Favorite Gel Color Combos
February 12, 2013 6:03 PM   Subscribe

I'm designing a show this week (Iolanthe) which is far from my first lighting design, but I've never really gotten to experiment much with different gel color combinations. Which are your favorite combos (front, fill, back, side, etc.) for different set-ups. I'm looking for both the classic standards and less common combinations you've come across and enjoyed. I'm going to have a bit of free reign with this, so I'm curious to see what new (to me) things I might want to try. Rosco colors preferred.
posted by Navelgazer to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Despite the fact it's been nearly 10 years since I was anywhere near lighting design, for a classic McCandless, my go-to was one of the bastard ambers (#01, #02, #03) and no-color blue (#50? #60?) or a lavender with maybe a couple of scoops of indigo blue, if appropriate. Don't have a gel-book at hand to double-check, though. (We were a mostly Rosco house, too.) So much depends upon mood, your actors' skin tones, and (of course) colors used in costumes & set.
posted by smirkette at 6:46 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

(aka the most boring lighting design ever)
posted by smirkette at 6:47 PM on February 12, 2013

Not my idea, but I once saw an LD (think it was on a Reba McIntyre show) use color in his ACLs. I think he put 1/2 ctb in some and 1/2 cto in some and left the rest empty. It looked surprisingly good. Not that anyone uses ACLs much any more. That's just the only thing that sticks out in my mind. I haven't used gel in a while. It's all LEDs for me these days.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 7:03 PM on February 12, 2013

You didn't mention: the lovely scene where Iolanthe is summoned up, over the course of an soprano/alto mysticalish song, from the bottom of her stream/creek/whatever body of water it is! I'd think this might be inspiring for lighting designer, so it seemed worth mentioning.
posted by amtho at 8:54 PM on February 12, 2013

I cast this question over to my daughter, who is studying theater and has done lighting design for a few shows. She replies, thusly:

I've never used the same set of colors on multiple shows - it really depends on the show, the tone you're going for, how realistic you're being, and the colors of the set and costumes.

I generally set up at least a warm and cool wash - R02 is a good light warm wash, and looks great on skin. I really like using R74 as a very intense, deep, nighttime blue, but it tends to burn out in licos, so it also depends on what instruments you're using.
If you want to use a certain color (like blue) in both front and side light, make the side light a slightly less intense color and it will make things pop a little and look less monochromatic.

But don't be afraid of intense color, especially if you have somewhat of a free reign. Just use it as backlight, and give yourself a lot of options - at least three colors (if you choose colors that are close to primary, then you can mix them however you want onstage).

My favorite colors, which I used to much success on the last musical I did were R73 and R339 - magenta and turquoise!

Best of luck!
posted by SLC Mom at 9:54 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

You may find Rosco's Guide to Color Filters (pdf) useful. It gives more detailed descriptions of some of their gels, and groups them together in categories of possible uses (warm acting areas, cool accents, simulating natural light, etc.), and has a few pictures & descriptions from LD's about which gels they used to get the effect in the picture.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:39 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older Help me find a non-sucky but affordable nursing...   |   Help me remember this Lego knock-off brand circa... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.