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why blue?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by propmonkey, Jun 18, 2005.

  1. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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    I'm just wondering why is blue used a majority of the time for back and side lighting? i mean it looks good and such but why not more varirty; more purples, greens, reds, ambers, etc. why has blue become the common wash? what about blue makes it so special? why dont you just use the same color as your front wash as you do for your back?
     
  2. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Look towards how well your eyes process blue colors at night. Might also look into the UV discussion of last week.

    After these hints, any takers?
     
  3. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Look towards how well your eyes process blue colors at night. Also since other lighting is in absense to some extent, how it truns dark other colors. Backstage, you miht be better off using red since in going from on-stage to off stage your eyes have to adjust for the now dark area less. Could be in part a reason but how and why does this work?

    Might also look into the UV discussion of last week about color temperatures and wavelengths, absorbtion etc.

    After these hints, any takers?
     
  4. JahJahwarrior

    JahJahwarrior Active Member

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    I think if we had bright blue lighting, then turned it off every 30 seoncds or so, we'd see red, atleast when they went off.....
     
  5. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

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    blue is just such an emotional color. its very pure and never offensive. Plus it works with other colors very well.
     
  6. Traylen

    Traylen Member

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    First, I don’t too often see blue primarily used in side/back lighting positions. So I assume you’re probably referring to straight plays or extremely realistic musicals. Otherwise, using one standard color all the time is a poor way of using color to the designer’s advantage. First of all, when working with realistic type things, you work with not only color but heat. When looking at the color spectrum blue light is around 5400 K where-as daylight is about 5700 K which is actually a shade of blue though we think of it as being a shade of yellow. Therefore, using blue light as back and side light keeps more of a realistic look, appearing more like daylight. Though there could be a million other reasons as to why people choose blue. A not so saturated blue also looks a lot like white light and people won't notice the color as much, though I don't know why people would use a low saturated blue for a side and backlight color.

    We use a different color for backlight than the colors for front light because backlight is used not only to highlight and give the actor a 3rd dimension of light but also add a kind of color-wash to the stage floor and a contrast which separates the performer from the background. Without contrast, a stage picture appears very dull and lifeless. Usually the backlight tends to be more saturated than any of the other of the positions (thought it depends on the designer) because the color doesn’t alter the look of the performer or costumes in any harmful way while helping add mood to the scene.

    Also, if you’re using side light to enhance the warm and cold colors of your show you usually pick a more saturated version of the front light colors you used. However, when designing for moods your sidelight and backlight colors tend to portray the over-all mood or “look” you’re going for and not any particular color. The same idea of contrast applies to the sidelight like it does to the backlight, though side light colors tend to be more saturated then front light but less then backlight. So light backlight sidelight is used to add contrast and color to the stage but while also lighting the actors. However, people use sidelight for different things. It all depends on preference. Usually high side light is more of a natural color then side light used to throw color.

    A designer chooses colored light for one of four reasons:
    -Light is motivated by a specific source (i.e. the sun)
    -To reinforce the mood of the scene
    -Visual contrast between light sources is desirable, color helps this contrast
    -Change or dramatic effect is desired

    However, like I said, I don’t see people using blue all that often (yes they use blue, but not in the context that I believe you’re referring to), but I work with a lot of theatres that do musicals rather than straight plays. In the case of any theatrical production, you usually want color; a designer that can’t design with color won’t make it very far in the lighting world. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying use odd colors to do a show, but rather colors must be considered, using a standard color scheme for every show won’t get you very far.

    There really is no set way on what colors to use (which is a good thing) people who use the basic color scheme are usually not comfortable with color mixing, or just believe that is the correct way to do it. It all depends on the designer and their whims (and of course the director has some say). However when dealing with realistic plays I can see how one would use blue light, it is the safest way to go and the most natural looking (assuming you’re going with a less saturated blue). Though I personally wouldn't and don't rely on one color as my go to color for everything. Before choosing color a designer must consider the over-all emotion and style of the show. Lots of blue light in a comedy may be considered somewhat out of place, where-as in a more dramatic show it may fit better because blue is considered a cool (cold) color, though a lighter blue (less saturated) tends to denote more of a tranquil feeling.

    So basically, people use blue because it’s safe and use different colors for the side/backlight to add contrast which livens up the over-all look of the scene.

    Hopefully what I wrote made sense. I may have left out some important stuff which has slipped my mind. But honestly, there is no right or wrong answer to you’re question, it all depends on the designer, and what they feel looks and works best with what they’re trying to portray. Looking at color in a scientific way and only a scientific way (of course it's science but don't just look at it like a science) is only going to hurt a designer. Sometimes thinking, well this is the same temperature of natural daylight or night light is not the correct answer to a color choice unless of course you're working with TV or Film, in which case temperature is extremely important to consider. The most important scientific approach to color choice in live theatre is how the colors affect one another and how they work together. And yes I realize color is temperature. By choosing temperature you're choosing color, but normally in live theatre you look at gels as colors not as temperatures, as how the audience will perceive the color, as what emotional quality it will portray.
     
    jmac and (deleted member) like this.
  7. Peter

    Peter Well-Known Member

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    I used Blue alot during the school year b/c our school colors are Blue and Gold... and Gold isnt too easy to make, so I go with Blue!
     
  8. soundman1024

    soundman1024 Active Member

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    Buy a blue light and put it on one side of the stage. Buy a yellow or red light of the same wattage and put it on the other side. After that look at the two isdes and you can probably tell. Blue tends to be a darker color then red. I've had to double gel red before to get it down to being about the same apparent brightness as blue.
     
