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Followspot Focus Preference?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Spader, Dec 23, 2008.

?

How do you normally focus your followspot(s)?

  1. Hard-Edged; lights entire performer

    9 vote(s)
    22.5%
  2. Soft-Edged; subtle but visible

    26 vote(s)
    65.0%
  3. Other (Please Specify)

    5 vote(s)
    12.5%
  1. Spader

    Spader Member

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    I'm just wondering what you guys think about your followspots and how they normally are focused. I know that it can change from show to show, but just in general, how do you have them focused?
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    There are few things I hate more then drawing circles around people so the audience knows where to look. I usually keep a cut of R119 or something similar (freezer bag also works) in frame 6 in whatever spots I am working with. I only use hard edge if I have to, and the show calls for it.
     
  3. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    I almost always prefer a very soft, diffused edge to the spot. While I can see why I would want a hard-edge, blatant full-body spot, I have not had to use that so far in my designing career. What it comes down to is what you as a designer want to use your spots for. In most of my shows, I consider the follow spot to be a supplementary tool to add a little brightness to a certain person, which subconsiously draws the eyes of the audience to them. Ideally, the audience wouldn't even realize that the person was being spotted, they'd just have their eyes drawn to that person (remember, the audience tends to look at the brightest thing on stage).

    Were I lighting a show like Cabaret, I would probably use very obvious, hard-edge spots on performers for the Cabaret numbers. But again, it depends on your design and your vision of the show. Right now I'm lighting a production of Titanic: The Musical. It's almost easier for me to think of it as a "straight play with music" rather than a musical, since the lighting and sets and such are made to be as naturalistic as possible, without many surprises or unnatural things. For this show, I am going to get my spots as soft as possible, because letting the audience even see a little bit of a hard edge would destroy the "non-theatrical" illusion that I want to create.

    I'm interested to hear the opinion of others on this one. See if some of the old-timers here enjoy the more traditional look of a hard-edged spot.
     
  4. Clifford

    Clifford Active Member

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    I prefer a soft-edged followspot. It allows the audience to see the person, but, if done correctly, not allow them to see that the person is being lit. It's pretty much what [user]rochem[/user] said.

    The only time we ever used hard-edged was for Shakespeare in Hollywood, which requires searchlights playing on the Chinese Theater in the first scene. Luckily for us, that was the only time we had to use followspots in the show.
     
  5. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    Just like I like every other ERS focused, hard edge and then frosted to blend. Frost also helps with green spot ops, it gives them some cheater room. If the spot were hard edged and they were off target the bubble line on the targets face would slay me.
     
  6. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    I hardly ever use follow spots, unless the groups request them.
    We recently had Aston kutcher in our theater for a special showing of his new movie. I had totally forgot to check the focus on the spotlight, so its got a blue ring. In the picture it kinda looks like he's standing in front of the moon.:rolleyes:
    [​IMG]
     
  7. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Both, thus I didn't vote.

    It's very much designers preference. Hard edge is very "theatrical" and we use it all the time for variety/Vegas style acts, where the intent is to make the star/preformer stand out from the rest of the stage image. A sharp edge does this.

    Not all designers want this. I variety act yesterday had the LD using R132 in the spots. Very much his choice and style. He also focused all the FOH. side and bax elipsoidals as soft edge, where as I go hard for the theatrical feel (wanting the audience to notice the beam edge on the floor).

    For Nutcracker and just about every dance, we use frost and train the OP's to iris in tighter on the dancers when the FS beam hits the backdrops, then opening up to give more movement room when the beam falls on the floor. As our theater is very shallow and deep, then FS beams are not seen as much by the audience.

    Steve B.
     
  8. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    The choice is application based IMHO.

    Most of my spot work was in Rock n Roll, thus the hard edge was the norm. In theatre a soft edge would be preferred.
     
  9. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I concur with all who said that it is totally dependent on the show and the context. Sometimes you need hard, sometimes soft, sometimes full body, sometimes not. I don't think that it is fair to give a blanket "I prefer X" answer.
     
  10. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Is it also wide and narrow? Obtuse and acute? Hot and cold?:twisted:

    Hard edge/soft edge/in between: whatever works for for the production. One thing I suspect we all agree on is no, or minimal, chromatic aberration. (Though you've captured a spectacular example, [user]willbb123[/user]. I'm not sure I could get that much of a blue edge if I tried. What is the fixture?)
     
  11. theatretechguy

    theatretechguy Member

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    Really depends on the show, but its usually in hard focus with a sheet of R119

    I have two new Phoebus iMarc spots and they're tremendously bright (even with the 150 foot throw). I usually also add in some amber, lavender, or light blue to take the edge off. I really wish I had a lighting bridge or a catwalk for some "God spots", but unfortunately I have no such position.
     
  12. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Not to mention the "Burlesque" P/U - also know as waist down.

    SB
     
  13. Raktor

    Raktor Active Member

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    Since I'm mainly in theatre, I prefer a soft edge mostly. Sometimes a scene will call for a hard edge though... very much application specific. :)
     
  14. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    The spotlights are Lycian 1275. I have no idea how it got so blue... But it had to happen for this show...
     
  15. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Same here, but my vote was for “other” because the general instructions are crotch to six inches above the head. Often with rock, contrast is part of the show so spill is the enemy. The wider the spot, the more spill.
     
  16. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    I really don't care. What the designer wants, the designer gets. On those rare occasions when I'm the designer, if the director wants a hard edge, I'll give it a hard edge. If not, I'll give it a soft edge.
     
  17. kiilljoy

    kiilljoy Member

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    Though it's been said (many times, many ways), totally depends on application. I just did Footloose, and used R119 for a soft edge on some numbers, and a hard edge on others. Depended on if it was a book song or a rock song, and on how much I wanted the performer to stand out.
     

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