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Stage lighting


Stage lighting is the craft of lighting as it applies to the production of theatre, dance, opera and other performance arts. Several different types of stage lighting instruments are used in this discipline. In addition to basic lighting, modern stage lighting can also include special effects, such as lasers and fog machines. People who work on stage lighting are commonly referred to as lighting technicians.

The equipment used for stage lighting (e.g., cabling, dimmers, lighting instruments, controllers) are also used in other lighting applications, including corporate events, concerts, trade shows, broadcast television, film production, photographic studios, and other types of live events. The personnel needed to install, operate, and control the equipment also cross over into these different areas of "stage lighting" applications.

The earliest known form of stage lighting was during the early Grecian (and later the Roman) theatres. They would build their theatres facing east to west so that in the afternoon they could perform plays and have the natural sunlight hit the actors, but not those seated in the orchestra. Natural light continued to be utilized when playhouses were built with a large circular opening at the top of the theatre. Early Modern English theatres were roofless, allowing natural light to be utilized for lighting the stage. As theatres moved indoors, artificial lighting became a necessity and it was developed as theatres and technology became more advanced. At an unknown date, candlelight was introduced which brought more developments to theatrical lighting across Europe.

While Oliver Cromwell was ruling Britain, all stage production was suspended in 1642 and no advancements were made to English theatres. During this theatrical famine, great developments were being made in theatres on the European mainland. Charles II, who would later become King Charles II witnessed Italian theatrical methods and brought them back to England when he came to power. New playhouses were built in England and their large sizes called for more elaborate lighting. After the refurbishing of the theatres, it was found that the "main source of light in Restoration theatres to be chandeliers" which were "concentrated toward the front of the house, and especially over the forestage". English theatres during this time used dipped candles to light chandeliers and sconces. Dipped candles were made by dipping a wick into hot wax repeatedly to create a cylindrical candle. Candles needed frequent trimming and relighting regardless of what was happening on-stage because "they dripped hot grease on both the audience and actors". Chandeliers also blocked the view of some patrons.


Gobo1.jpg Gobo-image.jpg
A gobo of this shape in a fixture with a red gel would produce a pattern like the one shown to the right.

Profile
Fresnel
  • Selective visibility: The ability to see what is occurring on stage. Any lighting design will be ineffective if the viewers cannot see the characters, unless this is the explicit intent.
  • Revelation of form: Altering the perception of shapes onstage, particularly three-dimensional stage elements.
  • Focus: Directing the audience's attention to an area of the stage or distracting them from another.
  • Mood: Setting the tone of a scene. Harsh red light has a different effect than soft lavender light.
  • Location and time of day: Establishing or altering position in time and space. Blues can suggest night time while orange and red can suggest a sunrise or sunset. Use of mechanical filters ("gobos") to project sky scenes, the Moon, etc.
  • Projection/stage elements: Lighting may be used to project scenery or to act as scenery onstage.
  • Plot (script): A lighting event may trigger or advance the action onstage and off.
  • Composition: Lighting may be used to show only the areas of the stage which the designer wants the audience to see, and to "paint a picture".
  • Effect: In pop and rock concerts or DJ shows or raves, colored lights and lasers may be used as a visual effect.
  • Box/Housing – a metal or plastic container to house the whole instrument and prevent light from spilling in unwanted directions.
  • Light source (lamp).
  • Lens or opening – the gap in the housing where the light is intended to come out.
  • Reflector – behind or around the light source in such a way as to direct more light towards the lens or opening.
  • Pilbrow, Richard (1923) Stage Lighting Design: The Art, the Craft and the Life, Nick Hern Books, London. .
  • Penzel, Frederick (1978) "Theatre Lighting before Electricity". Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP.
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Wikipedia

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