Perception---you have that power.

There is purpose in design. There is information in a setting. There is truth in your environment. Fake or real, it's there.

All images are copyrighted by Heidi Hoffer unless otherwise indicated. Your courtesy in using my photographs must include crediting me as the photographer. You must tell me when and where you've used them and send the link to me showing your use of them.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

More Lighting Instruments Found at Wits

An old floodlight found at the Wits Theatre
Every theatre needs to have an instrument that looks so old it is older than Yoda, right? Here's a floodlight that fits the description.
And here is the view from the front:
Looking at the front end of the floodlight showing the pebbled aluminum reflector.
And, to contrast that old instrument with modernity, here are two favourites: the Source Four Zoom and the Martin 300.
The Source Four Zoom continues the trend of South African lighting designers prefering zoom instruments over fixed angle instruments.  

The Martin 300
  And at the cyc are these quad cyclights:
A Quad Cyclight.
And the sidelighting work horse of this theatre is the Par Can, pictured below.
Par Can
Promoting the snazzy city feeling in the lobbies, the directional signs are done in neon lights.
Directional signs in the Wits Theatre complex are done in neon lighting. It makes the theatre look trendy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stage Lighting Instruments Used in The Wits Theatres

          Most of the theatre lighting technology at Wits is from Europe, with a small number of ETC Source Four Zooms from the United States. The lighting consoles include a Strand series 200 (manual, 24 Channel, 2-Preset) and a Strand series 300 (programmable). The software for these has been discontinued, so as they fail they must be replaced.
Julian, the head of lighting here has been trying out an ETC ION and a Grand MA. ETC unfortunately as yet does not have the support back-up necessary to really land a sale, yet, but I know the groundwork is being made with certain vendors here. The Grand MA Ultra, seems to be the current choice of replacement console for the main theatre. Most everyone here relies upon Strand equipment.

          (The theatre on the education campus has a Strand MX with 48 channels. This theatre, called the “Space Frame” is certainly an interesting reconfigurable theatre which I will address in another blogpost.)

Theatre Lighting at Wits…

To begin, while the stage pin connector is a standard 2P&G, it is rated for 16 amps at 250 volts, and looks triangular.

There is a great safety item in all modern household circuits here as well as on all of the circuits you’d plug stage instruments into: each circuit has its own switch!
Circuit # 102 has its own 2 pin and ground outlet, complete with rocker switch to turn the circuit on or off. It also has a masking tape label for what gets circuited when the plot is restored to the standard plot.
In the above picture you can see the end of one of the stage electrics, with its top batten, electrical raceway, and bottom hanging batten. If the instrument doesn’t work after you’ve hung and circuited it for show, part of the trouble-shooting includes seeing if the damned switch was turned on!! ALL circuits have this safety item whether they are standard wall outlets or stage circuits.
This is a Harmony Profile 22/40 Zoom 
One of the well-used instruments here is the Harmony 22/40 degree beam angle zoom and it’s narrower brother, the Harmony 15/22 degree beam angle zoom. These were manufactured by Strand in 1981, and have been  steadfast performers. They are an ellipsoidal spotlight, shutterable, accept gobos, and work very well at hard focus or soft focus. Here is a link to the historic Rank Strand instrument archive featuring these babies:

This is a Harmony PC instrument.
The Harmony PC is the most interesting instrument because it is not shutterable and it’s beam quality lies somewhere between that of an ellipsoidal and a Fresnel. It has a single adjustment (knob is featured in the picture below) for a diffused beam variable from a very tight spot, similar to a beamlight, to a wide angle flood. The beam edge quality, which is free from colouration, is similar to a soft-focused ellipsoidal spot, but much tighter than that of a Fresnel.

