency or department responsible for agitation and propaganda". The main current sense of the word is simply "propaganda, especially socially or politically motivated propaganda appearing in literary works, films, etc."; though the word often refers to political propaganda, it is not restricted to communist doctrine.
The word agitprop is first found in English sources in the mid 1930s.
From the Random House Word of the Day website.

AISLE
A passage through seating.

ALGINATE
An organic polymer which is a viscous gum found in the cell walls of brown algae. The commercial variety is extracted from seaweed. Supplied as a powder, when mixed with water it becomes a fast-setting mould-making material which is used to make casts of body parts or delicate prop items. The resulting mould is very detailed and strong. Dental alginate is used to make casts of teeth and gums. Take care to store the powder in an air-tight container as it's very absorbant and will 'go off' very rapidly if left open to the air.

ALPHAPACK
(Trade Name) Portable 3 way dimmer pack manufactured by Zero 88.
Zero 88 website

ALTERNATE
Alternative name for an Understudy who is hired to understudy a main role but also contracted to play that role in certain performances. See also STANDBY, SWING, UNDERSTUDY.

ALTERNATING CURRENT*
An electric current that reverses direction in a circuit at regular intervals. Abbreviated to AC. UK mains electricity is AC and changes direction 50 times per second (that is, the frequency is 50Hz).
See also DIRECT CURRENT.

AMATEUR
Member of a theatre company which is not professional.

AMBIENT LIGHT
The light in a venue with no stage-lighting sources switched on. Background light.

AMBIENT NOISE
The sound heard in a given room with no sound sources. Each space has a particular sound which aids our identification of the kind of space we're in.

AMDRAM
Short for Amateur Dramatics.

AMP
Abbreviation for ;
1) AMPERE
2) AMPLIFIER

AMPERE
The standard unit for measurement of electrical current passing through a circuit (usually abbreviated to AMP). Written as 'I' in equations. Cables, fuses and switches are designated by their current carrying capacity. (Following phrase refers to UK standards). Square pin plugs are rated at 13 Amps maximum and Round pin plugs at either 5 Amps or 15 Amps maximum, depending on the size of the pins. If a cable rated at 5 Amps is used with a load of 15 Amps (for example), the cable will overheat and possibly catch fire.

AMPHITHEATRE
Circular or oval open-air theatre with a large raked seating area (often semi-circular) sloping down to the stage. Originates from ancient Rome where vast amphitheatres were built for spectator sports and games.

AMPLIFIER
Sound equipment that amplifies/boosts the low voltage, low current signal from a CD player, mixing desk etc. into a higher current signal suitable for driving speakers.
As a general rule, each speaker in a sound system requires a separate amplifier. Each amplifier unit usually contains two amplifiers (for the two stereo components (left and right) of the sound signal), so with a single amplifier box, you can drive two speakers.
See POWER AMPLIFIER, CROSSOVER.

AMPLITUDE
The strength of a vibrating wave; in sound, the loudness of the sound.

AMX
Powerful programming language with allows you to control a wide range of audio-visual equipment using simple interfaces (push buttons or touch screen). Widely used in complex audio-visual installations.
AMX website

AMX-192
See MULTIPLEXED SIGNAL.

ANAGNORISIS
Anagnorisis is a moment in a play or other work when a character makes a critical discovery.

ANALOGUE SIGNAL
A continuously variable signal that can have any value over a given range.
1) In lighting: an analogue voltage within the range 0 to 10 Volts can have values of 0, 2, 8.785 or any value between. Most dimmers require an analogue voltage in order to operate (from 0 to -10V or 0 to +10V depending on the manufacturer). Most lighting control desks produce a digital multiplexed output, which is converted by a demux box to an analogue signal for the dimmer. See also Digital dimmer.
2) Sound: An analogue recording will record the exact waveform of the original sound, simply converting it to an electrical signal at the microphone, and back into air movement at the speaker. See DIGITAL.

ANGEL
One who privately finances a production, usually often with several other backers; their identity is traditionally kept private. May be an individual or a company. 

ANGSTROM
Unit of measurement of length (e.g. for wavelengths of light). 1 Angstrom is equal to one ten billionth (1 x 10-10) of a metre. The unit is named after the Swedish physicist Anders J. ?ngstr?m.
See WAVELENGTH.

ANILINE DYE
A type of deep penetrating natural dye originally made from coal tar. Water-based or alcohol-based dyes are available. As the product will stain anything it comes into contact with, protective gloves and eye protection should be used.


