Jump to content

A-Level lighting, general help


Recommended Posts

I've got my first assessed lighting show in 2 months (Sarah Kane's, Crave. It's VERY weird, so much so you could justify almost any lighting effect!)


This is the first time I'll use floorcans (x8). This will be about 40-50m away from the dimmer. What's the best way to wire these? Originally I was thinking 15A extension cables but I would need a lot! Is a portable dimmer a better option (I haven't used one of these before, do they just need a 16A Ceeform power input and DMX-512 to link to the other dimmers)?


Also I was thinking of hiring a UV cannon which, when turned on, would reveal messages written on the set. Does anyone know what type of paint would be needed for this? Also any know where I can hire the pink bar lights posted by 'mac500' about 1/3 down the page (here), oh know their actual name so I could look some up.


Finally is anyone has any other lighting effects like the UV cannon please do share! Hopefully I can recreate some.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I were assessing A-Level drama lighting, almost the last thing I'd be interested in is kit; if I were assessing A-Level theatre electrics I might be a bit more interested - I'd certainly be very interested in the safe use of kit and the application of physical principles.


Sarah Kane's, Crave. It's VERY weird...


So, what is "...very weird" and why is it like this?

Is it the job of the lighting design to emphasise the "weirdness"?

Does the lighting design complement the narrative, such as it might be, or does the lighting design tell a story of its own?

What is your response to the other creative partners in the project?


..... you could justify almost any lighting effect!)


Go on then; write a list of lighting effects and then justify them all - or almost all of them. Think through properly why they might or might not answer the issues of the piece. You've got two months, so you should have ample time to create both a lighting design that really works with the play and a portfolio that shows a deep approach to the play.


Well, that's what I'd do......



Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 floorcans at 500w??


So thats P = IV

500 = I * 230

I = 2.2A


So times 8 = 17.6A


So you will need a dimmer with more than 16A in.


There are hundreds of portable dimmers, from 4 channel things with 16A in, and 4*IEC out, to touring racks. Look at how much you need to power, on how many channels and pick the kit thats right for the job.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would personaly use a port. dimmer rack and pair a couble of channels up and run DMX back to the de-mux or desk. some portable dimmers can run off 13amps but I would recomend looking into power ditrabution if u consider this, for the uv please remeber they take a few min. to warm up and you cant switch them on and full effect stright away, I have always used "Rosco" uv paint which I have never had a problem with
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Following on from Ken's comment - as far as I'm aware, all the current crop of A/AS/A2 examinations link lighting (and/or sound) as a design element.


So by seeking our advice, you could be seen to be getting help and advice - so be careful.


I've nicked a few comments fairly at random that should put the task into perspective:


Lighting Design Candidates should design a lighting plot as appropriate to the

requirements of the group presentation. They should take part in the

rigging and focusing of their design and operate the design during the



The personal portfolio, which accounts for half of the marks awarded

for Preparation, development and analysis, should contain evidence of

the candidates understanding of different types of lanterns and lamps

and their various effects; use of gels, filters and special effects

lanterns, where appropriate. Candidates should include a list of the

equipment and accessories used and provide final cue sheets and plot

sheets as appropriate. Candidates should demonstrate their awareness

of health and safety factors and their portfolio should reveal an

understanding of the lighting designers place within the production

team and details of their response to the developing technical needs

of the presentation.



Facilities Required


• a designated space, studio or hall, which is large enough to

accommodate performers and their invited audience

• black-out facilities

• a lighting and sound system, commensurate in its capabilities with

the candidates theatrical aims and intentions

It is recommended that centres should provide, as a minimum, the

following technical hardware, or its equivalent, to be used in the

practical examinations for Units 1 and 4:


• a 12 channel lighting desk with pre-set and programmable

memory facility

• assorted lanterns including profile spots, floods and fresnels



So the idea is to cope with minimalist lighting, that isn't complicated, but looks good to the untrained eye of your assessor! You may be on a different board to the blurb above - so don't treat it as your own one - but you need to check what you get the marks for - and concentrate effort on that. The quality of the 'drama' sort of sets what you're able to do. Read the text - develop a plan that is within the limits of your ability and give it a good shot. DON'T go full out complicated - you can get top marks with no PARS, and 12 channels. get your own spec and read it carefully so you don't waste effort on areas that don't earn marks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Any dimmer rack can be run off a 13a supply, you'll just no be able to run much from it will you.. Do the math.


I this situation id suggest that if you have free dimmer channels, you save some cash and hassle by just hiring some 20m/25m soca cables, a 15a fan-in and fan-out, run the soca to where you want the cans, shove the fan-out on the end, plug them up however you like, but having to pair two as soca's only 6 ways.. plug the tails from the fan-in into the channels you want on your dimmers and there you go, job done.


If your hiring the cans in, I suspect your supplier will also stock soca..


With these sorts of assessments; research is key.. take plenty of time looking into the various effects you can think of and ones perhaps the teacher asks about. Even if their not practical, at least show you've considered how you'd create the affect then state why its not do-able. i.e. you want some sharp tight beams scanning around the stage in programmed manner - how: mac 250s and a suitable desk - possible: no, not enough budget.


