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Caustic Lighting for Theatre (5 replies and 1 comment)

amymae
1 month ago
amymae 1 month ago

Hi Roger,

I hope you are well. I am trying to create the beautiful caustic lighting effect that you created in Bladerunner... in a theatre show. We have Robe DL7S moving lights available and although they create a lovely reflected water effect, it's not -quite- the refracted lighting effect that I am after. I was wondering if you have any advice on creating this effect using lighting units instead of light through real water. (We just do not have the space for this, unless you know of a way to do this on a small scale, our lighting grid is 4.8m high from the stage floor)

Best wishes,

Amy

Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

I used water as I saw no substitute at that time. Maybe there is a programmable lamp that will do it now but, off hand, I am not aware of one.

hannahrose
1 month ago
hannahrose 1 month ago

Hi Amy,

I've used reflective mylar sheets as a bounce to achieve a caustic look (mylar purchased at a gardening store). The material is highly reflective and mirror-like, but so thin that it has a lot of natural movement when suspended from something, which creates the water-like effect. The reflected light is not as uniform or controllable as using a tank I'd imagine, but it could be a good option for a small set!

Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

Yes, you can also just crunch up a piece of gel or wave it in front of a lamp, but neither has the subtlety of using water.

amymae
1 month ago
amymae 1 month ago

Hi Roger and HannahRose,

Thank you both for your replies! 

HannahRose - I will be looking into this suggestion for a smaller space, thank you! I have had advice from another Lighting Designer that unless you are using a large body of water gently moving then using a smaller amount of real water can actually be a bit distracting in a theatre space. He also raised the point that perhaps it is projection that I am after rather than using moving lights and usually it's the old school methods that work the best.

Roger - I think your choice for the time was obviously the right one. As for the gel... Who knows, you may find me frantically waving some L200 in front of a profile soon!

Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

You could easily look at the effect of bouncing a lamp off some gel. Try gently rippling a couple of layers of CTO beneath a Fresnel lamp. Don't crush the gel at first and just allow it to 'float'. It can be quite an organic pattern and if you like it you could make a rig with a small fan to constantly move the gel.

amymae
1 month ago

Thank you! Really appreciate you taking the time to reply 🙂

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