Abandon teaching incandescent ?

SteveB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Brooklyn, NY
Another way to look at this is using gels in ways besides theatrically designed lights. We commonly use gels for practicals that need to "feel" a certain way in the show. We use gels for music stand lights, footlights, windows in set pieces etc.
Without that foundation of knowledge, you wouldn't know how to color any non-color changing fixture.
I think even when LEDs are common and hung in every theatre in america, there will still be lights in the building that need a gel related solution. Even if it's just in the booth.
Really good point.
 

EdSavoie

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2016
Location
Windsor, ON, Canada
What, you don't want to Weaponize turn music stands into intelligent lighting?

Think of how distracting nice of us it would be if the colour of their sheet music changed with every beat!


But seriously, i think we'll be putting sheets of blue gel in our ceiling lights, and using the wrong kind of tape to secure it to our desk lamps for a long time to come.
 

macsound

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2018
Location
San Francisco, CA
@macsound Possibly I've been in my cave too long. Are there still 4' and 8' fluorescents in the wild? If so, does Rosco still make gel in sleeves to slip over fluorescents?? The sleeves used to be popular in museums and dressing areas. I'll crawl back in my cave.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
Yes absolutely still have fluorescents everywhere. Including the 40 over my head in my office that have been dead for years! Some places have upgraded the tubes to LED, but they still operate the same way, just somehow fakes out the ballast.
When I did corporate events, there were channels between some of the ballrooms that had a dozen or so tubes that would get the Rosco (or offbrand) gel tube covers so those channels in the wall were all blue or whatever the brand's color was. Super cheap and incredibly impactful.
 

SteveB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Brooklyn, NY
What, you don't want to Weaponize turn music stands into intelligent lighting?

Think of how distracting nice of us it would be if the colour of their sheet music changed with every beat!


But seriously, i think we'll be putting sheets of blue gel in our ceiling lights, and using the wrong kind of tape to secure it to our desk lamps for a long time to come.
When Tommy Tune played our venue, the base plot was from Natasha Katz. The music stand lights were Roscolux 3313 or some such (all 5) and I was like REALLY ?. Not R35, R33 or something we keep in stock ?. Really Natasha ?. I know she went from like college to being Ken Billingtons assistant and from there to Broadway in about as much time it takes me to type this. Never ever toured and would have no experience that the venue in Podunk, Iowa isn’t going to have R3313 in stock, will have to order it, $7 per sheet and $20 for shipping.

So maybe someday I’ll be able to dial in that music stand color from the console via DMX WiFi and all will be good.
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
When Tommy Tune played our venue, the base plot was from Natasha Katz. The music stand lights were Roscolux 3313 or some such (all 5) and I was like REALLY ?. Not R35, R33 or something we keep in stock ?. Really Natasha ?. I know she went from like college to being Ken Billingtons assistant and from there to Broadway in about as much time it takes me to type this. Never ever toured and would have no experience that the venue in Podunk, Iowa isn’t going to have R3313 in stock, will have to order it, $7 per sheet and $20 for shipping.

So maybe someday I’ll be able to dial in that music stand color from the console via DMX WiFi and all will be good.
@SteveB A music stand light with RDM; now there's a concept. In my shop days we built parts of a set for 'Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public'; directed by Mr. Tune with lighting by Mr. Jules Fisher assisted by Ms. Peggy Eisenhauer. Ms. Eisenhauer is a well remembered class act, Mr. Fisher we never saw and if I'm recalling correctly very few patrons saw the production as it closed during previews, I believe prior to reaching its official opening night. That Ms. Peggy was a joyous pleasure to meet.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
Last edited:

JChenault

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2009
Location
seattle, wa USA
As the title implies, the theater department lighting program where I work is contemplating no longer teaching color and design based on incandescent lighting and color theory, as the primary method to create a lighting design.

Instead concentrate on developing design based on the inherent color mixing in LED and other CMY/CYM mixing methods.

