Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Shadow Haunts Me

In my previous post, I shared pics from the dress rehearsal ("A Good Look at Boney Kern") that took place this past Monday. But I have a few more photos from Sunday's tech rehearsal. I am only now getting around to posting them because I have been scrambling to fix the problem.

These photos illustrate the problem and mark the last attempt I made at a solution before leaving the theater on Sunday evening.

See that lovely line of shadow, the one that looks like a column painted directly on the wall, pefectly centered in the doorway? It's coming from the frontlighting for this section of the stage. One instrument hits the right side of the doorframe, and the other follows the door.

On Wednesday, before the preview, I went back to the theater and tried again to eliminate or at least greatly minimize that shadow. I succeeded ... somewhat. I severly diffused the front light, and then put up four cans in the backstage area. Two of the backstage cans match the front lighting color, and two have a soft lavendar to cool down the space (and also double as moonlight later in the show).

The issue? Man, do they make that hallway pop out. The only time the shadow is completely gone is (a) when there is no frontlight, or (b) when the hall lighting is so hot that the hallway wall seems to practically glow.

Oh, and after watching two performances with this "solution" I see another issue -- the central area of the stage is a bit too muted (er, dark). It is really noticable on entrances ... exits ... and some key scenes that take place there. It's just unbalanced, particularly since the actors look really good in the other areas of the stage.

So ... right after the opening night, I went to work again. Things done:
  • Removed the heavy diffusion from the central front lighting, and replaced it with a lighter "frost" type of diffusion gel.
  • Front lights are hotter now, so all the scenes had to be reprogrammed. Tried to find a balance between front light and hall light levels to minimize the hall shadow.
  • Bled in some extra lighting for scene where Mrs. Hale "discusses" a situation with Boney. She kept walking out of the augmentation for the practical lighting ... so we're going to try to cheat some more and extend the augmented area ... slightly.
I hope the director can live with some shadow back there ... I am opting for the actors looking good, and hoping they can keep the audience's eyes off of that back wall.

We'll see tonight.

UPDATE (02/21/07): I forgot to post this note on Sunday, but I kind of relaxed that whole day as it was my first day "off" from theater work in a good long while.

Anyway .... After the Saturday performance, I asked TQ (the director) if he had any notes for me regarding the lights. He said, "The note is ... lights look good!" Woo Hoo! He further expanded his comment to say that there are no distractions, the actors and the set look good, and the lights support the drama of each moment. I may yet get the knack of this design thing.

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