Donut shop lighting. Hmm. Donut shop lighting? Yup. Sound boring? What does donut shop lighting look like? Bright? Not many shadows? Maybe no shadows? How do you design this? Go to a donut shop and look. Simple? Yup. To a point. Re-creating that lighting on stage isn't that easy. We'll get to that in our how-to: design pages soon. I'll add a link when it's done.
I'm going to make it a little harder, but much more interesting. How about a donut shop, with big windows, during a sunset? Better?
Hint, you'll have to team up with the set designer as to which direction the window faces.
Read more to discover the ins and outs of lighting design...
BRINGING A STAGE TO LIGHT
On the stage, a trio of white singers has just appropriated a black rhythm-and-blues group's song about the American dream of success and assimilation by releasing a sugary version of the ballad. As the black band and vocalists are overtaken by the pop group, the back of the stage fills with shadowy figures dealing cash to disk jockeys and the song changes to ''Steppin' to the Bad Side,'' the first all-out production number in ''Dreamgirls.''
It is a scene charged with motion that depends for much of its dramatic effect on the sharpened precision of Tharon Musser's lighting design. The upstage villains are bathed in ominous green light - the physical embodiment of the corrupt side of success - while the reality of payola literally dawns on the black musicians as brighter lights slowly rise on them.
Scott C. Parker currently teaches Lighting Design and theater technology at Columbus State University in Columbus GA. Previously, Professor Parker was on the Graduate Faculty at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film where he taught lighting design. He served as Chair for the USITT NY Area Section for three years before moving to the Carson School. He was professor of theater technology at Pace University from 2004-2007. Mr. Parker has been a Lighting/scenic designer, Equity stage manager and technical director in New York since 1981. Mr. Parker's credits include Radio City Music Hall, the Lincoln Center Institute, Gene Frankle Theater, The Public, John Houseman Theater, American Place, Town Hall and other theaters from Boston to Nashville. Mr. Parker has worked as a TV News Cameraman with work appearing on all New York City News programs. Work has also been seen on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, TNN, CNBC, overseas television and GOOD MORNING AMERICA, 48 HOURS and REGIS PHILBIN. He continues to supervise the technical program at the Edward R. Murrow HS where he was the TD/Designer for several years. He has a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Theatrical Design & Technology from Brooklyn College and has studied design at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, The Studio School of Stage Design, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and at Bennington College, where he earned his Bachelor's Degree.
For more info, please visit Scott's on-line Lighting Portfolio.
Virtual Light Lab. VLL has demo versions for both Mac and Windows machines.The demo version does not allow you to save your work from session to session, but setting it up is so quick and easy that you'll be working with the two lights and a sphere in no time.
Vectorworks is my personal choice for CAD software. Vectorworks is one of the few CAD companies to hire theatrical lighting designers to join their team of programmers. They offer a free version for students and teachers to install on their personal computers. Schools will have to purchase the software if they wish to install it in computer labs.
Lightwright. The demo version of Lightwright is exactly the same as the regular version except that it has a maximum capacity of seventy-five lights instead of the usual 30,000, it will hold only fifty entries in each text category instead of the usual 6,000, and users are not required to register the program with John McKernon Software. For readers of Dramatics, the demo version will likely suffice. For those with larger production needs, a student license is available that is valid for three years.
Collection of various Drawing, Sketching, and Drafting items. When communicating with others in the production team, talking with your hands is not nearly as effective as using pencil and paper; computer and screen; callage, etc...
Design software comes in all sorts of flavors. Organizational software, drafting software, custom theatrical software applications, etc. The list is long and growing every day. Check back often for new pages.