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Lighting Design for the stage.

Updated on August 31, 2015

Functions

The main functions of lighting are:

Selective visibility-The audience should see what the director wants them to see. You don't to overwhelm your audience by showing them everything all at once.

Mood-Its supportive of whats happening in the scene. Play the audiences emotions as well as the performers. You wouldn't want dark, gloomy lighting during a happy moment.

Composition-The lighting needs to emphasize the flow of the show. It helps create structure and form the scene as well as the set.

Revelation of form-This is something clearly important. This is to allow performers, scenic elements, and prop pieces to appear three dimensional against the set. It's to shape the object with light.

Reinforcement-This is to help theme the scene to contribute to the mood of what is happening. Reinforcing what the scene is trying to convey to the audience.


The above photo is from a show I designed for. It's probably one of the only photos I will use only. Everything is will be from other shows and most pictures are copyrighted.

German director named Max Reinhardt once said that, "The art of lighting the stage consists of putting light where you want it and taking it away from where you don't want it."

He said this because lighting the actors is so important to the integrity of their performance. But at the same time it doesn't have to be all the time. You still need to be artistic.

With lighting we set the stage. Almost literally. It is so crucial to the show however most people don't think about it like this.

The video below is in reference to the photo above as it is from the same show. Notice the elements being used together. Haze and fog coming together with light. The focus is begins and shifts to those who have passed. When deciding how to do this scene, my technical director and I chose an ember color to represent the fire from the gunshots and it fades straight into white to represent their death.

Yes it is a High School but wait watch

It's important...

Keep sidelines in mind when lighting. Meaning whats happening off stage can't interfere with what's on stage.

Also any bleeding that may occur. This means any lighting that falls off stage or onto the set that clearly shouldn't belong. If it isn't on your plot design, it's probably wrong. I don't have a picture of this to help describe but hopefully it makes sense.

Back lighting, front lighting, side lighting

There are different ways to achieve different looks. Each of these three will produce a different effect.

Back lighting is defined by lighting from behind the person or object to outline them. Creating a glow around the edges and everything else dark.

Front lighting can be referred to as fill lighting. It will look more natural and a little one dimensional by itself.

Side lighting are typically used to highlight the form of the body. From arms, head and mid torso.

Beauty and the Beast ©
Beauty and the Beast © | Source

In the right place at the right time

It's okay for your performers to be in the dark sometimes if it's relevant. The photo above is very similar to what I did when working on this production. Notice that the focus is still the flag, and the idea is that they are in battle.

You will find that it's okay to have dimly lit sets depending on mood and the scene. Be wary however some directors will still want their performers well lit.

Basics

These are just your basics, I plan on writing more soon to go into more detail. So look out for more on the way!

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