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lighting a orchestra

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by AlexD, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. AlexD

    AlexD Member

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    hay guys this is going to be a quick one but don't stop giving me suggestions I would love to read them.

    in an 1 hour and 20 mins im going to do some sound work for an orchestra, this is a lighting question. it just occurred to me that there isn't anyone doing lighting for it and its in a room where there is no house lights only a IWBs and a load of parcans fresnels and such. so there is going to be a need for some lighting, and if the guy says can u set it up to me I will and i wont want to just do a simple wash thats to boring. i just want some advice on whats good for lighting an orchestra?

    the lighting rig hay have there is a rather strange one because it use to be a night club (don't ask me how there getting an orchestra in there iv been thinking that for a while) but the lighting positions it has is low toplight and lighting all above the audience. its not the best situation but we like to make do :)

    actually i can describe the lighting there way better, imagine a long narrow hall 5m wide with two very lone scaff bars going all the down it above the audience and stage, then you have an IWB as a FOH and then 2 socapex another the stage, we have a total of 24 channels of dimming and a large ish jesta i don't know it very well but i cant imagine it being very complicated its a jesta :p
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011
  2. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    The crucial problem with an orchestra is not to have lights which blind the musos when they are trying to watch the conductor.The other problem is the musos, some can't work in red light, blue light, dim light, bright light, flashing light, etc etc etc, good luck.
  3. AlexD

    AlexD Member

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    ooo just got a grate idea, it has an arched low celling that the bars r on, i can upligh the celling giving a really natal light with the colour of the stone and use a bit of colours to make it more interesting :) and of corse a few nice touches here and there
  4. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Re: lighting an orchestra

    The term "Orchestra" these days can mean anything from the a) London Philharmonic to b) Trans Siberian Orchestra. Very different lighting for each. So which is it? Likely something in between a) only no colour (no color/open white, perhaps a bit of frost diffusion media if you're feeling daring) downlight and b) hundreds of moving lights (aka "nodding buckets"), LEDs, lasers, and pyro.
    Alex, please, for the love of all that is righteous--SPELLING!. I don't mind an isolated word or two here or there (although with today's browsers that incorporate spell check features that mark unknown words, simple spelling errors make you appear 1) inattentive, 2) uncaring, 3) lazy, or 4) all of the above; see http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/new-member-board/8599-cb-technical-forum-english-class.html and Spelling and Grammar on Controlbooth.com - ControlBooth ). However, brand/model names of products (see Spelling of theatrical brands/products/terms - ControlBooth ) MUST ALWAYS be correct and accurate. I nearly sprained my feeble brain deciphering/determining that you meant Jester.:naughty: Perhaps this is a British peculiarity, as I notice many Brits/Aussies also use and say "gaffa" for "gaffer." Possibly similarly, American urban youth seem to think it proper to use "gangsta" instead of "gangster." Or do those have two separate meanings?

    Getting back to your original, primary question: As your epiphany indicates, using bounce light by pointing luminaires up at the ceiling, so long as it's not too dark in color, can make for very nice house lights. The goal is the minimum level of diffuse illumination for the audience members to navigate to their seats and read the programme, but not so bright as to feel they're themselves on stage, or in a hospital operating room. When in doubt, one seldom errs by accenting the existing architecture with light. If no or undistinguished architectural features exist, make your own!--put an appropriate or interesting pattern in a profile spotlight and point it at the walls, ceiling or floor.

    I've been to concerts at Orchestra Hall (used generically, pick any one) where the lighting never changed, the houselights didn't even dim to signal the start of the performance. The patrons knew the show was going to start when the 1st oboe player stood up and blew her A440, everybody joined in, and then the baton-waver guy came out and went to his podium. Through most of history, attending a performance has been as much about seeing others and being seen by others in public, as it has been about what's happening on the stage. Often the auditorium was lit better/brighter than the stage. It wasn't until the mid-1800s (was it actor-director Steele MacKaye? who first did it?) when it became a standard to take houselights to black, or very, very dim (modern fire codes require a minimum level of 1 foot-candle in audience areas, more in egress paths, I think).

    So go nuts, but remember for these types of events, less is probably more. If the musicians can't see their music stands and the conductor, they probably won't play so good and will make your life a living h3ll. I'll close with this, from Lighting Concept/Lighting Statement - ControlBooth :
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011
  5. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    To build on what Derek said, the players (and therefore most everyone else) will be happiest if they can easily read their music! As a starting point for lighting ensembles or orchestras, I start with lots of top light, either directly overhead or a few degrees behind the performers. Not only does this help to provide "dimensionality" to the performers, it lights their music! I never go wild with color if I use gel at all.

    By brightly lighting their music, the performers don't complain too badly when I throw some strong front light on them from the FOH catwalk. Again, I keep the colors tame, if I use any color at all. Sometimes I will use my worn out bastard amber in the FOH catwalk ellipsoidal s so the lights don't seem quite so harsh from the performers point of view.

    Can't forget the conductor, I usually place a fresnel or two right above the conductor's podium.

    May not be possible in your venue, but I fly the electrics far enough up that the audience can't see the fixtures at all. I don't want back lights shining into the audience.
  6. mstaylor

    mstaylor Well-Known Member

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    I have never heard of a muso, I assume it's Australian, but the reason musicians don't like color is it makes the music go away. It makes it tough to play well if you can't read the music.
  7. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    In the US entertainment industry, "muso" is semi-derogatory, affectionate slang for musician, (similar to vidiot, squint, sparky, squeak, hum-head). Aka, "muzoid."
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011
  8. mstaylor

    mstaylor Well-Known Member

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    OK, never heard it before, although I will admit many could possibly fit the bill. :) I started as a musician in school and know some that are pretty level headed but I know the other side of the coin also.
  9. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Muso does not generally carry derogatory connotations down here...
    derekleffew and (deleted member) like this.
  10. AlexD

    AlexD Member

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    yes sorry for the spelling it has always been my weakest point mainly due to my dyslexia, not that im using that as an excuse if anything i consider dyslexia as an advantage from a creative point of view. i do use the inbuilt spell check but some things get missed out because i end up going to type and word and end up typing a different word thats spelt right and i don't realise or i just miss a word out but i normally find those word, and i do miss things out when i read though it because my reading isn't any better really :(. i will try harder to make sure im talking properly and with proper spelling. and im really sorry for the spelling of jester like jesta looking back on that i don't know why i spelt it like that...

    ye i thought it was an orchestra (in an email i got sent said so) but really it was 4 indie bands and 2 acoustic sets. lighting would have been easy if i had a choose of gels, turned out to be very interesting with a horrible dominating red no matter how dim it was. ahh well the bands seemed to really love it, there not use to having good lighting done for them, im like the first one thats really taken my skills outside of my course. and luckily they didn't have sheet music so the colours were ok to use.

    again im sorry about the spelling and i know its why most people wont reply to my threads and believe me its more frustrating for me :S

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