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Shadow acting


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So I'm working on a play. In the play there are a few scenes that involve silhouettes. Now these are live actors behind a white screen. I need to light them form behind but I have no idea what to use.


I've tried some lights, and none are giving me the effect I want.


First I tried a row of LED Chauvet colorPalettes (cheap lights I know) and they didn't work because it casted multiple shadows.

Second I tried one colorPalette and that casted multiple shadows that were much thinner in distance.

Next I tried an Elation Opti Tri Par and that worked better, but still casted multiple shadows.

Next I decided to use try a regular Par64 without its shell (just the lamp holder and the lamp) and that casted a weird beam on the wall simply because the beam was altered by the pattern on the lamps glass encasement

Next I tried using a 50 degree source 4 ellipsoidal and that worked well but didn't cover enough of the wall and I dont have enough source 4s cover each spot of the silhouette.


Lastly just to simply satisfy the producer for that rehearsal, I used a High End StudioColor 575 and that worked well enough to create good shadows, but that isnt a wash light so it left and bright circle where the beam was strongest and the intensity of the beam got weaker as it got further from the center.



What can I use to make these silhouettes look good?? How should I set it up?? How can I assure that the shadows projected on the white screen will be nearly focused??




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a fresnel with the lens removed is often used for this sort of thing.(You can also get a reasonable effect without removing the lens if needed). I would try to place the light on the floor pointing up. The the sharpness of the shadow as seen on the screen is affected by the distance of the figure from the screen. The closer to the screen, the sharper the shadow will be and the more life-size the image. the closer to the lightsource, the more blurred and bigger the shadow will be.


I think unless you have an enormous area behind the white cloth you will have trouble using just one light to cover the whole cloth and do the shadow as well, so I would treat the lighting of the cloth differently from the lighting that creates the shadow. For instance, light the cloth from the front using traditional cyc floods or LEDs, and use a single source to create the shadow from behind, then balance the lighting to blend the two elements together. Using a fresnel will also be helpful in this respect, as the edge of the beam will tend to fade out. this means even if you don't use extra lights, the beam edge is not as "in your face" as the edge of your 50 degree S4.

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I think you've discovered why it's not practical to use an LED option (or indeed a multiple of ANY source for the sort of effect you've described as wanting. Simply because very few LED lanterns (especially the budget models) have multiple light sources by definition. Only when you move up the budget scale will you find anything that will give anywhere near a clear enough beam to get any sort of projected sharp image.


PAR cans are poor projectors as well, because their beams are diffused by the lenses and are also ellipsoidal in beam shape as well - the projected beam of a PAR is far from clean for both these reasons.

SAFETY TIP - it is not recommended that you do anything with PAR lamps (or indeed any lamps) outside of their designed cases. 1kW PARS get VERY VERY hot and even the beams from a narrow spot can cause serious damage when directed at dark surfaces - speaking from experience!


As others have said any Fresnel with the lens open/removed is perhaps the best and most controllable. Linear floods (K1/K2 lamps) can also be successful but are less controllable than the open Fresnel.


And the reason your profiles won't have the spread is because even with a 50 degree you would need to have a huge throw to get the desired angle onto the rear screen.

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Try any old stage flood such as a Strand PATT60 500W or PATT137 200W flood with the reflector removed, so you have a single point source lamp. The tungsten lamp has a large circular construction. You may not have enough throw distance to cover a wide area.


A new tungsten halogen energy saver lamp is a much more compact light source. Osram Energy Saver to see difference in filament sizes.

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Typo in Ynot's otherwise excellent post..

"very few LED lanterns (especially the budget models) have multiple light sources..." should read

"very few LED lanterns (especially the budget models) have single light sources..." or

"almost all LED lanterns (especially the budget models) have multiple light sources..."


Basic physics... Each light source produces a shadow - so with multiple light sources you get multiple shadows. For a crisp shadow definition you need a single point source of light.


The single Fresnel approach has been most effective for me. (and I have never actually removed the lens - but that would also help.

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These LED floodlights are pretty close to a point source and give an output of 4000 lumens.


Yes, the "reflector" does not actually reflect much in these, but it would still be best painted matt black to achieve the best results.


The LED source whilst by no means a true point source, is no worse than a reasonable wattage halogen filament lamp.

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