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Author Topic: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences  (Read 6279 times)

Joe Valente

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Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« on: July 29, 2019, 07:55:08 pm »

Greetings all!

I play in a weekend warrior band playing pubs and bars mostly, and we have begun getting serious about doing a little stage lighting. Without getting too deep into the weeds, what we are doing is programming a sequence of scenes that we step through during the songs. Steps are typically triggered by emphasis (think cymbals on the drums). Each scene has two colours/zones (mid-stage and stage sides/back) and a white for stage front.

We are stepping through the scenes, but specific scenes are not mapped to each song or part; rather, we're just trying to create some visual movement when song parts change to improve the overall product.

And here's what I'm looking for: Given our two-zone setup and our goal for visual movement, are there any guidelines I should follow in programming the scenes? I am particularly interested in any ideas you might have on colour changes as we progress through the scenes.

Again, the scenes change with the music, but they are not mapped specifically to each song. We've reached a level of sophistication at which we can change scenes on-demand, but we can't specify which specific scene, we just get the next one in line. So (I think) movement is king.

I would also be interested in any thoughts about good colour combinations, given our two-zone approach.

Oh, and we're using 7x12w RGBW flat-ish PARs, if that makes any difference.

Thanks in advance!

Joe
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2019, 08:19:21 pm »

Greetings all!

Greetings.  Per the forum rules you agreed to when signing up, please change your username to your full name.  No one will be able to offer assistance until this is taken care of.  Thanks!
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Joe Valente

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2019, 09:46:51 pm »

Greetings.  Per the forum rules you agreed to when signing up, please change your username to your full name.  No one will be able to offer assistance until this is taken care of.  Thanks!
Apologies -- and done! Thanks for the heads-up!
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Taylor Hall

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2019, 09:06:47 am »

You can't really go wrong with color in general, just be mindful of how that color will react with what's on stage. Some colors will wash out (pun partially intended) what's on stage, so play around and find what works for you. Try mimicking what you've seen at other performances and adapting it to your show, there's no real limits in lighting design, it's as much an art as writing the music it supplements.

If you're wanting to be more precise in the scenes/chases you're selecting instead of simply using a cue list, you could try using something like Luminair or QLC+ to operate your show on a tablet or laptop so that you have complete control of everything.
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Joe Valente

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2019, 09:30:17 am »

You can't really go wrong with color in general, just be mindful of how that color will react with what's on stage. Some colors will wash out (pun partially intended) what's on stage, so play around and find what works for you. Try mimicking what you've seen at other performances and adapting it to your show, there's no real limits in lighting design, it's as much an art as writing the music it supplements.

If you're wanting to be more precise in the scenes/chases you're selecting instead of simply using a cue list, you could try using something like Luminair or QLC+ to operate your show on a tablet or laptop so that you have complete control of everything.

Hey Taylor!

Thanks for the input. I may get to the point where we're using a more powerful system, but, for the moment, the cue list is the limits of what I'm prepared to do.

A bit more background on my journey...

I'm using a Chauvet Obey 40 (which has its own really annoying idiosyncrasies when it comes to MIDI) strictly because it was the only unit at the time that offered MIDI control at a reasonable price point. Originally, I was using a footpedal to run sequences (defined using a MIDI Solutions Event Processor), and I had three sequences of five or six scenes: Warm, Cool, and "Ballad."

The Obey has some really weird stuff going on that I just could not work with manually, so it sat for a little while. Then my band became a duo with a Beat Buddy, and, one morning, I had an epiphany: The Beat Buddy transmits MIDI, and I have modest control over what it passes on.

So, back to the programming board. Had a long (email) chat with John Fast at MIDI Solutions, completely reprogrammed the Event Processor (several times), and ended up with a fully-automated lighting system that the Beat Buddy drives as part of the songs.

However, what I gave up was control over the types of lighting (Warm/Cool/Ballad), so, I thought this was a good time to learn more about best practices and scene-to-scene hygiene.

And you have started me down that road with your solid -- and I think, generally-applicable -- advice.

So thanks again -- very much appreciated!

Joe
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Nate Zifra

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2019, 01:48:13 pm »

A technique I find is often overlooked is using Intensity chases.  Depending on your controller, there are different ways to program.  If I understand correctly how you are currently working, you would program a scene with certain # of the pars off, then the next scene with the pars back on and others off.  You can program "Movement" in different ways, like every other fixture, a "Knight Rider" look, or ping ponging between your two zones.  You can also dim fixtures (instead of blackout) to create a pulsing effect. 
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Steve Garris

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2019, 04:52:54 pm »

As Nate noted, you can generate movement by having some of the lights go off on certain scenes. I always try to make sure that no consecutive scene uses a light with one color. If the light was red on the last scene - make it blue or off on the next scene.