Thoughts ?. Are still in need of designing AND teaching our up and coming designers with old fashioned gel's ?
I think you ( and your department) are conflating two things here.

One is the ability to morph colors ( which is what I read the article you are talking about is really saying) The other is how to think about color in light.

True - incandescent and gels don't do morphing very well, but it seems to me that if you are trying to teach the students how to think about color in light, that something like a gel book is still extremely important.

Several reasons for this. The first is one of naming. How do you communicate a color to someone. I believe you need some way to communicate to directors, other designers, etc what the approximate color you are shooting for is going to be. The current accepted shorthand for this is gel colors - either by name or more commonly by number. I don't think you should try to invent a new way to define the name of a color so you can communicate it to others.

The second issue is one of understanding how color and your eye really works. An incandescent fixture puts out a wide range of frequencies. We select which frequencies we want based on the gel. There is no way to get the same kind of color in light from an LED fixture ( Ok - the ETC Luster with 7 color diodes comes close - maybe close enough. But a simple RGB - or RGBA - or RGBLA etc just will not look the same.) You are trying to train a designers eye to understand color in light. Unless you want to train them using something like the Luster - you likely will find better results with incandescent and gel for at least part of the training.

Finally the question of what will the students find when they get out into the world. This has already been covered by other posters but it is a point.

Sure you must teach how LED's work and how to use them. You must teach your students how to think about moving color, not just static color - but you also need to spend some time on just color which I don't see how you can do without using gel and gel names.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RonHebbard

SteveB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Brooklyn, NY
Good points John.

Note that I'm not actually the person doing the teaching, I'm an innocent bystander to what the students are attempting (and support them with the technical needs). Justin Townsend teaches lighting and he wrote the article, and he gets to decide how best to teach about color.

One of his comments to me about the "All LED" question was that one of his students has NEVER used gel (I've encountered R&R LD's whom have never used gel either). That students designs have been based around an all LED rig. Indeed of the past 7 or so events in our new building that received a really, really nice package of 134 Lustrs, 52 D60's, 18 ColorForce 2's, and a bunch of Elation Platinum and Satura's (as well as 200 S4 incandescents), is that every one of these 7 shows used a primary LED or all LED rig. I think the past one used an incandescent wall sconce A lamp in an otherwise all LED system.

And I wonder if the whole vocabulary of color, based on gel, is valid at this point. I think everybody understands terms like Amber, Pink, Red, Lavender, Teal, etc..... including directors and other designers, as they get used to describing colors in all walks of life and the gel book terms merely follow thru on everyday terms and definitions of color. Where do we learn about color ?, well we get taught that early on and we lighting people only start to learn gels if we decide to work in a theatrical field where filters to color light are used. I have worked with MFA Television students who've no, or a poor vocabulary of color and what term means what. They know red, green yellow (traffic lights), but maybe terms using gels like Bastard Amber, they are not going to know. Do they now need too ?, as it's a definition of a gel color they may never use.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RonHebbard

SteveB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Brooklyn, NY
For lighting designers, not tech, I don't know if you should stop teaching incandescent and gels, but you should definitely be teaching data wrangling - both network and dmx and??? In an all incandescent world, a lighting designer could leave most things wiring to the ME. Not so with LED.
This issue, how to get a smart rig powered and connected, reared its ugly head this year with our all LED and ML rigs, of 200 fixtures. The time spent was 3 times as long to install as compared to an incandescent with a cable to a dimmed circuit.

