Film noir adaption for theatre stage: Creating atmosphere

chiaroscuro

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We're planning to do a theatre production inspired by the "film noir" genre. I've already got a few ideas for dramatic lighting (loads of backlight, strong contrasts and the odd venetian blind using gobos).

Now, I'd also like to capture that classic black & white atmosphere that comes with these films. Does anybody have any ideas how to best create this?

Any other suggestions for creating the atmosphere are welcome, too. :)
 

chausman

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R99 Chocolate.
 

DRU

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Definitely spend some time researching the color pallette for scenery, costumes, and makeup.

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JohnD

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chiaroscuro

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Cheers to all of you guys for your hints, you’re great!

Special thanks to @JohnD for pointing me to the wiki – I did a search on “film noir” topics in the forum before posting my question. Apparently the search does NOT cover the wiki. ;-) Now I’ve got loads of inspiration! :)

@chausman: Interesting choice with the R99. Intuitively I thought about cooling colors like grey (R97/ 397 / 98). You’re suggesting a sepia scene, right? Do you have any practical experience, how this looks?
 

RonHebbard

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Cheers to all of you guys for your hints, you’re great!

Special thanks to @JohnD for pointing me to the wiki – I did a search on “film noir” topics in the forum before posting my question. Apparently the search does NOT cover the wiki. ;-) Now I’ve got loads of inspiration! :)

@chausman: Interesting choice with the R99. Intuitively I thought about cooling colors like grey (R97/ 397 / 98). You’re suggesting a sepia scene, right? Do you have any practical experience, how this looks?
I've used R99 for a show set in a dusty, dimly lit, attic. It came off looking warm without looking brightly lit. For my purpose I quite liked it.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
 

rsmentele

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In my experience the grey gels simply reduce output rather than adjust color. Maybe someone else will have a better explanation, but the grey gel is just like inserting an ND filter in the camera, it just reduces light output/input.
 

chausman

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@chausman: Interesting choice with the R99. Intuitively I thought about cooling colors like grey (R97/ 397 / 98). You’re suggesting a sepia scene, right? Do you have any practical experience, how this looks?
Pretty much what @RonHebbard said. We used it for the Kansas scenes in Wizard of Oz (along with some deliberate costume design) to look black and white, and in The Survivor (WWII era) to look bleak and colorless. It doesn't actually look as warm as you'd think on stage.
 
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chiaroscuro

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Eventually, I've got to test the filters (for the record: it weren't Rosco's R99 but Lee 156 ). Everybody thought it had an interesting effect. But in the end we decided it didn't really create the light for the kind of mood we want on stage. So the sheet goes on the shelf - who knows, it may fit in some other show? ;-)

On a side note: I accidentally got my hands on some 1/2 CTB (Lee 202 aka R372), which I then tested in the same setting as well. This gave a rather cool effect, too (pun intended). Might be a bit too harsh, though, to use it as a base for everything (I also understand it might create eye fatigue?).
 
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My senior thesis project in college was a show in black and white. For lighting I used R3202 and R3203 plus R98 (to help adjust for amber shift). Plus I worked very closely with costumes, makeup and scenic designers for color choices. there are many different color blacks out there for paint, fabric and makeup. We used our light lab to look at everything under the lighting before it went onstage. If you have more questions or would like to discuss it further PM me. I can also share some photos if you'd like.