The underside of a Harmony PC.
In the above picture showing the bottom of the Harmony PC you can see the round black knob that you loosen to slide the lamp/reflector sled assembly forwards or backwards in the slot. This particular instrument has the lamp/reflector close to the lens for a wide beam. (Instrument is pointing downwards to the stage floor)  Here is the link to the historic document from the Strand Archives about the Harmony PC:

Checking the circuit to a Quattro Pro.
In this photo above, the student lighting technician is turning on the circuit to a Strand Quattro PM Fixed Angle profile (650w)... and apparently held together by black gaffer tape, as identified by Julian. Behind her head is one of the Harmony Fresnels. Here's the link to the Harmony Fresnel:

The beautiful tin ceiling of this theatre has been painted black, of course. This picture was taken in The Nunnery Theatre at Wits during the lighting design class final exam.

More lighting instrument stories are planned...including dimmable fluorescents and Fresnels that look like metal eggs!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Christo style Design Project

The third year design class, led by faculty designer Jenni-Lee, demonstrated their understading of wrapping objects to create works of art the other day in our office. The works of the wrapping artists Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude were their inspiration, and they chose two fellow classmates to cover completely in torn newspaper.
Hubs and Jenni Lee are nearly done with covering Jade in a tailcoat and four-in-hand tie of newspapers.
Allison is hard at work covering Jo in a newspaper dress and leggings.
All 5 are creating wrapped art!
A detail of Jade's hand, artfully wrapped by Hubs.
We opened the office door, and released the art into the hallway.
Since these were the same student designers who studied lighting design with me, they thought they'd try to tango without tearing their newspaper carapaces.
A stunning portrait of the artwork posing against a red wall.
Of course the artworks had to go into the ladies'  bathroom to check their reflections in the mirror.
Jo extricates herself from the wrapping.
Jade extricates herself from her wrapping, with Jenni-Lee looking at the accumulation of post artwork on the floor.
And finally, all that remains is the litter and memories of the live wrapping journey. Thanks for the inspiration, Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
Here's a weblink to a site that explains a bit about the artists Christo and Jeann-Claude, including the fact that the were born on the same day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Moving Light Workshop at Wits

Unoiversity of The Witwatersrand Students, staff, and highschool visitors and their teacher pay attention to Nick Britz pf DWR Distribution as he demonstrates a high-tech moving light using the GrandMA console
I have a dream that my students, whether they be in America or South Africa, will be able to compete on a global scale for jobs in the entertainment industry. I deeply believe that students need to be globally prepared in order to adapt through exposure to other cultures’ methods and madness of getting a show up on the boards. This new global student needs to be technically savvy; She needs to know the basic tools of the trade well-enough to adapt to permutations of the same found in other countries, or even just other venues. I believe most strongly that people like us who work in the entertainment industry are well-placed to continually update their knowledge base at the drop of a hat or, rather, at the first challenge a director or designer may place before us.

Today, we have some of the highest-ranking technology on the Wits Main Theatre stage. It is no surprise that DWR distribution, a company that answered a need for major cutting edge lighting technology during the FIFA World Cup is here today. They want to share the VARI-LITE, the ROBE and other fantastic technology with us. DWR believes that the technology they bring to the industry needs the talents and skills of all of us, especially our students. Thanks to their generosity, we are looking forward to a significant hands-on experience.

The professional lighting designers and technicians with us today are keen to share with each other and their future colleagues what they wished they learned in school, and where the future of lighting design is headed. These are the folks who actively use all kinds of lighting technology every day. These are the people who pilot the ship of our industry. We will hear their wise words and concerns about the future of our profession.

We are merging technology, art and education when we finalize the programming for our highly technical light show at the end of the day. We are facilitating the acquisition of knowledge for the future pilots of our industry. We are all adept and able learners, being made so because our industry has the most imaginative issues that require problem-solving. Fortunately, like the 15th Century Galileo, our technology stands ready to be tested, retested, and refined.

Welcome to the first DWR Distribution / Wits Theatre lighting workshop.

DWR Distribution's equipment on the Wits Main Theatre's stage for the Moving Light Workshop.