October 02, 2011

Lighting "Kulanihako’i: Living Waters" -Part 2

The premier of the show is October 15th and I received the shipment of new lighting gadgets that I’ll be using to create all the nature scenery for this “hula drama” just last week.

After opening all the boxes and spending a few solid days setting up the lighting plot, I think I’ve made the right choice in choosing this particular equipment. The Kumu came in and saw the effects I was able to produce and I think they were encouraged with the results. I even impressed myself on the waterfall. Using only lights, water pours off the cyclorama onto the stage floor and runs across the stage.

Here's your basic breakup gobo which I’m using to produce the effect of sunlight as it’s filtered through the trees. The metal patterns literally break up the light when inserted into a theatrical light between the lamp and the lens. Add yellow gel filter and haze the stage with a DF50 and you have a sunny forest.

To add a sun, I used a dual pattern rotator pointed at the cyclorama. When the motor is turned on, the two metal sun gobos rotate slowly in opposite directions.
The light passes through the hole and when the sun's rays line up, it looks as though the sun is burning hot as the rays oscillate around the sun. To look more realistic, I adjust the lens to a soft focus and add a light frost filter to the yellow gel. Of course, the cyclorama is also lit with blue cyc lights for sky. It also has clouds that move across the sky which I made using two GAM Film/FX units but I’ll explain how those work later.

My sunlight gobos are shooting from stage left to stage right from the upper corner lights referred to as the "high-sides".

I’m going to use the stage RIGHT high-sides for moonlight in the same fashion. There will be a moon projected onto the cyc using an iris to adjust its size with a light blue gel.  I’ll add two more lights with gobos that will represent stars. These will be simple home-made gobos; black aluminum foil with holes poked through it with a thumb tack -cheap, but effective.

The light blue gel for the moonlight streaming out of the hi-side lights will also serve a second purpose. Instead of loading them with static breakup gobos, I’ll be using  6 more dual gobo rotators.  These are GAM "Twin Spins" that have a spiral gobo matched with a large breakup gobo which will produce a swirling water effect on the stage. So in one scene, it’s moonlight. In another scene with the gobos moving, it’s swirling waters.

To produce another look of moving water on the cyc, I’m using a GAM "Prismo". This unit is different as it mounts into the gel frame slot.

The 3-facet prism glass rotates and projects three images that overlap and rotate around each other. After experimenting with different gobos, I decided to use a fire gobo that has flame shapes cut out of it. When I taped different colors of blue gel to the glass and moved the lens out of focus, the moving wavy shapes look like the way light moves when you’re underwater. To make it interesting, I’ve mounted the Prismo light on a floor base and placed it downstage left on the front edge of the stage. This means if someone walks in front of the light their shadow will appear on the cyc. Since we haven’t rehearsed the show yet with lighting, I’m not sure if it will play into the show or not. I just wanted the creative team to have this option as they work out their scenes. I can always relocate it above if it doesn’t work for them.
The most notable effect I’ve concocted is the waterfall. The few who have seen it have said “Wow!”
This is a GAM “Film/FX” unit. You can choose the loop you want from their online catalog. I’m using two of these babies loaded with moving clouds mounted horizontally into lights. The motors are flipped so the clouds move toward each other. This is so I can have clouds moving in either direction, but also because the script calls for heavy clouds colliding. Flashes of lightning and the sound of thunder and then it RAINS onstage!  This is done using a rain loop mounted vertically in another GAM gadget called the SX4. It works the same way as the Film/FX unit but it’s made to withstand heavier usage. The unit shown above has a loop that could be used for fire with orange gel or moving water with blue gel. That’s what I’m using this one for -the river that runs away from the waterfall. The waterfall effect is another Film/FX with a special waterfall loop in it and focused on the cyc.  My waterfall has to look like it’s in a lush Hawaiian forest so I made an image in Photoshop where I took a photo of a Maui waterfall and added some ferns and greenery from other photos into the scene. I sized it for the standard gobo holder which is about 3 inches in diameter and printed several samples on transparent acetate film which you can buy in most office supply stores.

I have a method of creating these that seems to work. I cut out three of the same image, overlap them on a light box so they line up perfectly and tape them together. Using a laser printer is fine but if you use only one, the colors aren’t saturated enough. By overlapping three, the colors become vibrant. One problem is that the temperature from the light is too hot and the plastic film will begin to melt when you raise the intensity level to about 40% using a 575watt lamp in a standard ETC Source Four fixture. So you have to be careful when you turn it on or your image begins to smoke and melt. I make plenty of backup images just in case.

My waterfall is going to be a jaw-dropper and I’ll hopefully be posting video of it soon so you can see the result. I hope to chronicle this lighting design as it evolves through the run of the show as an example of the creative process involved.
See Part 1 here.
See Part 3 here.