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.

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