Atlantic Illumination Entertainment Lighting

An AIEL Instructional

Tech Tips


Unpacking a road show may be deemed
to be intuitive, but the suggestions
here will help to speed operations.


Instruct your crew to place cases by designation if each is
is labelled with a location such as "Dressing Room", Backstage
Left", "Front of House", etc. If not, you or the crew chief
will need to direct case placement individually.


  1. Case Orientation: Face cases with their fronts in the same direction.

  2. Logical Order: Place cases in the order required for your setup. So items to be set up first need to be unpacked first and thus, should be first in line.

  3. Blockage: Don't block cases with other cases. They will have to be moved.

  4. Stacking: Don't place cases on top of one another. They will have to be removed.

  5. Tech Pit: Set up a tech area first. This will be there for the show's duration. it should include tools, repair facilities, spare parts, and anything needed by techs during the setup and the show. Include power strips and worklights for tech personnel.

  6. Work Stations: Establish other areas. These might be just for the setup, or they might be required for the show's duration. Place them out of the way but close to where the work associated with a particular station is to take place. Install power strips, and also worklights for any stations to be used during the show.

  7. Kits Area: Designate an area for your show kits. Ready each for action by having it accessible and open. See The Kits for details regarding possible kits you may want to bring with you.

  8. Walkways: Establish personnel paths backstage. For open arena or multipurpose-room gigs, once the work and tech areas are set up, designate throughways for people to navigate backstage. Make them wide enough to handle props and set pieces needed to be moved along these ways during a show. Place worklights to show the boundaries of these walking areas.

       Run cables along walls to reduce the amount of cable tape needed. Where cables must cross walkways, employ a cable mat, or use strong stage or gaffer tape to secure cables. A safe walking path is a must!

  9. Security: Maintain vigilance around areas, or at least cases, that contain valuables. These might include tools, spare lamps, computers, and cell phones. (See The Secure Tech.)

  10. Replacements Lists: Post clipboards or small notepads with tethered pens so that crews can note needed spares and supplies. This is so when equipment returns to the shop, replacements can be easily sent to each case. Update each list as items are topped up.

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