Advice for a Newbie

midgetgreen11

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Jan 7, 2008
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Hey guys, I'm going to be designing my first show on my own, and we're doing Fiddler on the roof. Any tips? Our fixters are all older 8 inch fresnels, 6x9 and 6x12 lekos, par 56's, and par 64's, and we have four cyc floods. what kind of advice do you experts have?
 

icewolf08

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Hey guys, I'm going to be designing my first show on my own, and we're doing Fiddler on the roof. Any tips? Our fixters are all older 8 inch fresnels, 6x9 and 6x12 lekos, par 56's, and par 64's, and we have four cyc floods. what kind of advice do you experts have?
First off, seeing as this is your first post, welcome to the booth. Stop by our new member's thread and introduce yourself.

Next off, we try not to tell people how to design their shows because we feel it should be your artistic vision, not ours. If you have pointed questions though we are happy to help.

Now, given that we don't know much about your space or the set here are some general tips. You usually want to have a system of frontlight, your lekos will serve you best here. Depending on how many you have you may want to have frontlight from two angles, one in a warm color and one in a cool color. Your fresnels would probably serve well as back or toplight, and the PARs would be left for pushing color in and side light.

Those are the basics to consider. You will want to look at what kind of feeling you want to convey through lighting. Look in books of photography and find images that convey the feelings you want to, and then think about how to recreate the lighting in the pictures on stage.

If you are working on a limited inventory you need to come up with something versatile as you need the same lights to work in many situations. On a limited inventory your first priority is to make sure the actors can be seen, then convey the feelings you want. If you have lots of lights and dimmers then you can get your lights for visibility in and then get all the creative lighting in too.

Yeah, so that is kind of vague I suppose, but you may need to provide more info to get more description. Good Luck on your design!
 

highschooltech

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Dec 17, 2006
Location
Orange, CA
What kind of stage do you have? Do you have scrollers? Do your cyc floods have color in them that you can mix? Whats the back drop like or is it just a cyc?

These are all important things to know. Normally i like to have a warm and cool front wash with scrollers over the stage to provide color and use the cyc lights tho mix colors in the back ground to make a sky or something appropriate indoors.
 

midgetgreen11

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Jan 7, 2008
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Rhode Island
All we have is the lights and gel frames, we can order gels, we have no scrollers, movers... its the most basic of basic, we've got 48 dimmers though. in a proscenium... we've had professionals in our space, but they all said it was built completely wrong and the light booms and electrics are all positioned completely wrong. i guess that's just high school theatre.
 

Van

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Now, I'm no expert, but I think you're gonna need a violin player on top of a house.:cool:
Only, of course, if he's in a harness with an approved fall arrest system and completely checked out on all the equipment. ;)

Check out a couple books on Lighting design. here are some extensive lists of reccomended reading and book list on here.
 

gafftaper

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Like Icewolf said we like to help you figure out how to make things match your vision, not give you our vision for the show. So I'm not going to give you the answers. But I (and others here) would be glad to guide you through the process.

Let's start by telling us more about what you have to work with. How many of each lighting instrument do you have. You said 48 dimmers. Are the 1.2k or 2.4k. How many circuits do you have on stage? What are your on stage lighting positions like? How many circuits in the house positions? What are those lighting positions? What light board do you have? If you can sketch a simple floor plan of the theater with lighting locations and number of circuits in that area that would be a huge help.

Then tell us a little bit about YOUR production. What is the set going to look like? What do you think of the mood of the show and where the director is going to take it? What sorts of feelings do you want to reinforce in the production?

After you've answered some of those questions go back and read what Icewolf wrote above. Come up with some ideas about mood and color you think you would like to try. Then let's talk about them here.
 

midgetgreen11

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Rhode Island
alright i've got a sketch, i'm having trouble posting it though, whether or not they're 1.2k or 2.4k...i don't know the difference, we have 2 circuits per dimmer, except 42-46, they have one. circuits 1-6 are house booms and inaccessible. other than that, our FOH lights are dimmers 7-21, 1st electric, 22-31, 3rd Electric, 32-36, and 2nd electric 37-46. 47 and 48 are floor dimmers on SR and SL. House lights are 50-64. we've got house lights patched into slider 48 on the board. If you give me an email address or something i can send the sketch. Well i wanna start off with ambers and blues because that's how i've been taught for just LIGHT, and we haven't gotten to far into the show yet, i'm meeting with the stage manager/set designer/my assistant [she's quite the multi-tasker] to discuss the set, and then i'll have a better idea. once i get that i'll know what else.

