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Best lighting book ?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by SteveB, Oct 28, 2007.

  1. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Got a question.

    I have an employee/electrician, also a student in our Dept. of Theater, new to stage lighting, who's soaking up everything I can tell her.

    I want to recommend to her a good book on lighting design, something modern enough to explain modern gear - ML's, console development, etc... as well as the basics and older stuff that got us where we are today. More design then tech though, as I'm trying to get to think first about DESIGN, not the how-to as much.

    Other then Bellman, Pilbrow, etc.. which are dated, what's currently recommended. It's been years since I've even looked at my own text books that I am way out of touch with what's out there.

    Thanks in advance,

    Steve B.
     
  2. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    If a book exists that fits ALL your above criteria, I haven't found it. Design books tend not to cover grandMA, VL3000, and sine-wave dimmers, as the tech portions become dated immediately. In the same vein, I wouldn't automatically discount Bellman and Pilbrow, as the fundamentals of lighting design are not dependant on the hardware. All that being said, I would recommend
    Lighting and the Design Idea, by Linda Essig. Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1997. The author is a lighting professional, and university professor, and saw and filled the need for a "modern" lighting textbook.

    For the tech portion of your query, I recommend
    Automated Lighting, by Richard Cadena. Focal Press, 2006. Hardly anything useful for learning lighting design, but a great resource for the hardware junkie and historian. It does contain many innaccuracies though, but is current in that it has pictures of the grandMA, Maxxyz, and Hog3.

    Finally, I'll state again that my favorite design book is
    Stage Design, by Howard Bay. Drama Book Specialists, 1974. Nowhere else have I read such a real world view of producing a design--just ignore the parts about how many piano boards of which type are needed!

    To other posters answering SteveB's question, please be sure to also include your answers in the Collaborative Article titled "Theatre Books."
     
  3. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Just looking my bookshelf, Shelly's A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting and Gillette's Designing With Light, 5th edition come to mind as perfect beginner books. They both explain the design and the techical aspects of lighting quite well.
     
  4. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    If I have Shelly's book, I can't find it. I haven't trusted Designing with Light, by J. Michael Gillette, Mayfield Publishing Company, 1978, since the first edition had, on the cover a picture printed upside down of three fixtures (how DO those colorframes stay in?) and an ERS with light coming out the lens but with all the shutters pushed in all the way. I find the book too simplistic for all but the high-school level.

    On the other hand, his father's book, Stage Scenery, by A. S. Gillette. Harper & Row, 1972, is still considered "the word" on scenery. In the 1980s, in later editions, Arnold added his son as co-author, so as to share royalties.

    Soundlight, you've convinced me to buy the most recent editions and I'll post my new opinions once they're received.
     
  5. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Go with Shelley, no book explains better front to back how to get a show up. Also... anyone that travels with a blender gets a vote in my book.
     
  6. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    My thoughts exactly. It definitely takes you through the process very clearly.
     
  7. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I'm a fan of Gillette's book. The 5th edition came out January 2007. I've got a preview copy that I haven't had a chance to go over but I would assume they've updated some things.

    I have to agree that "Automated Lighting" does a really nice job on the Hardware side. It would be a nice accompaniment to one of the design books.

    The piece that's missing from all the books listed so far is control and for that I recommend "Practical DMX" by Nick Mobsby It does an outstanding job of making DMX, ACN, and RDM easy to understand.
     
  8. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    A thanks to all for the suggestions.

    I'll check out Gillette's book, which I had read an earlier version a while back as well as most likely going for Shelly's book.

    I got to work with Steve once when he was the LD for a visiting dance company. I remember that he was brilliant and that he didn't stop talking for about 9 hrs. or so, so I'm guessing he still has a lot to say and says it all in his book !.

    Steve B.
     
  9. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    The other thing that I like about Shelley's bock is that he goes through basic ways to focus different types of light - front, side, etc. This really helps those who have little concept of where the light is actually supposed to hit on stage. It's a good basis for getting in to basic designing.
     
  10. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Gelette was important for me in making that link.
     
  11. punktech

    punktech Active Member

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    i second the Gillette and Shelley books, and reccomend "AutoCAD-A Handbook For Theatre Users" by David Ripley, and for the art behind designing "What is Scenography" by Pamela Howard, and "The Empty Space" by Peter Brook. both are books that were able to get me to think more like a designer.
     
  12. gaslightgreen

    gaslightgreen Member

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    I may be a bit late to the conversation here, but I highly recommend Steven Shelley's A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting as well as Linda Essig's Lighting and the Design Idea. I am also enjoying The Lighting Art: The Aesthetics of Stage Lighting Design by Richard Palmer. I have found that all of these books do a good job of getting the student to focus on the "design" instead of the electrical how-to which is often a problem. I had previously used Gillette's Designing with Light but felt it placed too much emphasis on the technical elements and not enough on the design itself. I would still use it in the right class, but for what you have described, I would recommend the others first.

    I currently use Essig in my intro class followed by Shelley in my Lighting II class. For the 3rd class I use Light Fantastic: The Art and Design of Stage Lighting by Max Keller as I find that it gives a fresh perspective to the students after they have gotten their feet wet with the first two.

    Good luck!

    Michael
     
    ferret1 and (deleted member) like this.
  13. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Thank you, gaslightgreen, for seconding my opinion on Linda Essig, and Michael Gillette. And welcome to the booth. We seem to have gotten much "fresh meat" lately. Please start a new thread in the New Member Board here, so we can find out more about you.
     
  14. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I would also recommend picking up a copy of "Photometrics Handbook" by Robert C. Mumm as a tool to have if you are trying to encourage your student into design. It provides all the technical data you could want for choosing the right fixtures for the job. I can't tell you how many times I have been asked if people could borrow my copy as the lighting design professor here at the U doesn't teach that stuff.
     

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