more help with choosing gels...


Active Member
...yeah, I'm not the best for choosing theatrical gels, I haven't ever worked much in theatre, more in live music and worship. I am doing the play The Importance of Being Earnest, if you want to see pictures of our meager auditorium (fellowshiphall...) go to "backlighting help" in Lighting Questions. The walls are now painted a goldish/brown color....our lighting is 16 Par 56/64 (4 of them ae 64's) equipped with the DYS Raylight kit. Someone here says they ahve a very small beam spread, and suggest ed I put a silk gel on each lamp. I'm not sure if we can afford to do that, that's 4 sheets, $20 more dollars. But I want to put silks on some of them. Our color choices that I looked at for gels after advice from here were bastard amber, and a light blue, something like Rosco 61, mist blue. I happened to have two lamps with gels very similar to these in them already, I aimed them to different parts of the stage and turn them on, as well as one lamp with no gel. I asked the SM what he though, with me standing in various lights. Their comments, and mine too--

mist blue: makes the walls look very flat, looks like crap with the color of the walls, doesn't work too well with our facecs

amber: "doesn't accent anything" yeah, that's all they said about it,

no gel: actually, that loosk good. Yeah, that's pretty much all they said about that one too.

I don't want to go all gel less, that would look too flat. What ought I do though? As I said earlier, I have never done lighting for theatre much, so having to choose gels to go with a painted wall, that's more difficult for me to invision, so I appreciate you allr's help and advicee! thank you for helping me get better at this!
when you leave the par bulb un-gelled it is already slightly amber as the filament burns at a temp that gives of a amber glow, hence corrective filters to get white light. i have found that gelling light to med ambers has no effect
yeah, tht's what I was guessing. My question now is, I don't want to leave them all ungelled but it looks like I can do that with several of them. What other colors would be good? Basically, I think I need some gels, just because if all it is is white light, that'd be flat looking, right? But I don't want any radical color changes, just very light stuff. what though??
One sheet of gell at around $5.00 each should cover at least four instruments. Remember that the size of a sheet of gel is somewhere around 24x36" not 10" or 7.1/2" as for a PAR fixture above.

Point two, nothing says that you have to gel all or even some of your fixtures. If possible go to a library and look up a Jean Rosenthal book called the Magic of Light and study her "White Light Theory." There is a lot of common sense to the theory once understood by way of principle, certainly more than gelling for gel's sake.

First I would go frosting so you can more spread and disperse the beam, than perhaps put some grease or oil in the center of the frost so you get a clear section of it for more light output towards the center. Next I might ask my suppliers if perhaps they have any Rosco #107 which is a blue almost color correcting frost. While discontinued, it should if found play the role of at least a blue and frosted gel.

With a blue frost or blue light in shadow or different direction/reflection of light, certainly a frosted gel given it's possible need in white without any gel, once the light is dimmed some will become a second color of amber due to amber shift of the lamp cooling down in color temperature you reduce it's voltage/heat.
If you are using some of the pars for backlight you could use Rx125 cyc blue

For front I might use an Rx05 Rose Tint, especially if you had 2 fronts per area, then have stage right PCs for an area Rx05 and SL Rx67 Light Sky Blue. These 2 combine to make a very bright, crisp looking light. The Rx67 blue helps give a more white look.

If you leave fronts NC and have some sidelight PCs, they can be Rx54 Special Lavendar.

Just some ideas to get you started.

I suggest you get a gel swatch if you don't already have one.
wow, Ship, I dn't understand alot of your post!! :)

You had suggested silk before, I was planning on getting enough of that to cover all the lights. Yeah, I know the size of a gel sheet, and yes, I can get 4 gels per sheet. So I need 4 sheets of the silk if I want to cover all the lamps. I might just get three beccause 4 of thelights are par64's above the stage and I thik they will work without any of that.

And I have two rosco gel books (I ordered one, didn't get it for a while, ordered another, and boom, the first one comes in like the next day, ,after like 10 weeks. The second camel ike 4 weeks later) and one gam one. I konw that the light sky blue would work well for a light blue wash for like the place I usually run lights and sound, for worship and stuff. But, would it be too dark? I do like that idea thow, covering a fewilghts with that. Also the rose, that looks like it might b egood too. My problem is bsically, I am not good at visualizing what color gels would work well with the stage and with the actor's. I have very little experiencec in theatre lighting, my experiences is with live music, worship, and short dramas/skits set to nice, loud music :). I can pick out good gels for a nice red or blue or green or whatever wash, or gels for lightson a banner or stuff, but theatre is not currently my forte :) And seeing as we are going to order gels in a week along with lamps, I want to make sure I get ther ight gels for this play!! Just wondering, what about R65? That is just a little lighter than R67, and the "energy distributoin curves" look similar.