The tools needed - Vectorworks to draw out power and data cabling, Lightwright to do the addressing, check for errors, set DMX footprints for fixtures, send the patch to Eos, configure Nodes via ETC Concert, uses Eos palettes and Magic Sheets, are all new tools the kids need to know and learn. It's not yet getting taught I had frequent thoughts in the past year that LD's who understand this end of the system and can figure it out are far better equipped then the LD's who don't. If they have to rely on an assistant or production electrician who understands it and cannot get it together when neither is in the budget, is in a world of hurt at load in time.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RonHebbard

BillConnerFASTC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
The time spent was 3 times as long to install as compared to an incandescent with a cable to a dimmed circuit.
Yup. I use to check out a new lighting system for punch list in half a day. Carry a test lamp, have them run the dimmer up and down - next. 3, 4, 5 racks - maybe late lunch. Now - lucky to be done in 2 or 3 days. And the calls after from the user. OMG. Brave new world.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RonHebbard

Ancient Engineer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2017
Location
Sandusky, Ohio
I'm with RickR on this.

The importance of discovering what portions of the spectrum are NOT generated by LEDs is a very valuable bit.

LED white is not full spectrum.


Mmmmm the sweet smell of my sandwich warming up on top of the arc Super Trooper...ahh.


But now I must venture forth into the rain and see what has become of a lost subwoofer... (Community R-6sub, about the size of a fridge...)

Whee
 

Colin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2015
Location
Eastern Massachusetts
Good thread. When Steve mentions abandoning “incandescent lighting and color theory, as the primary method to create a lighting design” that sounds about right to me. It doesn’t sound like completely eliminating incandescent from curriculum, but rather accepting that when resources allow, LEDs are going to play a primary role in design process and results. I wouldn’t want to graduate students having zero experience with incandescent, but it would be a mistake to confuse incandescent and gel technologies for fundamentals of lighting design. I do think incandescent is useful to teach for all the reasons already mentioned, but it sounds correct to as resources allow phase out teaching it as the primary/normal/regular way to light a stage or studio. It may be in many places for many more years, and let’s give them some skills for it, but teaching agility between technologies has to be a main goal along with teaching the undeniable “next thing” of LED and whatever follows. Part of that agility involves an understanding of core design concepts, and part involves establishing an inquisitive practice that enables the student to leverage available equipment towards those ends, regardless of what the equipment is and whether or not they've had someone else teach them about it - the goal is for them to not need that. As much as lighting design is tied to technology, it's still useful to de-couple the two from time to time.

When there’s a sea-change in the technology we use, that’s when I think we notice more the ways in which prevalent technologies have become shorthand for discussing and thinking about design. We may have attachments to gel transmissions and incandescent dimming (I sure do) because across generations of use we have figured out so well how to play to the strengths of those technologies, and have developed a whole creative culture around their particulars. Gel numbers (and better yet “R78 @50” vs “R78 @FL”) are a really powerful shorthand for those who know their swatchbooks well (but really, how many non-LD collaborators do?) and further they’ve shaped the way lighting designers think and learn – that’s what interests me as an educator. Now we’re challenged with figuring it out over again with our new toys. We should start figuring it out now, a little bit before LED is truly dominant in all corners of the industry; then it would be too late to prepare our students.

It’s immensely important to have something to push against, and the limitations of incandescent have been one of those things providing the resistance that so often yields the most exciting and elegant design solutions when we push into it. If that wall is removed for students (rather than being navigated by them) then they are off and sprinting blindfolded until they splat into the next one without picking anything useful up on the way. Since changing over about ½ inventory to LED (the dance plot we do a lot of teaching with is nearly all LED) my biggest teaching concern has been how to ensure students still learn to prosecute color decisions rigorously and in advance of cueing sessions. If a student is looking for a night blue then I’ll still as always start by making them answer more questions to attach some useful adjectives and research efforts to the character of that night blue. But when the student stops listening somewhere between fifteen and zero words before I say “research” then if I’m teaching gel I can open three swatchbooks and point to dozens of options that could be “night blue” along with some “night” colors not blue at all, say “pick one and defend it” and the magnitude of the decision begins to set in. Without those broad yet finite options gel provides, I have to find other ways to impress the importance of infusing color with intent and specificity. Otherwise, a majority of students will get to tech and just flail a finger towards the blue corner of the touchscreen color picker, see a really pretty LED blue that may or may not have anything to do with the show and other design elements, and record. They have to get over the thrill of having all that color instantly at their fingertips before they get down to the art of dialing it in purposefully. So we spend a lot of time working on that with the LED tools. That’s really the resistance I want them to push into next – the ease of access to color, and how that ease affects color decisions for better and worse. Also, how that ease affects decisions about angle, texture, movement…

