Soften/Elimating Shadows


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At my school we have a decent sized FoH catwalk which works well; however, this being the first year I've really gotten the chance to work in this theatre with lighting I've encountered a few problems.

From FoH, we have a 20 Channel catwalk, and 2 Side Trees with 4 Channels each. Infront of the proc., we have just that, no baton over the apron to create downlight.

As of now, I have the catwalk doing a general wash of the stage area needed to be lit from angles - not directly in front - all of which are in the highest position possible and at steepest of angles as possible.

What are some ways to eliminate the shadows created by those from the catwalk downstage of the proc. I have on each side tree 1 source four (one per tree with opposing warm/cool colors) to provide side light which washes most of the DS area with a nice down/side light.

What are ways that you all use to eliminate long shadows like I have. I've used side lights and downlights from US of the proc. to get rid of shadows, but oftentimes I find myself screwing things up with harsh shadows than not. Haha.

Would some diffusion work to soften the shadow enough to not be as noticable? What are some suggestions? I am lighting an outside forest scene so a cool blue color is the "source of direction" from House Right.

Thanks for any help, and for answering my questions lately. You all are such a great help!
I tend to go for wide pars from foh with a R60gel or light amber one pair with a diffusion to fill the shadows, just shoot from a slightly different angle than the front light (ie if you shoot at 45 degrees put them dead center or reverse) It also does wonders with making edges from frontlight less visable on the set.
If you dont have any type of backlight system you wont be able to get rid of everything... you might want to use a few more units on your sidelight which should help a bit... diffusion wont help get rid of shadows... if something is blacking the light you cant put it back behind them...
Agreed, you state one bank of probably sufficient front lighting which produces shadows. Hmm, your talent seems to be lit sufficiently for you by way of this bank of lighting but produces shadows you notice.

What is it about the shadow that you are noting, the placement of these fixtures or lack of light otherwise on stage to fill in and cover for the amount of light this FOH pipe/boom section is doing? Top, back and side much less in general fill or wash light will cover the stage and often if not make the actors pop from the scenery as a goal, at least wash out those shadows.

A shadow needs a lack of light other than in that direction to be appairent.

Given this seemingly heavy shadow is appairent, it probably means the above fill or wash is not sufficient to make the above pop or fill the stage in washing out the shadows much less help the scene.

Lots of mix to play with and design yet to learn. While I expect we talk about McCandless "A" Method, what you state has not completed it in doing so. First complete the method, than improve or modify it for your needs. At the moment by description you have 2/3 of a design if you see distracting shadows.
I think what I've decided to do is to try and get some side lights as high as I can on the side trees and see if that'll do. The problem is, the lack of space proves hard to washout these shadows. When the stage curtain is open, then it's fine because I have set lights to "pop" the actors out from the scenery and it looks good.

I was just wondering if anyone had any suggestions on how to elimate these shadows in some degree from these odd positions.

No overhead baton onstage DS of the plasterline, just two small side trees and a catwalk. The catwalk's not really in a conveniant position either - but that's our school for ya.

The side lights on each side tree are Source Four Jrs. Just one at the highest position on each. Maybe if I add another to each side (Jrs. wash the stage pretty well) then it will be sufficient. The problem is, those Jrs. aren't the brightest things so they are sorta get washed out by the other source-fours and other lekos.

It's a flawed space, and every theatre teacher I've had has been stuggling with these sorta minor issues.

Thanks for your help everyone.
Ah' it's a front of main drape apron lighting... That's a rough one. Frost the heck out of some Fresnels? Perhaps if room between the main and fire curtain, back light from the procenium? Otherwise if steel sufficient in your first cat walk or box booms, send a pipe out to act as if a long side arm. If nothing else, perhaps some soft low intensity foot lights.

Just some ideas, hopefully the scene is not long in which case perhaps the harsh shadows might be okay as per some form of stage convention.
I think the last poster is correct, some footlights should help with shadows. However, there is a big difference in light from an Ellipsoidal then a fresnel. The fresnel shadows will still be there, but not so intense usually (in my experience); which makes them easier to correct. If you have shadows because your key lights have too high of an angle, then you should need to correct from the bottom. Footlights should do you well. Most large performances, (concerts, etc.) use followspots that usually have a less then desirable 45 or 40 degree angle use strip lights to fill in/even out the shadows.

Also, most country music venues/performances rely strongly on strip lights because of cowboy hats.

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