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Lighting a Winter Scene

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by rochem, Nov 13, 2008.

  1. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    Hello all,

    I'm designing the lighting for a community theatre show which is a musical version of A Christmas Carol (original script and score). I pretty much know what I want to do for the entire show, but I am not quite sure how to make a realistic Christmas snowy morning type scene. My first thought would be some pale blues, but I'm really not sure. I've tried to imagine winters around here but I honestly can't think of any colors besides white, which really won't do the job unfortunately.

    Can anyone help me on how to create a realistic snowy atmosphere? This exterior Christmas snowy scene is one of the largest and most important in the show, and my director is really set on making it look good, but I can't think of how to best do this. Does anyone have any suggestions for what kind of colors and angles and shadows to use?

    Thanks,
     
  2. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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    my thought would be blues and maybe a hint of amber or something to give the impression of sunrise. having a hint of amber with also emphasis the blues.
     
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    L201 and L202 will become your best friends. While many betoll the virtues of lavender, for me it seems to just turn everything gray, which might be entirely appropriate in this case.
     
  4. church

    church Active Member

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    it depends on the type of snow covered winter day you want and how familiar your audience is with the real thing.

    A typical winter day here is -5 centigrade with a clear light blue sky and bright light requiring sunglasses and sun block. To light this requires the use of colour correction filter and other blues with some amber for flesh tones from the front.

    A snowy morning can mean heavy snow still falling which is more of a grey light and much less intensity.

    However you are trying to light a Christmas Carol set in Victorian England, with narrow streets; heavy grey yellow tinged smoke in the sky from coal fires and lit by gas lamps so bright day light in a city was not something you would see. So assuming it is still mean't to be snowing and morning you may want to consider including some shadows with an amber in some areas and keep the general area lighting blue with some lavender to give more of an overcast feel.

    So are you trying to light a winters morning to convey the feel of what a Victorian english winter morning or a winter morning that your audience experiences where they live and will associate with or something else. All are valid. You will have to decide depending on your design. The filter choices for me always come down to the space, the fixtures available, the set and the set colours once I know the look I am trying to achieve.
     
  5. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    The show is loosely based on A Christmas Carol in that Scrooge is the main charater and he is visited by 3 spirits who make him appreciate the holidays, but other than that it's very different. It's almost a comedy of sorts, in that the songs are mostly upbeat and the characters are animated and funny. While the show does use English accents and dialect, the actual location is secondary to the mood and feeling of winter. It needs to seem like a beautiful christmas morning, kind of like what you would see if you watch a Disney movie set in the winter. The most important thing is that the audience can recognize this as winter. There will be snow falling throughout the scene and I need to support this by lighting the winter so as to be recognizable to the audience. I live in upstate New York, so we get a good amount of snowfall around here. Pale blues and lavenders was my guess as to what I would need. My biggest concern is that it will come out either looking like your average summer day or night, instead of a true snowy christmas scene.

    Any more suggestions?
     
  6. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I'm gonna be a little bit of a jerk here...but you know what...its why they keep me around.

    You live in New York yes? Which means you have winters. Wake up at 6am bundle up and walk outside and do research for the next 3 hours.

    Take copious notes about how it looks, how it feels.

    Then do it again at least 3 more times.

    The best way to learn how to recreate something onstage is to go out and expierence it.
     
  7. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    I know exactly what you mean, and I do this quite often. Just a few days ago I took notes on a beautiful sunset I saw. And I would love to do that except for the fact that we have no snow yet :). We've had one small snowfall, but other than that it's been just rain. If the show were a month later that would be the best solution, but since I need to order the gel by next weekend, I don't think that method will work.
     
  8. tekgoddess

    tekgoddess Member

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    I live in Fl. so I can't help your research. I agree you need to go outside and LOOK! But I firmly believe audience members associate lots of blue with cold and night. I light The Nutcracker (or as we lovingly call it crackmynuts) every year and blue rules Snowflakes. I would think you might want to use a very dim, tight focus with some pinky amber (sorry, don't have my swatch book with me) to indicate rising dawn. Underlit cloud gobos would work if you have the space and fixtures to dedicate to it.
     
  9. MNBallet

    MNBallet Active Member

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    If you have the instruments and available dimmers, plan on putting some extra lights just to light the snow up in the air. Most of the time lighting designers focus their lights to the floor and maybe 6 or 8' above floor level. It's easy to miss that you can do a wonderful job of lighting snow falling in the sky. A back wash does wonders, or a high side shooting directly into the wings, just something to light up the snow other than the area near the ground. Plus, use a whole swath of colors. "blue" works but do several shades of blue. I like using R64 (front), R65 (side), R68 (high side), and R80 (top) for lighting our snow scene in Nutcracker
     
  10. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Honestly don't stop doing it...then you wont' have to wait for snow. My wife hates going any where with me because I'm constantly analyzing light and trying to figure out how to recreate it on stage.

    Always, always always keep an eye open. Never stop. The great thing about being a lighting designer is the world is constanly throwing research at you.
     
  11. DAE

    DAE Member

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    Lee 201 gives that cold feeling look, especially as a sidelight.
     
  12. deoLux587

    deoLux587 Member

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    I was taught to always "leave the wrench at home". Rosco colors are great yes, but first think about telling the story thru light first.. What are your artistic ideas? Everything means something. I totally agree with the other replies as far as research goes - that is one of your biggest means of support. And don't forget we're in the theatre.. it doesn't have to be utterly realistic (unless your ideas call for it).. You never know what you may find throwing some contrasting colors in with your cools, texture, etc.. Also, don't be afraid to EXPERIMENT-try something that is out of the ordinary without going overboard, it may look gorgeous. Hope everything turns out well.

    Best-
    D.
     

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