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Design

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Shakspeares suck, Aug 16, 2008.

  1. Shakspeares suck

    Shakspeares suck Member

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    Hey guys, I've been gone for a while and I'm sorry about that. anyways, School started for me and I'm going to be designing my first show. it's a bit nerve racking. especially with a crazy director. I'm wondering if theres anywhere i can go for design tips or anything of the sort, books websites whatever. because i dont know HOW to do certain things.
    thank you
     
  2. Serendipity

    Serendipity Active Member Premium Member

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    What don't you know how to do? Specific questions mean more useful answers!

    This is something my lighting mentor warned me before I designed my first show. She said that every beginning designer she had worked with never puts anything at full right away and makes timid design choices. While I had vowed to put things at full, a handful of cues in on my first night, I caught myself with most of my illuminated fixtures at 25, and fixed it.
    Be wild, be crazy, don't be bland. Confidence is attractive. R54 frontlight makes for happy parents, but is rarely* a statement.

    Congrats on your first show, which show is it? :mrgreen:

    * I can think of ways I could argue it as a statement, but just for example's sake...
     
  3. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    -When applicable, remember not to max out too early in a show. Save the best tricks for last.

    (Serendipity - please elaborate on this "everything at full" thing. I'm not getting why whether you run your lights at full or not makes you an experienced or inexperienced designer. It depends on what the show calls for. Your design should be based on feelings, not numbers).

    -Remember, it's not a concert. Believe me, some get confused. ;-)

    ---

    On lighting design resources, search online. I know there are more than a couple places on the internet that give some basic design tips.

    Another hint is to ask your crazy director if he/she has any lighting text books. Check the library too, but don't bank on them having anything.

    Also, ask questions along the way. Your director took several technical courses as part of receiving their degree I'm almost sure of. They just might know some things. Let them teach you.

    And just listen. Listen to everything. The show, your peers, the director... They will all help you in your design choices.

    Lastly, light the stage first. Then add the eye candy.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2008
  4. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    Frighteningly, I believe the majority of education degrees don't require any degree of technical experience. Mine didn't, and I made sure I either audited college classes or spent extra time working in the field. I was certainly the first teacher at my school in some time to know how to run a light board.

    Good tips though. If you know what you want, but don't know how to do it, ask here or find another lighting individual. I teach my students that experimentation is just as important as following any given method. If you want an effect, trying moving some lights around until you get it.

    Is this a high school show? Remember that most of the audience just wants to see their friend or student up on stage, so like others have said start with lighting the stage and lighting each scene.
     
  5. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    I suspect you're not communicating the mentor's philosophies as intentioned, or I disagree with her. Starting with a channel at FL gives the designer no place to go, except down. I think better advice for a young LD would be to remember that there are more settings than FL and 00%. [user]Les[/user] is correct, the numbers on the screen have little to do with how the lighting on stage feels. You make it sound as though you altered levels just because most were at 25%, so how/why did you "fix" it if the stage looked correct?

    [user]Shakspeares suck[/user], put aside Lekos and Fresnels and consoles for a moment, and see this entry: http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/glossary/7679-lighting-concept-lighting-statement.html. A designer begins with a concept based on script analysis and consultation with the director and other designers.
     
  6. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Here is what I tell people who ask me how to go about their designs. You have to go with what you feel. Start by thinking about how the show makes you feel, what emotions it evokes. Then I bet you there is a section of one of your local libraries with books of photos and paintings which you should visit, and browse through, and see what images evoke the same feelings as the show. Look at the lighting in those images and then think about how to create that on stage. When you get to a point like that, it is easy to come back to a forum like this and post a photo and ask how to go about creating an effect like XYZ. One of the other great things about finding images that show what ideas you want to create is that it helps you show the rest of the design team your ideas, since lighting is such an abstract sector of design.

    Also think about how to approach the show, is it realistic or surreal? That may effect how you go about your design as well.

    While here at CB we try not to tell you how to design your show, we are happy to help you get your ideas into reality. We just want them to be your ideas!
     
  7. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Alex's idea reminds me of another design exercise. Find a piece of music, any genre, that conveys the feelings of the play. It's not, necessarily, something you'd use as pre-show or during the show--this is a Lighting Design exercise, really!, but listening to that piece of music can help a designer to get a handle on the emotions and themes the play represents.
     
  8. quarterfront

    quarterfront Member

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    What he said, except that IMHO it should be "Firstly" instead of "Lastly". ;)

    How I was taught was that your first job is to illuminate the action. Your second job is to provide the director what the director wants. Your third job is to provide what the script asks for. When you have all of those bases covered you get to make it arty.

