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Gel Colors (Colour) theory with lights.

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by wemeck, Sep 5, 2003.

  1. wemeck

    wemeck Active Member

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    Text Book McCandless is 5 lights two fronts, two sides, and one back. All lights, with the exception of the backlight, should be 45 degrees from the object.

    Text Book Pillbrow is just McCandless five point system with a sixth light placed between the two front lights, and centered on the area. Pillbrow recommends a neutral color for the sixth light. Neutral as compared to the warm and cold Gel colors used.

    What do you all do for lighting style?
    And what are your choices for Gel Colors or Color Theory?
    Do you put in a warm on the left and cold on the right?
    Or do you put all the same Gel across the front lights? Our resident LD does.
     
  2. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Talking about a can of worms!

    I'm going to sit this one out for a while on what I would call a style because it changes with each setting, theater and production for how I do my gelling much less lighting.

    Remember the McCandles book is called "A Method for Lighting the Stage" not "the method". In most instances his lighting locations will give you a good starting point for designing a basic coverage of the action on stage, but only a basic coverage of it in general. Even Stanley mentions that this is a starting point or basis to work off of. Pilbrow improved upon it as appropriate for a similar use but not for all usages. Foot lights at times might just be most appropriate - each show it's own concept that might or might not make use of "going McCandles."

    As for gel, no I don't go all same color front lighting unless perhaps night and my highlight is from a side or the back. Even than no. But that's so far. No promisses I would not if I needed to. Perhaps - boring, boring, boring, flat... That said I'm not there and making the choices. As I remember it, one of those two authors if not both more said that you have keylight and fill light in general and the highlight and shadows are a part of that. If you have say a light color from one side, than it's opposite side wouldn't be that same light color - couldn't be unless standing under say a fluorescent lamp that isn't directional. A concept all into itself.
    However from my past memorys, it's not locked in what direction the highlight is coming from in those books - more just example or general sugguestion. If say you have a large motivating window upstage with the sun shining in, why would you want to put the keylight from the down right? Much better to take the guidence of a general direction for the key light and radiate and sculpt off that in most instances - again in my opinion again.

    You don't even have to stay locked into 45/45/90 in a stage house. What if you spun that some say 30/60/105 off the plaster line? Wouldn't it be the same sculpting. It might lead the audinece to a whole nother scene that's different and in some ways might reveal the scene differently? And that's before you even get into reducing and playing with those angles as needed, much less going one or two dimensional. Perhaps even high side lights and a low front fill would work at times. Style and design are part of the art of stage lighting, there is no one proper method of doing it or most of us would be out of work.
     
  3. MissD

    MissD Member

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    What a great question! But difficult to answer, as ship mentioned. I haven't designed the lighting scheme for a show, yet, but we always hhad a mix of warm and cool in all areas.
     
  4. wemeck

    wemeck Active Member

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    What is or possible could be, the advantage of putting say R02 in both your front lights?
     
  5. Jo-JotheSoundDog

    Jo-JotheSoundDog Active Member

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    It's been a while since I even thought about that McCandless guy, but isn't part of the theory that you want a warm color on one side and a cool on the other?

    I might be wrong be I would think you would end up with a flat warm wash.
     
  6. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    You are very right on both those points.

    -wolf
     
  7. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Oh my...Stanley McCandless @ Century Lighting...again..will this industry ever get over that false-god mad-man with a torch as the end-all be-all of lighting design <gggg>.

    Ship's point is the best said point so far--the McCandless method is A method but not THE method to stage lighting. There are so many different aspects and different NEEDS for each lighting project that there is no one-method. I think, IMO, what a lot of folks tend to miss when they look at McCandless is that it teaches you NOT how to light every stage all the time--but it teaches you to THINK and consider ALL the various points and aspects OF the stage and its surroundings. Whether you choose to put a 5 or more lights on one area--that is up to you depending on th effect and conditions. The book should be called Do what I see--not what I Do. There are so many aspects to lighting, and it all varies from situation to situation. The mark of a good LD is to learn the various needs and aspects of all the different things you may have to light. If you did McCandless for TV--you'd be shot. If you tried to do McCandless for an Orchestra--they orchestra would lynch you once they got done squinting at you. If you tried to do McCandless for archtectureal lighting--you would be over budget and thensome. If you tried MCCandless for IMAG video presentations in a corporate environment--the video guys would kill you for off-balancing their color by making one side warm and the other cool. Learn from McCandless the BASIC root he has to teach--that you need to observe and THINK about what you are lighting, and WHY. Also that you must experiement and SEE what and how light works on a person, an object, a surface, a texture. Think about shadow, color mixing (and please do NOT use his color ideas<g>), VARIOUS angle and intensity, and the positions you have to work with--not everyone has a venue that can DO his theory in full because of hanging points, dimmers or lack of instruments. Here is where you have to THINK...this is where that spacial accuity testing (thinking in 3D in your brain and being able to move an object around in your head to figure out a problem) comes to play.

