Single light source



I am designing lights for a show called Someone Who'll Watch Over Me. Basically it is three guys chained to a wall in a cell. All is good until I hung the single 60 watt light bulb with a large shield in the center of the set. My problem is lighting the actors effectivly while keeping the proper shadows and a similar color temp to that of a 60 watt bulb dimmed @ 50%.

To describe the set, it is grey cinder block that is 16 feet across in the back and 14 feet tall. The downstage edge is 8 feet down from the back wall and the sides taper down from 8 feet tall at the back wall to nothing. Also the downstage edge is 26 feet across.

The shadow problem is with the placement in the center of the cell, so that when the actors are on the downstage edge they are totally backlit, and when i light them from the front they get shadows behind them, which is unnatural for the placement from the only source of light in their cell.

Any thoughts???

well to only light with one light bulb is very hard.

To eliminate shadows/dampen them you need multiple light directions

Front, back, and side light. when used together will light it up, and allow the people to be seen, with minimum shadow as the shadown is washed out by all the light.

If you are lighting only from the front, it will create a very ugly, very flat effect.
The key to a one source effect is to make it look like its coming from one source it doesnt actualy have to come from one source.

The way i have done this in the past is to create a wash of the stage just as you would for any other show. now just keep this very low just enough to light up the acting area. now with brighter lights put in accents of light to show the single directional source of light. this will put certain areas in to shadow but not as much as if you had no wash. as for matching colour temps. what type of bulb is in this hanging light if its tungston then it should be the same should it not? just dim your other lights to match the intensity.

normal incondencent blubs run at ~2,800k and halogen stage lamps run at ~3,200k.
so then just use some gel and step down the lights to match or step up your other lights to match just ask your rosco or apollo gell dealer it wont colour your lights just match the colour temputure.

Try adding some bar gobos from the sides or the front to add some more dimensions and to make the cell seem more life like.
The biggest problem at the moment is the lights from the front are throwing shadow onto the set. As for matching an incandecent bulb, rosco has a gel that can do it, but time and money are issues there. a collection of three gels a variation of amber and grey created what he needed.
back to the shadows. obviously a single overhead incadescent bulb would not throw a 45 degree shadow from the actor and the director is going for REALISM in the strictest form it appears.
The set has no bars. it has one wooeden door, no openings and as said before, one overhead light.

But shadows are the big question and how to keep it cool but realistic and visible. you go to blue to cool it off you get some unrealistic lighting, amber takes away from the atmosphere.

Click on WatchOverMe_4views.jpg

Just drafted your basic description up in cad... Is that what the set basically is? Just trying to get a better idea of what you're looking at...
Jmsinick, I think picture three looks really good for what you've been given. One thing that might be good is if you put a dim wash on the top of the back wall to light that up a little more, because light would reflect off the floor some and light the entire room, even above the light source.
Hey i like what you have done i would say the oposite i am a fan of less light. i would say take out a bit of the wash so there are shadows and there are dark spots why do we need to light everything. as you said your director wants realism in the real world there are shadows esspecialy from one light overhead.

everything on the ground needs to be lit because the actors use the entire playing space. I have had the oppurtunity to see the set and lighting in person and much darker and the audiences eyes are going to get tired.
On the floor you can barely see three sets of chains. One in the middle, and two on each side. The three men are connected to those chains. The door is in shadow, but the space in fron of the door is lit for the actor who is chained to that part.
And, if a light is hanging that low, yes you will get bounce up the wall above the single source, but not much, so the natural bounce the light gives works. Remember you are losing some of the effect and some light through the pictures
I think the best part is the break up on the ground, and the shadows of the rails. Obviously they are exentuated but it is at just the right angle that it adds to the mood of the show but still looks realistic.
Ah, yes I see now. Given this I would say put some really deep colors for a wash to minimize fill shadows and maybe a deep grey in some steep sides to help the stone look and then maybe CT side front from the direction the bulb is at at about 2/3 the % of the grey to give the dim light bulb color. This one should have a front angle, the grey should be as close to 90° to the side as possible. Here, this should better illustrate it:


BTW Sorry about not being able to link directly to the images, the server screws it all up whenever I try.

I colored the fixtures the general color of their gel. Sorry it's not rendered with the lights on, I haven't figured AutoCAD out that far yet, its only been a few days since I got it.

BTW Thanks to ETC for providing the S4 CAD blocks I was able to modify and revolve into 3D!

EDIT: I noticed that I aimed the lights way too high, pretend I didn't 'cause its a lot of work to fix it! Also, I tested the basic idea out in VLL3 and it has the effect I intended. I'd post a pic from that, but I can't get a pic outta the program!
Try Rx3408 in the front and Rx98 in the side. They produce they best effect in VLL3. You have a bit more play with the fill.
Remember the suspension of disbelief. Yes you can light the scene as per accuracy in effective lighting and shadow to some extent, but after this, the intent of the scene is visibility. Should those seeing the scene that has perhaps a few inaccurate shadows or misplaced lights note this, they obviously are not watching the scene for it's drama.

Light the scene as to provide visibility and effect. Worry about the single source of light with experience and detail. Perhaps a bit more down light and wash of the area than normal can help here both in blending out shadows and in providing source effect light and making the talent seem ghastly.

Given it's small size, experiment and combine what gets your effect.

I'm not familiar with this play, what is the 4th wall supposed to be? Another solid wall? Bars? Perhaps a window?

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