    Of course your goal is to do the first three things in a way that adds up to art. But if your art is getting in the way of the audience seeing what they need to see your art gets cut.

    As a beginning designer, keep it simple. Illuminate the stage, cover the directors needs and make the space look like what the script asks for. As for art... don't worry so much about that. Usually it shows up somewhere in the mix. Try to pick a moment in the show that really speaks to you and if you can, make your statement there; but don't get married to any particular artistic idea of your own.

    Theatre's a collaborative art form and lighting is as subjective as an art form gets so you're always going to be being asked to do it differently than you'd choose if it were just you. Remember that the audience doesn't know what you pre-visualized. They only know whether it looks professional or not, and if it does, well, that shade of blue that isn't exactly what you imagined... it'll do.
     
  9. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Lighting design is a combination of art and science. Some designers approach it more from one direction that the other. On those admittedly rare occasions when I do design work, I approach it more from the science side than the art. I do this because with my very ordered and methodical way of thinking, I simply understand the science better than I do the art. Once I've got the mechanics of the design down, then I start getting creative.

    You should know better than anybody what your strengths and weaknesses are. Make use of that knowledge to play to your strengths when working on your design.
     
  10. Serendipity

    Serendipity Active Member Premium Member

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    Well, the specific example was a number from "Wicked" [Emerald City] in which I had in my opinion a great design basis (key at a good angle, saturated accents, whatnot) except that my key light was at 35, and my accents at 25 for one of the biggest numbers in the entire show, leaving me not a lot of room for slower ballads.

    I don't think everything should be at full, because that sounds pretty bad if you chose different colors and angles to create different looks. It's just bad if you're afraid to make a commitment to a cue.

    I also really like dark shows, this number however, was not a dark number in my opinion. It was bubbly 8th graders standing on blocks and skipping around the stage.
     
  11. Serendipity

    Serendipity Active Member Premium Member

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    You're right, I didn't mean it as the first cue in the show, I meant it was in the first show, or couple of shows.

    I raised the levels of the key light and by doing so, I could cut them out of the set (black flats) using more angled backlight, while before if I had raised that they would have turned into more fitting for a Dracula rendition silhouette, as opposed to a cheerful musical number.
     
  12. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Lastly, as in my last piece of advice :)
     
  13. Shakspeares suck

    Shakspeares suck Member

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    hey guys sorry ive been a bit busy recently
    thank you for all of the comments i really appreciate all of them
    on to the more specifics
    I have one very interesting ...road block so to speak...that stops me from doing alot and that is the fact that allll my director cares about is the light on the faces nothing else period. i also have those nasty little shakspeares to light everything. so that stops alot. but thank you all for the comments on feeling the mood and everything. i cannot say what the show is yet because I don't know. please continue commenting
     
  14. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Hmmm, where did we discuss that Technicians and Designers MUST be able to clearly express their thoughts and ideas?

    [user]Les[/user], I believe you have misconstrued the message [user]Shakspeares suck[/user] was trying to convey.
    He's not saying that the director wants ONLY the faces lit. He's saying the director doesn't care about lighting, AS LONG AS the faces are lit. (A not uncommon viewpoint of many/most directors actually, and as [user]quarterfront[/user] said, the primary priority, particularly if inventory is limited/lacking.) I learned this as "Selective Visibility" which not only means lighting the actor's face and body, but also means not lighting things that would distract. Part of the reason today we take House Lights to black during a performance, which didn't start happening until two hundred or so years ago, right [user]SteveB[/user]?

    edit: [user]Les[/user], see the Glossary entry http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/glossary/7518-aperture-reducer.html.
     
  15. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Good...... The less the director wants the more you can design.....

    Thanks for the link to the glossary. That thing changes so often that I just don't keep up with it anymore.
     
  16. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Crazy director... would you really as a designer want anything other than “I see purple” to inspire you in re-inspiring this person? Colaritive effort, all parts of the design team make the overall vision - this as opposed to some all so certain overlord that has your job laid out for you to just supervise the build for.

    Time to step up I’m thinking and design to the director’s concept but your design concept based on it. Study, study and study in all ways it takes you until you get what is needed in understanding design theory/statement and your own means and concept. This no matter where it takes you.

    Design tips... your artistic design and thoughts is well beyond any tip or design anyone can give you. What is it you “feel” now about the production and script? Not ready yet in having this “vision”, keep studying into it in all ways be it artwork, history both on Shakespeare and local history and or if appropriate for this presentation at the time theater history, other productions perhaps but only in getting a feel but not in copying what you like and making it work, only for study etc. Your design - a great place to be in at this stage of your life. Rely on the director and your teachers about the school to help guide your design and help you find what at any moment to moment or week to week that you should focus on, but defiantly it should be your design and not what others think other than basing it on the director’s overall vision.

