Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Lesson in Lighting: Be Flexible

Today was my first day of doing lights for HickoryDickory with my director. I was petrified that he wasn't going to like my design because it was obvious during the focus process that it wasn't turning out as I expected it to, and that, to me, meant that it wasn't good. However, it became pretty clear throughout the course of the day that my lights were actually in pretty good shape. I was able to accomplish most of the things Bill (my director) asked me to do, and we made really good progress. I was a bit surprised, since it seemed to me that my lights weren't going to work out at all, because they couldn't accomplish what I had expected them to in the way I had expected them to accomplish it. I mentioned this to Charlie, my mentor, and he agreed. He likened designing lights to creating a musical instrument: the construction of it is important, but equally and perhaps more important is the skill with which you employ the instrument you have been given. It's just that with lighting, you get to design the instrument as well as play it. So that's a big lesson for me; the realization that designing the lights correctly on the first try isn't a huge obstacle is extremely valuable, because it'll keep me from freaking out so much, and just allow me to design what I want to design. This time I spent a lot of time agonizing over angles and colors, and I shouldn't have. Colors can be easily changed, and angles probably won't survive the hanging process anyway, because something will get in the way, so you'll have to move stuff. Moral of the story: design something that you can use to accomplish the basic looks that your director gives you: sad, angry, happy, morning, afternoon, night, inside, outside, underwater, whatever. That's where the design comes in. Once you've got that, throw in some random stuff, because you'll need it--but make sure you have some sort of vague idea what you want to use it for. If you get some good ideas for specific effects, go for it; the small touches can really improve a play. Once you've got your lights, pick some colors that work well together, and then plop the whole thing on the ceiling and starting clickety-clacking on your light board.

Friday, September 22, 2006

HickoryDickory Lights

I mostly finished hanging my lights as of last night, and a lot of things didn't look the way I wanted them to. The blue color I used in my zooms just ended up looking really out of place when mixed in with all the warm colors on the set, and you could see where it was hitting, because there would be these patches of random coolness to the colors. Also, my idea for having fresnels mimic spill from windows onto the outdoors isn't really going to read, I don't think--you need blue in order to have night time, and as it stands, only half of the outdoor areas can be lit with blue. So I think I'm going to switch out the orange (Rosco 15) for some more of the blue I'm using for the moon already (Rosco 69, I think). Last, the sunlight through the trees (Rosco 12) effect looked like crap. I'm going to try switching it out for a green of some sort (Rosco 87, I think). I also need to move the sun-through-trees lights so that they're coming from the same direction. Next time I try to re-create a sun effect, I'm going to pay VERY close attention to the direction that the sun comes from; it really matters. Actually, in this case, it can just be diffuse daylight and that's okay, but I'm glad it wasn't supposed to be glaring sun. On the other hand, all of the choreographers in the department seem to want me to light their dances for WUDT. This is a good thing. Apparently they liked my work last year. So that makes me pretty happy.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hanging Lights for HickoryDickory

I'm currently in the middle of hanging lights for the first drama of the year at my school, HickoryDickory, which is a great new show by Marisa Wegrzyn, who is a WashU alumna currently residing in Chicago. I designed the lights, and with tech week exactly one week away, it's time to get lights in the air. I'll post more on the design process later; right now I'm too busy to give much of an account. Today we started the light hang, and this is the first show I've done where I've had a significant amount of help with the hang. I was astounded at how quickly everything went. Just having five people or six people working instead of two or one made all the difference. You can assign one person to do all the bookkeeping and reading of the plot, so that the people doing the actual hanging just holler out for another light, and the person at the plot tells them where to go next. Meanwhile, she (it was a she today) can keep track of any changes that are made, all without the workers interrupting their progress to write stuff down. Moral of the story: Theatre is massively time-consuming, but if you have enough people, you can do a lot of things in parallel so that it doesn't take quite as long. I'm really excited for the show; if you have a chance to see it (i.e., you're in St. Louis), you really should. Show dates are Sept. 29 and 30, and Oct. 1, 6 and 8. 8PM Friday and Saturday, 2PM Sunday.