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Making Actors Ugly

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Graig, May 22, 2009.

  1. Graig

    Graig Member

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    Hi guys and guyettes,

    I'm a relative n00b to this business, so forgive me my stupid question, but I'm wondering what gels I should use to make my actors look ugly...

    It's a naturalistic show, and for a good deal of it I'm having to recreate the feeling of a dingy government building, lit by florescent tube lights. I noticed Lee have a colour 'fluorescent green' (L219). If I paired that up with something like L107 (rose), or L162 (B. Amber), and then a light, cool blue drop light pretty strong.... would that give me something like what I'm looking for?
    Also, I think it needs to be a flat light, (I know, it's not pretty, but that's what we're going for) so I should make the angle quite acute on the front lighting, right?

    Sorry if that all sounds like garbage - like I say, I'm a n00b trying to work things out.

    Any comments or suggestions would be welcomingly received.
     
  2. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

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    Ask Isaac my spot guy....
    Master of "Making thigs look dodgey"
    So mean.... But truth hurts.
    Nick
     
  3. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    A light green will do pretty grim things to skin tones, as will a light straw (Rosco 13). As I once discovered by accident. ** sigh **
    Just remember that after a while, your eye will tend to reset any colour cast back to neutral, so you can reinforce that shift by uglifying (it's a word . . . ) your opening look, and then subtly changing it to something more natural. You can also make things ugly and industrial by using just enough backlight to fill shadows and make the lighting really even and (like Nick's spot op) coming in at a relatively flat angle.
     
  4. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

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    Just a quick note Graig, you may already know this but gels are made by 3 main manufacturers, Lee, Rosco & Gam, and they are all differnet, a Lee103 is nothing like a Gam103, so getting Lee103 (Straw) will make your actors look good. And that's not the point.
    What Sean said about your eye ajusting to it is very true, your eyes get used to whatever light they see, and then set what they see the lights onstage now as the default.

    Have you considered actually using Tubes? Stick em on your LX bars and set the dimmers to non dim, as long as you have them on before the curtain is open, (as they don't always flash strait up, as you probably know, they flicker) you should be fine, however, you would have to control the scene with the curtains as the lights can't exactly dim back down either. Just a sugestion, may not be practical in this situation.

    Nick
     
  5. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Be careful as well, different colors work differently on different skin tones. Staw for example looks terrible on those with light skin tones, but it looks great on people with very dark skin tones.

    Mike
     
  6. JChenault

    JChenault Well-Known Member

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    If the height of the stage is not too much, I would probably go with a lot of down light ( or very steep front light) using fresnels, and a low wash from the front to fill in eye sockets a bit if needed. Now you don't want your down light to be have a 'parallel rays' look ( which is why I would choose fresnels). For my eye, this has always been a bit unpleasant / office look.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2009
  7. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Actually, the angle is more important! A light placed as close to the feet, aimed straight up will be the least complementary. All the facial shadows are reversed producing a look that is very unnatural. It is so bad that lighting from the floor is sometimes know as X-ray lighting.

    (Referring usually to a strip light placed on the floor, but some expand the expression to refer to all strip lights.)
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2009
  8. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    This is kind of a conundrum because you've given us two conflicting bits of information. A)Naturalistic show B) I should use to make my actors look ugly

    If its a naturalistic show your makeup department is going to be doing a lot of work to make them look ugly.

    You're on the right track with green. Green light doesn't exist naturally so its a good sub-conscious nod to something being wrong/sick/dead. If you're going for ugly stay away from the rose and pinks in general, the bring out the blood and have a tendendecy to make people look healthy.

    Since its an office building your light green with maybe a healthy dose of L201 or R60 at the flat angle you've talked about will help you get the job done. If you have time set up an area or 2 and play around with it. Remember that flourescents tend to be all encompassing.

    As for Nick's suggestion to use actual Flourescent tubes I can't stress enough how much I personally hate that idea. First I find it to be a saftey concern, most people don't think about how flimsy the glass of flourescents are and don't take preventitive measures against them getting broken on stage and glass raining down on the actors.

    But more importantly as a designer you're giving up control by just throwing regular tubes up. Lighting isn't just about making people seen, but also about making people, well not seen, and doing it subtlely, by throwing a bunch of flourescents on a non-dim you give up that control.