    I have met very few designers who stick with McCandless thru and thru...the ones who do and do nothing else (the McMindless as I call them) tend to have the worse lighting skills and design ideas cause they try to apply his methodology to everything they do without thinking beyond the formula--whether its a musical or a drama or a ballet dance. Part of being a designer is DESIGNING...not copying what someone else said because they said it first. MCCandless is a BASIC theory to teach you how to look at an object, how to look at a stage, how to look at color mixing ideas to attain certain attribute--but you have to understand that those attributes do NOT apply to everything under the sun. Think OUT of his box...make your own box that WORKS. It works cause it works in a situation you thought about--not cause you "think" it will and nothing else will. McCandless teaches you the positions to think of when lighting a show and what to consider if you think about WHY he chose those area's to light from--but it is NOT the end-all be all of how it is done.

    As for lighting the front wash with ALL one color...that is not a great idea cause it does what Matt said--it washes out and flattens the look. You NEED shadow..you need color temperatures, you need those gel choices to blend in. If I used R33 or 34 (A pink) then everyone would look pink and saturated and flat...pink is not natural--pink has no shadow, pink has no tone. I use a warm and a cool front--with a no-color wash as well for general punch...but that is again only in a few instances. In general--the way I color a stage I do not use warm from one side and cool from another..that drives me insane to see that cause you get such a mish-mash of blendings depending on how a person is turned--and if one of those warms or cools go out--suddenly that person is one sided and cool or warm on that side only and it looks even dumber.

    If I use a cool color--I use it evenly around the stage, and more then likely I will color mix. For example: If I have 4 lights from the left that are cool--I have 4 matching lights from the right that are cool too--and my front wash in that cool tone will be a cool gel but of a different hue--one I selected cause the color mixing of the two colors made a different color. Another example: IF I have 2 warm and 2 cool from one side--I have 2 warm and 2 cool from the other side as well in a mirror image--but I make the wash and coverage even so I am not bringing up a cool on one side and a warm on the other--its either ALL cool, ALL warm, or a mid variance between the two. Depending on the moods and the looks and the actual SHOW I am lighting and what it calls for will depend on my mixing and color saturations I choose. For example--we currently have 3 different blue gels in our house plot... The Front cool gel matches the Top (down) cool gel--the High-Side light is a lighter hue to give a cool brighter accent to the sides or be its own independant color, and the backlight is a deep saturation congo. Varying levels gives me different moods of each.

    Positions stay the same-- front, side, back, top (down), and occasionally a front high L&R. Depends on the show tho...for IMAG I will use redundant pairs of leko's on a slightly crossed shot to give depth to the face and add contour, lightly frosted no-color, and 1-2 backlights with no color frost for the shoulders, head and to add depth, and a color wash & uplight for the backdrop, and then there is signage and other considerations. I am missing the "45 degree" side lights from McCandless..closer to Pillbrow..but still not quiet either of those two. Yet to do anything different will not transfer to video in an acceptable way. For theater--I tend to stick with a lite warm, a light cool front, a different side warm and cool, a saturated back, and a neutral/warm and cool top light that match the front wash, and neutral or no color specials for punch. ALL colors reverse-repeat from SL to SR crossing at Center. Then for dance & traditional ballet--you have shoulder sides, mid-sides and shin busters/ankle lights added to the mix of design. So---Is this McCandless? Pillbrow? A mix of both or neither? Am I right or wrong for doing this style and THINKING about the show and project before I toss up someone elses outdated theory all these years for my own? Well so far I've never had a complaint or bad review...if it works and works well--it works.

