ship said:I have to disagree with Wolf’s description in part, but only because there is more than one way to describe a bank of lights that as he said is not highlighting any one area in a defined beam. A wash is a very broad description that describes a kind of focus but is very dependant upon your intended need for such a fill light.
His description might suite a application for say a repertory lighting plot. The principal or orchestra wants to take your stage for a show and need a general amount of even wash across the stage to be seen. In his case, it's more of a general lighting type thing that makes people look good but is not really doing anything special. You want a general intensity on the stage that will assure everyone is in the light to build off of type of thing might be the idea for using his description in a design. Now it's just a question of highlighting lighting the focus of the scene. With the rep-plot, it's adding "specials" for certain locations of action, to just focusing some lights on a podium.
A wash for me inside of a show’s design is more of a blending and filling lighting that crosses design areas so that as you walk from one zone to another, you don’t get the annoying walking in and out of shadow if the design has a tight directional concept to it that does not leave a huge amount of room for overlapping the zones. Scoops are good for this blending of zones and washing out of shadows from the spot lights - another use for washlights to keep the shadows off the scenery.
Than again, was that a bank of lights in general creating one type of color such as a blue for a night scene, or an amber for a harsh daylight, and more importantly how I differ from Wolf, it can come from any direction as per the need and direction it’s designed to be from. Your cyc lights placed over the set and as a down light will be very useful in providing a blue wash for a night scene so that you just have to pluck the actors out of the night with spots. Those same cyc lights or a bunch of parcans placed on side booms might just provide an interesting wash of a morning light, or overhead with a different gel for high noon. Wash lights can be any number of fixtures too, from a bunch of fresnels to foot lights. The general idea is that they have a wide soft focus.
Wash is as he describes a blended overall lighting on the stage, but one that’s more controlled than just a bunch of fluorescents overhead that would shine everywhere. You still have to keep your wash within the 4th wall. But it’s usually less refined and focused than key and fill lights used to spotlight the action and pluck the focus of the story out of the background.
In the end, it’s time to hit up the lighting design books. If you are ready to ask these questions on terms, I would guess it’s time for more education into how it all goes together. How should a general wash go? It depends upon the need application and the show. There is no set pattern or use because it's kind of a broad term.