mirrorshard: (The Book of Rainbows)
[personal profile] mirrorshard
I spent most of yesterday at the ABTT Theatreshow at the Royal Horticultural Hall. This was both a corporate day out and a family day out, since Illuminati is both - my father, my sister, and I. Director, technical manager, and lighting designer respectively, according to our visitor badges. We do theatre lighting, show work, installations, events, and, well, anything else going in the same area, especially if it's quirky, unusual, and bizarre. Past projects I've worked on have included Shakespeare reinterpretations, outdoor art installations, restaurant refits, The Warp (the only 24-hour play in the English language), and the one and only Rose Theatre.

Today, we were mostly looking at possibilities for Emma's upcoming Edinburgh Fringe production, and exploring technology for the upcoming Hythe regeneration project in Colchester. Dorian's looking at bridge lighting - specifically, putting a row of internally lit polycarb globes along either side of this one rather run-down bridge, along with a few other improvements. The problem with this is finding a robust fixture that'll give something approaching uniform coverage without a hot-spot at the top of the globe and very little down the lower slopes. It works perfectly with tungsten lamps, since they have about as much spread as anyone could want (for instance, ETC demonstrated their new seventy-degree light for us. Very nice punch, not too much hot-spotting, lots of fringing around the edges but you'll get that with anything. We didn't get to play with the ninety-degree version, unfortunately), but there's absolutely no way you can specify anything that requires changing, not with LEDs available instead. They're a godsend for this reason, you just put them in and they keep working. At least, in standard applications, they do.

The problem for the Fringe production - or at least, one of them - is finding a working low-tech way to fix large numbers of LEDs to a costume. This is problematic for a number of reasons, not least of which is that the LED legs apparently keep breaking and thus they need to be swappable with a minimum of effort and time. Another is that costumes move a lot, and in odd nonlinear ways that vary depending on the costume type, the role, and the actor's body type as well as their movements. You also have to look at the power requirements and the tradeoffs between concealing multiple batteries and running wires everywhere.

Quite a few people were showing off attempts at LED cloth, but it was mostly designed for stage-set use, ie. not to be seen from less than about 30' away. One version was actually done as clip-together webbing, with 3' square sections done in 6" squares with LED clusters at the intersections. I have absolutely no idea what you'd use it for, except possibly high-vis fencing.

Millefiore LED clusters - which is to say, fittings about two inches across, with a dozen or so LEDs in red, green, and blue in various patterns - were also getting very popular this year. The obvious use is as Really Big Pixels, but, well, they're also just extremely pretty.

I'll certainly be heading up to Edinburgh for awhile, possibly for the entire set of rehearsals & performances, depending on whether they do find someone else who knows about video projection. IOM, I've missed working with a theatre company.

As a result of the show, I now have a new supply of free pens, though some nice people called Maltbury Staging were giving away hippy pencils instead. I have plentiful gel sample books, and a new gel cutter - I've missed owning one of those. It'll also do nicely to cut the pages of any more poor maltreated books I find, without having to pull out a penknife in public, which is a definite bonus. Oh, and a nice large sample of material Guaranteed Not to Catch Fire.

Date: 2006-06-16 10:39 am (UTC)
owlfish: (Default)
From: [personal profile] owlfish
The LED cloth is intriguing, but I can't picture how it's put together.

Date: 2006-06-17 04:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
It comes in sections of webbing mesh about three feet square - the individual holes in the mesh are about six inches square. It snaps together with fasteners like the ones on luggage straps. The LED clusters sit at the intersections.

Date: 2006-06-16 08:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] keira-online.livejournal.com
There is a fabric that, if you shine light on it, lights up/reflects it. No idea what the stuff is called, but it did look pretty good.

Date: 2006-06-17 04:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
Mm, I've seen a fair few things that work like this, and they're really useful for some things - a good low-tech alternative, providing an authentic 1970s lighting effect, is holographic giftwrap. Put that on a wall and point a spot at it, and there you are.

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