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

Design Issues and Solutions Other Lighting Methods?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by mrtrudeau23, May 13, 2009.

  1. mrtrudeau23

    mrtrudeau23 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    So I come from a school where our faculty teach the McCandless method and nothing else. For our next season, I got assigned to do lighting design for Floyd Collins, the Musical. It is rumored around our theatre department that it will be done in the round in our black box theatre. I want to try and get away from McCandless, but am having a hard time finding another method. Does anyone have any suggestions of another method I could look into? Does anyone use another method more often than McCandless, and if so, how does it work for you?
    Thanks for the help in advance!
     
  2. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

    Messages:
    833
    Likes Received:
    93
    Occupation:
    truck driver
    Location:
    perth W Australia
    Try the "Trudeau" method.
    One cue at a time.
    One spot pointing straight down hiding the face in shadows on a black stage can be more dramatic than 50 lights, from every angle.
    One cue at a time.
    Am I trying to be realistic?, where's the justification for the light source?.
    Don't try to work out a generic plot and fit your show into it.
    Don't play safe, you might not be great but it can be original.
    Strange how you can see a film/ tv show and in seconds know where it was made, just by the lighting.
     
  3. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,556
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Of course on occassion I have been known to "try something new" just for the hell of it (assuming the show is okay with it).

    Mike
     
  4. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

    Messages:
    782
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Arlington, TX
    Me too. I haven't used the McCandless Method in years. I use the Hoskins Method, which is much like the Trudeau Method: one cue at a time. :)

    Here's what I do:
    - Every blessed light in the rig must have a purpose, a reason for being -- and in a cue, a reason for being on.
    - Each cue needs some motivation more than just following actors around the stage.
    - If a cue has a bunch of channels at 2 or 3, the cue needs to be rewritten.
    - For musicals, washes more than areas. For straight plays, specials and motivational systems more than areas. If ever the number of "areas" is more than 10, I have a problem, because I work on tiny stages.
    - Make it look pretty and right.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2009
  5. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes Received:
    687
    Occupation:
    Controls Technician - TAIT Towers
    Location:
    Lititz, PA
    There really aren't any predefined other methods aside from McCandless. He just published his, and people really liked it so it gets a lot of hype. There are many, many techniques that you can use to light a show, you just need to make sure that you accomplish all the basic goals of lighting as well (like visibility of the actors).

    The best way to approach a show is to think about how the show makes you feel. You are working on a musical, so listen to the music, a lot, and read the scripts. Think about the feelings and the emotions that you get from the show. Then go off to your local library and find the section with art and photo books. Find images that evoke the same response and then try to figure out what it is about those images that give s you that response. Then figure out how to create those looks on stage, is it the angles, to colors, to patterns? Then fill in your systems to support the looks you are going for.
     
    mrtrudeau23 and (deleted member) like this.
  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,778
    Likes Received:
    2,843
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    There's a good but expensive book about lighting theater in the round. Available here. I purchased it about a year ago, it's good but seemed overpriced then... and I think I paid about $40. I'm not sure that I would pay $50 for it having read it.

    The basic theory is 5 point lighting. So thinking in terms of a clock. You've got R60 coming in at 1:30 and 7:30 and R02 coming in at 4:30 and 10:30. then add down light. Then they add any sort of interesting color or texture you may need coming in at 12, 3, 6, or 9.

    There is a lot more to the book than that but that's the idea I took from it and used with good success.

    Generally speaking (not in the round)
    I'm working with another LD at the moment. The guy is a Gobo Jedi Master. I believe every ellipsoidal on stage has a gobo in it. Then he has a very light front wash without gobos to punch up faces. If you have a nice gobo collection, and are doing a show that it feels right, this technique would be a great first step out of the world of McCandless.

    EDIT: Here's that book on Amazon for less. Looks like it's out of print and might get harder to purchase thus the rise in price.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2014
  7. cprted

    cprted Active Member

    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    BC, Canada
    ABE Books is a great online place to get both in and out of print book for much less than the retail price. It can sometime take a little searching to find what you're looking for if it isn't overly common.
     
  8. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,778
    Likes Received:
    2,843
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    I happened to pick up my copy of "A Method" through ABE as well as a copy of his class sylabus from 1960-something.
     