  9. Dale

    Dale Member

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    I use blue because it's my favorite colour lol. I've always loved blue, it's such a tranquill colour.
     
  10. Thranduil

    Thranduil Member

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    Not being a lighting designer, I dont use blue. BUT our back light is usually blue and red, this is generally because they look good, and they look good togethor with other colors of side light.
     
  11. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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    I know I don't limit myself to JUST blue, but I generally do use saturated colors on the blue side of the palatte. If it is a dark blue in a sidelight it will be a back/sidelight. My reasoning is twofold:

    1) Blues as back or back/sidelight helps establish depth. Things in the distance get darker the further back they get. I've seen this, it's true. By having the backs lit in a darker color you exaggerate this effect. Why blue most often? The backlight can also be thought of as back fill, and fill is often the color of stuff in the environment, like the sky. I see a blueish sky a lot more than I see a redish sky, and I don't believe I've ever seen a greenish sky. Green can come from trees and such, though, so it's still a possibility.

    2) Blue is also an easier color to look at and ignore, and since backlights are the ones shining towards the audience, it is very reasonable to want to ease the audiences eyes a bit. Imagine trying to watch a play with red spots all over and focus on the action, or especially the lack of action. Compare that to a nice saturated blue. Kinda blends in to everything else. Putting the focus on the play.

    Besides all that, it's just common practice.
     
  12. drawstuf99

    drawstuf99 Active Member

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    In the show I'm designing at my school now, it's set in the forest so it takes quiet a lot of thinking as to where the light is coming from (the sun), where it's coming from in location, and color.

    My cooler wash is mostly blue, with a few lavenders to add some more color. Like people have said before, the blue looks close to a natural light (to our eyes at least) and also, depending on the hue and saturation of the color, it can help cancel out some of that incandesent light amber that the bulbs produce - at least it appears that way.

    My primary backlight is a dark blue. Not too neon, but more of a "solid" blue. Then, I'm washing the stage from the rear with a few wide degree source fours from a back/side position. These colors are a darker amber (because amber is used in the warm color scheme for this show) and a dark lavender for the other cooler side. The dark lav., amber, and blue mix to a pleasing color; however, blue is the primary backwash.

    It just makes since to me in this show. 'Last musical I did I had a blue backwash and an amber/pink wash. Both used for different scenes and mood. Amber is good for an interesting sunlight effect, but you must keep in mind where your light source is.

    I'll post some pictures once the show is focused and cued
     
  13. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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    I just got a roll of Rosco 68 in. i love that shade of blue. i plan to use it a lot for backlights, specials and washes. i like that its dark but still shows up nicely.

    what blues do you use?
     
  14. drawstuf99

    drawstuf99 Active Member

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    I like stuff like

    Rx85, Rx80, Rx83, Rx79, Rx68 for dark blue.

    as for front and side wash blues,
    Rx63, Rx3202, Rx362, Rx67

    Of course, each has own cases and times for use.
    Lavender is always a fun thing to play with though - especially trying to get a good blend of color. It's neutral so it can kinda go both ways. Hehe.
    Rx55, Rx54, Rx51 for those-sometimes
     
  15. saxman0317

    saxman0317 Active Member

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    well..we like to use blue backstage, its very good for that. Its almost impossible to see anything from the audience, but you can see well enogh to function on the stage. Text is highlighted when u need to read it and it pops right out cause it glows with yellow highlighter. And black absorbs blue right up so u dont see us techies running wires back stage during a show. I also have a florescent desk lamp gelled dark blue on the deck that is very nice to.

    Im pretty sure that this is where this thread started...but as far as stage colors...we use everything depending on the mood. Lots of blues and reds for real dramatics, purple to.
    Purple is really good for something that requires that "royalness" we were using it light caesar in Julius Caesar esp when it was just his dead body on stage. blues are a real nice alternative to black outs to when you dont need that whole change of mood saying that this part is over, next act/scene. The blue gives the feeling of a simple pause, and the black crew is almost invisible in black when their on a blued stage.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2006
  16. nez

    nez Member

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    well i think the reason why so many people are useing blue as a backround wash is because it would resemble the sky and also as greg said it is easly used in stead of a black out so that crews have light back stage for scene changes
     
  17. drawstuf99

    drawstuf99 Active Member

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    Blue really helps with creating more depth - for what ever reason. I don't really know how to explain it, but it does for the most part. I've seen DarkBlue and DarkAmber used lots for primary backwashes, and dark lav and dark pinks and blues for back-sides...etc.

    It's a matter of choice, and since blue doesn't hurt your eyes as much and has been proven to work, I know lots of folks just use it for the sake of creating depth and that people say it works.
     
  18. kingfisher1

    kingfisher1 Active Member

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    I like blue as back side when used with red, caused tehn you can "cool" you scene down w/ blue, warm it up w/ red, or get and iteresting purlpe. I never have been a fan of really relistic lighting so i always enjoy lots of color, but whatever floats you boat...
    Thats the nice thinkg about being an artist. as long as you have a good reason for your color, you're never wrong
     
  19. BenjaminD

    BenjaminD Member

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    I agree that blue is a very calm light on its own, making it excellent for washing the stage with. Fasinating effects can be created by washing a stage with blue and adding highlighting with other colors. Recently I was expirimenting with lights during a talent show, and I used light green and a bit of orange against a blue wash and it created a really facinating wash... On my stage, our blue cyc lights have a tendency to create a mist-like illusion across the floor (painted black).
     

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