Design Issues and Solutions Best gels for skin tones

MBmoose

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I was wondering if people could recommend what gels they have found to work best on different skin tones? Both warms and cools would be appreciated. Thanks! (I typically stick to rosco)
 

Amiers

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R32 R08 R68 my goto here.
 

MRW Lights

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Well... It depends. "Neutral" might be considered amber, blue, lavender, pink, N/C ..... but there are ~10 of each of those. I like the "no color" colors, but put together they pretty much mix to white anyway so you might as well go with N/C... then add in the amber shift of lamp and you have a whole new set of colors. Surprisingly a darker skin tone can take advantage of a green/purple, but if it's the wrong tint it can look gray.... Similarly someone with red hair and typically lighter skin under pink gel can look like pepto bismal standing next to someone with brown hair and a tan...

If generally picking gel I try pick by subject matter and setting the tone of the environment. There are colors you can pick that are "safe" for "most people" and then they'll show up wearing a rainbow shirt and you're toast anyway.... Comedy=Pink and white with a touch of Amber, Classical Music=bright and white with maybe a shade of blue, Rock and Roll=RGB and N/C front, Talking Head=No color Pink with a little amber glow...

I suppose if I had go to's L201, L152, R60, R53, R08, R333. If you want to make the eyes have that extra sparkle, a fellow designer got me started with R74 in box booms, now I sneak it into every show I can.

Fair warning... Good luck with this post... there will be a lot of answers, opinions and links to lots of discussions on this.... I don't know your background, but you may want to have a longer in depth conversation with a designer and look at examples for what worked best in particular designs.
 

notoriousRBG

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I mean... it's so broad, so there's really no "right" answer. It depends on a million things.

That said, if I'm designing a totally generic rep plot I'd likely go with R05 for warm and L201 for cool. If it's a dance plot, I often go more saturated (especially on the cool).
 

RonHebbard

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Well... It depends. Surprisingly a darker skin tone can take advantage of a green/purple, but if it's the wrong tint it can look gray....
When Hamilton, Ontario's 2,183 seat 'soft seater' opened in the fall of 1973, the city managed to hire George McPherson, Harry Belafonte's former road manager, to become our General Manager. Due to their past years together, we were able to book Mr. Belafonte in for 8 performances in four days on a yearly basis for some number of years. Upon arrival for his first engagement, Mr. Belafonte instructed our Head LX that he could use any colors he liked but NOT green as it'd make him look ALL MOULDY! Not wishing to offend, we took him at his word. The former Head LX from 1973 paid me a visit only yesterday. Tommy's still catching calls with Toronto's IA58. Our small world gets even smaller as we mature. (I almost typed 'as we age' but, to my aging eyes, 'mature' reads better, much better.)
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
 
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Chris Pflieger

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Indiana
So, I a related question, would this apply to downlights?

I now have decent downlighting so I'm trying to figure out what to do - cool blues, warm pink...

I imagine the answer is trial and error, isn't it? I suppose if I get it wrong in the first service I can change it for the second!
 

MRW Lights

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So, I a related question, would this apply to downlights?

I now have decent downlighting so I'm trying to figure out what to do - cool blues, warm pink...

I imagine the answer is trial and error, isn't it? I suppose if I get it wrong in the first service I can change it for the second!
Yes and... you can typically go with more saturated colors in a top/down/back light, but I'm also a large fan of N/C top light in an allowable situation. The design element you're typically going for here is to give the subject definition and contrast against a background.
 

RonHebbard

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Yes and... you can typically go with more saturated colors in a top/down/back light, but I'm also a large fan of N/C top light in an allowable situation. The design element you're typically going for here is to give the subject definition and contrast against a background.
@Chris Pflieger Depending upon your venue's facilities and inventory, diagonal back lights in contrasting colors can afford some interesting design options. Again, depending upon what equipment, circuits and hanging positions you have at your disposal, you may consider a more translucent warm from the motivating side coupled with a more saturated warm from the fill side.
Likewise, you could select a more translucent cool to work opposite a more saturated cool.
If you have fewer fixtures at your disposal, you may go with warm from over one shoulder and cool from over the other choosing the differing colors and angles as appropriate for differing scenes.
With the advent of LED fixtures, you gain the ability to select colors from the console on a per cue basis rather than having to hang a greater quantity of fixtures each gelled in differing colors. Please forgive me as I STILL think in terms of multiple instruments each gelled in a dedicated selection of gels. My blindness pretty much coincided with the development of LED fixtures thus I'm lagging well behind when it comes to thinking in terms of the convenience and flexible options LED's provide.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
 
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RonHebbard

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Ron, consider my mind blown.

