July 19, 2024

Types of Theatrical Lighting Supply

Theatrical lighting supply is a vital component to the success of stage plays, musicals and other live events. Lighting instruments (called lanterns in Europe) create a wash of light on the stage and can cast different colors using gels.

The process begins with a lighting plan that outlines the desired effects for each scene. From there, lights are positioned on the stage and adjusted during rehearsals.

Conventional Stage Lights

Conventional stage lights use analog quartz or tungsten halogen lamps and are the most traditional kind of theater lighting. These lights come in a wide range of sizes and brightnesses, and their intensity can be increased or decreased by changing the current they receive. Conventional stage lights are also available with color-changing capability, making them even more versatile than ever.

Front lights are the most critical part of any theatrical lighting setup. These fixtures must illuminate actors from all angles to avoid making them appear flat and unconvincing. They must provide a wash of light that covers the entire stage, as well as backlighting to add dimension.

You’ll also need side and high-side lighting, which are positioned to light performers from both sides and above. The directional aspect of these lights is crucial to revealing the actor’s expressions and creating the proper atmosphere for the scene. Ellipsoidal spotlights are a common choice for these positions as they can be framed and focused in many different ways. A popular variation on these is called a follow spot, or followspot, which can be manually operated to follow one specific figure around the stage.

LED Stage Lights

LED stage lights are becoming increasingly popular in theatres and venues due to their energy efficiency, versatility, and cost effectiveness. They use less power than traditional lighting sources to achieve a similar brightness, and they can be dimmed for dramatic effect. This allows lighting designers to create innovative and captivating visuals that elevate performance in ways traditional systems cannot.

LED light sources produce very little heat compared to tungsten lanterns which makes them suitable for closed and smaller spaces, where high heat output would make the space uncomfortable. LEDs also require less frequent replacements which reduces both bulb costs and labour costs.

However, it is important to note that not all LED theatrical lighting supply fixtures can be connected to a standard lighting dimmer as they require an electronic driver circuit to supply the constant voltage and current they need to operate. This also helps with colour mixing, smoothing of the dimming curve and reduced flicker (important for video use) so that they don’t look ‘steppy’ or ‘pixelated’ on camera. Newer, more expensive fixtures can be connected to a standard dimmer and do not suffer from these issues.

PAR Cans

PAR cans are one of the most commonly used fixtures in stage lighting. These lights are small, powerful, and versatile. Often, a PAR can can produce different beam spreads by simply replacing the bulb with one of a differing wattage. This flexibility makes them very popular with traveling performance groups.

They are also known for their intense beams, which, when used with a colored gel, can create deep and saturated colors. This makes them ideal for spotlighting performers or other objects. They are also frequently used to create backlighting effects.

Most conventional PAR lights have a space for a gel frame near the theatre lighting supplies lens. This allows the lighting designer to use colored gels to create backlighting effects and other visual enhancements. This can be especially useful for performers that require a specific background or atmosphere. The most common sealed PAR light is a tungsten filament or halogen lamp, although some venues may prefer the higher color temperature of a hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide (HMI) lamp. Unlike traditional can lights, LED PAR lights do not give off heat and are less likely to overload a venue’s wiring and blow fuses.

House Lights

Lighting is used to create a sense of atmosphere in the theater and set up a specific stage design. Different types of lights offer a variety of features to transform the theatre into an attractive and creative environment that attracts audience attention.

For example, house lights can be dimmed for pre-service and spoken elements to help congregants focus on the worship experience. Then, during the service, they can be brought back up to allow people to find their seats and read service materials.

Beam lights can draw the audience’s attention to a single element of the performance such as an actor in a moment of reflection or a prop that is crucial to the plot. This is because they give a tight beam of light to highlight the desired object or character.

The best way to ensure that the Theatrical Lighting Contractor has control over these lights is to include them in the theatrical specifications at specification time and make sure that any LED house light fixtures are easily accessible for programming and have RDM compatibility (a DMX-512 protocol add on that allows remote configuration and reporting). Also, the electrical engineer should be aware of the power requirements AND data cabling – if hard wired, it must be separated from theatrical wiring.

Work Lights

A work light is a portable luminaire used in locations where natural or artificial lighting is inadequate. They typically feature LED bulbs that run cooler and use less power than traditional halogen or incandescent bulbs. They also last longer than other bulbs, reducing the amount of time spent sourcing and replacing them. Many work lights are cordless, allowing users to move them easily without having to worry about the location of a power outlet.

Consider the fixture’s BEAM SPREAD when selecting a work light. The larger the beam spread, the more area it can illuminate.

Another important consideration is the fixture’s BULB TEMPERATURE, measured in Kelvins (K). Higher ratings equate to a more cool and bluish light that can be ideal for tasks requiring focus or precision. However, lower ratings can emit a more warm and yellowish light that can help create a relaxing atmosphere. In addition, look for a work light that is durable and dust-resistant. This will ensure that it is able to withstand the elements and be used in rough environments.

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