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Where to learn stage/theater lighting


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#1 Salil Sundresh

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 11:59 PM

I've done a fair amount of lighting for film/tv mainly as a gaffer but I've gotten a few requests for doing some stage and/or theater lighting. Where would be a good starting point for someone with experience in film/tv lighting to start learning about stage lighting? (meaning before I actually get on a gig)
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#2 jeff woods

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 02:56 PM

As pedantic as this may sound, a copy of something like this or this would be a good place to start. Also, going to see shows and (if the theatre is amenable) getting a tour of the space. And scrutinizing the lighting rig during the show.

I have been lighting theatre for over 10 years, and only dabble in film. The biggest thing I have learned is that in film you light for a moving audience (the camera). In theatre, you light for a fixed audience. And sometimes that audience is on all sides of the action.

Other tips I use:

-Theatre can have a LOT more contrast than you are used to, because human eyes adjust.
-Under the best of circumstances, you have a long time to finesse the look of a show, unlike film where you get as close as you can withing the confines of the schedule.
-With film, you can move the light closer to the action. In theatre, you (most often) need to adjust the light in its same position (grid height) with different lenses, shutters and accessories.
-For the most part, it's all hard light, due to the distance from the actors.

Hope this helps,
-j
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#3 Jim Keller

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 03:56 PM

I've done a fair amount of lighting for film/tv mainly as a gaffer but I've gotten a few requests for doing some stage and/or theater lighting. Where would be a good starting point for someone with experience in film/tv lighting to start learning about stage lighting? (meaning before I actually get on a gig)


Most any community college with a theatre program should have a basic lighting design course. Many larger colleges make their beginning and advanced lighting design classes available through extension programs. Talk to the professor if possible, and if not the counselor, about your background to make sure you're being placed in the right class (you probably won't need the fresnel vs. ERS class). There's nothing quite like studying with someone who does it to teach you the ropes. It's far more complex than just pointing some lights at the stage, and the techniques you learn for the theatre will enhance your skills at lighting for the camera more than I can describe.
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Visual Products

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Broadcast Solutions Inc

Paralinx LLC

Metropolis Post

FJS International, LLC

Ritter Battery

The Slider

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Abel Cine

Aerial Filmworks

rebotnix Technologies

Tai Audio

Rig Wheels Passport

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Glidecam

Wooden Camera