Illuminati Creative Technology, Colchester UK

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Stage Lighting: A basic manual of the art.

Texturing Light - FRESNELS

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123 What to do with your Fresnel


For information of the various types of lantern take a look at Jon Primrose's excellect Stagecraft page Types of lighting unit and then use the back button to carry on here.

The obvious things are of course to make the beam bigger or smaller, and use the rotatable barndoors to perform some rudimentary beam shaping. But thats just ordinary isnt it! There are all sorts of things that you can try.

1) Remove the lens. It makes a very interesting, hard edged soft-centred beam which you can size control. The Barndoors still work but the beam sahpes they produce are nor particularly attractive.

2) Replace the lens with a similar size Plano-convex lens. As an example, the front lens from a Strand 23N fits in a Patt 123. That gives a really hard circular beam which is hard right across

3) Put the original lens back in the wrong way round. You will find the beam will be tighter and more intense.

4) With no lens and no reflector any fresnel becomes a very useful Linnbach projector. The light output is made to pass through a large stencil or painting on glass, or alternatively, other shadow-forming objects such as tree branches, pot plants etc., and the resulting shadowgraph can be projected onto a cloth or cyclorama. The design can be pre-distorted by calculation or experiment to register correctly on the screen. The hardness or softness is a function of the distance of the object from the lamp filament. Of course there is a great deal of light spillage and back reflection from the shadowmask and so on, so use with care or devise masking pieces.

5) Split colour is very interesting on a fresnel. For example, inch-wide strips of colour fixed together with heat resistant scroller tape actually projects as a spectrum. It looks particularly good as a backlight with a little haze. If you cut out irregular pieces from a discarded swatch book and fix them onto a piece of clear gel ( I have used small staples to good effect) you can create a spectacular stained glass effect. I call this a "Tapestry Gel". It is my ambition to try this in a 5K. Various greens and yellows with a little blue makes a wonderful late afternoon sunshine through the trees effect from a single keylight .

6) Use three of more side lighting fresnels, each fitted with a carefully chosed tapestry gel can be used against the cyc, in combination with cyc battens or floods to create incredible tropical sunsets. Add some tapestry backlights and a few goboes, and you might win a lighting award. The most I have ever won for that sort of thing, was a small calculator in an ALD competition for an on-paper design, and on another ocassion a bottle of scotch from an easily impressed director of a play set in the Malayan Jungle ( with fake monkeys)


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