Another trick is to have a scene where one color actually uses a slow fade chase program, built in to the lights. I use those same Chinese pars, which have a dmx setting that will fade through several colors. You can set the fade speed also via dmx.

With the RBGW Chinese lights, good color combo's are R/W, Blue/Green, Blue/White, Blue-Green/Amber, Red/Yellow, Pink/White, etc. For your use, I would stick to (2) colors only. Do you have a fogger or hazer?

For my RGBW lights, I use the following mixes for colors:
Yellow - Red (full), Green 100
Amber - Red (full), Green 50
Pink - Red (full), Blue 50
Blue-Green - Green (full), Blue 50
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Joe Valente

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2019, 11:05:20 pm »

A technique I find is often overlooked is using Intensity chases.  Depending on your controller, there are different ways to program.  If I understand correctly how you are currently working, you would program a scene with certain # of the pars off, then the next scene with the pars back on and others off.  You can program "Movement" in different ways, like every other fixture, a "Knight Rider" look, or ping ponging between your two zones.  You can also dim fixtures (instead of blackout) to create a pulsing effect.

I hadn't considered this approach. I don't have enough PARs to do this effectively, I don't think, and the two main trees are stage front facing back. But I have several smaller LED PARs that I use in the garage to act as a test system that I could put at the back of the stage facing out, and, with a couple more of them, I could actually do exactly what you're suggesting. I'm going to have to look at this idea seriously -- thanks!
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Joe Valente

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2019, 11:10:47 pm »

As Nate noted, you can generate movement by having some of the lights go off on certain scenes. I always try to make sure that no consecutive scene uses a light with one color. If the light was red on the last scene - make it blue or off on the next scene.

Another trick is to have a scene where one color actually uses a slow fade chase program, built in to the lights. I use those same Chinese pars, which have a dmx setting that will fade through several colors. You can set the fade speed also via dmx.

With the RBGW Chinese lights, good color combo's are R/W, Blue/Green, Blue/White, Blue-Green/Amber, Red/Yellow, Pink/White, etc. For your use, I would stick to (2) colors only. Do you have a fogger or hazer?

For my RGBW lights, I use the following mixes for colors:
Yellow - Red (full), Green 100
Amber - Red (full), Green 50
Pink - Red (full), Blue 50
Blue-Green - Green (full), Blue 50

It's funny you should say that: I spent an hour last night going through scenes and rooting out consecutive scenes that included similar colours, making sure every scene was a complete change.

Tomorrow, I'm going to look at some of your colour combos. It's gratifying to note that some of them sound very close to some of the colour combos I'm using now.
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Rich Grisier

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2019, 11:41:14 pm »

I've been down the path before of wondering how to coordinate colors for stage lighting. More often than not, people think they have to use all kinds of crazy random colors just because they can. They figure if their fixture can do RGBW, then why not use them all for a rainbow of colors on stage. This actually has the opposite effect. Once there are three or more colors, then they just sort of wash together and end up being white.

So, I think you're ahead of the game already by setting up a "two zone" approach. With my washes, I limit them to either one or two colors. When choosing two colors, I choose harmonious colors. I use THIS color wheel tool a lot to determine what colors work together.

As for fronts, instead of just a plain white- use something a bit warmer. I tend to use R = 100%, G = 75%, B = 5%, W = 0%. Plain white can look a little garish. Something warmer will make performers look better and won't be overly distracting.
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Joe Valente

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2019, 08:39:48 am »

When choosing two colors, I choose harmonious colors. I use THIS color wheel tool a lot to determine what colors work together.

As for fronts, instead of just a plain white- use something a bit warmer. I tend to use R = 100%, G = 75%, B = 5%, W = 0%. Plain white can look a little garish.
Thanks for that colour wheel -- it's GENIUS!

For "whites" for stage front, I go for bright, but with a pink hue. That means (working from memory) 100%/80%/70%/100% (R/G/B/W).
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Taylor Hall

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2019, 08:54:41 am »

To make life a bit easier, you can also get dedicated white fixtures that take all the guesswork out of brute-forcing an RGB fixture to a particular temperature.

