Spotlight operator

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A spotlight operator working

The spotlight operator or followspot operator is a theatrical technician who operates a specialized stage lighting instrument known as a followspot. A followspot is any lighting instrument manually controlled by an operator during a performance. Generally a followspot will be a dedicated, large lighting instrument designed to pan and change size, beam width, and color easily by hand.

Followspot controls[edit]

  • Choppers – Cuts or shutters the top and bottom part of the beam.
  • Douser – Controls intensity.
  • Iris – Controls beam size.
  • Trombone – Controls focal length.
  • Color frames – Changes the color of the light. May also known as a boomerang and/or a color magazine. Color magazines contain the color gels, which are counted from the rear of the follow spot forward.


The way the lead follow-spotter will cue you is by saying "Spot(s) 2 (and 3) on [actor/actress](s) in a frame 2 (sometimes it's more than one color at once) with a half douser." It may seem confusing at first, but usually you will have a cue sheet in front of you so you know your cues and you get them right. Getting the cues right is one thing, but making sure you aim and shoot the follow spot in the right place is key too.

Aim and Shoot[edit]

In professional theatre and even community and school theatre, they use a special tool called a Telrad. A Telrad is a tool thats similar to a sniper rifle scope. You look through it, a red dot appears, and it helps you out a lot with aiming the follow spot and shooting in the right place.

See also[edit]