Help!! Front Lighting only!!!


FIrst of all let me state that I am a Sound Deisnger who also knows a little about lights.

I am helping out a high school who has no budget for both Lighting Designer and Sound Designer, so i'm doing both. WIth that disclaimer.... The stage is very small and the school's cafeteria where they perform has only 2 pipes for lights. one is about 7 ft. from the stage the second is about 20ft from the downstage edge. I am unable to use lighting trees or adding pipes mounted to wooden bases for back lighting.

My question: Can actors look good (relative term) onstage without back lighting? Is there a way to work around this problem by choosing different colors or am I just screwed?

I appreciate any help...

Freaking out,
They will look decent.

My advice would be to put 2 or 4 instruments in the center of the pipe (and gel them one set warm and one set cool). Put a few instruments off on both sides of the pipe, as far over as you can go. Hopefully, this will give you a little more side light then you otherwise would have. If you do this on the pipe closer to the stage, you will get some sort of side light.

Gel wise, see what is in stock, I get the feeling that you won't want to spend the money (even though there cheep) to buy gels. A light amber for a warm was and a cooler, white/blue for a cool wash would be my suggestion.

How many/what kind of instruments do you have? That will effect what you put where, and how many you put where.
Thanks for the help....

As far as the inventory goes:

22 6" Fresnels
1 10" Fresnel
9 Lekos
1 Parcan

I'll need to save 5 Lekos for specials. I might want to use some fresnels for house lights instead of the harsh flourecent lighting of a cafeteria.

I also found a whole bunch of what are basically parcans made from cofee cans, however I need a way to mount them before I can use them.


Given that information I would suggest:
4 leko's as front light, 2 of them as "warm" and 2 of them as "cool". Hopefully this will give you enough basic front light, if it isn't, figure out a way to steal 2 leko's from specials, or, if you can't, get some of the fresnels to help cover the stage with front light.

From the sides I would say use the fresnels, in the way I stated earlier. Possibly try to gel some other colors that work well with the show, whatever feels right. Put them as far off to the sides as possible, and that will give you (hopefully) enough side light to help the bodies look better. I would suggest using the front (closest to the stage) pipe for this since you will get more of a side angle.

If you try to use some of the frenels for house lights, or the PAR can for house lights, good luck. I do that in my space (a gym). We have a white ceiling and have 6 S4 PAR's aimed at our white ceiling. It is somewhat dim, but not horrible, and still gives you some good light. If you ceiling is black, or any other dark color, don't even try it, it won't work. Aiming the lights down at people dose not work at all, and I tried that also. If you aim them down at people, you will get splotches of light in the house, and if people look up, they will be blinded.
Personally, I would use the fresnels to give a global warm wach, and a global cool wash, as well as some at an agle to give some supporting light from the side. This would leave you with more ERS's to use as specials, or to put more lights in certain areas of the stage. Also, I would just use any remaining fresnels pointing down, with a fairly heavily diffusive gel, and dimmed down as house lights.
I'm not sure how well the down-light fresnels would look, even with diffusion. The problem that I see is that if anyone glances up anywhere towards the lighting bars, they are going to be blinded by the lights. Also, since you would only have 2 bars for the house lights, to get light to the back of the room you would most likely have to shoot at a shallow angle, so looking at the stage with the house lights up could be a problem. Of corse, that also depends on how high the bars are from the floor.

In my space, we have 4 beams that we hang lights from, and each one of those has a S4 PAR, plus 2 from the booth. These are aimed at the ceiling. On the ceiling we have splotches of light and dark, but the bounce light to the floor keeps the light fairly dispersed, and we have an evan house wash. My thought is that by concentrating the instruments as down light from only 2 positions, it may not work as well.

Of corse, the only way to find out is to go and try it, so, that said, tell us how well it works.
Personally, I would just use the flourescents as house lights. They would shurely not be as harsh as a couple of 500-1000 watt fresnels, even dimmed down. The best way of getting house light out of stage lighting instruments is either indirectly, as Zac850 does, or by diffusing scoops and distributing them on a grid like in a studio setting. Plus, it would probably take way more than a couple of fresnels to evenly light a space the size of a cafeteria anyway.
Thanks for all the help everybody! I'm definetly starting to feel less overwhelmed by the whole ordeal. I have always had great respect for Lighting Designers, but now I feel I guess the way Lighting Designers feel about Sound Designers... you know, it's all voodoo whichcraft....right! hahaha

During my last expidition into the schools storeroom I found 5 Chauvet CH-605s that have never been opened. I might be able to use them for a concert lighting effect the script calls for.

Also does anye know whether a Leprecon 624 MPX can handle moving lights??

Thanks for the help,
Jason Tag
If you are using the DMX protocol, then yes - it can handle it, but not with ease. You'll have to control all of the attributes of it by hand or with cues which would look pretty strange unless you can change the values quickly and continuously. Have fun!
i agree with lester about the flourescents, at the jr high last year we didnt have an auditorium, we had a cafetorium, sounds kinda similar to your situation so it was lighted like a cafeteria, flourescents and a few incandessants over the pit. i wasnt wild about the flourescent light, but it worked well enough. it was unpleasant, but as the audience was already sitting in plastic stacking chairs and it looked like a cafeteria, they were understanding enough. one thing that i have found is no one ever cares about the lighting except the techs. if you dont say anything odds are people wont even notice that they are sitting under flourescent light.
If there are any theaters nearby that you have connections with it never hurts to ask to borrow a few things.

Users who are viewing this thread