ANIMATEUR
(From French) Facilitator of a community, education or group event (social, cultural or artistic). The Animateur may be a group leader, or may have initiated a project. She or he is responsible for running the event.

ANIMATION DISC
See EFFECTS.

ANIMATRONIC
Originally Audio-Animatronic™, this term describes a robotic figure, particularly in a theme park environment or on a movie set, which is able to repeat a limited range of pre-programmed functions, typically in synchronisation with a pre-recorded soundtrack. The term now describes a character controlled either electronically by radio remote control, or by cable/lever controls.

ANSI / A.N.S.I.
American National Standards Institute. Three letter ANSI codes are used in the US to identify lamps.
ANSI website

ANTAGONIST
The opposite of the PROTAGONIST in a drama.

ANTI PROSCENIUM
Originally Ante Proscenium, meaning in front of the proscenium.
See ADVANCE BAR.

ANTI RAKE
The act of modifying furniture or props by shortening the upstage legs etc. so that they can stand level on a raked stage. Known as COUNTER RAKE in the US. See also Raked Stage.

APOLLO DESIGN TECHNOLOGY
(Manufacturer) US-based manufacturer of gel, gobos, effects and scrollers.
Apollo Design Technology Inc. website

APPLAUSE
Applause (Latin applaudere, to strike upon, clap) is primarily the expression of approval by the act of clapping, or striking the palms of the hands together, in order to create noise. Audiences usually applaud after a performance, such as a musical concert, speech, play or a performance to mark the sign of enjoyment and approval. Audience members clap their hands at random to produce a constant noise; however, it tends to synchronize naturally to a weak degree. As a form of mass nonverbal communication, it is a simple indicator of the average relative opinion of the entire group; the louder and longer the noise, the stronger the sign of approval. (from Wikipedia)

APPLE BOX
A small wooden box used as a temporary step or to lift an item (or actor) up to make it visible. Named after the standard-sized fruit packing crate. Used in the motion picture industry.

APRON STAGE
The Apron is a section of the stage floor which projects towards or into the auditorium. In proscenium theatres, the part of the stage in front of the house tabs, or in front of the proscenium arch, above the orchestra pit. Also known as Forestage. German: vorbühne (literally, forestage). 
In a 'Prosc Arch' theatre the additional stage area usually results in some of the seats, particularly in the Upper Circle having an impaired view, resulting in 'the domino effect' when patrons have to lean forward, to see someone on the apron. When designing a theatre, the sightlines were not geared to serving an actor forward of the footlights.

ARBOR
US equivalent of CRADLE in a counterweight flying system.

ARC LIGHT
See DISCHARGE LAMP.

ARCHITECTURAL LAMP
A type of linear filament lamp with contacts at 90 degrees to the filament which can gives the appearance of a continuous line of light (similar to neon, but dimmable).

ARCLINE
(Trade Name) A coloured plastic tube containing a number of small strobe units which, when triggered, flash in sequence down the tube. Many tubes can be connected together.

ARENA
Form of stage where the audience are seated on at least two (normally three, or all four) sides of the whole acting area.
See END ON, THRUST, IN THE ROUND.

ARIA
A solo performance in an opera used to highlight the emotional state of the main character(s).

ARMOURY
The Department in a large producing theatre which deals with the maintenance and storage of prop weapons.

ARRAY
A set of loudspeakers flown in a performance space. See also CLUSTER.

ARRI
(Manufacturer) German/US manufacturer of film lighting and cameras (Arriflex). Founded in 1917. Previously, Arri made a range of lighting desks (including Imagine, Impulse, Mirage, Microlux) which were early versions of desks now produced by ETC. ETC took over the lighting control side of Arri in 1995.
ARRI website

ART-NET
Ethernet-based lighting control protocol, developed by Artistic Licence. ArtNet can carry up to 256 DMX512 universes on the ethernet saving on cable runs. With the development of wireless networking the possibilities are endless.
Art Net website

ARTIC
Short for Articulated Lorry. Lorries of 40 feet length (or more) are used to transport sets, costume, props and sound & lighting equipment from venue to venue. A number of companies specialise in moving theatrical and musical tours around the country / world.

ARTISAN
(Trade Name) Moving light control console made by Vari*Lite.
Vari*Lite Website

ASCAP
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is a not-for-profit performance rights organisation that protects its members' musical copyrights by monitoring public performances of their music, whether via a broadcast or live performance, and compensating them accordingly.
ASCAP website

ASIDE
Lines spoken by an actor to the audience and not supposed to be overheard by other characters on-stage.

