The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

Design Issues and Solutions Lighting a Blackout

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by lieperjp, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    43
    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
    Central Wisconsin
    Oxymoronic, I know.

    Coming up for our production of Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 There are several scenes where there are power failures, and hence a blackout. The director and I agree that the stage should not just go dark and risk losing the audiences attention, plus there are murders going on during the blackout so we want to add to the excitement.

    I'm thinking some high dark blues from behind mostly for this, but I really have no idea where to start. My biggest problem is that there the stage is almost completely surrounded by 8 ft. walls for the set.

    Yes, I know the policy on not telling how exactly to design but any suggestions would help, especially working around the set.
     
  2. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

    Messages:
    782
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Arlington, TX
    Here's what I did when I lit that at the high school (and it's a wonderfully fun show too).

    I had a few KW of dark blues from front in addition to the normal front system. Also consider additional sources of light, like windows. I snuck in the blues more to visibility as the "power outage" continued. Pretty sure I had some blue tops or bax as well.

    Gosh, that was a fun show.

    I hope I'm not crossing the magic line there between helping you through a design issue and designing your show for you.
     
  3. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,556
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Dark blue Fresnel tops with any out door light (moon light, street lights, etc).

    Mike
     
  4. DarSax

    DarSax Active Member

    Messages:
    606
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Bethesda MD
    If this is indoors, I personally wouldn't go for blue, as I associate it more as an outdoor color. That being said, if your concept is that the room is lit by moonlight through windows, I'd say go for it, best if you even have some light through your windows on the floor (nothing clicheed, now).

    But that's a bit more dramatic. If it's a comedy or something less "intense," I'd just turn the regular lights way down. It'll be the most visible way, and the audience will realize what it is if the lights are dim enough to not be normal. Combined with the lines that I'm sure are in the play of "OH DEAR THERE GO THE LIGHTS AGAIN," and proper blocking, I'd say you'd be set.


    just my €.01
     
  5. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    43
    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
    Central Wisconsin
    Some things I forgot to mention:

    What I have to work with:

    6" Fresnels
    PAR64 with Narrow Lenses

    Our biggest problem is that the outages are caused by a massive blizzard, so something like moonlight is nearly out. I kind of like [USER]waynehoskins[/USER]' ideas, but also [USER]DarSax[/USER] makes sense too. I think I may end up going with a Victorian style window GOBO gelled blue at about 30 to make the light plausible. I may also bring all lights (except the windows) down all the way and sneak in the rest of the lights - sort of like eyes adjusting to the lights.

    I did some experimentation a few weeks ago when we had blizzards/heavy snow three days in a row - not really much light out at midnight during a blizzard.
     
  6. Goph704

    Goph704 Active Member

    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Did they have Exit signs in the 1940's? A little blue, a little moon light and the Red of a well placed light box Exit or the 1940's equivalent might look really interesting. Unfortunately I'm not incredibly familiar with the show, but I do know that every black out I've eve programmed has had those little buggers illuminating something.
     
  7. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    43
    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
    Central Wisconsin
    The scene is in a house/private mansion, so while this is a great idea to keep in mind, wouldn't work for this show.
     
  8. thommyboy

    thommyboy Active Member

    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    14
    I just did this show last year and LOVED it. We actually went to Black. This allowed for the audience to rely on their ears, as we had the slasher come out from one of the hidden places and actually Kill Bernice then exit. Leaving the sword sticking out the back of the chair.
     
  9. quarterfront

    quarterfront Member

    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Kansas City, MO
    Some food for thought.... Stuff you may already know, and worth considering in any case.

    The reason we use blue light backstage, and that we generally use blue light to indicate night time has to do with our eyes.

    First, at low light levels the sensitivity of the human eye to the red/yellow part of the color spectrum drops off while sensitivity to the blue end of the spectrum stays proportionally higher.

    Second, at low light levels the monochrome sensitive rods on our retnas are more sensitive than our color sensitive cones, so as overall light intensity decreases we see more and more in black & white.

