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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » F/X » » Recommended Lighting Colors for Magic Show (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

gothike
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Guys,

I have a few high power "static" led (rgbaw) lights, software, wireless dmx.

I just normally just fade in and fade out the lights (white) and sometimes activate light on sound.

I am looking for some advice from people to light an illusion show. I am talking about some Colors in rgb value(1-255).

The light guys I know just have experience with party lighting, up lights but not lighting a magic show.

If anyone could share their Color Pallet and advice, I and others would appreciate it.
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Circus Bambouk
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Tempe, AZ
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It feels strange to be offering you advice, as I have reaped much knowledge from you over the years.

What's the aesthetic of the show? Copperfield was lit differently than Rudy Coby who was lit differently from Cirque du Soleil. As always, there is no one-stop shopping for art.

I'm not a lighting designer, but as a theatre director I collaborate with them a lot. I show lots of pictures, play a lot of music, show swatches of fabric. From there, they show me some options, and we choose what works best.

Good luck;

Brian
gothike
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Brian,

I know some stuff but I am also smart enough to ask for advice and listen to theatre techs.

So far I bought an iphone app with different color values from the major gel suppliers.

I'm stuck in selecting which blue, pink or purple color so we look cool, rather than looking like a Smurf or Barney the dinosaur.
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Oliver Ross
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Hi gothike,

I'm not a light tech, but after looking through the internet I found what I needed to correctly light my parlour show. First I searched the internet to get the color codes of the specific lights I use. Then I checked it with the materiel in hand.

Concerning the color choices I based mine on the experience from school and things I read in books, like the difference between cold and warm colors, which colors go well with each others (complementary colors). A good help for me was the book from Eberhard Riese "Foundations". There's a good chapter about the basics of lightning a show in it.

Use a color wheel to see which colors could go well together with each other.

See this link : http://graf1x.com/the-color-wheel-chart-poster/

At the end, everything depends of course of the ambiance and atmosphere you would like to create for each piece or routine (drama, mystical, funny...)

Finally I programmed the DMX on the lighting table, which was quite long to do.

The most important thing to keep in mind is, first use white so everyone can see you onstage and the action and only then add some colors. Never use only colors to light the stage, 'cause the audience won't see you and the action correctly on stage. A lot of magicians make the mistake by using the colors first and never use white to light the stage, specially in routine where you need to hide some stuff from the audience view, but then the stage is too dark and the audience won't see anything clear enough of the rest of the actions.

I learned aswell not to use too many colors together. Two or three colors with white is globally enough.

I don't know if this will help you. If you could give a little more details about what you want to do, I could give you maybe some more data.

Good luck,


Oliver.
thomasR
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A good warm wash would be white, Amber, and Red. A good Cool wash would be White, Cyan, and Blue. As was mentioned, you don't want all color without any white light unless you are going for that effect.

Do you have a controller? An inexpensive DMX Controller will allow you set multiple scenes that you can switch to throughout your show. With a simple controller, you can even mix your own colors, which can be fun.
Ray Pierce
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There are so many elements that go into lighting a show well. The first is simply just visibility. A routine can be lit many ways with just a white single fixture. By varying the angle of the instrument it can create vastly different looks and moods. A straight front wash creates one feeling while a sharp down pool is totally different. You can cover an act with 1 or 2 follow spots. The first priority is to make sure the audience can see the magic effect clearly. You can have dramatic lighting leading up to it but the magic moments must be clearly visible using adequate illumination for the specific venue and audience. The further the audience is from the stage, the more illumination is required to aid in visibility. Once the visibility needs are met, you can add light modifiers that change the color or texture of the light to tell a better story.

First think of the feelings of warmth and coolness. If it is a warmer type of piece you can stay in the accent tones that suggest that... Red, Rose, Pink, Magenta, etc. If it's a cooler feel, stay in the blue and lavender world. A dream sequence can be defined by the colors you use to suggest it. Calm and pastoral is in the cooler realm while romance and passion could be warmer. Is it high energy and dramatic? Warmer tones bring that out more. Relaxing and tranquil, stay in the cooler world. Then you need to look at the contrast needed for accent lights. I had a scene with flaming torches and I wanted then to provide the warm key light for the scene so I used the cooler colors to contrast with them so they would balance out the look.

It's like saying "I want to paint a picture, what color should it be?" The warm/cool cross light technique (Bastard Amber/Steel Blue) is a standard exterior look for shows that create the feeling of the warm sunlight and the reflected cool light from the earth. For musicals that don't need the realism of something suggesting sunlight, we frequently use a Lav/Pink combination with Special Lavender/Flesh Pink as a warm/cool base light. Sometimes I'll use a Special Lavender wash as it is very good for skin tones. The more saturated a color you use, the more power and instruments you need in general. If you need to fill the stage with a super saturated color like Congo Blue, you'll need a lot more instruments (or power) as it (in the gel form) absorbs so much light (and in the LED form) is at such a low end of the power curve.

The advantage of RGBAW LED fixtures is that they are easily programmed to get any color you need. Just remember that your first need is to be clearly seen. That doesn't mean that you can't use more saturated colors to set the mood at the beginning of the scene but this just requires more cues.

As an example I have done shows with one light preset for the entire show and others where we have multiple cues within each routine. It depends on if you have someone to run your cues or in some cases you can even have the light cues triggered by the music. I have a music playback system that sends MIDI Show Control signals to the light computer which then translates those into DMX signals that go to the lights. That does however require you to be consistent with the music cues. Otherwise you'll need a lighting board operator that knows your show to trigger the needed cues.

Remember that you must first be seen, then secondarily you must tell a compelling and visually interesting story. Lights have the ability to do that in the right hands. For Comedy... the brighter the better. The old adage "Bright lights is funny" always applies. On the other hand for more dramatic scenes, Shadow is equally as important as light to paint the best picture at times. Formulate your aesthetic then paint the picture with the appropriate lighting instruments and colors.
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
Mindipulator
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Ray

Your mention of Lav/Pink brought back memories. I put myself through uni as a theatre tech. A lot of "variety" type shows. I would try to get a few minutes with each act during the day to determine thier requirements. Often I would just be told,"do whatever you think will look best.". These were often shows with little or no rehearsal and I only had a couple of hours to get set. The no-info folks then got an attractive wash of "Surprise Pink." Those in lighting will understand the surprise. This of course was long before LED. It would be a ton of fun to work with today's tech. You must have seen so much change over your years in business.

Dale
Ray Pierce
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Lol, Dale... I've used a lot of surprise pink over the years! Yeah, I started when 2 scene boards were just becoming available but I still worked old road boards and dimmers that took up the backstage wall of the theater. Executing a crossfade needed gymnastic like skills! I understand lighting a show with little rehearsal. I was lighting The Platters in a huge theater in Acapulco with no information at all on their set list. Fortunately there was an old Strand 5 scene board I knew from my early years in Texas so I set up a lot of random looks with each scene and assigned every sub-master available to help with each zone. It was literally an exercise in Jazz Lighting.

I lit show in Hollywood a few weeks ago and it was the first time in years I actually had to buy gel. It was all traditional fixtures, well, I had some PAR 64 LED's just to save space but mostly traditionals. It was really kind of fun... like a step back in time to my roots. I still have some lekos, par cans, fresnels and now the ubiquitous Source Fours but I mostly stock and use all LED's and movers. It's a very different world from when we started!
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
gothike
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Ray,

THANKS for the info and the time you spent explaining colors. I read it multiple times.

Which software are you running for your music playback and lights?
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Ray Pierce
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Thanks, I hope it made some sense! I could go for years on the potential of lighting to establish a mood and set a scene. I started out with SFX for audio playback/show control but I've recently been using SCS (http://www.showcuesystems.com/cms/) which is a VERY robust system and much faster for me to program.. I've used it for playing back 400 cue shows such as the Magic Castle Awards Banquet and other awards shows I was the musical director for. It also sends MSC (MIDI Show Control) signals to my motor controller, mixer and lighting board or computer. All of my audio mixers have MIDI inputs so that streamlines the process. For the last Conference of Magical History the SCS system triggered the lighting through an Elation Show Designer which had all of my presets for each show loaded on it. For lighting software I've used ADJ's MyDMX, Elation's Emulation, Chauvet's ShowXpress and several others. It really depends on the applications and style of show I'm doing. Most will fill your needs adequately. We usually have about a dozen moving lights so there are certain packages that make it easier to program certain patterns. For LED's and traditional fixtures most would be very practical.
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
gothike
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Ray,

I could see how SCS would come in handy with 400 cues.

