Merle DeWitt III

Lighting & Projections Designer
VIDEO Editor

Theatrical Design Process and Paperwork

Like all design areas, lighting and projection designers need a way to communicate effectively with the rest of the design team. Through my undergraduate and graduate career, I have developed my process, outlined below, this process is very much influenced by my graduate mentors Lonnie Alcaraz, Jaymi Lee Smith, and David Murakami. The attached documents were all used in the pursuit of my education, as these documents were meant for internal use some may contain copywritten material that fall within fair use guidelines.

Conceptual Collage

To effectively communicate with the production team I start with a collage of images that demonstrates my first impressions of the overall feelings and moods from the script.

Click the above image for a PDF of this collage.

Worlds and Script Treatment

After having conversations with the director and the rest of the team about our initial thoughts on the story we are presenting. I will return to the script for a more in-depth analysis. This results first in a Worlds Treatment which outlines the overall style each world of the show will have. The term world in this document could refer to actual locations and/or a more emotional or intellectual idea that spans the course of a scene or act.

Click the above images for a PDF of these worlds and script treatments.

Scene by Scene System Magic Sheets

The next step in my lighting design process is to go scene by scene and do a rough plot for each. This is not to scale and is mostly just text listing out roughly what systems I will want to use for each scene. This helps me connect the intellectual and emotional process I outlined above to the more technical process of plotting the show. These documents don't normally get dispersed to the design team but are more of a staging point for me as a designer and a reference when I am plotting to make sure that I don't forget any specials, specific colors I may need, and this helps me weed out systems or color choices that might be a bit extraneous.

Click the above image for a PDF of this scene by scene system magic sheet.

Scene by Scene Content Layout

While I do a Scene by Scene System Magic Sheet for Lighting Designs, for Projection Designs I do a Scene by Scene Content Layout/List. This document serves two purposes for me, the first is it helps me get a clear idea of all the content I need to pull or create for a show. A second purpose for this document is a form of communication between me and the director. This document is also a living document and as I pull/create content for the show I update the document to reflect that I have done so. I will also add a link within the document for the director or anyone on the team to be able to see the most current version of a piece of content. In a smaller way, this document also serves as an initial cue sheet for the show, and I often build my cue sheet directly from it.

Click the above image for a PDF of this scene by scene content layout. I have removed sample content links from the document due to google drive security issues.

Final Package

After I have completed the above documents it is time to plot. I have included a complete design package below for you to peruse.

Click the above image for a PDF of this design package.