    Please take McCandless et al for the thought provoking process it SHOULD be about, and learn how to adapt for the mood you need and the position of the happenings on stage, and not for the gospel many think it is. GOOD designers take the tools, theory's, ideas etc and make it their own with a lot of forethought and skill at makeing what they see in their head appear on the stage. They THINK about the show from a "mood" and "angle" point of view..not a theory on how a book says it should be lit. The BEST way for you to learn to adapt and how to do the BEST lighting possible is to KNOW your fixtures and their washes/beam spreads etc and applications, KNOW how angle, texture and shadow work (and think about it from the audience view--not your view in the booth 30 feet upstairs and 70 feet away from the stage) AND think and play with color mixing and how colors work to be additive, subtractive, saturated, tonal or neutral, and think about the mood and effect you need to help create or enhance on stage for the show you are doing. Take a light--light up a vase or person and then move it around to various angles and SEE what it does for yourself--you not only have X&Y (height and distance) but you have Z to think about (Z being the variance factor--angle or intensity). Then when you think you have all that down as a science--add GOBO and shadowplay with patterns to that thought process for effects you can achieve with those as well to aid in your designs to help with those moods & feelings and accents to the show.

    hope that helps get the wheels in your brain turning....

    -wolf
     
  8. Jo-JotheSoundDog

    Jo-JotheSoundDog Active Member

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    Another problem with Mcandless is that there are many houses(mine included) where it is physically impossible to do. Sure it can be done successfully center stage, but once you start trying to cover all areas you would have to remove walls.
     
  9. natedogg08

    natedogg08 Member

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    I am a student interested in theatre lighting as a major. I've helped light musicals, presentations, straight shows, and a lot in between. I've found that for general front light washes and areas, I gravitate towards using 2 colors (usually light amber-R02 and a warmish lavender- R54). This blend eliminates the harsh contrast that often comes with traditional McCandless. I also don't stick to the 45-45 angle principle. I prefer a smaller angle, again for a smoother blend of color on the face. When setting up a basic wash or areas, I like to sculpt the figure with down light, usually from wide flood PARs. My go-to color for down light is G104, or any nice rosy pink. It goes very well with the amber/lavender from the front.

    When trying to punch color more, I isolate the front light to one source, either warm or cool, from straight on, rather than angles. This allows more shadows on the sides and back that can be filled in with color. For that I like down light, in a slightly more saturated color, like lavender or deep amber. I also like high sidelight to fill in the sides of the face and figure. Right now I'm playing with using a primary blue (G850) from 1 side and deep magenta (G140) from the other. The result is figures that really pop with bright, vibrant (albeit unrealistic) color. I love the look. Hope this is insightful.
     
  10. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    Wow, a thread from 2003. I like it when these oldies come up.

    Anyway, natedogg08, it seems you are well on your way to discovering the magic of stage lighting. While each production is unique every designer has their own basic methods to get them by. I applaud the fact you are using both Rosco and GAM as opposed to just one color manufacturer.
     
  11. NickVon

    NickVon Well-Known Member

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    When you are limited in Circuits/Instruments as I am. IN order to cover the front of my stage with 12 dimmers at our Balcony rail, I have my units all twofered to allow for 2 I-Cue instruments, and Aisle lights. If I had 24 Circuits at balcony and instruments to match i think that i would do Warm/Cool/Nuetral wash.

    To answer in another way as has been kinda mentioned above. 2 colors from the left and right of front will make people seem a little flat. Back light can do a lot to improve this and two colors warm/cool from the front make things less flat even more so.

    First rule of Lighting, is make sure we can see the actors. Everything else is Icing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2012
  12. Dreadpoet

    Dreadpoet Active Member

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    Our facilities nearly always does 3 point McCandless ...(obviously not inclusive of specials, wall washes, etc.) I think it is an easy idea to teach beginning techs with and requires few enough dimmers/fixtures. That being said, I think there is near limitless possibilities with how you approach and manipulate the idea of 3 point lighting (warm/cool/back) by manipulating quality of light through gel choice or even mixed gels, adding effects technology, changing the angles of instruments both vertically and horizontally, as well as just manipulating intensities. I will say that not only does it give students a lighting theory to work from rather than a confusing "anything goes" approach, it is also very liberating to me as a designer as I get to explore how many ways to approach a singular idea rather than just guess at what will work. Perhaps we can call this the "Te of lighting design". :eek:
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2012
  13. ZDurler88

    ZDurler88 Member

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    At my college, we're taught the mccandless theory which I don't really care for because unless you are using pretty saturated colors, it all just ends up looking like white or light amberish light so the gels are almost pointless in these sometimes. However, we have 2 45 degree lights (a cool on the right and a warm on the left), a front light which compliments the 2 45's well, and typically 2 downlights, one warm and one cool. I always use sidelight as well. R60, R33, and R02 are our beginner basics gel wise. Can't really screw up with those. I'm usually a lot more daring with my choices and tend to break away from the mccandless style haha.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2012

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