I have three Rogue washes on the left, three on the right, all upstage.
@Chris Pflieger If I'm reading / envisioning this correctly, you could be shooting from high over your right shoulder in a comparatively translucent warm and high over your left shoulder in a more saturated warm affording a side to side differential in your modelling of warm scenes.
Similarly you could choose a comparatively translucent cool from over your right shoulder to work with a more saturated cool from over your left shoulder providing you with similar side to side differential modelling options for your cool scenes.
In other situations, dance perhaps, you could go with a more translucent warm from over your right shoulder contrasting against a more saturated cool from over your left which I can envision permitting interesting options during a variety of, primarily, dance situations.
To boringly repeat myself; in today's age you can change color from the board WITHOUT A LADDER and on a per cue basis. Basically, the world's your oyster so feel free to open the 'oyster' along with your mind. It's not like you need to select colors of gel from a swatch book, then order them, wait for delivery then pay the invoice and cut / inventory them.
Bottom Line: The theatrical lighting world's changing and it's not like you need my permission to expand your creative horizons.
I'm tempted to type: "Remember, you read it here first" but I HIGHLY doubt that's the case.
All the best to you and welcome to the world of picking colors with your mouse and then there're visualizers.
Yep! A whole different world from the 50's, 70's and 90's. (1950's young 'uns NOT the 18's)
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
 
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RonHebbard

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@Chris Pflieger If I'm reading / envisioning this correctly, you could be shooting from high over your right shoulder in a comparatively translucent warm and high over your left shoulder in a more saturated warm affording a side to side differential in your modelling of warm scenes.
Similarly you could choose a comparatively translucent cool from over your right shoulder to work with a more saturated cool from over your left shoulder providing you with similar side to side differential modelling options for your cool scenes.
In other situations, dance perhaps, you could go with a more translucent warm from over your right shoulder contrasting against a more saturated cool from over your left which I can envision permitting interesting options during a variety of, primarily, dance situations.
To boringly repeat myself; in today's age you can change color from the board WITHOUT A LADDER and on a per cue basis. Basically, the world's your oyster so feel free to open the 'oyster' along with your mind. It's not like you need to select colors of gel from a swatch book, then order them, wait for delivery then pay the invoice and cut / inventory them.
Bottom Line: The theatrical lighting world's changing and it's not like you need my permission to expand your creative horizons.
I'm tempted to type: "Remember, you read it here first" but I HIGHLY doubt that's the case.
All the best to you and welcome to the world of picking colors with your mouse and then there're visualizers.
Yep! A whole different world from the 50's, 70's and 90's. (1950's young 'uns NOT the 18's)
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
@Chris Pflieger & @MRW Lights
While you've got me on a roll here, permit me to expound further on 'Ron's bizarre notions of lighting', points to ponder and things I THINK I've managed to figure out.
Electrical and angular considerations I feel I've always had a handle on but I've spent decades hanging the plots of a myriad of designers and trying to learn whatever I could from their various works.
Here's something I think I've come to understand so far as selecting colors goes along with how I'm surmising my suspicions:
Any / EVERY time I work with two colors from opposite sides, [No matter how subtle their differences] be it front, cross or diagonal backs, I ALWAYS end up preferring the more transparent / brighter / less saturated color to come from patron's left / stage right. I've spent at least a decade wondering why this was ALWAYS my preference and eventually settled on the following theory:
In my world, since the time I was a child, I always learned to visually scan from left to right. I was taught to read from left to right. When I was old enough to cross roads on my own, I looked from left to right and repeated it several times prior to stepping off the curb. Crossing multi-lane thoroughfares brought their own issues, as did one way streets, but basically I was always scanning from left to right unless there were any specific reasons to do otherwise.
When I became involved with theatre, I was a sponge constantly scrutinizing other people's works and soaking up whatever I could from them. Sometimes there are solid reasons to reverse my thinking, such as when there are windows on SL and the dialogue keeps mentioning how annoyingly bright the sun is streaming in from SL and they finally close the curtains / blinds so they can get on with the play. In situations like that, a lighting designer would have to be pretty obtuse / set in her / his ways to lead with her / his key light on SR and their fill light on SL.
Bottom Line: That's the best justification I've arrived at for my side to side color choices and I've yet to discover a logical reason to counter my thinking.
With apologies for boringly droning on AGAIN.
I'm sure @derekleffew will be along momentarily to tell me I'm full of excrement.
Everyone's entitled to their own WRONG opinions.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
 
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derekleffew

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Oh, sure, drag ME into this...
I'm sure @derekleffew will be along momentarily to tell me I'm full of excrement.
That's between you and your porcelain vessel (or possibly in your case, bedpan), but I WILL tell you you need more fiber (or fibre) in your diet. As does everyone.

