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Matyas Erdely

LIVE THEATRE lighting for black and white effect

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Hello everyone,

I'm looking for help to find a solution to light live theater to get a black and white look.

There are techniques to use different color(?) gels in order to achieve this but I need as much info as possible.

Anyone any suggestions?

Thank you,

Matyas Erdely

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Hello everyone,

I'm looking for help to find a solution to light live theater to get a black and white look.

There are techniques to use different color(?) gels in order to achieve this but I need as much info as possible.

Anyone any suggestions?

Thank you,

Matyas Erdely

 

Very, very difficult. Every design element on stage has to be coordinated. Set paints, costumes, makeup, props, everything has to be exactly the same color white and exactly the same black. Once all that is solved, lighting needs to be all the same color temperature which as film and video people can testify can be quite a challenge in itself. I'd go with all tungsten fixtures and make certain all the bulbs are the exact same color temperature. You could mix intelligent lights with discharge lamps like MSR with tungsten fixtures but you'll have to very carefully work out gel packs for one or the other. Just gelling the MSR's with CTO or incandescents with CTB isn't going to work, they'll look different to the eye. To get them to match you'll need all the Roscoe Cinegel series to experiment with. If this was a show with a large budget and you wanted to mix conventional and intelligent lighting I'd use all ETC Source 4 ellipsoidals and PAR's and the VariLite moving lights that use an incandescent bulb.

 

Also, dimming can be a problem with a black and white show since color temperature changes with dimming. I'd avoid dimming and design the lighting balance with fixture type and number and insist on "lights up / lights down" if the show really is to be crisply black and white.

 

On the other hand, if you and the design crew can pull it off, a black and white live show can look absolutely gorgeous.

 

Cecil Beaton pulled it off for both stage and screen for "My Fair Lady".

 

200px-Bookcover-hepburn-by-beaton.jpg

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Hello everyone,

I'm looking for help to find a solution to light live theater to get a black and white look.

There are techniques to use different color(?) gels in order to achieve this but I need as much info as possible.

Anyone any suggestions?

 

Many years ago, I saw a production of a play called "B Movie: The Play". The opening sequence started in black & white. For what it's worth, I seem to recall the lighting had a distinct cyan tint to it, until the leading lady walked in and suddenly everything burst into colour. As Hal pointed out, the effect did require very careful coordination among all the departments.

 

You may want to try the Stagecraft mailing list - there are a LOT of very experienced and knowledgeable stagecraft folk there. Sign-up instructions are at http://stagecraft.theprices.net/.

 

--

Jim

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Being a theater person primarily, I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop on how to do a completely black and white production (on a low budget no less).

 

1) Actors must mix their own makeup from strict black (shadow) and white (highlights). You CANNOT use any gray makeup as it is more than likely tinted some subtle color (blue or brown, etc.) that you don't notice until you're looking at a completely black and white stage.

 

2) The sets must be painted, again, with strict black and white. If you need a gray tone you MUST mix it yourself from pure black or pure white; gray paint is not truly gray -- only mixing pure black and pure white will give you no color.

 

3) You can't dim the lights. To achieve a specific color temperature the lights (tungsten lights are the standard in theatrical presentation) must be at 100% across the board to read as white, otherwise they will read as orange/yellow/etc. You'll be using Neutral Density gels to lessen the intensity of the lights to keep them from going all orange-y on you.

 

4) Clothes are the hard part and you're probably not going to achieve a pure black and white look unless you are tailoring and dying your own cloth.

 

5) The inside of the mouths of the actors are going to read STARTLINGLY red if you manage to do the rest of the production in strict black and white. There is some kind of dye that you could probably use to fix this (the inside of the mouths should read black, more than likely) but I don't know what it is -- it's the only problem the theatre who was giving the seminar didn't solve.

 

Good luck; it's a difficult thing to do. There is a theatre in the United States that does it (or did it, they may be defunct) and they actually patented their method as a trade secret to prevent others from copying them.

 

That's all I can remember from the seminar/workshop I took in this; hope it helps.

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