I don't have any motors or need for midi at the moment. Still need to buy some moving lights.

I am currently running WinAmp for music playback with a RF remote with 1,000ft range. I created a script so certain song names in Winamp will send a hotkey trigger to Sunlite Suite 2 and its "Easy Show" programmed light sequences.

Works for me. But will mess with the other DMX software you mentioned.
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Ray Pierce
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If what you have is working, stay with it! There are many solutions to the same problem so don't feel the need to change arbitrarily when what you have is filling your needs. When it becomes a weak link in the system and cannot accomplish what your goals are, then you can look for alternative solutions.
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
Kay99
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Ray Pierce you sure know your stuff thanks for the great info ☺️
Sam Sandler
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While there is some great advice here the one thing I am not seeing or reading is "back lighting" meaning lights from behind you.

many times I see magic shows and all the lights are from the front and it makes it one dimensional and you lose focus or depth of the stage. its important to have some lights behind you. even as simple "up lighting" on your back drop. Or a few par cans pointing down at a slight angle towards the front of the stage to light you from behind.

to clarify- up lighting is usually small flat par cans (these days LED) that you put on the floor facing upwards at the base of your back drop and it casts its light up creating some depth to the stage.

hope this helps.

sam
ps say away from using green and careful how much yellow you use!!!
sam sandler- America's only full-time DEAF Illusionist
http://www.samsandler.com
http://www.deafinitelymagic.com
Ray Pierce
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Sam, I did touch on the angle/position of the instrument greatly affecting it's look. The position of the individual instrument isn't as important as how it is utilized. If you use nothing but a FOH "Wash", then yes, the lighting will be very flat and bland. Your first goal of good lighting is to aid visibility. If you only have 4 instruments, relegating some for back light might not be the best choice. On the other hand If you look at concert lighting, it is almost exclusively back and down light with the follow spots providing most of the FOH light. In a theater it is typically more evenly divided between the stage and the front of house positions. I grew up lighting a lot of dance work which traditionally uses a LOT of side light and the ubiquitous "Shin Busters" which became one of my most useful positions for lighting black art effects. I also tend to use a lot of back light as I also grew up as a photographer utilizing the magic 3 components of a Key light, Fill Light and Back light to provide the needed sculpting and to separate the performer from the background.

Yes, if you have something other than a black background, then you'll need a cyc wash which is typically from above but can be shot from the ground for a different effect. You can even use ACL's or narrower beamed movers (Clay Paky Sharpys are the current standard) to create up lit patterns on the drop. This isn't even beginning to approach the current "Lighting as Scenery" device using hazers and allowing the beam to light the space, not necessarily the performer. Trying to speak about lighting in such a limited forum is like trying to boil all of magic down to something simple as a 1 column topic.

Lighting has unlimited potential, never be afraid to explore!
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
chmara
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How big a show, how long a show in how many dramatic segments -- what needs to be highlighted (performer or prop) and how all of it is controlled.

The technical side of lighting did not change for may years -- and those of us in the old school (pre-DMX, for instance) had many instruments with different gels, lenses to focus and often stage crew to make sure they hung and worked on cue, all written out on cue sheets and light plots.

With the advent of scrollers, changing colors on one instrument (luminar) became easier - but cues often took time to get from gel 1 to gel 7.

Now a mix of LEDS in a head can offer many colors quickly -- but punch, power, control and cost become factors.

Blackstone Junior depended on very specific lighting down to gels that put out the particular measured light spectrum (in angstroms) for his floating bulb illusion, I do not know if modern "DJ" lights allow for that precision.

At one time I found that I was spending as much, or more time, setting up my lighting for my traveling show that needed for my props OR performance. At least half my trailer was dedicated to lights, stands, controllers, cable and a raft of gobos and gels.

And this is why often, a lighting director of consultant may be needed. Your local college drama department may have someone to work with you.

And, forget not what lighting for effect can do to your appearance, skin tone and costume color in addition to its psychological overtones to the audience.
Gregg (C. H. Mara) Chmara

Commercial Operations, LLC

Tucson, AZ



C. H. Mara Illusion & Psychic Entertainments
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