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Adding Color & Texture

Choosing Color

When discussing color, it is important to understand the difference in color of light versus color of pigment. As taught in school, the primary colors of pigment are red, yellow and blue; mixed together they will make black. However, in light, the primary colors are red, green and blue; when mixed equally together,the end color will be white light.

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When we talk about adding color to the lights, what we're really suggesting is adding a specially-made transparent piece of colored film in front of the lights. This material is known as gel, color media, color filter or just color. The gel is a special transparent or translucent piece which can withstand higher temperatures (although it may fade in color as time passes and should be replaced). This is the most common type of medium used to color lighting. Other methods include a more permanent glass filter or lamp dip (Colorine) for applications where low wattage (less than 40W) will be used and gel is inappropriate.

Gel is applied in front of the lights using a color frame. This frame allows a piece of gel to slide in between the two panels. Then the frame fits in the slot located at the front of the fixture.

Cool colors include those in the blue-green-violet range. Warm colors include the red-yellow-orange range. Generally, it is ideal to add a cool color to one of the 45° angled front lights, and a warm color to the other. This will provide a good color of light on the actors' faces or set, and give the illusion of depth.Together they should mix to white light (unless a specific effect is desired).

Color in the rest of the instruments depends on what feeling or mood you want your area to convey. For example, if you have a cheerful, fun musical, you'd most likely want to use warm, vibrant reds, pinks, ambers, etc. but you are the designer, so the choice is up to you.

Adding Texture

Textures of light add an interesting effect to any stage. If your setting is in a park, adding leafy patterns to the ellipsoidals will project a look of sunlight shining through trees. This can also work for windows, clouds, or more abstract effects.

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Patterns can also be used to project images onto cycloramas; images such as clouds, stars and city skylines can be added rather easily (much more easily than painting a drop) and can change from scene to scene with less effort than flying drops in and out.

There are thousands of different colors of gel and patterns from which to choose. Contact us if you'd like to receive some gel swatchbooks and/or pattern catalogs.