Backstage Series: Lighting Design – Part 2
Last week we focused on some of the aspects that make lighting design an important part of a Las Vegas show. We discussed what the lighting designer does, and some of the techniques he or she will employ when creating a lighting setting up for a show. Since there are many levels to lighting a show, we were not able to explain everything last week. Today we will go further into the second part of lighting design and that is the hanging, focusing and cuing the lights. These three things round out the full lighting set-up and bring a new level of visualization to the performance.
Oh You Know, Just Hanging Around With The Lighting Designer…
Now that the lighting designer has met with the rest of the production crew and ideas have been created, it is time to make the designers vision a reality. This is where a lot of the physical work comes in. The lights or instruments as they are called in the business are selected and laid out according to the lighting designers lighting plot. A lighting plot dictates where the lights will be located long the lighting grid. A lighting grid is a series of pipes long the ceiling of a theater that hold the lighting instruments. Since there are many different types of lighting instruments it is important that they are selected carefully. (We will explore some of the more common lighting instruments in our next post.) Once the proper lights are selected they are hung on the lighting grid in accordance to the light plot. The plot provides the exact location of the instrument so that it can not only be utilized properly in the performance, so that it may also be easily wired into the electrical system. Hanging takes quite a bit of time depending on the amount of lights and the size of the inturements. Once they are hung and wired in the proper spots the next step is focusing the lights.
The Lighting Design Is Coming In To Focus
Now that the lights are in their proper place, the most critical part is yet to take place. Focusing the lights is by far the most important element in the design process. It allows for the stage to be lit properly and in the most clean and efficient way possible, utilizing any and all spaces that the stage provides. When focusing a lighting element they are really manipulating, sizing and directing the beam of light to its proper place and intensity as directed by the lighting designer. It is important, when going though this process to keep several different things in mind, including: The way actors look in certain lighting set-ups or costumes, the location of set pieces or props, and the blocking of each scene. All of these factors determine how intense the light will be and how broad of a wash it will have. A wash is defined as the amount of space the light touches. All of these elements have the ability to be manipulated by the light board as well as on the light itself. Once everything is focused and ready to go, the next part of the lighting process begins and that is the cue-to-cue technical rehearsal.
And, Action! Sort Of… One Last Thing, Please Mr. Lighting Designer
Now that everything is set up and pretty much ready to go, the last and probably most time consuming portion of the lighting design process is what is known as the cue-to-cue stage. Cue-to-cue is when all of the commands for the lights are entered into the light board based on action, dialog or blocking within a scene. Based on these changes, the lighting is then programmed into the light board. Every thing that requires a lighting change must be programmed into the board. Every flash, blackout, dim, anything that requires a change in lighting must be noted. This is why this is often the most frustrating part of the process. Once completed however, the lighting design is finally finished and is not touched or altered again. The only things that can require a change is a change in cast, deletion of a scene or a technical issue.
We hope you enjoyed this look at the other elements of lighting design. We hope you will come back next week to see the final part of the lighting design series when we take a look at different lighting instruments and what they are used for!