History of Automated Lighting

There were many patents dating back from 1806, from Edmund Sohlberg, who created a lantern using a carbon-arc lamp operated manually by cord, which controlled pan, tilt and zoom.

1925 was the year that motors were used to move a fixture, as well as the beam position. This was invented by Herbert F.King. In 1936, an unnamed person was given permission to create a similar device to the one previously mentioned, but with pan and tilt, which was controlled by a joystick. From this point to approximately 1969, similar lighting fixtures had been made and the technology been improved. In this period, Century Lighting, now known as ‘Strand,’ started selling and ordering parts for lanterns, that would fit into any of their existing lanterns up to 750 watts, to control pan and/or tilt.

The next breakthrough was in 1969 by George Izenour. He was the first person to use a mirror on the end of an ellipsoidal, (having the nature or shape of an ellipsoid,) to redirect the beam of light.

In Bristol in 1968, progress was also being made, mainly for use on live music. Peter Whynne Wilson referred to the use of 1kW Profiles, on slides which gobos were printed, which was to be inserted from a reel, just like a slide projector. These fixtures also had an Iris, and a multiple coloured gel wheel. These lights were also fitted with mirrors, which were used for a Pink Floyd show in London. Another fixture known as the ‘Cycklops’ was also used for music in the USA, although it had limited capability, as with only pan, tilt, colour functions, and at 1.2 meter long and weighing 97 kg, they were heavy and cumbersome. These fixtures were designed for replacing spotlight operators if they were unreliable.

In 1986, Vari-Lite introduced a new series of lighting fixtures and control consoles. This system was referred to as Series 200. The Series 200 system was controlled by the Artisan console.

1985, and the first moving head to be controlled by DMX was produced by Summa Technologies. Up until this time, moving heads were controlled by other communication controls, such as DIN8, AMX, D54.

In the 1990’s, Martin, a Danish company started producing fog machines. They made a line of scanners known as Roboscans. Martin also invented a range of moving heads such as, Mac250, the Mac250+, Mac300, Mac500,Mac 550, Mac600, Mac700, Mac1200 and more recently the Mac 2000. Martin Macs are most popular in most rental situations. (Intelligent lighting 1980-2000, no date)



1st draft of my Dissertation Introduction-ish

Hi all, sorry for not updating recently. I have been tremendously busy with work and university. However, I am back.

So, recently, I have been putting together my first introduction for my dissertation. It may have taken some time, however I am finally getting there. Even if I had a tantrum about positivism, interpretivism etc, it was well worth it. Got more knowledge and hey, research pays off. I now know what type of research I am going to be doing.

Anyway, I have babbled. Feel free to read through the introduction. As always feedback is welcomed. How else would we improve?

Have fun guys, and remember. Stay creative.


How does the hue on lighting influence the hues on scenery?

Within this dissertation, I have decided to cross over two of my favoured specialisms within Technical Theatre. Although it is both technical and production based, I feel that this is best suited to me, as I have a keen interest in both areas, also I will have more options for work when I have finished my degree. The areas which I have decided to research into is lighting and scenery, with the use of hues. The main aim of this area is for me to get a fuller understanding of how both areas work well together, in order for me to be a successful set designer within the industry. However, in order for me to get the understanding I need, I will need to undertake a great amount of research which will consist of interpretivism in the form of grounded theory and secondary research from the use of textbooks, internet, journals etc.The reasoning behind my research methodology is that I am adopting an inductive process where my theory will be developed from the evidence. I have chosen this method, purely as I will be entering the reality which I am trying to understand i.e lighting on scenery. With the use of grounded theory, I will be combining theory and research in order to seek explanation for the phenomena I will produce, in the way of changing the hues. This type of research will lead to a limited area of inquiry meaning I will be focusing on the hue change more than anything else. The theory that I will be devising will be backed by both research and data. My aim behind this method is to get my answers from substantive and move onto formal theory.  

As I have decided the method of research and the topic I would like to know more in depth about, I will now discuss the importance of why it should be examined. I personally feel that anybody who would like to be in the industry as a set designer should know about lighting and vice versa. It is important to know this as there could be hue clashes, and creating hues that are undesired, which could have an impact on the performance. This could lead to circumstances, such as a warning as it would be clear there was no communication between the two departments. As both lighting and set design is closely allied with semiotics, it sets the atmosphere and era which will be interpreted by the audience. If this goes wrong, there will be a feeling of juxtaposition and the audience may not understand what is implied. Lighting and set, you may say is a gestalt, as it creates a whole production that is perceived even though it is made up by different elements. This is why I feel that myself and others need to know about what complications may occur when mixing hues.

There will be a basis for a critical discussion on the topic of this dissertation, as by changing the hue of the set, you are changing the audience perception of what is happening on the stage. Also, it will allow me to look at the opposite of how to correct a setback. There are many ways on this, and this will lead to a debate on which ways this can be done. I shall have to validate the opinions given by the practitioners by reconstructing the method and also by cross referencing, as there may be more than one practitioner that has done said method.

