What is HTP? What is LTP? Why Should I Care?

Imagine this…You sit down at your lighting console and start bringing up various looks on stage and recording the scenes onto playbacks.

You sit back confidently, sipping your coffee because you have this brand new lighting console down…even if it’s your first day on it.

The show starts, and you get ready to bring up the stage lights.  Pressing the cue for the stage lights, you notice the audience lighting go to black…wait!  That wasn’t supposed to go dark!

What happened?

Now, this isn’t quite the drama I almost made it, but it is a cause for concern.

Back in the days before moving lights, it was pretty difficult to accidentally send lights to zero.

On these consoles, you brought up the house lights, then recorded them to a playback.

Then you selected them again, hit “at” “0”, and went on to bring up your stage lights and quickly learned the difference between HTP and your new friend, LTP, as well as the need for priority.

So what is HTP?

DMX lighting desk

HTP stands for “Highest Takes Precedence”.

This means that whatever fader has a particular light at the highest intensity, wins.

The limitation of this, however, is that you can’t just “grab” a light’s fader and bring it down to get it to zero.  If that light is recorded anywhere else in the console, and that fader or cue is up, you can’t bring the light down!

It’s all about “priority”

Priority is necessary because modern lighting console can bring up a particular light or parameter in multiple places within the console.  It is then up to priority to decide which place in the console wins- and what you see on stage from the console’s output.

HTP and LTP are the 2 main “systems” for determining priority.

HTP is great for conventional lighting because you don’t really have a need control any other parameter besides intensity- which has a definite higher and lower.

When you move into the world of moving lights and LED’s, however, you need to control parameters such as color wheels, gobo spin, and frost. These parameters don’t have a higher or lower setting- green is not greater than orange, nor is orange greater than green! That brings us to LTP.

What is LTP?


LTP stands for latest takes precedence.

This means that the most recent fader, cue or button touch wins- no matter which light is higher. This means, that when you touch that play button, the exact cue you played, will play exactly as it is recorded.

However, it is important to note that if a cue has no information recorded for a specific light or parameter, it will not alter that light or parameter if it is live.  This is a concept called “Tracking”.

Because the cue you’ve now played has taken precedence, you need to re-assert, or playback the first cue if you want to see it again on stage, because LTP is more concerned about playing new looks than going back into old looks when you bring the fader down.

If a look is completely over-ridden, your console may force release it to help you when you choose to bring down your faders!

So next time you’re on that show, captaining that new professional-grade console, remember to always hit clear to release the programmer and to be careful what you record into cues with a “0”- the latest will always take precedence, whether you like it or not!

Be sure to think carefully and work intentionally, especially the first few times you program a show in LTP if you come from the HTP world.  It’s a lot different, but when working with moving lights, it’s a whole lot better and easier.

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