Our board is a simple Electronics Diversified 2-scene, with 18 programs
 

gafftaper

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The easiest way to post a picture is to post it for free somewhere like photobucket and then click the little mountain symbol and paste the link to your picture.

As for the difference between 1.2k and 2.4k dimmers it's a question of how many watts of power the dimmer puts out 1,200 watts or 2,400 watts. If you have two circuits per dimmer it's probably a 2.4k. This is important because you don't want to put more instruments on a dimmer than it's rated for or you'll blow the breaker.

A mix of amber and blue is always a good start for a dramatic feeling show. Pink and blue are better for more of a comic feel. I've posted this several times: I always start students out with a 3 color mix of Roscolux 02 for warm, 99 Chocolate for neutral center, and 60 no color blue for cool. It won't win you any awards buts really hard to screw up. But we may be able to do more interesting things than that... so lets keep talking.

Post the sketch, give us a list of total instruments, and have your design meeting and we'll talk some more.
 

gafftaper

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Do you have any strip lights on these Electrics? Also doubled circuits are usually on opposite sides of the stage or in a repeating pattern Are they really right next to each other?

Hey Charc we should have had you post one of these a long time ago!
 
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Hughesie

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Aug 26, 2005
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Melbourne, Australia
well with a lighting design

i would start with making sure that light covers the entirity of the stage

that i feel is most important, you don't want dark spots

but im not a LD myself, or a lighting tech but that's my 2 cents
 

gafftaper

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well with a lighting design
i would start with making sure that light covers the entirity of the stage
that i feel is most important, you don't want dark spots
but im not a LD myself, or a lighting tech but that's my 2 cents
Always the place to start Hughesie and the reason I asked for a sketch and an inventory. Once we establish what kind of wash they are capable of then we can help with specials and other interesting options.

Hey midget a couple of other questions. How long are your throw distances? If you don't know give us the following information and we'll help you figure it out. How high off the stage are the electrics? How high above the level of the stage (not the house floor) are the FOH lights? If you stand directly below the FOH lights, how far is it to the front of the stage?

Also what are the dimensions of the stage itself? This will help us figure out the proper number of areas to light.

I'm trying to lead you through step by step. If you already know this stuff let me know and we'll skip to more advanced stuff.
 
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soundman

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Sep 4, 2003
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Nashville TN
When ever I start on a production after reading the script <b>a few times</b>I break the show down by scenes and write a few notes about each one. Location, time, given circumstances and action. This document serves a few purposes, it outlines the differnt locations I will have to light, it helps me keep the show straight when talking about it with other people so when they talk about a certain action I will be able to correctly contribute. After a few conversations with the director and other designers you should have a good idea of what the show will look like and can start to find research photos. The photos will help the director understand what you mean when you say that you think the scene will look like night on a parry or whatever. After that worry about what you have in the inventory and how you will accomplish it.
 

Charc

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Feb 14, 2007
Do you have any strip lights on these Electrics? Also doubled circuits are usually on opposite sides of the stage or in a repeating pattern Are they really right next to each other?
Hey Charc we should have had you post one of these a long time ago!
Have I not e-mailed you my finished lightplot? That should give you a good idea of my space, my proficiency, and the majority of my inventory.

Bring it up in that latest PM. ;)
 

DarSax

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May 3, 2006
Location
Bethesda MD
Wow....your theater just about IS my high school auditorium, down to the weird socket repetition, number of electrics, cats, booms, shape of the walls...


weird. Where is this place?
 

midgetgreen11

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Jan 7, 2008
Location
Rhode Island
DarSax, its in North Kingstown Rhode Island, every professional travelign theatre that uses it, i usually help out with, and they all say its worthless, as well as our soundbooth with soundproof glass :)

gafftaper - no we do not have striplights, but we plan on getting them from a source, for lighting our cyc from the floor. And yes doubled circuits are right next to each other, i've been working in the space for about a year.

And... Throw from backstage, i would say about 15 feet. distance from apron to under catwalk about 12-15 feet, height of catwalk above stage about 20 feet. the sad part is, they're so close to the stage its hard to light platforms with the catwalk. those are all estimates, and so is this:

Stage dimensions from SR to SL about 30-35 feet, from US to DS including apron about 20-25 feet.

As of right now its difficult to give you a light inventory because the number of instruments we HAVE is not even comparable to the number that have working lamps/bulbs. Our drama club and musical department can't afford to get new ones, so we're working on getting the school facilities department to pay for them, but they're not to eager to do so. [sorry i like to rant and complain about how crappy my auditorium is, even though it was built in 2001. and about how much money athletics gets from the school and we get 0 dollars.]

once again, thanks vair vair much for the assistance
 

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