Design Issues and Solutions Black Box Rep Plot

nlandis

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Joined
Sep 2, 2015
Location
Chicago, IL
I'm in the process of creating a rep plot for a recently-built black box space that seats roughly 150 and has a stage that is 47' wide (in reality, about 40' of usable space when legs are in place) and 26' deep. The space is equipped with a tension grid system and pipe grid above, so there are lots of available hanging positions (as long as you're careful to avoid the pesky beams that get in the way!). I also have a fairly large inventory of instruments: roughly 60 S4's with barrels ranging from 10º to 50º (about half are 26º, with fewer of the others), 30 S4 PARs with spare lenses from VNSP to WFL, and 12 S4 Fresnels. It needs to accommodate a range of different kinds of events, but most commonly the space is used for classical concerts/recitals, opera scene workshop performances, and the occasional jazz concert or speaker. Full-scale chamber opera productions do go up in the space, but these carry their own designers and wouldn't be covered by the rep plot (though it could serve as a starting point, depending on the production).

My instincts, along with all the reading I've done on this forum (mainly of the few other threads discussing rep plots), are telling me to do something along the lines of the following:
  • Hang frontlight for 10 areas, 5 across x 2 deep, lighting each in a McCandless configuration (typical warm/cool with N/C blue and a light amber). I'm planning to use 26º instruments for this.
  • Hang toplight to cover the stage area, either gelled N/C blue or some partial CTB. Currently I'm leaning towards PARs with MFL lenses for this, either 10 (1 for each area) or 15 (adding an extra row u/s to fill in gaps all the way to the u/s wall)
  • Hang backlight in 1 or 2 deep colors (dark blue for sure, perhaps magenta as well). I'm leaning toward several PARs with WFL lenses, perhaps 4 instruments on each of the two most u/s electrics.
  • Hang sidelight over the stage, perhaps with 36º instruments, in one or two colors (a pale pink or lavender?).
A proper plot would be forthcoming once some of these details are better settled. My question, essentially, is how does this sound? Are there any thoughts/suggestions/warnings you might have for the basic concept I've outlined above (in particular, as it pertains to a black box space)? Specifically, a few questions have occurred to me:
  • I expect I'll want some sort of frost in the frontlight, but I've heard conflicting opinions on which frosts are best for this purpose. Any recommendations?
  • How should I focus the sidelight? Should I be attempting to hit each area individually from both sides, or are larger sidelight areas okay?
  • What color(s) would you suggest for the sidelight (or is no color better)?
  • Would I be better off using WFL lenses (and perhaps consequently fewer instruments) rather than MFL for the toplight? Or even ditching the PARs in favor of Fresnels? Or hanging a separate system of Fresnel toplight in some sort of attractive lavender, in addition to the PAR wash?
  • Will WFL PAR backlight provide a satisfying level of saturation, or do I need to be supplementing it with pipe ends or moving to a narrower lens?
But in general, whatever advice or ideas you might have would be much appreciated! Let me know if there's anything else I can provide.
 

seanandkate

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Aug 29, 2008
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Stouffville, Ontario
All this assumes that your blackbox stays in a proscenium configuration, and isn't a flexible space during your season.

I expect I'll want some sort of frost in the frontlight, but I've heard conflicting opinions on which frosts are best for this purpose. Any recommendations?
I only generally use frost from the front if I'm having trouble blending. There's every possibility you don't even need frost. I'd wait until it's hung and see how you like it.
How should I focus the sidelight? Should I be attempting to hit each area individually from both sides, or are larger sidelight areas okay?
You could probably get away with just near, centre, far in your US and DS areas.
What color(s) would you suggest for the sidelight (or is no color better)?
With the exception of the jazz concerts, most of your performances sound like they would prefer the neutrals you have chosen. Since your rig is, at present, leaning toward cool, maybe something a little warmer from the sides?
Would I be better off using WFL lenses (and perhaps consequently fewer instruments) rather than MFL for the toplight? Or even ditching the PARs in favor of Fresnels? Or hanging a separate system of Fresnel toplight in some sort of attractive lavender, in addition to the PAR wash?
I tend to use up my fresnels before my PARs--I just prefer the control and quality. If you have the dimmers, instruments and space to do both, go for it.
Will WFL PAR backlight provide a satisfying level of saturation, or do I need to be supplementing it with pipe ends or moving to a narrower lens?
I think with the kind of dark colours that you are choosing, I would go one instrument per area for a total of 10 with a narrower beam angle.

All of this is just my preference. YMMV.
 
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