A Process for Designing Lighting for the Stage (Part 8): Continuing to Populate the Light Plot

After laying in the first basic layers of lighting, I continue by laying in any specialty layers such as the “Chandelier Effect” and “Chandelier Front Light” for Prima Donna.  This way, I can satisfy the basic illumination, mood and modeling requirements before moving on to less essential goals.  With this first layer in place, the designer can determine how much space on each position remains, perhaps suggesting a reevaluation of the priorities.  As subsequent layers of lighting are added the designer is constantly evaluating the best remaining position for each fixture or assessing if fixtures from earlier layers might be moved one or two positions to permit the new fixture a better location to achieve its function as long as moving the other fixture doesn’t significantly compromise the function of that fixture.

A portion of the Prima Donna plot showing the Chandelier Effect Axis

The plan above shows the addition of fixtures intended to create the effect of the overhead chandelier lighting used for the production in the second scene.  Fixtures from the first layer are shown as solid outlines. Arrows (included in diagram to illustrate function and not included in the actual plot)  indicate the throw from each fixture to the area to be illuminated.  Notice that each area is lit from an axis that make the light striking that area from this layer to seem to emanate from the chandelier fixture (illustrated by the triangle symbol).

Center of First Electric

Notice that the ellipsoidal fixture pointing to area F and the adjacent 2 PAR fixtures and 2 Ellipsoidals beside them are crowded together with  less than 18 inches between them.  This is less-than-ideal, but the “Broadway 18” standard can, in my experience, be compromised on occasions.

In this case, notice that the Ellipsoidal and adjacent PARs are all top lights for the same area and will be positioned more-or-less parallel to one another while the flanking Ellipsoidal fixtures point upstage more-or-less parallel to the rest.  While the closeness of the fixtures to one another may make them slightly more challenging for the lighting technicians to focus and maintain, they should be able to be focused accurately without interfering with one another.

Also of note, is the indication of each fixture symbol oriented perpendicular to the batten.  This conforms with standard practice and is the method recommended in the USITT Lighting Graphic Standards.  It is true that spacing needs might be slightly clearer if they were, instead, drawn pointing toward the focus point. However, while spacing and focus intentions are more accurately communicated by pointing the fixtures, the written information including focus area, color, instrument number, circuit and channel number all become jumbled and harder to display clearly.

In addition to the effect of the chandelier, the lighting design for Prima Donna includes an axis of frontlight intended to boost the front illumination while maintaining the fiction that the light is in some way emanating from the chandelier.

Chandelier front light for Prima Donna

Notice that the fiction that this axis of light is caused by the chandelier is achieved by crossing the light axis from the frontlight.  I call this technique “Lighting the Stage From the Center” and sometimes use this technique  to light a stage instead of the more-or-less “45-degree McCandless frontlight” used in the last post for the first layer of the plot.

Next time we will add the final layer of “Specials”

That’s enough for now! Have fun!  Be safe!



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