    Combined, these two factors add up to the following: As darkness approaches we continue to see blues while reds go away, and even the blue we see seems less rich, less saturated.

    With this in mind you can see why in theatre when we have to make a scene feel darker than it really is, it makes sense to use blue light. Not really rocket science here, but by tinting the light blue we can have more overall intensity but give the audience the impression that their eyes have done the thing that eyes do when they adjust to low light. If you get real saturated it starts to feel like impressionistic or romantic darkness; if you stay fairly unsaturated it feels more naturalistic.

    To experience this, compare, say, a Rx80 with Rx81. The 80, you'll have to run fairly hot to get the intensity you need, and it will be somewhat saturated. The 81, you'll have to run lower to get the same intensity and it will be less saturated. The deeper blue will seem more outdoors and/or more romantic; the paler will seem more interior, more naturalistic.

    Of course the question of "where's that light coming from" enters in. What's the motivation? If you have a handy window and moonlight, bend the color to that idea and point the lights from that direction. If not, though, keeping it smooth, diffuse and unmotivated is okay. The audience does, after all, understand that they need to see the action....

    Sorry, off my professorial soapbox, telling you stuff you probably already knew. I'll get back to changing lamps....
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2009
  10. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    43
    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
    Central Wisconsin
    Actually... Most of that was new information. :oops:

    Thank you for the informative post.
     
  11. midgetgreen11

    midgetgreen11 Active Member

    Messages:
    289
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    You don't have EXIT signs in your house? Is that firecode compliant?
     
  12. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    43
    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
    Central Wisconsin
    Nevermind... I wasn't thinking... Yes, there are exit signs in the house, but none that are visible to the audience on stage, as there are no fire exits behind the stage.
     
  13. midgetgreen11

    midgetgreen11 Active Member

    Messages:
    289
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    I was being sarcastic... I meant the house you live in.
     
  14. xander

    xander Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    848
    Likes Received:
    113
    Occupation:
    Production Electrician, Programmer
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Everybody has seemed to cover this pretty well, I just have one idea to add. You said that it is suppose to be a blizzard? Well, do you have access to a gobo rotater? If so, you might reconsider the "moonlight" from the window approach and then try to replicate the blizzard using the rotater. Making the light coming from the window undulate very subtly might justify the moonlight more even though it is a blizzard. Maybe you could accomplish the same thing by running a very subtle effect under it all.

    Just a thought, because outdoor light really is the best way to justify light onstage during a blackout.

    $.02

    -Tim
     
  15. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    New Haven Area, CT
    The audience isn't going to process that. I'm not sure what you folks are talking about when you say point it through the window, I don't know if you have an actual set piece, but I'd say probably use a gobo as well on the blues.
     
  16. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    43
    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
    Central Wisconsin
    No, I don't have a rotator, and anyways, I don't have DMX on my catwalk anyways to run a rotator.

    Yes, I was planning on using a window Gobo. I actually have two window gobos in my available selection of eight gobos total.

    I agree with you that the audience wouldn't process it either, but that's what the director said, so what she says goes...
     
  17. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    New Haven Area, CT
    What would you need a gobo rotator for? And your director says that the problem is that the audience will process it? Or does she agree that it's a good idea to use a gobo and put in some window type light?
     
  18. LightingPenguin

    LightingPenguin Active Member

    Messages:
    173
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Somewhere
    That was a great post.

    Just thought I'd throw my 2 sense in about it
     
  19. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

    Messages:
    950
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Somewhere far far away, Vic, Aus
    Have you considered using some software like Motion, or somthing to project snow passing the moon, projectors produce enough light to let the audience see what's happening without flooding the stage with light. Just a thaught anyway.
     
  20. arfinator

    arfinator Member

    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    3
    Occupation:
    Master Electrician
    Location:
    Madison, NJ
    What about like using a fireplace and a flickering fire to illuminate the stage? Just an idea instead of the blues from the moon, which do seem somewhat overdone--at least to me.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice