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Help with this concept

dave singleton

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Hi guys,


Im currently mid way through a lighting design for a dance show next year. The opening of the show involves video projection of the shows name in time to the music onto a flat cloth (the same will be used as the audience enter), then as the track kicks in, I need to achieve big siluettes of the dancers behind this cloth but using bold colours (changes in time to the music). The colours need to fill the full size of the cloth (pros opening 13m wide, 8.50m high) to make a huge block of colour. Then during another music change, custom gobo's will be fired onto the cloth in different places, then back to the colour etc.


So the questions I have are, which way would be the best to project onto the cloth?

What type of cloth should I be looking to use?

What do you recomend is the best way in which to light this using the best cloth?


If that doesnt make much sense I apologise, I have a vision for this but I cant quite see without experimenting how I can make it work.


If it helps the opening track is Daft Punk - Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

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I won't attempt to suggest a fixture, given my general lack of knowledge on UK stock, but I will say that the thing to remember is line-of-sight: the closer the person is to the light source, the bigger the silhouette will be. The lower the light is, the taller the silhouette will be. So, drawing a side-view of what you want to accomplish, and placing lights, people and fabric in the space and drawing straight lines from the light source to the person and fabric will give you a basic indication of where a light needs to be placed to achieve the desired effect.


Boy, I hope that made sense... :unsure:


edit: missed punctuation

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Hey mate,


are you clued up on how you are going to get the video/audio/lighitng sync'd?


The first thing that comes to mind is build an MPEG ish type file in something like adobe premiere and get all the graphics imported and rendered that way. Embed timecode, (not sure you can do this on an MPEG file) and use a decent desk, (pearl, hog etc) to trigger LX cues using the timecode as a trigger source.


another idea is use a rather large projector as a lighting source-in terms of colour and your text etc,


This will allow you to create a perfect synced show-in theory!


I personally have never done it.



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It can certainly work but there are a few things you need to bear in mind:

- To get a single shadow, you need a single light source, using multiple light sources will give you slightly offset shadows.

- A harder beam (profile) will give you a hard shadow, a softer beam (fresnel) will give you a softer shadow.


It is quite a large screen you are trying to light so unless you can get your hands on a 12kW HMI with a scroller, you'll need to be a bit creative.

My suggestion, untested, would be to have a cyc batten backlight the screen to give you the overall wash and then have a single lightsource with a scroller to create the shadow effect. If the dancers are in groups that are separated from each other, you can use multiple light sources but make sure they don't overlap.

TIP: Have a custom gelstring made for the scroller in the right sequence, that way you can snap from one to the next.



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Thanks for the input.


Dunk: I did think of a projector, but I dont think it'll work aswell as other methods could. I am clued up with timecode etc, and this maybe an idea. Just need a time code generator. Desk is a strand 550i.


Roderick: I think thats the best suggestion so far. Budget isnt too much of an issue so yes the custom scroll idea would be good. However I was looking to use heads for some parts of the show anyway, so using a CMY head could be the answer.


Cloth wise, would you just use a thin Cyc? My main concern is choosing the wrong cloth. I've been thinking it through and my only real option is rear projection, hense why my cloth choice is rather important.

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Hmmm. Thinking out loud here, but what about a VL5 without a lens fitted? I've never fired one up without a lens before, so I'm not sure whether the result would be at all similar to a big fresnel without its lens - in facct, it may well not, seeing as the lamp is quite a long way back in the fixture. But you'd get your snappy(ish) colour changes (snappier than a City Color would be, anyway!). Anyone ever tried a lens-less VL5?


Or what about a VL1000? They zoom quite wide (if you've got a bit of distance behind the projection surface you might get a large enough beam), you've got your colour mixing, and if you use one of the S versions you'd also have the option of shuttering to the projection surface, or at least making the edges look tidier.


Dunk's point about a projector might also be worth looking at - a chunky enough projector with the right lens might be able to do most of the work (blocks of colour and projection of images instead of gobos) for you. It'd have to be a pretty bright one, though, I guess.


Like I said, just thinking out loud - sorry if I'm drifting a bit too far off-track!

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In regards to the time code suggestion, what about how the way the guys at Lemaitre ran their pyro show at Plasa this year? You make one side/channel the music and the other channel the time code?


I know the system they were using was different (or was it, can't remember if it was SMPTE or not) but either way, the idea should work the same..





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Scrims are very useful for projecting on to and through or allowing you to see behind them when they are not lit. Search Blue Room for sharks tooth for usage. Short description at Ontario Staging http://www.ontariostaging.com/drapery_2.htm


This is one lighting effect you have to play with to get the angles correct, even a few degrees will affect the result, but it is great when it works. There will always be a transmission loss through the scrim so fly it out or put it on a curtain track to get rid of it when it is not being needed.


I did a ProAm show on a very low budget and they used shade cloth. We got it to work but it needed extra lights to make it opaque due to the poor surface.


For your shadows why not try a groundrow at the base of the cyc, to rear project their shadows on to the scrim. The dancers will be in silhouette so the audience will only see the coloured shadows. You can space the dancers for different shadow sizes. A groundrow will give a different shadow and colour for each circuit due to the physical spacing of the lamps but this is used in dance as a feature as three dancers lit from the front with a groundrow produce nine "dancing" shadows on the cyc or if the groundrow is full on, you get three different coloured dancers on the cyc, moving in perfect sync.


If the gobos were in profiles, you could run the opening using all conventionals and a sound to light trigger. Projector sync would have to be a DMX shutter to match in with the conventionals.

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for the cloth I would use a plastic cyc so there are no joins or anything nasty.

for light what about a wide profile, selecon Pacific or the new s4 90s. If you want snappy colours have 2 with scrollers and use one at a time, the colour can change when its not on!

sounds like its going to be a good opening to the show!

good luck.


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Trouble is im after the short sharp colour changes aswell. I no this maybe ever so slightly extreme but using a Studio Due Citycolour? That would give me the opertunity to colour mix and create the shadow.


I don't think it's extreme at all, to be honest that's exactly the fixture that sprung to mind when I read you first post. Couple of issues I can for-see on that front though, shadows won't be 100% sharp but it's up to you if that's an issue or not. Other issue is how 'snappy' do your colour snaps need to be? Due to the size of the colour flags in a City Colour, and the way they are driven you'll find that a snap colour change isn't quite as sharp as you would expect from a CMY stage wash fixture.


If their not fundamental issues for you than I reckon it would work quite well.

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  • 4 months later...
Hi guys, sorry to drag this up again. I'm going to use a Studio Due City Colour 2500 for my colour changes however I need to make sure I get exactly the right material for this to work. It was suggested to me that Calico was the right tool for the job, but I'm thinking more and more about using some form of plastic cyc (as its cheeper mainly). Would a plastic cyc work with front projection and with being lit from behind or is Calico a better option?
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(mods please don't take this as a personal chat- see sigs B-) )


Dave, I would have thought that Calico would have been cheaper than a plastic cyc.


Unless of course you are going for a preprinted surface.


Calico works very well as a rear projection cloth, it can hide a lot more than a gauze. I remember a long while ago doing best little whorehouse in Texas, we used calico on all the windows to silhouette the action, :( this worked extremely well!

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