    Is it the wrong choice? By all means no. But make sure you think through the entirety of the scene or play that you'd be using them and make sure you'll be able to recreate mood/time/place ect using only flouresents. Once you've invested in them you're stuck using them.
     
  9. midgetgreen11

    midgetgreen11 Active Member

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    Hmm.... resisiting a joke here...
     
  10. Graig

    Graig Member

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    Duly noted. Luckily (well, in some ways anyway....) the action shifts around a lot on stage, and in in terms of setting. No 1 state is up for more than 5 minutes in the whole show.
    We talked about this right at the beginning - the director even wanted the flicker on, but it's not really workable as an idea in the theatre because of the rig.
    Luckily an all Caucasian cast.
    This is pretty much what I was thinking. Quite difficult to get a low front light, again because of the theatre, so I might go with standard front light and some up-lighting to fill in.
    Normally, true, but unfortunatley, there are 25 actors sharing over 100 roles in this show, sometimes changing role with a 2 minute switch over, so I'm pretty sure the make-up's going to be mostly neutral.
    Good to know I'm not completely devoid of skill :)
    And you're right, I think I'll switch to L201 with the green. I was only thinking rose because it complementary, but who wants complimentary when you're makin' people ugly!
    Oh how a light lab would be nice....


    Cheers for all your help guys - I'll let the cast know that it was through your kind assistance I managed to make them ugly on stage. ;)
     
  11. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    i would see what the color temp of cool blue flourescent light is then find a gel that will match it. I would use that color light in instruments right above the stage alon with some of it in the front light to mask the color temp differences. i would try using as little front light as possible, you may even have to go with a deeper shade of that color to hide the front light.
     
  12. themuzicman

    themuzicman Well-Known Member

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    The apollo swatch book is definitely my favorite when it comes to finding skin tone suggestions, every gel has a suggestion on it!

    My personal favorite is AP5940 "A sickly type color. Food for foliage or warmer skin tones. Use with caution or on actors that no one likes".

    Pretty much any green will help you out.
     
  13. Graig

    Graig Member

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    Wiki says:

     
  14. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Do it in the theatre. You don't need a light lab.
     
  15. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Often the goal of a Lighting Designer is not an exact scientific recreation of a lighting phenomenon, but an artistic representation. While 1/4 CTB may correct the source to exactly 4100K, a better choice could very well be L161 Slate Blue or even AP5960 Margarita Green. In this case the "evoke a mood" function of lighting is probably more important than "illusion of nature."
     
  16. Swingaxle

    Swingaxle Member

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    I am still currently a student, so please let me know if I'm completely wrong about this. I've been playing with every conceivable shade of green right now, doing Reefer Madness and all, and I have found that a wonderful front accent to neutral sidelight is R96. It's just beyond the range that your eye will naturally adjust to, but still not so saturated that you will feel like your simply looking at a gelled light. I've been playing with this at a front and up angle, with 1/8th CTB and R51 for sidelight. Although I've been using 500w 6x9 fronts and 750w fresnel sides, so obviously your results may vary. I've found that by a simple intensity change I can achieve a great range pleasing to displeasing looks.I hope this helps, but that being said I am rather partial to Rosco so there's probably something better out there.
     
  17. FatherMurphy

    FatherMurphy Active Member

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    There are clear plastic tubes and endcaps available for most sizes of fluorescent tubes to prevent just this from happening. They're required by code in many places where fluorescents are exposed to damage, such as exposed tube fixtures on the outsides of buildings or on amusement rides. Colored sleeves are also available, but these are generally limited in color selection and aren't very saturate. Some gel manufacturers offer sleeves for tubes, but these are usually regular gel material, not the harder plastic the safety sleeves are made of.

    Depending on the ballast, some fluorescent fixtures are dimmable, but the response curves aren't always as smooth as would be desired.
     
  18. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I used to sell those plastic tubes for a living. I still wouldn't want them on stage. Dimmable flourescents, as you said, leave a lot to be desired. And if I'm going to color a light why not just recreate the mood and the feel of flourescents without the hassle of dealing with them?
     

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