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The Physics of Theater Lighting

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Helen Abraha

on 12 December 2013

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Transcript of The Physics of Theater Lighting

The Physics of Theater Lighting
Qualities and Functions of Stage Lighting
How Color Appears on Stage
Lighting Equipment
By: Helen Abraha
Controllable Qualities of Light
Intensity : Brightness


Distribution : Direction
Frontlighting, Backlighing, Downlighting, Uplighting, or Crosslighing

Movement : Allows light to change moment by moment
Functions of Stage Lighting
Visibility (Selective & Non selective)

Focus and Composition

Dimensionality (Mass & Form)

Mood and Atmosphere

Reinforce Style (Creating Realism)

Underscore (Development of Dramatic Action

Supports the Production Concept
Ex. Romeo and Juliet Post-Apocalyptic
Functions of Stage Lighting (cont.)
Lighting Instruments
Theory of Selective Absorption
The scientific principle of color perception

Dates back to Rene Descartes work in the 1930's, before Sir Isaac Newton!
Believed that objects were colorless and their color was the result of an interaction with the light hitting them.

When a white object is lit by a white light, it reflects most of the light hitting it, and as a result appear to be white.

However, when applied to surface colors it does not seem to explain what the eye perceives.
GOBO or GOBO Pattern
Source: Encyclopedia of Stage Lighting
Soruce: The Essential Theatre
Source: The Essential Theatre
Source: The Essential Theatre
Thin sheets of polycarbonate or polyester, placed in front of a lighting fixture in the path of the beam.

Absorbing light energy and turning it into heat

Effects of Broken, Double, Frost, and Holes in Gels.
Source: Encyclopedia of Stage Lighting and LED Stage Lighting Wikipedia
Source: Encyclopedia of Stage Lighting
Converging Lenses
Divergent Lenses
Source: Prezi by Megan Holden
Source: Encyclopedia of Stage Lighting
A metal or heat resistant glass insert that is placed at the gate of an ellipsoidal to project a light.shade image of the floor or walls or in the case of glass patters, a color image.
The End
Briggs, Jody. Encyclopedia of Stage Lighting. Jefferson, NC: McFarland &, 2003. Print.

Brockett, Oscar G. The Essential Theatre. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976. Print.

"Color Gel." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Mar. 2013. Web. 01 Nov. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_gel>.

"Converging Lenses Vs. Diverging Lenses." VS Pages RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013. <http://vspages.com/converging-lenses-vs-diverging-lenses-23731/>.

"Gobo (lighting)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Nov. 2013. Web. 01 Nov. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gobo_(lighting)>.

Holden, Megan. "The Physics of Theatre Lighting." Prezi. N.p., 6 Jan. 2013. Web. 01 Nov. 2013. <http://prezi.com/rh4ki3mzmc0z/the-physics-of-theatre-lighting/>.

"LED Stage Lights." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Nov. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LED_stage_lights>.

"Lighting Designers Page." Lighting Designers Page. Harvard Theater and Production Website, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. <http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~loebinfo/loebinfo/lighting/lighting.html>.

"Refraction by Lenses." Refraction by Lenses. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013. <http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/refrn/u14l5b.cfm>.

"Stage Lighting." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Nov. 2013. Web. 01 Nov. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stage_lighting>.

Source: Encyclopedia of Stage Lighting and Stage Lighting Wikipedia
Variety of instruments, however they all have the following components:

Box/Housing- a metal or plastic container to house the whole instrument and prevent light from spilling in unwanted directions

Light Source- tungsten lamp

Lens or Openings - the gap in the housing where the light is intended to come out

Reflector - behind or around the light source in such a way as to direct more light towards the lens or opening
Source: Stage Lighting - Wikipedia
Source: Harvard Theatre and Performance Website
LED Stage Lighting vs. Lamps
Source: Light-Emitting Diodes
High Light Output w/ Lower Power Consumption
Uses: Concerts, Light Shows, and "Audience Blinders"
Advantages: Long service life. environmentally friendly (can be chained to one power supply) , do not require dimmers, and low heat output.
Disadvantages: cannot create a hard edged beam (needed for Gobos), mixed colors will have multiple edges to shadow where different colors are showing, and really expensive.
Source: Incandescent Lamp
Uses: Theater
Disadvantages: Expense of buying gels and replacing lamps , and high heat output
A lights apparent color is determined by its lamp color, the color of any gels in the optical path, its power level, and the color of the material it lights

Controlled by inserting one or more gels (filters)

Custom colors are obtained by means of subtractive CMY color mixing, by inserting combinations of CMY filters

Inserted filters have varying densities, with corresponding varied percentages of transmission, that subcontract mix colors

Lamp power also influences color in tungsten lamps . As the power decreases, the tungsten filament in a bulb will tend to produce increasing percentages of orange light, as compared to the nearly whit light emitted at full power - amber drift.
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