Warm (dominant/key) from SR, cool (recessive, fill) from SL. There must be some reason we say "warm and cool" and not "cool and warm" mustn't there?. Back when McCandless was teaching me lighting, he said, "consider the location of the apparent light source." WTF is the apparent light source? Some say "motivational light source." Sunlight streaming through a bank of windows SL is an excellent example. So is the dim glow of some measly 40w sconces spread about the room.

To digress slightly, an exercise from directing class (What could directing possibly have to do with being a lighting designer?)...
Given a stage with the six basic locations: DR, DC, DL, UR, UC, UL; rank them in order from strongest to weakest. First one is easy, has to be DC of course. After that, hmm, might be UC, but next? Because we read from Left to Right, DR is probably stronger than DL. (I wonder if it's the opposite in Hebrew locations.) This is also my long-standing corporate theatre justification for the lectern to be located DR if only one. Johnny Carson's (and Dick Cavett and Mike Douglas and Leno and Letterman and Kimmel and Conan) desk is SL, the couch with the guests is SR. On The View, Whoopi the moderator (except on Fridays) is SR. On The Talk, Julie Chen is SL, and it feels backwards.
BUT, at a 21 table in Las Vegas, one shouldn't sit at third base unless one knows what he is doing, as he has the most control over what cards the dealer gets. Make the dealer bust and the whole table wins.

Back to the question of "what color should the downlight be?" I'm not generally a fan of downlight (except in arena staging where it must substitute for backlight). It does nothing for the face, and serves to shorten the body and smush it into the ground. It's fine for a special here or there, especially when one wants to emphasize isolation. Downlight can also interfere with and contaminate the backlight, either straight on or DIAG BAX.

I hope that's enough talking a lot without answering the question.
 

RonHebbard

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Oh, sure, drag ME into this...
I hope that's enough talking a lot without answering the question.
@derekleffew I'm in full agreement with you regarding the negative effects of down lights and also their usefulness when emphasizing isolation. For moi, diagonal BAX are where it's at. Perhaps if you work just a little harder on your fluency when speaking volumes while contributing nothing useful, a career in politics could be in your future.
How are you when it comes to photo op's?
BTW; I still darn near wet myself every time I recall your mate's line about going from "Heels to wheels" or "Wheels to heels", whichever way around it was. I've worked spots on both productions when international tours passed through; Loved the "heels" show but found the "wheels" show boring although the number of Loadstars in the tour's pre-hang was impressive but there was nothing to sing on the way home nights aside from: "Whoo, Whoo! Whoo, Whoo! Nothing can do it like a steam train. Whoo, Whoo! Whoo, Whoo! Nothing can do it like a steam train." Over and over. Mile after mile. ALL the way home. I'd still be singing it when I walked in the door after a matinee day and Marly would bellow at me: "Will you shut the phuque up!!" I guess my wife just didn't appreciate the brilliance that was Mr. Webber. Perhaps if she'd seen it? No, probably not.
Good chatting with you. @derekleffew
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
 

SteveB

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Brooklyn, NY
I'm guessing it's "Warm and Cool" as that's the order it came in the Rosco gel book.

I'm so old school, my systems and channeling follow the Rosco books, Yellows, Ambers, Reds, Pinks, Magentas, Lav's, Blues, B/G, Green. Even my ML and LED palettes follow that order.
 
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RonHebbard

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I'm guessing it's "Warm and Cool" as that's the order it came in the Rosco gel book.

I'm so old school, my systems and channeling follow the Rosco books, Yellows, Ambers, Reds, Pinks, Magentas, Lav's, Blues, B/G, Green. Even my ML and LED palettes follow that order.
@steve b. While you're reminiscing and talking "old school", at least Rosco had an order as compared to Cinemoid and their essentially chronological order based more or less on the order in which they developed, released and marketed their gels with zero discernible logic as far as colors, hues or transparency / saturation.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
 

