Western Michigan University

THEA 3320: Lighting and Sound Design

A course in the design of theatrical lighting and sound and in the practical application of those designs to the stage, including laboratory work on University Theatre productions.

Fall 2017 - TTh 1:00 - 2:50             GTC Design Studio

Matthew A. Knewtson, Professor of Theatre
1115 Gilmore Theatre Complex Office Hours: Noon - 1 pm Tuesday and by appointment
Phone: 269-387-3218 E-mail: matt.knewtson@wmich.edu

The lighting portion of the course focuses on the process of lighting design, the process by which designers turn their ideas about a production into the plastic medium that is stage lighting. We work through the process from initial conceptualization to collaboration to technical implementation and, finally, to presentation. In order to understand the tools of lighting design, this course also includes explanation and hands-on experience with lighting instruments and lighting systems.

The sound portion of this course provides a basic understanding of audio technology, the components of sound systems and their application in the theatre. Emphasis is placed on computer-aided sound editing. This course will define the role and responsibilities of a relatively new artist in the theatre, the sound designer.


Theatrical Design and Production: An Introduction to Scenic Design and Construction, Lighting, Sound, Costume and Makeup, Seventh Edition, by J. Michael Gillette
8" Adjustable Wrench (the theatre electrician's #1 tool)
Measuring Tape
Drafting Equipment - Tool kits are available for use in the Design Studio and may be checked out during open lab hours. They contain every thing you should need for this class with the following exceptions:
Drafting pencils - 4H, 2H, and 9H
Drafting paper (2 sheets of velum will be provided) 

Attendance is taken at the beginning of each class. If you come to class late, you are welcome, but will be counted absent for that class period. Three absence are permitted for any reason including religious observations. Additional absences will lower your final grade one letter grade for each absence. Illness with a valid medical excuse from the health center or a private physician is an excused absence. It is the students responsibility to make up any missed in class work and get notes on material covered in class. Attendance is also taken at the beginning of each lighting call. For the sake of this class, lighting calls are considered class sessions and the attandance policy applies.

Department of Theatre policy requires you attain a final course grade of C or better to apply this course to the requirements of the major or minor.

Students are responsible for making themselves aware of and understanding the University policies and procedures that pertain to Academic Honesty. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse. The academic policies addressing Student Rights and Responsibilities can be found in the Undergraduate Catalog at http://catalog.wmich.edu/content.php?catoid=24&navoid=974. If there is reason to believe you have been involved in academic dishonesty, you will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. You will be given the opportunity to review the charge(s) and if you believe you are not responsible, you will have the opportunity for a hearing. You should consult with your instructor if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty prior to the submission of an assignment or test.

Students and instructors are responsible for making themselves aware of and abiding by the “Western Michigan University Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, and Stalking Policy and Procedures” related to prohibited sexual misconduct under Title IX, the Clery Act and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Campus Safe. Under this policy, responsible employees (including instructors) are required to report claims of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator or designee (located in the Office of Institutional Equity). Responsible employees are not confidential resources. For a complete list of resources and more information about the policy see www.wmich.edu/sexualmisconduct.

In addition, students are encouraged to access the Code of Conduct, as well as resources and general academic policies on such issues as diversity, religious observance, and student disabilities:

  • Office of Student Conduct www.wmich.edu/conduct
  • Division of Student Affairs www.wmich.edu/students/diversity
  • University Relations Office http://www.wmich.edu/registrar/calendars/interfaith
  • Disability Services for Students www.wmich.edu/disabilityservices


COURSE OUTLINE: (subject to change)

October 5 Introduction - What is Light and Sound
  7 The Design Process Gillette Ch. 2
12 Concept Statement/Lighting Research Gillette Ch. 14
14 Sketching Light
19 Color Theory Gillette Ch. 6, Journals Due


Color Key  
  26 Presentations Concept and Sketches Due
  28 Lighting Instruments Gillette Ch. 16
October 3 Lighting Instruments Cont.  
  5 TBA  
  10 Control and Distribution Waiting to be Invited Crit Due
  12 Phase 1 Review  
  17 Moment Breakdown - Color Key Witches of Eastwick Crit Due
  19 Lighting Systems Final Phase 1 Due
  24 Lighting Paperwork  
  26 Projections Gillette Ch. 17,
  31 Drafting / In the Theatre Gillette Appendix A
November 2 Phase 2 and 3 Review  
  7 Lighting Exam The Crusible Crit Due
  28 Audio Technology Gillette Ch. 21, Final Phase 2 Due
  30 Audio Technology (cont.)
  4 Digital Design and Editing  
  6 Audio Wrap-up  
  11 Audio Exam  
  13 Individual Meetings  
December 5 Individual Meetings Next Stop Broadway Crit Due
  7 Audio Lab Presentations Audio Lab Project Due
December 24 Presentation of Final Project

Finals Week (Monday, 2:45-4:45 pm)

Final (Lighting Project) 200 points
Lighting Test 200 points
Sound Test 150 points
Concept and Sketches 100 points
Lighting Journal 50 points
Audio Lab Project 50 points
Critique 50 points each ( 150 points maximum )
Crew Assignment 5 points/hour ( 200 points maximum )

A = 950 and above C = 750-799 points
BA = 900-949 points DC = 700-749 points
B = 850-899 points D = 650-699 points
CB = 800-849 points E = 649 and below
HOME Links Depaertment MAK Home

Matthew A. Knewtson, Professor of Theatre
Western Michigan University
Comments to matt.knewtson@wmich.edu
Revised : September 2017