CMU School of Drama

Friday, July 07, 2017

Establish Sunrise & Sunset Onstage With These Unbelievably Gorgeous Color Palettes

Rosco Spectrum: When Lighting Designer Jimmy Lawlor sat down with Director Dr. Dennis Beck to discuss their upcoming production of Picnic at James Madison University, they agreed that a realistic approach to design was in order and that the color, direction, and movement of the light needed to be supported by the reality of the story. One aspect of the lighting design was establishing time-of-day – specifically sunrise and sunset, which Lawlor accomplished mostly with color using Roscolux and Gamcolor filters.


DJ Lesh said...

This article talks about a great example of designers and directors coming together to really make a show special. When the lighting designer first spoke with the director they decided to take a realistic approach to the show, which would entail realistically setting the time of day. The lighting designer knew he would need to create magnificent sunrises and sunsets in order to help the audience follow these changes in time. He then worked closely with the scenic designer, coming to the conclusion, together, that the two houses on stage would be painted close to white, creating what they called, "House Cycs," allowing the lighting designer to paint the house with light. The lighting designer then got to work mixing and matching gels to create realistic sunrises and sunsets. This was a very interesting approach to creating these times of day and I am certainly going to be looking for a way to implement this in shows I work on in the future.

blue Williger said...

Having just worked on a production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons where the lighting designer had to simulate sunrise, daylight, sunset, and moonlight, I was curious about new ways of creating these times of day using light.

The lighting designer of Picnic (the show mentioned in the article), was able to mark the time of day for the audience by utilizing light and color. This was most evident when he was creating sunrises and sunsets. His focus was not only to light the actors on stage, but to light the two "House-Cyc's". These "House-Cyc's" were designed in collaboration with the scenic designer, which were essentially two front facades pained in a color close to white so that light could reflect off of it. He lit the stage primarily with tungsten PARs because of the "amber drift" they produce as they dim. Once deciding on the fixtures that would light the stage, he began choosing gels and filters to create his "sunrise & sunset palettes". After creating these palettes, he found LED fixtures that could be tuned to match the colors of the gels and filters in his palettes; he then used these LED fixture to light the cyc.

After reading about production and the lighting designer's use of light and color to produce sunrises and sunsets, I hope to be able to utilize these ideas to create similar lighting.