With all these things its just about showing you've put some effort into it. If you find ideas on the net (pictures of effects in general or from other peoples productions of the show), acknowledge the source and attempt to see if you could create something similar for your one.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Racer Rob,


I was just wondering about your course. I do Performing Arts A-Level and have been studying lighting and have worked many years behind with lighting in drama productions, musicals all sorts.


Is your course specifically a "Lighting Course" or is it tied in with the likes of Theatre Studies and Drama etc? If it is a specific lighting course which exam board etc is it with because I would be interested to look into it.


In the answer to your quesiton portable dimmers I would say are your solution. I'm guessing you would be running it digitally so you would need DMX portable dimmers. When you hire portable dimmers depending on how many outlets you need, Alphapacks are the most common. I have used these many times and found them very useful for adding extra outputs here and there on the stage. Once they're connected to the DMX chain they just work as any normal generic channel as long as the addressing on the base is set up correctly. When hiring equipment for theatres Stage Electrics I would say are the starting place. They are a national company and I usually get there price first and then look around the smaller local ones. They also offer discounts for education needs on certain items. :-)




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do the math





They might not know how to speak the language properly on that side of the Atlantic, but I always like to imagine that we have a bit more of a clue over on this side. Sorry, I know it seems really picky, but it makes my teeth itch every time I see or hear that particular expression.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please be careful with Alphapacks, because their DMX addressing is sorely limited. If you already have more than 24 channels of dimming you will have to re-address your existing dimmers to allow the Alphapacks to use the low channels numbers.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do the math





They might not know how to speak the language properly on that side of the Atlantic, but I always like to imagine that we have a bit more of a clue over on this side. Sorry, I know it seems really picky, but it makes my teeth itch every time I see or hear that particular expression.



Then perhaps you should forget about using the Inter-Web, As it is littered with spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes, and you cannot go around correcting all of them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all advice; it's all been really helpful! There is a local hire company that normally gives us discounts so I'll have to start finding out prices. As portable dimmers have had the best response, for their power I'm sure someone from the company can suggest the best (and safest!) method as I don't really want to be experimenting with that! <_< There are only 12 channels in the drama studio so hopefully there won't be a problem if we get Alphapacks.


> Ken Coker, I know I'm going into a lot of detail with the kit but this is all to create effects to support the play (simply because the play is 40mins of a Schizophrenic

thoughts, most of which have no real setting and often with repetitive or senseless dialogue which I find boring after 10mins never mind 40 so a minimalist rig wouldn't help the case). You are right though, the course is mainly design orientated and some of the questions you raised are very relative so thanks!

>Tom_Robbo26, my course is part of Theatre Studies (AS-level to be more exact), I'm pretty sure it's AQA. The first term has to be acting but from after Christmas I was able to specialise in lighting and can stay doing that from now on. I had the option of doing performing arts lighting as an extra with my other subjects, but when you see how much homework maths/physics gives there's no chance!


I'm really looking forward to this show now, espeically the UV effect. By the way the other AS-level group want to perform in an underground room at the school which doesn't even have a socket in it....expect more questions to follow ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rob, you say that you only have 12 channels available, is that limited by your desk or your dimmers?


I think you seem to be concentrating on the effects a little too much, remember the actual aim of a lighting design is first to light the talent, second to create the effect. If the audience can't see the actors, then what is the point of the lights making all these funky effects? Ok, in some situations this is what the lighting designer is aiming for, however for a piece of marked coursework I wouldn't risk the examiner/assessor not understanding this and just marking you down.


Other people may disagree with me, but I'd recommend designing so that the audience can see what is happening, and then with the channels you have left over you can start to add in these effects.


As was mentioned in Paulears post;


as appropriate to the requirements of the group presentation.


In other words, it needs to actually fit with the drama, not just a random collection of effects that you think look cool, because you find [the drama/dialogue] boring after 10mins.



I hope that didn't sound harsh, I didn't mean it to, I just personally think you should ensure the talent can be seen before you start to get fancy.





As for your problem with distributing power, this relates back to my original question. If it is dimmers (or the power supply options that you have) that are limiting your channels then I would recommend using socapex as someone else mentioned, this means that you aren't needing to move your dimmers away from where I assume all the cabling from the other lanterns is coming to.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

>Psychedelic Theatre, (nice name!) the 12 channels are limited by the dimmers (the 12 channels can all be twinned though). I haven't mentioned the standard set-up of my rig (I.e what will be on most of the time) because I've got a very clear idea of what I want to do here involving profiles, floods, pars, frenels etc. all the usual stuff! Even with just 12 channels though there will be some free as, due to the set design & blocking almost everything can be twinned causing no inconvenience. The other reason for me concentrating on the effects is this nature of this play is 'dark' and depressing all the way through, my standard rig reflects this but I thought if this depressing state is sustained for 40mins it would loose it's effect so I wanted to break it up (only rarely), that way when it returns it still hits with the same strength.


I'm starting to think socapex is better, partly because it would be cheaper to hire than the dimmer but also the underground room the other group want to use is under the stage. The socapex can just run through a trap door in the stage floor and use the backstage dimmers.... :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.