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Lighting a stage with blocks onstage


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Good evening,


Just after a reality check if I may. I am lighting a production that has two catwalk style stage blocks on stage. The blocks start together, back centre, and diverge forming a V shape in the back half of the stage. Acting is happening on stage level, on the blocks, between the blocks........etc.


The director is looking to have areas exclusively lit so action on different parts can be highlighted. I am worried about spill.


Do I have any choice but to put barn doors on my fresnels and shutter some profiles and then manage expectations?


Kind regards,



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The only way to avoid spill is to light the catwalks from both ends using profiles to keep the light shuttered onto the catwalk. You can use several along the length if it is long, so your beams overlap.


Alternatively you can use lots of birdies with barndoors, which will allow them to be rigged on the downstage side to ensure the faces are lit.


Fresnels will have too much spill, pc's less spill, but if all you have are fresnels with barndoors, use them on the downstage side of the catwalk, so the light spill lands on the upstage floor side of the catwalk where the height of the blocks will mask it.

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Lighting the stage and the blocks separately is easy using shuttering from directly above. Or you could try facelighting from the front and shutter/barndoor to keep off the adjacent areas, but you will find that this cuts off faces standing in that area more than you might expect.


Starting with the ground level, you want to shutter/barndoor as close to the blocks as you can without lighting them. So direct facelights along the edge of the blocks on either side (so pointing in a V shape). So on SR you have lanterns pointing SL and on SL you have lanterns pointing SR. You should be able to shutter fairly close to the the blocks and light faces on the ground with only a little spill onto the blocks.However the angles will not be ideal so support with toplights and possibly very steep sidelights to help with modelling.


Lighting people on the blocks is a bit more difficult but again you can probably light faces in a V shape as on the ground, but onto the blocks rather than below them. There will be spill onto the floor whatever you do but this can be kept down and if the blocks are large, then actors could keep away from being close to the edge which will help you. So again lanterns on SR point to SL and ones on SL point to SR, Again support the V lights with toplights and very steep sidelights to help with modelling.


Now add some wider angle lighting to provide conventional lighting away from the blocks and all around the blocks when all areas are lit at the same time. Rely on the more severe V lights + toplights + steep sidelights only when you have to.


This outline is to give you some ideas, but one I have used on sets with multiple levels where focus has to switch between them. It might not work for you, but might trigger some ideas of your own.


PS Obviously the SL and SR sides from the V can benefit from lighting pointing towards the wings, angled or cross which might be allowed to spill, assuming this works with your masking.

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