thank you all for your help, it is much appreciated!
oh, one lst thing: we don't have like curtains and stuff like a cyc, we have a wall built. The wall is painted a gold/brown color, and covers the whole stage, thought it doesn't go all the way up, only 8 feet. We have no baclighting. If you want, in my other post, "backlighting help" in lighting questions, there are a few pictures of the stage, and the lights. All the lights are unmovable. thank!
You are right in thinking that Rx67 is dark, however, the Rx05 cancels it out when they are mixed because they are complimentary colors. The Rx05 has a hint of red, the Rx67 has a hint of green, that make a white brite enough to wash out the difference, and since the blue is more saturated than the rose, it gives the light the look of a higher color temp. The pink makes flesh look healthier, as well.
ok, so you think I ought to go with say two sheets of each? that gives me 8 lights of each and 8+8=16. I could cover every lamp with one or the other....ok, sounds good!! thanks man, hopefully this will work great!!
I'm color blind so beyond #67 seeming darker than #65, I did not see much of a difference either. Sounds like Radman's advice is sound however.

How gel looks is something that has to be play tested if even to the point of buying a sheet of each and returning the sheet you don't cut later once both are held up to the light.

Relax, in my opinion if you are getting to the point that you choose one of two similar colors, you have the intent part understood, it's just the experience with them and being able to change that becomes a far in the future factor. While new in design, even really bad design chioces will form part of your useful memory in what to choose later. It's all a visual picture type of thing in the end with converting a gel number or transmission percentage with the design of what you see useful for a scene.
the only problem with returning gels and all that is that we are ordering them from production advantage....saves us a few bucks per sheet and we are about to orrder soem lamps from them too....if it really turns out bad I might just buy the sheets from the school and then they can go buy more to try from a local place at $2 more a sheet....:) Yeah, small school, insanely small budget....
Well, if taking gels back is an issue, order yourself a couple of swatchbooks from rosco, gam, lee, etc. If you want to test a color, rip it out of hte book, write the # on it (like R02 for Rosco 02) with a sharpie and scotch tape the gels together. Toss em in a frame and there ay go - no expense.

You'll prolly have to call the manufacturers up and request three or four of their swatches (or walk into your local tehatrical place - they often have a handful around), but if you tell them why (student, school, budget), I'll bet they'll send em to you.
One thing I forgot to mention which might be useful, I had found early on as a designer is that it's probably a good idea to go at least one step lighter in gel color than you think would be best until you get a memory of what effects specific colors will have on the stage by way of what they look like in already having used them. In other words, if you say think a RX #83 would be best for a night scene, it might be, but it probably would be better with a RX #80. If you think a RX #27 is best, perhaps the #26 would be.

Given you are going lighter and on a budget, if necessary in the case of a gel color being too light, you in buying a full sheet might have pieces to tape together or cuts left over you can double gel with, or scrap gel from past shows that is lighter yet which can build on your color in darkening it up. Two RX #08's might about add up to a RX #09.

Remember that the colors you choose are invisioned at full intensity, or held up to a light at it's full intensity. On stage however, much if not most of the time the gel is on a fixture that is dimmed in intensity. This amber shift in addition to less light to start with tends to make your stages really colorful but really dark unless you compensate for the dimming. In other cases, it might have the right coloring but who wants to see the actors with one side of their face say pink and the other side of it distinctly blue. Balancing the designed coloration with a just plain white visible lighting can become a problem with going over satuated.

Just a thought.

I once bought a Rosco Designer swatch book. Just about the size that would fit in a 3" Fresnel or 3.5Q5 instrument. The idea of getting a lot of swatch books is a good one when taping them together to test with. Just seems a crime to break them apart. With the designer swatch book and the smaller fixtures, you were able to test your coloring with a smaller fixture without removing them from the swatch book.

Perhaps otherwise if possible, install some MR-8 lamp fixtures on the model for the set design and use a scrap normal sized swatch book or two to gel representive fixtrues on the set's model to see what it would look like on stage by way of painting the model with the intended lighting.
ok, here is a picture of the walls. Please tell me if you still think the blue will work well! sorry if it's a bad picture, I took it really really fast before class.
Yeah, the pink will accent the walls a little and the blue will accent the curtain and it all should work quite well
ok...And Ship, no set model. If youo have't figured it out yet, we are not your professional high school drama department! ;) We have crappy equipment. This year is the only year we have worked on tech stuff more than a week or two before the play. n this year I amhoping to have it videotaped semi-prefessionaly, well lit, sounding great, and I want a video/audio feed backstage. Working out great!! thanks ya'll!
I just finished compiling a chart that converts most brands of gel to each other based upon the charts provided in various books and by the manufacturers.

Now that the chart is done, I need someone to verify what's on it is correct. I have too many projects at hand to go any further with this project and am color blind anyway so verifying one gel to another is about useless for me without some difficulty.

Anyone interested in taking my chart and verifying it's data for something that will be useful to all?

Users who are viewing this thread