    Your art. Sorry, perhaps the largest challenge of your life so far in making it that - your art, but that’s what you are attempting to do. Nobody can make art for you in your position or recommend anything more beyond your concept you share with the director and design staff. First make your statement and concept than with the above and talent make art.

    One could only wish given your opportunity in making art and this is your greatest challenge now.

    Yep, you might or might not make it this time, and or might need major help to pull it off but this initial experience is so personal I hope it is your work and growth. Might not be perfect in realization in the end given a concept found but you will learn so much from it that there is nothing to replace this realized design short of it not being your own design.

    Do your homework, delve into all that interests you about it, don’t worry yet on the design if not there yet. If what I find is reality in design, just concentrate on study for now. At some point all this stuff you learn in the day will some night realize itself in a dream you wake up from. AT that point start sketching and stop studying other than where necessary and purpose built in finding an answer as opposed to sideline in study where it takes you.

    For me I dive into study where ever it takes me, could be that of structural steel design, could be History of Scotland or listening to some opera Turodot while studying “Italian American Dreams”, in the end it’s the design you wind up with initially where after following what takes your interest in designing the show and understanding what it is about that gets you there.

    Lots of books on the author also that could gain you info, took an entire class in college on the author that was useful but perhaps useful or not depending on your situation dictated much by the director’s concept or rules your show is about.

    Good luck and relax. This is what we dream of in being given the chance. Do the work and it will come we all hope in art.
     
  17. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    From a design perspective it's rather unimportant whether your Leko inventory are Shakes or 360Qs or the dreaded KLs or the deified S4s. Design is more about color and angle than it is about brand or how much of a pain it is when the yoke siezes up.

    Your director is concerned chiefly with the first and most important function of light: visibility. Facelight. After all, if we can't see their faces, we can't hear them. There are after that other functions of light: mood, effect, time or place, that sort of thing: those are the art.

    I heard it said once (and I've found myself designing this way too) that every light should have a purpose, as opposed to being there simply because some magic equation said you should put a light there.

    I also try to use similar discretion in cueing, to use each light with purpose. If it's in the cue at below a quarter, it's probably better that it be turned off rather than muddy up the cue. Most of the time, at least.

    My design technique goes something like this:
    1. read the script, making very broad observations - the point of this reading is to visualize the thing in my head as it translates naturally from the paper, without thinking about shutters and yokes and twofers and the rest of the mechanics.
    2. read the script again, making some less-broad observations: colors that pop to mind, basic texture, isolation, that sort of thing.
    3. look at the ground plan, sketch on the places where lights can go, and with basic knowledge of how the space is used sketch in where some of the lights should go.

    Then the whole thing of design meetings and production meetings and rehearsals. I make it a point to watch an early rehearsal so I can see how the director is using the space. Blocking is going to be very rough, but the basic manner in which he uses the space will be pretty predictable.

    Somewhere in that early stage is where I hammer out the light plot, after I have a feel for the show and things I might want to do, and after I have a feel for how the director uses the space. I also try to avoid painting myself into a corner too early, because it never fails that later in the rehearsal process the director will do something where you realize you really need another special to go There.

    So there you go: that's the sort of thing I do. Other guys will do it differently.
     
  18. Shakspeares suck

    Shakspeares suck Member

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    thank you for your continued comments especially ship and waynehoskins. one other problem i face as a designer is a bad throw angle from my front of house and no apron baton, however the only way to light the faces as my director wants is from FOH which takes up 18-20 of my ellips. any thoughts.
    thank you for your continued help
     
  19. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    batten. If it takes 18-20 ERSs to provide the front light your director wants, then that's what it takes, although that sounds excessive. If the FOH is a "bad throw angle" (What does that mean? Can you elaborate?) putting more lights there isn't going to help. One method of lighting the stage calls for each 8-12' acting area to be lit with two lights, each 45° up and 45° out (imagine the diagonals of a cube). With a 50' wide stage, this would take 10 fixtures.
     
  20. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Or are you trying to double up on lights to get a bit more punch out of them? If this is what you're trying to do, I think you'll find the results will not be quite what you're looking for. Also, I think you'll find, as you continue in theatre that most of the venues you work in will have less than ideal front lighting situations. In the last 19 years I have worked in only 1 theatre that had what I would consider an ideal front lighting position. Most, for various reasons, usually because the theatre's designers had little or no understanding of stage lighting, will in some way be a challenge for any designer working in the space.

    Embrace the limitations of your space. Limitations force creativity.
     

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