Modern cinematography is the descendant of theater. This visual and audible medium has moved beyond celluloid into a purely digital realm – even though many people still refer to movies as films. When most people think of movies and the fine art of making movies, they first think of actors (and perhaps the director and crew), cameras, and computers. Those of us in the business of broadcasting understand there is more to it than that. We use more technology than just cameras and computers. There are products today that are useful both for stage productions and major motion pictures. We use these to get the image and scene right, even before any light enters the lens of our high-tech cameras and gets converted to data for our computers; before that, data is shooting thru cables, fibers or the AEther and the scene has to be set to create the picture that our cameras and computers convey.
Lighting and other visual effects help produce the images that our cameras carry and then our computers adjust and fiddle with before the content is delivered to the end user and/or archived. It time to set the stage, and light it up. Once the locations of your actors and props are in place, the ideal lighting can be figured-out, along with the finishing touches on your background. Just like ambiance adds value (and therefore cost) to your food at the restaurant, background and lighting (and props) add value to the representation of your actors. Lighting and background adds ambiance to any theatrical production – even in a production as simple as that presented by a DJ. When carefully aimed and focused, harsh, diffused, shaped, and colored light can all be used separately or in combination to accentuate, diminish, or change objects and people (to varying degrees) within the environment they illuminate.
When man went looking for light after sundown to light up the evening’s entertainments, we progressed thru several stages with fire; bonfire, torch, sconce, candle, cresset, candelabra, foot lights, kerosene lamps, & finally koniaphostic light (IE limelight/gas light). Then, the advent of electricity took over during the wild hodge-podge of scientific advancements that took place in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s theater lighting moved on to electric devices, arc light, spotlight, and fluorescent light. The 60’s introduced LEDs and, by the later 1900’s, we started experimenting with stronger and more tightly grouped LEDs for illumination, even as the advancement of the technology was lowering the electrical requirements of the device.
Theatrical lighting has brought all sorts of innovations to the stage, studio, and various small venue entertainments, and is constructed to fit a variety of needs and requirements. Color filters and gel packs can bring some welcome color to a setting, effectively altering the scene and/or the mood associated with it. Gobos and gobo projectors block or filter part of the light creating images on the background. The first Gobo I ever saw was the ‘Bat Signal’ 20 years before I even knew what a gobo was. Gobos and gobo-related tech has come quite a way since the iconic bat on a high powered spotlight. The gobo of today is typically made of steel, colored glass or colored plastic (depending on its use). Simple highly-used images are typically steel (such as a crucifix or a window frame). Colored gobos, whether glass or plastic can project an image onto the background, such as creating the appearance of there being a stained glass window on an opposing wall. Gobos aren’t just useful for theater, either. They can be used in advertising to project a product or company logo onto a handy flat surface (although the surface doesn’t have to be flat, sometimes interesting effects can be created by deliberately choosing an alternative surface.) Gobos either create a picture, logo, or patterns. Other interesting effects can be achieved by altering the focus on the gobo, or rotating the gobo, or overlapping the effects of several gobo projections. Some projectors can also switch the gobo being played.
Beyond the spotlights and cameras, there are still other theatrical elements a broadcast studio can use, such as that party delight – the fog machine. Fog can help set the mood onstage, at parties, or surreal or spooky studio shoots and dream sequences. Fog machines come in a variety of complexities: programmable timers, remote operation, adjustable thickness (volume), etc. Ducting systems can be constructed to deliver the fog to several key locations. It’s not one size fits all with ‘fog juice’ either. There’s a variety of different blends (all of which must be non-toxic) depending on the exact effect desired. Fog is too thick for a laser show, so a shift to haze needs to be made in such a case. 154 + 151 + 111 + 251+120= 787
Fog, smoke, and haze aren’t the only things you might want to fill the air with; how about bubbles; too?! Just as fog being non-toxic is a must, bubbles must be ‘floaty’ and waft about, and need to be of a dry enough composition so as not too cause trouble for any electrical equipment the bubbles might overflow or land on. Nothing messes up a party atmosphere like a sudden unplanned fire, after all. Safety first: keep the fun and entertainment, fun and entertaining.
If you prefer two words, then try Rosco Labs. They have lighting and lighting effects for Photography, Cinema, and Theater. They also sell fog and bubble machines and the necessary chemicals and associated equipment to use them for events, theater and the studio. Rosco Labs helps ready the stage or studio for your next production with a line of theatrical and chroma-key paints for the studio, as well. Rosco also carries a line of flame-retardant chemicals to be used in tandem with several different types of (formerly) flammable items like: cloth, dried foams, paper maché, woods and cellulosic materials, and dried paint. Other theatric items can be had, as well, such as breakaway bottles, unbreakable mirrors, electric candles (flicker candles). Rosco even manufactures and installs a variety of stage and dance floors.
Rosco started in 1910, 104 years ago, they’ve been in the entertainment game for a good long while. In fact, they still manufacture stage rigging items and accessories like clamps, sandbags, and hangers. They also manufacture a specialized line of coatings and tapes that are specialized for theatrical uses. Rosco also sells three special types of fabric: Glamé, Showcloth, and Shimmercloth. Then, after setting the lights, painting the scene and setting out (and fireproofing) the props, getting the ceiling and floor ready to go there is just one more thing to consider: the background!
Rosco’s Digital Imaging division’s backdrops are Emmy® and Technical Achievement Award® winners. They have a catalog of several hundred backdrops available for sale or rent. Hundreds of Rosco’s backdrops have appeared on TV series and in movies. Rosco can transform client’s art and digital photos into custom backdrops. Rosco’s Digital Imaging has two other developments in this area that might spark a studios interest: The Rosco RABBIT, and the Rosco SoftDrop. Periodically, Rosco will obtain new/updated still and motion (simple background movements, nothing to detract from the intended main image) day and night shots of major cities and the like. These new backings will have an accompanying set of red RABBITs – motion plates shot on the RED One camera at full 4K resolution. Each motion sequence is 4 minutes long using the RED Raw format.
Rosco’s other new big thing (SoftDrop) in backdrops is just that; BIG. In fact, it can be freakin’ ENORMOUS! Now available in top quality woven cotton fabric and incorporating Rosco’s Frontlight, Backlight or Day/Night Backdrop technologies, SoftDrops can be produced as large as 40’h x 170’w and they’re seamless! For a big and perfect digital background image on sturdy easily foldable cloth, check-out SoftDrops! The images captured are amazingly realistic. SoftDrops are easy to use, too; easy to hang, easy to light, easy to frame a shot, easy to pack and transport and, as if that’s not enough, the SoftDrop is also eco-friendly with a teeny weenie carbon footprint. Rosco – the Da-vinci of theatrical supplies!
There’s no business like show business!
About Rosco, Inc.
Founded in 1910, Rosco is the premier expendables, equipment, and product manufacturer for theatre, film, television and architectural environments. Rosco’s products have won numerous awards including four Academy Awards, 3 Emmy Awards and dozens of industry commendations for excellence. Products include: Roscolux, Cinegel, E-Colour,Rosco Gobos, Rosco Scenic Paints, Rosco Fog, Rosco Dance Floors, X24 X-Effects Projector, Gobo Rotators and many others. “Rosco leads with innovative solutions allowing creative people to achieve their vision while creating a compelling culture and sustainable growth” See their website: www.rosco.com/us/index.cfm.