What do light designers do? It is basically to bridge the gap between the director’s vision and the technical things of the lighting to make a product better. A light designer is responsible for the design, implementation, execution, and documentation of effects associated with lights. They have many things they have to know and deal with.
The process of light designing
- Read the script, analyze, and discuss with the director. Light designers need to know a concept of the production and think of how to reinforce the concept by characteristics of lights, which they must understand such as color effects and kinds of stage lights.
- Communicate with other staff. They inevitably collaborate with the other production elements such as special effects designers, orchestra, a stage manager etc., so need communication skills to deal with the process. In my opinion, this process is the most difficult in light designing, but also creative and artistic, which means to be able to create different things than the past theaters.
- Visualize images and colors based on the concept, and make the model. You will get a three-dimensionally perspective on the thing by making a model, which is different from just drawing. To make a model is that the thing is more specialized than drawing. Drawing is too abstract to discuss the vision of the thing with other directors or choreographers. (Working in the Theatre: Prop Maters)
- Repeat 2 and 3. The designer in the film says she thinks of her work as being “like a sculptor and a painter.” What she means by sculpting is that is like sculpture to cut away light from the actor or put another light on the actor. Also, what she means by painting is that is like painting to change colors depending on time, place. (Working in the theater scenic designer)
The collaboration of Lights and Special Effects
Special effects in stage designing are basically to create physical wind, fog, and clouds primarily through empowerment of technology. For example, smoke fog of Wicked, which takes it a step further with customized contraptions. There are 13 or 14 separate smoke systems on the show and all sort of mixes together blend in different ways. (Wicked: special effects) an interesting thing of smoke in a theater is that audience can’t see smoke fog without lights, so smoke is strongly associated with light designing. Also, smoking is able to locate the light in the air of the stage, which means the designer is able to bring many tables and add many layers to the show.
A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting second edition. 2013. Steve Shelly.
Working in the Theater: Lighting Design. YouTube. American Theatre Wing.
Working in the Theatre: Prop Masters. YouTube. American Theatre Wing.
Wicked: Special Effects. YouTube. Wicked the Musical.