We have 5 ADJ TW-12 fixtures that can cover a 30x20 stage with ease, but smaller versions exist that would be more than enough for your application: https://www.pssl.com/American-DJ-Flat-Par-TW12-DMX-White-LED-Wash-Light-2

Also having even the smallest amount of fog/haze in the air (assuming the venue is cool with it) will make a huge difference in impact like Steve suggested.
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Joe Valente

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2019, 10:28:47 am »

To make life a bit easier, you can also get dedicated white fixtures that take all the guesswork out of brute-forcing an RGB fixture to a particular temperature.

We have 5 ADJ TW-12 fixtures that can cover a 30x20 stage with ease, but smaller versions exist that would be more than enough for your application: https://www.pssl.com/American-DJ-Flat-Par-TW12-DMX-White-LED-Wash-Light-2

Also having even the smallest amount of fog/haze in the air (assuming the venue is cool with it) will make a huge difference in impact like Steve suggested.

How do you keep those whites from washing out the rest of your stage? Looks like a good idea -- washes -- but I'm using spots right now and I still struggle to keep it all from washing out.
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Taylor Hall

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2019, 10:54:44 am »

How do you keep those whites from washing out the rest of your stage? Looks like a good idea -- washes -- but I'm using spots right now and I still struggle to keep it all from washing out.
Play with intensity values and try using diffusers with washes. You don't have to run fixtures at 100% all the time, so sometimes less is more since light is an additive element. Here again is where thoughtful lighting design can really help out. Where you place your fixtures and how you aim them can make a big difference. A photo or sketch of your current layout might produce a few suggestions along those lines.

Also the white pars wouldn't need to be on all the time, you can simply dim them a bit or cut them entirely during one of your color transitions or when all eyes don't need to be on the band. Maybe even add a simple MIDI footswitch to your control setup that would trigger the white pars to switch on and off. Possibilities are pretty endless.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2019, 06:08:59 pm »

...and try using diffusers with washes...

I disagree.  If the colors are already running on top of each other then adding diffusion will only make the problem worse.

Joe, one way to tackle this problem and give you more creative options is to vary the angle you hang your fixtures from.  One look around a professional theater will reveal just how many angles a lighting designer will use for all different purposes.  It's very possible to shine soft facial light from the front (read as around 45 degrees up and out) without washing out the colors or gobos you're using on the CYC.  Along those same lines, an often overlooked tool in lighting design is use of negative space.  Chauvet published a nice video that demonstrates the concept, and while this is more geared towards theatrics it can still benefit those trying to give a more 3-dimensional look to their designs.  Given that you're a band I'd be less worries about the quality of your "whites" and more interested in getting the most you can from what you have by varying your placement techniques.  Hope this helps! 
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Taylor Hall

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2019, 06:35:21 pm »

I disagree.  If the colors are already running on top of each other then adding diffusion will only make the problem worse.

I probably should have clarified a bit, that was more for using with dedicated white fixtures if he's worried about hot spots, not for washes in general. You're absolutely correct in that it won't solve any kind of issues with colors bleeding over.
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Joe Valente

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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2019, 07:17:23 pm »

I disagree.  If the colors are already running on top of each other then adding diffusion will only make the problem worse.

Joe, one way to tackle this problem and give you more creative options is to vary the angle you hang your fixtures from.  One look around a professional theater will reveal just how many angles a lighting designer will use for all different purposes.  It's very possible to shine soft facial light from the front (read as around 45 degrees up and out) without washing out the colors or gobos you're using on the CYC.  Along those same lines, an often overlooked tool in lighting design is use of negative space.  Chauvet published a nice video that demonstrates the concept, and while this is more geared towards theatrics it can still benefit those trying to give a more 3-dimensional look to their designs.  Given that you're a band I'd be less worries about the quality of your "whites" and more interested in getting the most you can from what you have by varying your placement techniques.  Hope this helps!

It does, the video in particular, and the advice in general.

BTW, I didn't take Taylor's advice to mean "Stack up whites on top of the colours," because, although I'm somewhat new to the design of changing lights, I've been using static lights for some time, and am no stranger to issue of additive colours. So, no harm, no foul.

:)

I really appreciate all the advice, guys. I'm going to spend some time in the garage with the lighting rig and see if I can't improve on what I've got. Thanks so much!
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Re: Looking for Guidance on Designing Scenes Sequences
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2019, 07:17:23 pm »


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