ASM
Assistant Stage Manager.

ASPECT RATIO
A ratio which defines the relationship between the height and width of a movie frame.
The Academy ratio is 1:1.375 (i.e. if the height of the image is 1 unit, the width will be 1.375 units).
Silent movies were shot in 1:1.33.
Cinemascope is 1:2.35.
A traditional TV picture is known as 4:3 (width:height, which can be expressed as 1.33:1). A widescreen TV is 16:9. (or 1.77:1)

ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER
Usually shortened to ASM, the assistant stage manager is the most junior member of the Stage Management team, and is often in charge of sourcing and running Properties during the run of a show. She or he is also a member of the stage 'crew'. See also STAGE MANAGER and DSM.

Association of Sound Designers
UK & international organisation representing the interests of sound designers and technicians.
Association of Sound Designers website

ATAEA / A.T.A.E.A.
Australian Theatrical and Amusement Employees Association. Union for Australian theatre technicians, now part of MEAA. See BECTU and IATSE for the UK and US equivalents.

ATMOSPHERE
The normal background sound at any location.

ATTENUATE
To reduce the intensity of a sound signal. This is what the 'PAD' switch does on a sound desk.

ATTRIBUTES
The controllable parameters of a moving light are known as the ATTRIBUTES. All moving lights will have pan & tilt, with many having colour wheels, gobo selection, gobo rotation etc. as additional attributes.

AUDITION
Process where the director or casting director of a production asks actors / actresses / performers to show him/her what they can do. Sometimes very nerve-wracking, but auditions can be a fairly painless process if handled properly. Performers are often asked to memorise a monologue from a play they like to perform for the director. Books full of suggested monologues are available. You may be asked to do a 'Cold Reading' which tests your own response to a piece of text you've not prepared.

AUDITORIUM
The part of the theatre accommodating the audience during the performance. Sometimes known as the "house". From the Latin Audio - "I hear".

AUGMENTED REALITY
Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.

AUTOCAD
Industry-standard CAD program for architects and designers. WYSIWYG contains a cut-down version of Autocad, along with visualisation tools.

AUTOMATED FIXTURE
See MOVING LIGHT.

AUTOMATIC STOP
Many reel-to-reel tape players for theatrical use have a facility that stops the tape mechanism when a piece of clear leader passes a detector adjacent to the erase head. This can be used to cue the tape up ready to start the next effect.

AUTOMATION
1) Facility available on larger sound mixing desks allowing channel muting or even fader moves to be taken under the control of a computer to ensure accurate and repeatable mixing.
2) Describes the method used instead of stage crew for moving bits of set around shows with a big budget. See MOUSE, SPADE.

AUXILIARY INPUT or RETURN
A route back into the sound desk for a line level signal sent to a piece of outboard equipment (usually effects processor / EQ unit etc.) via an auxiliary send.

AUXILIARY OUTPUT or SEND
An additional line level output from a sound desk which can be used for foldback or monitoring without tying up the main outputs. Each input channel will have a path to the Aux buss. Also used for feeding a signal to an effects processor. See Auxiliary Return.

AV
Short for Audio-Visual, referring to projected or screened video or textual material.

AVAB
Swedish lighting equipment manufacturer.
Also, AVAB can refer to a digital lighting control protocol developed by the company. It's slower than DMX512 but still in use. It often uses a 5 pin XLR connector, but is NOT compatible with DMX512.
AVAB website

AVANT-GARDE
French term used in English as a noun or adjective to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative (literally, 'ahead of the guard'). As experimental techniques have been adopted by mainstream theatre, the boundaries which define the avant-garde are constantly shifting.
Wikipedia entry

AVISTA / A VISTA
A change of setting / scenery unhidden from the audience. This technique is increasingly popular due to modern advances in scenic automation, where entire set changes can be accomplished in seconds.

AVOLITES
(Manufacturer) UK-based manufacturer of lighting control consoles (Azure, Pearl, Sapphire, Diamond) and dimmers.
Avolites website

AWG
American Wire Gauge. US system for measuring the thickness of wire. The lower the number, the thicker the wire.

AWG
Australian Writers' Guild.
AWG website

AXIS
(plural AXES). An individually controllable moving element controlled by a scenic automation or powered flying system. For example, a system controlling three flying pieces will have three axes of automation.

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