Design Issues and Solutions Black and white effect

domiii

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I have seen this done on broadway in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins.

How do they do it, that is a black and white effect with lighting?
 

taylorjacobs

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Dec 19, 2006
I did not see Chitty, but in Mary Poppins the drop was black and white and they just added color to it with VERY well focused instruments... you could see if you paid very close attention, you could see where they overlapped
 

Chaos is Born

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usually to get the grey tones in a black and white effect show, you use a light blue light to bring out the greys
 

Van

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You know, Several years ago there was a theatre company in Dallas that specialised in adapting old Phillip Marlowe movies into "Stage Plays" But the entire production was in the Film Noir style. Sets, Costumes, Makeup. all "black and white" , which of course is really not black and white it's grey and grayer.
You might try google-ing "stage film noir, dallas black and white" I remember several articles and "in depth" pieces being written about it back then in Theatre Crafts , which is now that atrocious coffee table mag..........
 

gafftaper

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Yeah just want to throw out that your paint and costume color choices are really more important than your lighting when doing black and white. It's one of those times where you really have to have good design unity through all aspects of production or the whole thing falls apart. The tiniest detail on a costume will throw it off. Lighting plays a much smaller roll than you might expect.
 

Charc

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Feb 14, 2007
Yeah just want to throw out that your paint and costume color choices are really more important than your lighting when doing black and white. It's one of those times where you really have to have good design unity through all aspects of production or the whole thing falls apart. The tiniest detail on a costume will throw it off. Lighting plays a much smaller roll than you might expect.
LALALALALA I'M NOT LISTENING! :lol:
 

seansbar

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May 10, 2006
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I work with a designer that once told me a story. He was doing a show that needed a black and white scene. He went thru Rosco colors till he found something that worked. Later on he was adding instruments and ran out of gel. Went to the local supplier, and purchased the same color number, and it was a different color. Seems that the orginal supplier had a bad batch of gel. He went back to the original supplier and bought all their stock. I don't remember what number, but it was a bluish color.



-edit to fix spelling
 

ship

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Black and white in design has been studied in depth in the past here, stagecraft forum and lighting network before. Should be a in post link to all on this website somewhere under the topic of black and white. Fascinating concept, believe brown won out in coloring and physically doing it by way of the nature of light beyond white light theory with grey added in, but there were some interesting concepts presented all over for how to do it. Believe the end result of one of the last people that tried it was that he did not get back to us on the results, but than again he might have much later.
 

derekleffew

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quarterfront

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Thought I'd chime in with a little story of mine. A few years ago I did a design for a production of "Play It Again, Sam". Within the show we are frequently thrown into the imagination of the central character; we chose to have his fantasies be vividly colorful. However, one aspect of his fantasy life is the recurring appearance of Humphry Bogart. Of course, Bogart wants to seem to be pulled from a black and white film. And, to make things more complicated, the actor who plays Bogart also plays a major role in the "real" world of the play.

In this situation there's no making Bogart look truly "black and white". That said, you can make the suggestion to the audience by making him monochrome. How we handled it was that he was costumed monochrome (various shades of the same basic tan/brown) and then I lit his scenes with a system of lights separate from the main stage lighting system colored to match his costume.

Photos here: The one at the bottom of the page shows a Bogart scene....
 

Serendipity

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Black and white in design has been studied in depth in the past here.
Yes, just a couple weeks ago there was a film noir topic I would suggest you run a search for. :grin:

@quarterfront: Thanks for linking those shots, I really like the intense sides in the last shot, and the colors in the second.
 

ship

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A year or more likely two ago I was tasked with making a bunch of low pressure sodium vapor wash light fixtures that were to be DMX controlled dousered for a rock tour. Total late minute notice but I got it done in this wish to totally wash the stadium stage with monochromatics sufficient to make people sick if on too long, and totally remove any color from the scene. Dual 90w LPS fixtures with Wyborn's largest douser all based about a Hubbell Sports Lighter wash light stadium lighting reflector assembly that was custom cut for dual lamp tubes across teh focal point,a counter baffle to pick up and re-direct stray light plus yoke with the douser assembly etc..

Great effect, got into rehearsals than instantly cut from the show. Overnight shipping with me driving the fixtures to the drop of point etc., they were way too powerful and a bit more than could be worked with on the show. These days they live in a storage trailer in waiting for a show to get used on. Never used but my how powerful in whiping all light out of a theater or set.
 

quarterfront

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low pressure sodium vapor wash light fixtures ... totally wash the stadium stage with monochromatics sufficient to make people sick if on too long, and totally remove any color from the scene.
... how powerful in whiping all light out of a theater or set.
Yick. But, yeah, the idea's right there, I mean, isn't the spectrum output curve on one of those essentially one big spike at pi$$ yellow or something like that?

Wandering off topic, a few years ago I did SubUrbia in a small theatre and we used a Mercury Vapor light, the kind people hang on their garages, as part of the set for the area "around the back behind the dumpster" at the convenience store. There's a 3-5 minute warmup for the fixture and you need to let it cool down before you fire it back up. The warmup time was by necessity built into the design for the rising scene light. As the fixture warmed it would go through various shades of ick green and ick purple that would make the actors skin look pretty bad, pale pasty. Worked for the scene, largely because the director played with it well....
 

Grimtheatre

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Aug 8, 2007
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New York, NY
I saw this done about a year ago at the Shaw Festival at Niagra on the lake. I forget the show, but what they actually did was use purples and lavs for their costumes and set and then shot what i believe was in the range of R82 on it which gave a really nice black and white effect