Episode 24 – What Colors Should I Use in My Lighting? – Learn Stage Lighting .com
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Episode 24 – What Colors Should I Use in My Lighting?

By David / a few months ago

Main Segment

This week’s Podcast we’re at Sweetwater’s GearFest in central Indiana and we have two special guests from ENTTEC. We’re going to dive in and talk about what colors to use in our lighting.

I always enjoy talking to those who work with the manufacturer’s because they have great insight and information to share. Let’s welcome Crystal, New Business Manager, and James who is the Technical Support and Warehouse Guy.

Why Do You Not Like the Color Green in Lighting?

James: At a young age and later found to be true, I was told that when you use the color green in your front stage lighting that it makes your band members look sickly.

Crystal: Green is a great color to use in your side lights, backlights, etc. It can also be used in the front light in certain situations. Green in the lighting industry can include a wide variety of greens.

David: Green and Purple are one of my favorites to use together because they look awesome.

How do I figure out what colors to use in a song?

James: I like to listen to the songs a couple of times and imagine the colors that go with the song. I also like to note that to consider Intensity as well. I use to like to have all the lights on at full force but over time found the Intensity of the lights to be a great tool.

Crystal: I agree with James approach on this. When we feel a certain emotion we can sometimes trigger red for anger or blue for sad, etc. When listening to a song you may decide what colors go well but the band or boss may think of different colors. But the audience will follow it.

David: As I’ve mentioned in the past that some think that if you’re not using all of the lights they are being wasted. But that’s not the case at all. But leaving some lights off or dimmer can be a great way to make a huge impact on stage when you want it to.

Crystal: I would like to add that sometimes more isn’t better. Having contrast as well is important to use in lighting. The contrast is what allows our eyes to see the color, warm and a cool, or a bright and a dark.

Gel Books and Resources

Go find a Gel Book from a supplier that you can get for free. This is a great way to pick 3 of your favorite greens, pinks, etc. This is a great tool for when you get overwhelmed with the number of colors to choose from. You can reference your own list of favorite go-to colors.

Use these calculators with a grain of salt – every LED fixture is different

RGB Value to Gel Calculators

I also wrote an article on how to get started: When Should I use Color on my Stage?

What’s Your Favorite Color to use in Lighting?

Crystal: I like the Magenta and Lavender family of colors. Magenta is great for sidelights and covers a wide range of emotions.

James: Every fixture is a little different. I’ll bring the red to full and then add the green until I get the firey Amber. That is my favorite color.

David: Magenta is my go-to color for almost anything.

How do you go about finding a good color for a front light that works with skin tones?

Crystal: They do make special Gels that gel a LED that help with skin color. The downfall is that you will have to use that for the rest of the show.

David: If you want a quality White LED Wash then buy a white unit only. Incandescent is a good quality light.

Every skin tone handles color differently.

Lighting Ghosts and Mannequins

Crystal: In the theatrical stage we won’t normally see the people in the show until the day of. So, we use mannequins or “lighting ghosts” which is a ladder or chairs and a sheet to see the effects of the lightings. I liked to use lighter fabric to see how the light looks on stage or even something similar to what the cast is wearing.

With the theater, empty be sure to note that the floor will reflect the lighting. So, use the colors that are 5 – 6 feet above the floor to reference what it will look like during the show.

Closing Notes and Final Tips

James: You’re going to get out of it what you put into it. I would recommend listening to a couple of your favorite songs and just play with the lighting on a blank wall. Lighting Design is an art and if you’re designing it, then you’re an artist.

David: If you are interested in more of the theatrical lighting I would recommend the Light Talk Podcast.

The most important tip is to be safe and have fun with lighting!


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