RonHebbard

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Now, now, Ron, don't knock Cinabex (or Cinemoid). Once one learns a color book any order you've learned is fine. Personally I could never stand the Brigham or Rosco books. (Whatever happened to Brigham gel, anyway??)
Sorry @JonCarter , I wasn't meaning to knock Cinemoid whatsoever as it was THE GEL MANUFACTURER when I gelled my first frame. A couple of decades later when I matriculated to Stratford's Festival in '77, The Met's Gil Wechsler was their Head of LX Design and their color palette ranged primarily from un-gelled open white, through various degrees of amber shift in mostly 750 / T12's and 500 / T12's with a handful of 500 / T20's in their Strand Pattern 23's through Cinenoid's #17 Steel Blue which Gil was employing extensively primarily as a color corrector when the only people using color correction were cinematographers shooting films. I believe Gil came to Stratford in 1970 when Yale's Bob Scales was the reigning Production Manager. By the time I relocated to Stratford to become Head of Sound in their Festival main stage, Gil was already complaining bitterly regarding various degrees of inconsistency between Cinemoid's production lots and their #17 in particular. Cinemoid was manufactured exclusively in England and distributed in North America by Strand Century Canada Limited and Century Strand in the U.S. As the Festival was a MAJOR client with Strand luminaires, dimmers and dimmer boards in all of their theatres, Strand instructed Gil to send labelled samples of his preferred blends of #17 and they'd do their best to manufacture quantities to his rigid specifications. Upon my arrival in '77, Stratford already had several custom swatch books individually created by hand by Gil's assistants and identified as "Gil's Cinemoind 17 swatches" with the individual cuts identified as #17 [which Gil deemed to be the only true original] followed by #'s 17A through 17E. Gil had multiple copies of his custom swatches created such that one or two were kept in each of the then three theatres (since they're spread out across the city) plus a couple dedicated for his personal use. By the time Gil tired of spending every spring and summer in Stratford, the little custom swatches had grown to 9 cuts per book labelled from 17 followed by 17A through 17H with Gil firmly convinced Strand had NEVER managed to truly duplicate their original #17. You may laugh but plots actually specified which flavors of 17 were to be in which fixtures during which production. All frames were meticulously labelled to ensure their proper placements during changeovers between productions. Realize Stratford runs a rotating rep' in each of their now four theatres.
Granted I was a lowly sound guy at the time but I occasionally attempted to further my education by comparatively studying one of Gil's custom swatch books. I tried to convince myself I could see the differences. I viewed the samples using a variety of sources from the cool white fluorescents in our electronics and sound shop through an assortment of incandescents and even with incandescents powered by a Variac so I could take amber shift into consideration. It's not like I didn't have some degree of familiarity with gels in general and Cinemoid in particular as my immediately previous position had been as assistant to both the Head of LX and the Head of Sound in Hamilton's 2,183 seat, dual balconied, soft-seater road house. I really tried hard to see the subtleties of the differences but I may have been fooling myself by thinking I could mange to see three minor discrepancies amongst the 9 purportedly non-matching samples Gil had in his custom swatch books. Oddly enough, I went from working with a 100 channel, 3 scene / 800 cue Strand Q-File memory board at a time when memory boards were essentially unheard [In 1973 there were only four in Canada] to walking into Stratford and being instantly at home filling in occasionally on their 120 channel two or three scene / 600 cue nearly identical Q-File. The four Q-Files were in Ottawa, Ontario's National Arts Centre, Halifax New Brunswick, Hamilton and Stratford Ontario. I was a good fit for Stratford in '77 as their only Q-File programmer was able to have one of the late openers in the season off with Peter Roberts, the then current Production Manager, and the LX designers being willing to gamble on my abilities to program one of their productions.
With further apologies for droning on YET again.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
 
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JonCarter

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Didn't mean to bash Cinemoid, RonHebbard, back in the day it and Cinabex were the only plastic media there were. (Have any of you youngsters ever worked with real GEL? It was gelatin film, just like jello, w/coloring. (God help you outdoors in the dew!) And on any instrument bigger than a 400w. P.C. you had to replace it every other day if you wanted the same color you started with. )

It's been a long time but I'll take a shot at the OP's question. I'm going from memory on this as I sent all my gel books to a fellow (found on CB) who was working on a color history project or some such. As I was a Cinabex user, I'll give you Cinabex numbers. The colors are pretty close to Cinemoid and they use the same numbers. When possible I liked to use 6 instrumets on each area; a pair of fronts, a pair of sides in deeper colors and a pair of high backs to put a little rim on people. (Got that one from Jean Rosenthal.)
For a cool look: areas: W=36, C=faded 17. Sides W=14, C=16. Backs: W=51, C=17.
For a warm look: areas: W= 3, 51, 52 or 54, C=36. Sides: W=48, C=15. Backs: W=faded 7, C=17.
Of course, check the look on the costumes & scenery.