Monday, July 16, 2007

Straw and Steel

I've been in the garage testing the Dean Friedman lighting rig- two 1000 watt PAR cans. A PAR stands for Parabolic Aluminized Reflector, a sealed beam fixed angle lamp not dissimilar to a car headlight. The good thing about them is that they are extremely bright, the bad thing is that they are fixed angle. I have a two channel portable dimmer unit so there will be at least one lighting cue- from dim to bright as Dean walks onto the stage.
Being of theatrical persuasion, one will have light straw (warm) and the other steel tint (cool). I could have blagged much more lighting equipment but I'd have to get it all back again to wherever it had been scrounged from and the lamps cost £20 each! I'm more interested in it sounding good really. Switching off the house lights will take be back thirty years to my City Hall days as it is one way of getting the audience to start cheering. No smooth transitions in Morley- just switches. (The three electroliers, under balcony soul destroyers, balcony brackets, ceiling cornice). The City Hall had one main dimmer but the cornice and under-balcony lights were switched. There was a reason for this- it had been designed to suit the Northern Sinfonia and the switched lights stayed on so that the audience could read their programmes.

Addendum- I'm not using Roscolux, I'm using Lee. This swatch book was prettier though.


Colin Campbell said...

Hey your are a major lighting techno geek. Onya.

I am keen to help you to make the Yahoo Thingy work. I think that it can really help with developing the community. I am always the last to know about the Defending the Blog Issues, because I rarely visit unless James asks me too.

Perhaps we can get an RSS feed to a Yahoo 360 page, which we could link to the database. That way they would be complementary.

Shades said...

Jocko, sounds like you are List Admin material!

If I knew what a Yahoo 360 page was then I'd have an idea what you're talking about. I think you can only RSS public yahoo groups at present.

James Higham said...

This has always been the problem with PAR cans and why they need to be set up in threes at different angles on the gantries.

Our producer, who paid for these things, couldn't udnerstand why so many were needed. He thought it was just grandstanding.

You label the post "low-tech" and that's true in the case of a fairly primitive arrangement like PAR cans but so far no one seems to ahve come up with much better.

Your thoughts?

Shades said...

Lord Straf, I don't quite get your point of threes- the quantity would depend on the angles required for modelling and would be the same number whether a PAR can, a Fresnel or a Profile. Theatre basic is front high left, front high right, backlight. (Assuming a proscenium stage).

For example, Scarborough Round covers each bit of the acting area (nine zones) by four lanterns at 90 degrees to each other as the audience is on four sides. So their general coverage requires 36 lanterns for just one wash. (Unless they fit scrollers).

There are some very nice soft edged variable spread, variable colour, variable intensity moving heads but they are expensive and high maintenance. Indeed I recall seeing a Vari-Lite workshop backstage at a show in Birmingham Arena because if you put eighty of them up in the air on trusses some will decide to misbehave (and they stick out like a coffee stain on a Silver Service Banquet table in co-ordinated effects).