Consider that one of our goals ought to be to, by modeling and providing practice, prepare students to lead the next (probably several) sea-changes in technology in ways that preserve and enhance the artform rather than dumbing it down. Here’s a good opportunity to build those adaptive skills. Teach the characteristics of the technology and how they solve old challenges and create new ones all under the umbrella of rigorous and practical design thought.
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
I'm with RickR on this.

The importance of discovering what portions of the spectrum are NOT generated by LEDs is a very valuable bit.

LED white is not full spectrum.

Mmmmm the sweet smell of my sandwich warming up on top of the arc Super Trooper...ahh.

But now I must venture forth into the rain and see what has become of a lost subwoofer... (Community R-6sub, about the size of a fridge...)


Whee
@Ancient Engineer It's hard to misplace a sub that large; is this somewhat similar to Britain's great train robbery which technically involved no loss of trains but merely the contents thereof? Please don't make too much noise on head set salivating over your delectably warmed sandwich.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

Jay Ashworth

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Location
St Pete FL USA
I have an analogy for Colin's posting that I think is both pertinent and reasonable, though it's a bit off topic.

Long time fans of Casey Kasem will have heard the term "The Rock Era" about 35,000 times. :)

It's generally held to have started with the release of "Rock Around The Clock" in 1954, and most people don't spend a lot of time talking about whether -- or when -- it ended.

But I had that conversation with a dozen or so music chart wonks last year, and we decided that the Rock Era -- the era when popular music was primarily influenced by Rock and Roll -- had indeed ended... on September 24, 1991, when Nirvana's Nevermind was released, and alt/grunge took over as the major influence on pop music. It has since moved on further; that major influence now seems to be hip hop.

The major influence on lighting pedagogy is still subtractive tungsten... but it's changing to additive LED... and it will get there in another decade.

Or two.
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2017
I have an analogy for Colin's posting that I think is both pertinent and reasonable, though it's a bit off topic.

Long time fans of Casey Kasem will have heard the term "The Rock Era" about 35,000 times. :)

It's generally held to have started with the release of "Rock Around The Clock" in 1954, and most people don't spend a lot of time talking about whether -- or when -- it ended.

But I had that conversation with a dozen or so music chart wonks last year, and we decided that the Rock Era -- the era when popular music was primarily influenced by Rock and Roll -- had indeed ended... on September 24, 1991, when Nirvana's Nevermind was released, and alt/grunge took over as the major influence on pop music. It has since moved on further; that major influence now seems to be hip hop.

The major influence on lighting pedagogy is still subtractive tungsten... but it's changing to additive LED... and it will get there in another decade.

Or two.
It will be a fait accompli before 2020, Jay. So much of what I see on touring musicals is LED based or discharge lamps. Still some incandescent up in the air, but strip lights and ground rows are almost all LED. The comment I hear about the latter is that drops painted with tungsten and gel in mind look different under LED illumination with a supposed gel match.

That takes us back to:
Gels over incandescents are broad band colors. LEDs are narrow band emitters even when phosphor converted.

Students must understand those two sentences and be able to adapt to whatever technology comes next.
^^^ THIS. The train has left the station, the transition has already begun. The question is how to teach a color vocabulary when the light source, while incredibly adjustable, doesn't understand gel numbers or color names? When do we stop teaching students to think, to visualize, in the Ye Olde Wayz?
 

Jay Ashworth

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Location
St Pete FL USA
Sure, Tim. But what percentage of Houses, much less Fixtures, do you think touring musicals are?

There are probably thousands, if not tens of thousands, of small houses that won't go all LED for a long time, asymptotically converging on Never.