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The Theory and Practice of Stage Lighting

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Presentation on theme: "The Theory and Practice of Stage Lighting"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Theory and Practice of Stage Lighting
Gordon Hughes SCDA Workshop – Feb 2010

2 Background These slides were originally used for a workshop at St Serf’s Hall given in Feb 2010 for the SCDA. The workshop was highly practical, and the slides only indicate the structure of the talk, rather than a complete training course. After the talk this presentation has been extended to include other useful information in line with the discussions at the workshop. The dominance of Strand equipment in the presentation reflects the equipment available in Edinburgh Theatres.

3 Contents Introduction Theory of Stage Lighting Coffee Break
Lighting Design in General Lighting for the SCDA 1-Act Festival Questions and Wrap Up

4 Introduction Stage Lighting has been around since the beginning of theatre, and used the lighting technologies of the period Sun Candles / Fire torches - floats Oil / Paraffin Gas - size of lighting bars Electricity

5 Process Flow for Show Lighting

6 Resources Equipment Budget (money) Time (design time + theatre time)

7 Equipment Resources Theatre lanterns available
Lanterns owned by the theatre Group or Personal lanterns available Borrowed or Hired lanterns available Number of dimmers + control circuits available Other equipment required Accessories (depending on Lantern) Coloured Gel Rigging equipment Cabling + Adaptors

8 Types of Lantern Flood Lights Par Cans (and Birdies) Spot lights
Soft edge – Fresnel Spots Hard edge – Profile Spots (fixed or variable) PC Spots and Beam Lights Intelligent Lights – multiple controls per lantern LED based technology Moving Head and Moving Mirror Effects See also:

9 Flood Lights Optical system of Lamp + Reflector Covers a wide area
Limited control over shape/area covered Good for Colour washes Lighting cyclorama (from top or bottom) Working lights

10 Examples of Flood Lights
Old Strand Patt Patt 60 + Patt 49 Newer Strand Coda/Nocturn 500/1000 Grouped together to form Battens for lighting cycloramas or acting area washes

11 Par Technology Appeared during the 1970s when range of sealed lamps with Parabolic Aluminium Reflector were developed. Made popular with pop concerts, then started to appear in theatres A cross between a flood light and spotlight Asymmetric bright region Different sizes and powers available

12 Examples of Par Lights Par 64 – 1000W Par 56 – 500W Par 16 – Birdie
All lamp sizes available with different beam angles Now available with LED based white lamps

13 Soft Edge Spot Lights Addition of a low quality lens
Light gives a bright area and a spill area Control over area covered by moving lamp position relative to the lens Bright area can be shaped by barn doors Used for general lighting In larger theatres also used with wide angle beams like flood lights

14 Examples of Soft Edge Spots
Old Stand : Patt 123, Patt 223, Patt 743 Newer Strand : Patt 803 Recent Strand : Prelude F, Cantata F, (also Quartet F, Harmony F, Alto F, etc.) Many others makes including CCT Focus Spot range

15 Hard edge Spot Lights Profile spotlights
Better optical system to give a well focused beam With multiple lenses can give variable beam Accessories such as Iris or Gobo or shutters Used for: Highlighting action Projection of gobos Follow Spots

16 Examples of Hard Edge Spots
Old Strand: Patt 23, Patt 264, Patt 764 Newer Stand: Prelude, Cantata, Alto, etc. Prelude 16/30 + Prelude 28/40 at St Serf’s Recent Strand: SL range (fixed and variable beam models (e.g. CHT)) ETC Source 4 – more modern profile range

17 Other types of Spotlight
PC Spotlights use a Prism-Convex lens and can offer a wider range of beam angles. The Festival theatre has some, as well as a number of schools, but they are not common. Beamlight or Pageant lanterns give a very intense soft edged beam of light. Adam House Theatre has some old Patt 58 ones.

18 Intelligent Lights - LEDs
Allows colour change control + flashing Many options available for number of control channels used E.g. 1 – Red Intensity 2 – Green Intensity 3 – Blue Intensity 4 – Preset colour settings 5 – Strobe Control 6 – Sound to Light control

19 Intelligent Lights - Movers
Moving Head Moving Mirror Come in soft and hard edge versions All use multiple control channels

20 Lighting Effects Mirror Balls Fire Flickers UV Tubes and UV Spots
Disco Lights Practical Lights (e.g. Standard Lamps)

21 Process Flow for Show Lighting

22 Requirements Read the Script Discuss with Director
Discuss with Designers (esp Set Design) Results of Research into time or location

23 Constraints Limited Number of Circuits Limited Number of Lanterns
Limited Power available (per dimmer) Limited Power available (total) Limited Budget Limited (unrealistic) time schedules Communications Issues

24 Outputs from Design Process
Lighting Synopsis – what effects and moods are required during the show Lighting Plan – what lanterns are required where are the put what will they do what colour will they be what accessories are required

25 Making the plan a reality
Physical/Engineering Rig – mount on the rig (2 mounts/lantern) Cable – connect each lantern to a dimmer Colour – Add colour and other accessories Artistic – likely to need input from director Focus – Make each light point as required Plot – record all states required for by show

26 Effect of Angle of light
The angle at which the light points towards the actor or the stage will affect the mood created by the lighting (examples in reference books) Beware of actors facing downwards where all the lighting is from above, e.g. most raised stages where audience look upwards Remember to consider where the spill from the light will fall (examples of effects from the recent drama festival)

27 General Lighting Idea of Splitting the stage into areas and lighting each area with one or two spotlights depending on resource. 9 Areas (3 x 3) typically used at St Serf’s for SCDA Drama festivals. Floods or Pars to produce colour washes

28 Specials A “special” is any light which is used for a special purpose, usually a special effect, in other words that is not part of the general lighting. E.g. Highlighting actors or items of set Projecting images such as gobos

29 Historical Bibliography
C H Ridge and F S Aldred: Stage Lighting Principles and Practice, Pitman 1935 1950s S Selden and F S Sellman: Stage Scenery and Lighting, Harrap 1960s F Bentham: The Art Of Stage Lighting, Pitman, 1968 (2nd ed 1976) 1970s R Pilbrow: Stage Lighting, Studio Vista, 1970 F Reid: The Stage Lighting Handbook, Pitman, 1976 (2nd ed 1980s) 1980s T Streader and J A Williams: Create Your Own Stage Lighting, Bell & Hyman, 1985

30 Other Information on line
Wikipedia: Stage_lighting_instrument The Strand Archive Beware that some on-line resources use American terminology which does sometimes differ from European terms.

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