Best Way to Light a Cyc

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by jack63ss, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. jack63ss

    jack63ss Member

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    I just made a post about trying to light my cyc with fresnels but this is a more general question. I am looking for opinions on the best type of fixtures to use to light a cyc and where to position them ? I could see how scoops, light bars, and flat panels could do it, but I am looking for input on what works and what doesn't. My cyc is 15'x40', so the solution needs to scale.
    Thanks
    Jack
     
  2. techieman33

    techieman33 Well-Known Member

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    The main ways people light them are with cyc lights or strip lights. It should be pretty easy to rent either of those in the boston area for not a lot of money.
     
  3. chausman

    chausman Chase Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Do you have pictures of those flat panels? Or a make/model?
     
  4. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

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    Well, probably the best way to light a cyc is by using the purpose-built Cyc Lights positioned anywhere from 6-8 feet [-]upstage[/-] downstage of the cyc. With any other fixtures, it is just trial and error depending on what you're using and the height of the surface you are lighting. You could also go with a groundrow (or both).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    See also: cyc light - ControlBooth
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
  5. techieman33

    techieman33 Well-Known Member

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    He meant position them downstage of the cyc, not upstage.
     
  6. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

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    Oops, yes. Fixed.
     
  7. jglodeklights

    jglodeklights Well-Known Member

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    Yes, cyc fixtures are ideal due to their asymetrical reflector design providing a significantly more even wash from top to bottom than other types of fixtures. Of note, though, is that different models of cyc fixtures require different spacing from the cyc and from each other dependent upon the height of your cyc and the brightness you want. For example, the Altman Spectra CYC 100 LED cyc lights my theater are effective at evenly lighting our 16' cyc from a distance of 4' away and 5'-6" away from each other in order to get the intensity we need. If you can't get your instruments further away from the cyc, you'll need more of them in order to evenly light the cyc left to right.

    Now, downstage or upstage actually depends on the type of cyc you have. If you have a leno filled scrim, attempting to light from upstage will not work. It can work with muslin, natural or synthetic, but downstage is definitely going to be punchier. Some theaters also use cycs made from front and/or rear projection material. With a front/rear material you can light from either side as necessary, but with a rear projection material you really should light from upstage.
     
  8. dgourley

    dgourley Member

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    Agreed. The best way to light a CYC is with a Cyc unit itself. Having done countless demos in countless spaces with every other unit you can imagine put next to them, Asymmetrical CYC units win hands down.

    That is all. THANKS! :)
     
  9. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    One important factor to consider in lighting the cyc for the first time is if you will be able to properly light the rest of the stage without light spilling onto the cyc. The light pastel colors you want for front light on your actors' faces will obliterate all of the deep colors you want on the cyc. So you may need to alter the way you have traditionally lit the rest of the stage in order to keep the cyc isolated and only lit by your cyc lights. As you move towards the upstage areas you will need to light the stage with increasingly steeper angles, to keep the front light off the cyc. This also means that your performers blocking needs to change from past blocking as they need to stay a few feet downstage of the cyc so that they will be properly lit.
     
  10. kicknargel

    kicknargel Well-Known Member

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    The next most common cyc light (at least before the LED revolution) is MR16 mini-strips (also know as zip strips, and other names). If you don't have the grid space to get your cyc lights 4-6ish feet downstage of the cyc, these can get closer. Not as even top-to-bottom coverage, however.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2013
  11. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Why? If its a seemless cyc the best place to light it from is from US imho.

    Also not all cyc lights are created equal, always always always look at the spec sheets for your fixtures before deciding on cyc light placement for guide lines on best height and distance.
     
  12. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    An excellent point. Depending on the cyc and the fixtures, you can get a more even look by lighting the cyc from behind. On the other hand if the cyc has seems, if the fabric is a little too thick, or your fixtures are a bit weak, it can look bad or be too dim to really pop the colors the way you want. It's a your mileage may vary sort of deal, but definitely worth experimenting if you have the space on stage to move your lighting behind the cyc.
     
  13. chausman

    chausman Chase Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    You can add "The cyc is on the last lineset and there is no other place to hang fixtures." to the list of reasons to light the cyc from DS.
     
  14. shiben

    shiben Well-Known Member

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    That seems to be an incredibly common reason that I run into. That or "The cyc is a wall we painted white".
     
  15. Lou9x9

    Lou9x9 Member

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    In my school we have a color wash on some gelled foot lights about 5 feet away from the cyc. we get some saw toothing but it's no big deal. no one notices. we angle it downward and if you're standing all the back to the cyc you'll barelly get top light from it. it gives nice background work for any production. but can get old fast if you don't know what you're doing (obviously).
     
  16. alyx92

    alyx92 Active Member

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    Anyone have a preference as to hanging the CYC fixtures from a lineset vs. doing a ground row?
     
  17. techieman33

    techieman33 Well-Known Member

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    It depends on what you have to work with, some cyc lights are designed to be used from the air, and some from the ground. I generally prefer lighting from the air, and adding a ground row if necessary though.
     
  18. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    In a well designed theater there is really no negative to hanging lights but there are lots of potential negatives to ground row.

    Ground Rows are:
    -Potentially in the way.
    -Potentially a trip hazard.
    -Depending on the set they may be visible.
    -Potentially require the director to alter blocking.

    The biggest hassle with hanging cyc lights is aiming and possibly circuiting (if you don't have enough power in the right place). However, considering this is something you usually hang and don't mess with except for maintenance, in the long run it's far less labor and hassle than a ground row.

    All that said, sometimes you need a ground row and that's just something you have to deal with.
     
  19. shiben

    shiben Well-Known Member

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    Its also worth noting that sometimes the look that a groundrow can achieve is more desirable for the production than lighting from the air. Sometimes (a lot of the time) you might want both, so you can do cool effects to make the sky look more realistic. I find it really depends on my space considerations (where do I have circuits, where is it realistic to put lights, how many can I afford, etc) and what the cyc wants to look like for any given production. I tend to find that the issues associated with a groundrow in terms of space are best addressed by throwing a black scrim DS of the whole operation and having that in from the initial discussion. It makes the cyc go away pretty well, and just takes that space off the table ASAP, and avoids a lot of trip hazard and visibility bits. Either way, its a discussion that needs to be had.
     
  20. lwinters630

    lwinters630 Well-Known Member

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    I am using Vivid R from ETC and I am very pleased with them. They will blend any color, are very even, run quiet and cool (LED RGBA), use less power (I.E. one 20amp crt) no changing gels, and are very bright. Often I only have to run at 60 to 80 pct.

    Yes they are pricey but you asked the best way. IMHO
     

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