  9. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,329
    Likes Received:
    221
    Location:
    New York, NY
    You remind me a lot of myself a few years ago. Being asked to design a show, and being so sick of the constant "McCandless is the answer to EVERYTHING" mentality that you'll do anything to break away from it. Yeah, that was me. And since then I have never used McCandless, and have never done a show where I thought it would be the best option. As far as I know, there's not really any other widely known methods besides McCandless. Most designers develop their own methods which they refer to by very different names, but it's really what you've found that you like and what the show calls for.

    As an example, I don't like front light. I just hate the way it looks. And so on most shows I do, I will not key from the front. I like to use my high sides as key light (very steep angles for dramatic or darker shows) and mix in back and top light, and then just add enough front to fill in the shadows. When I did Anne Frank, I had steep angle sides as my key light, and then used toplight to accentuate the locations, and then just used a tiny bit of front light when required to help fill in the harsh shadows. I personally like the way this looks and like the flexibility I get when using it, however it's not the only method by far, and to be honest it probably wouldn't work very well in the round. And then you get talking about color choices, using gobos, any special effects you need to create, and all that. But the point is, don't be afraid to branch out from McCandless and experiment. Have fun with it!
     
  10. awhaley

    awhaley Member

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    18
    The problem with using any old fashioned system for lighting design in a thrust or arena space is that backlight for someone is sidelight for someone else and frontlight for someone in another seat. So a 'key-fill-back' idea isn't really useful to you here.

    My approach to design (both for proscenium and non-traditional spaces) is to go scene by scene and pick a 'key' light for each scene. I'm using the word key light here to mean the dominant idea... the 'where is the light in this scene coming from?' It could be back, side, front, top... it could be warm or cool and be soft and even or harsh with construction gobos in it.... any light can be the key.

    The next step is to go back and decide what light or lights I need to 'round out' the look... and what their quality should be. In the interest of not having six hundred units on the plot... I'll often start by asking 'of the key lights that I think I need... which of them could be used as fill lights in a different scene?'

    An example... I'm going to design a scene that happens in an office. I decide that the key light is going to be a top light in a pale blue to simulate fluorescent tubes overhead. Several fill light options exist though... If I'm trying to create a really harsh environment I might choose to use NO fill light and leave the harsh shadows. For serious drama I might fill it with sidelight from each side in tints that will reveal the face... but are substantially enough different from each other and from the top light that they create a strongly modeled look. For a comedy I might choose to fill the shadows from the top light with McCandless style 45 degree fronts...

    So the two big artistic choices when I lay out a plot are what is the dominant source of light in the world I'm creating? And then what do the 'shadows' created by this light look like?

    For an in the round setting, I use the exact same principles, but I have to keep color and level differences toned down to the point that the scene can be enjoyed by every seat in the theatre.... I can't say that the Key light is R60 and fill it with R80 from two other directions in the round.... big parts of the audience are going to find it hard to see the scene because of the contrast.

    Sometimes this method will lead me to develop a McCandless-like plot... but I arrive at this place by making artistic choices... not by assuming that an old book is always right and failing to ask artistic questions. My plots for thrust stages often DO look a lot like McCandless style plots... because of the need to 'round out' the look for the rest of the audience I often DO have three primary directions of light into each area of the stage, each roughly offset 120 degrees from the other two.

    If memory serves from when I read the "A method" book in grad school... the idea in the book (which sounds workable to me... if you have the equipment to do it) is to create a 'general purpose' three or four point system that gets turned on in each scene, then to lay a scene specific key light from any other direction over the top of it to give the scene direction and character. So you'd turn on the 3 or 4 point 'general wash' for any area that people stand in during each scene, and then for the sunrise scene, you would add a single system of lights that lays warm amber from a low angle over the general wash... then for an interior you might turn on the general purpose wash and add a warm toplight on top of it to suggest incandescent light... etc.

    Feel free to shout at me if you want to talk about any of this... I dumped a little bit of a lot of ideas here in a hurry!

