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Lighting a rug for grave effect


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I am designing a production in which there is a moment where the actor is telling a story about standing at a graveside. The play is set in a pub - we are going to do faux floorboards from sheetwood. What I would like is lighting to be rigged around/in/under a rug in the set, that can glow when this story is told - creating a rectangle of light that gives the effect of a grave.


Does anyone have any ideas about the best lights to use for this, and where they should be - was thinking of rope lights inlaid into grooves in the flooring and putting the rug just inside of those grooves - but not sure it would hide them enough, and putting the rug over the lights would mean they weren't bright enough for the effect?? Could I rig the rug??


All ideas/suggestion welcome!






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A lot more information is required really before we can give you informed help.


Are you looking for the outline of a grave or a solid glowing rectangle?

Do you want this glow to be strong enough to light the actor as well or just the glowing floor?

Is the actual floor (i.e. not the fake one you have laid) able to have lighting inlaid into it and if so how deep (would it for example be able to be adapted to put either a thin lightbox or a few pieces of LED dance floor panels etc into)

What is your budget - are we looking for a small trip to B&Q type solution or is there capacity to hire equipment?

Do you already have a rug you are trying to light through / in? If so what type / how thick etc?


Your rope light solution could work perfectly well depending on how thick a rug you used and how bright any other ambient light is on the set. You would need a rug that ideally had lots of gaps in it (a wicker rug made from a loose weave for example) to let the light through.


With more information about the exact effect required and an overview of the issues you will probably find people far more able to help ;)

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Thanks for the replies..


The effect I'm after is just the outline of the rectangle - and the light wouldn't need to light the actor - just create a subtle glow. Budget wise as always if there is a cheap option grand - but would sacrifice other stuff to get this particular effect right. Imagined the rest of the lighting at that moment to be quite dark and perhaps just a spot on the actor telling the story - with this rectangle glowing dimly at his feet...?


I don't think there is scope to lay lighting into the theatre's floor itself - but can check this out. Haven't bought a rug yet - would really like an old faded indian type thing but am open to suggestions.


I worry with rigging something over head that it would look a bit obvious - wouldn't give the same effect of coming from the ground as it's a really small theatre - but I could look into this.


Once again cheers for the replies - it's the first time lighting has come into my designing in this way!

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What size area are you looking at laying false floor over? In a smallish theatre you could quite easily lay green tongue flooring down and make a groove in it to lay rope lighting in. In larger venues the size/weight/cost of the flooring starts to become a problem.


I would suggest that instead of a real rug you use a fabric drop cloth. Your going to struggle to get light to shine through a rug and if you choose the right fabric the audience isn't going to notice.

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Guest lightnix

Maybe (that's maybe) this is a job for electroluminescent wire, as mentioned in this latest thread on the subject, which links to an established supplier. There is a variety called T-type, which is specially designed to be sewn onto fabrics. It's 3.2mm in diameter; for something chunkier, check out the 5mm and 8mm flavours.


You'll probably need a fairly high frequency driver (4-8kHz) to get a decent intensity out of it - ask the suppliers.


For something chunkier still, have a look for LED Neon. There are a number of suppliers, although I don't know any of them well enough to offer a recommendation; so have a Google and a 'phone around, if you think that's a way forward.


Apart from that, the simplest (?) way is just to downlight with a profile. Maybe get a custom gobo made of a blacked-out rectangle made, with sides of the same ratio as the rug; then use zoom, shuttering and maybe a bit of Hamburg frost to get an "etherial-looking" rectangle.


Hope that helps, or at least gives food for thought.

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