    Art Whaley
    Art Whaley Design
     
  11. Goph704

    Goph704 Active Member

    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Sure there are other methods. lots of them. But they all come from some of these basics. I'm a power wash guy so this is the stuff I love.
    First let me explain the three that have already been mentioned, then I'll blow your mind. The most heard of one is McCandless. Warm and cool at 45 degrees off the down light. Boom, that's your area. McCandless created his system for natural lighting looks. However you may not realize that all Systems are not created equal.
    Remember Stanley was designing in the time of the "Realists" so the closer light could get to actual nature the better for the show.( Note: A Friend of mine pointed out to me a while ago that a "true" McCandless system is almost impossible outside of film since you can easily get a 45 degree from the target, what is hard is getting a true 45 from the stage to the pipe. A "true" McCandless system is both. so if you did your design strait from " a method of lighting the stage," already, you would be creating a bastardization of the McCandless system.
    What Gafftaper is referring to is called a clock system, a four corners system, or an "Arena system." Arena systems are great for small spaces with low grids. I think, they were developed in the 60's as a doubled up McCandless, but I don't know. The most important use for them is coverage. if your actor turns around. Arena systems allows the actor to be covered with a warm and a cool no matter what director they are looking in. For small intimate spaces where you need coverage, arena systems rock. Arena is One down light, two warms at diagonals of each other, and two cools at the opposite diagonals. You can create this same system on a proscenium, but most people don't since the audience isn't surrounding the actor.
    The third system is the one that Rochem was referring to and that is called the "jewel" system or the five points system. I have heard that this system was invented as a method of lighting Russian ballet That could be both dramatic and realistic at the same time. It is two high sides at 90 degrees from the target, a back light, a down light and strait on front light.
    If you draw out your area in this way it will look like a jewel. with the addition of Trees for lower level side light this is still a popular system for dance, but it works amazingly well for theater also.
    Now, here's where I blow your mind. take a sheet of paper and draw out a McCandless system as if you were viewing it from above. Picture the system on the pipes in your theater. Now do the same thing for a Jewel system. Now put one on top of the other overlapping on top of the down light. See, you can combine the two systems. So you have a warm and a cool from 45 degrees out and a front light, and a back light, and two high sides. If you can find a space that this works in (and there are some that it won't) and you can find enough dimmers you can get nearly 360 degrees of lighting per area. ( put all three together and you will have 360 degrees) I haven't found a name for this system yet, so I refer to it as the "combined" lighting system.
    Ready for more? As long you stay symmetrical you can add any instruments to any part of the system, for instance, two colors of warms and two colors of cools, three different colors of front light, four (total) high sides, dual back lights, or my personal favorite two colors of down light.
    Something to take into effect is that systems are just the bone structure of a lighting design. If you have the stock you can add specials all day. but you will find the more you use certain systems, the more your specials can be covered just by taking down everything else and bringing up one or two instruments. The stronger your bone structure the less extra coverage you will need to make the design work.
    For the future trusses and Moving head instruments are re-defining our understanding of what is possible in terms of system lighting. I recently had a discussion with a programmer who wondered if we would ever need to understand McCandless in the future with all of the technological innovation going on now, but to me that's like saying we don't need to read Descarte (invented the essay) now that we have word processors. On a recent load in of Frost/Nixon I noticed that the designer only used front light and side light and but created a circle of light around the center that created cross lighting for any side. It was a pain for the tour L.D. to focus, but watch out it could be in your text book a few years from now.
    And then,there's concert lighting which is a whole other ball park. So in closing. remember all of this stuff, but no matter what keep applying the Trudeau method, you will, because you have to. Don't be afraid to re-draft, and if something isn't working for you, lose it. You have more names to play around with now, and more ideas to mess with, but design is (dare i say), a little creative at times. have fun.
     
  12. Goph704

    Goph704 Active Member

    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    North Carolina
    oops. that was a long post, sorry.
     
  13. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,556
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Keep in mind that when you try something new, you may fail spectacularly at it. Be prepared for that.

    Mike
     
  14. cprted

    cprted Active Member

    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    BC, Canada
    One of the best ways to learn though.
     
  15. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,556
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Yup, luckily I got to fail at University where no one was expecting to make money off of a show that I bombed. *lol*

    That is why whenever I try something new, I always make sure to have some sort of backup plan (like a "backup" straight on front light that I can bail to). It seems like a chicken approach (and 9 times out of 10 I never hang a light that I don't absolutely know when I will use it), but when you are playing with someone else's money, it is always great to have backup.

    Mike
     
  16. mrtrudeau23

    mrtrudeau23 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Thank you everyone. Your insights into different ways of thinking about design have really helped. I appreciate you taking time (especially the longer posts) to get your points across. The show isn't until April 2010, but I may play with these ideas this summer. I will try and post pictures of how Floyd Collins turns out.
    Thanks again.
    Peace.
     

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