Police Brutality Research

For this part of my lighting design, I’m going to be looking at police brutality, see any performances with it in and state what I have taken from them to inspire me with my design.


police-1Here we have South African State Theatre doing a piece on police brutality. I feel this image suits the riot scene, and has the same colour scheme as what me and the director discussed. As you can see, there is minimal general coverage. I like this idea as it shows the sinister side of the people who we feel keep us safe. It looks cruel and distressing, as you can barely see their features which I feel is a huge enhancement to the atmosphere of the piece.

police-2Here we have the same production but at a different stage and angle. For me, the fogger creates the atmosphere as it can resemble smoke grenades. Although there is no strobe within this picture, the use of the open white luminaire gives me a sense of what the strobes would look like alongside the red leds.


police-3With this, I was looking at the different types of gobo’s there is for prison bars and the positioning to find where they could best be of use. I feel that this one is possibly too big for the performance which was going to take place, however, it would be possible to make it smaller if I was going to use one this size.



police-4Personally, I feel that this gobo looks medieval and this is not the era we are going for. The bars are too small and looks as though only one half is in focus, although this could be due to the designer or it could have just gone out of focus.


Police-5.jpgI originally had the idea of texturing a piece of the set with the gobo, but soon found out that was impossible, as the performer would probably be in dead space for that location. However, it could have looked effective with half his face showing so people can clearly see that he is a criminal.


Looking at the gobo on the floor looks more effective in my opinion. The performer can stand in the centre and act as though he is pulling on the bars. I think that the texture on the floor and colouring creates a sense of harmony as they all fit in well with each other. I shall take parts of this idea and endeavor to confidently create my own piece around the image provided.

police 6.jpg


Here, I have researched the use of colour against followspots. As you can see they clearly complement each other in a way that doesn’t wash out the other colour. The only issue I have with this piece is that the followspot is too defined. Personally I would have it diffused as it looks too harsh on the performers and the shadows it is giving.

police 7.jpg

(Blue led with followspot on stage, no date)

Here is another followspot against colour. I generally do not like this at I feel that they clash with each other. Again the spot is too harsh although I like the fact that shadows produced


(Alibaba manufacturer directory – suppliers, manufacturers, exporters & importers, no date)

are not too vivid. The colour on the other hand hurts my eyes, and in a performance you would like the audience to enjoy the production rather than straining their eyes.

Research of Love and Information: Style

There are a number of styles of Theatre ranging from Theatre of cruelty to Commedia dell’Arte. There are three different styles in which the three directors wanted to go for. .

The first style is absurdism.


Theatre of the absurd is believed to be originated in the 1940’s and evolved up until the 1960’s.

Here is a quote that I have found that states what Theatre of the absurd is:

         A form of drama that emphasizes the absurdity of human existence by employing disjointed,              repetitious, and meaningless dialogue, purposeless and confusing situations, and plots that                lack realistic or logical development.

(Farlex, 2003)

This is stating that Absurd Theatre is hard to follow as it has no plot. Scenes may be repeated. Personally, I feel that this is to keep some form of consistency during the performance. I personally feel that this form has a slight sense of surrealism, as it states in the (Posted, 2013) (History.com, no date) quote, it lacks the realistic side of the performance, and has no development with logic.

The idea of Theatre of the Absurd is that the play will dictate the structure of the performance. The language that is used to generally dislocated, full of cliches and puns, which, as I mentioned earlier is repeated throughout the play. This style of Theatre declined in mid 1960’s


Poor Theatre:

Referring to Nicola Mezza’s presentation on prezi, and Britannica online, I have been able to find out and discuss what poor Theatre is and know why it is used.

Poor Theatre began with the Polish playwright Jerzy Grotowski in the 1960’s. He believed that Theatre would never be able to compete with media, so it should never attempt to. Grotowski also wanted the performers and spectators to have a relationship during the performance, as he believed it would be more intimate for all parties. The aim of poor          Theatre is to eliminate the barrier between audience and performers, thus creating communication between the two. The influences that caused this movement in Theatre was, paratheatre and Theatre of transformation.

In this time, spaces dedicated for Theatre were changed for deserted rooms and buildings. The performers of poor Theatre are able to communicate through sound and movement. Poor Theatre is aimed to use the simplest form of staging, lighting, costumes and special effects. Symbolism was the main form of poor Theatre.

  • Image citation:
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  • (Theatre links, 2016)




I am aware that I spoke of the postmodernist era in the period of the production, however it is the style which I am now going to be talking about. It is believed that postmodernist Theatre is superseded of modernism. It challenges accepted views on the world. The narrative is generally broken and paradoxical.

Postmodern plays would use technology as scenery and use backdrops in the history of times that are being performed which would give the audience a better understanding. Also some smaller Theatres would perform outside. The audience would participate with performers creating an experience together. The majority of the issues tackled in postmodern Theatre are created from history, culture and social issues.It is believed that postmodern Theatre rejects chronological linearity, meaning that what happens at the beginning of a story, is not what essentially happens on stage.




Research of Love and Information: Period

In this section of the portfolio, I am going to show the knowledge I have gained from researching the different elements of the production. This has given me more of an insight into how the process should start as a set designer, instead of going in with a blank state. Here is the research I have come up with in order for me to design the set.


The first element I researched was the period of the production. After meeting with one of the directors, I found out that she wanted to do a post-modern day performance.

Postmodern Theatre emerged from the reaction of modern Theatre. Majority of the postmodernist era, are focused highly on the fallibility of accounted truths, instead engaging the audience into reaching their own understanding of a performance. Substantially, postmodern Theatre raises more question than supplying answers.

As well as looking at the period, I have been able to look at some post modernist designers, in order to gain an insight into their work and see how the work has evolved throughout the years.

The first performance I looked at was Sarah Kane’s 4.48 psychosis. The designer which I looked at for this production, was Chantal Mark, which premiered in 2014. Here are the designs which I have found that shows me the style of postmodern Theatre.

(4.48 Psychosis [2014], no date)


As some of the scenes in ‘Love and Information’ are based on mental illness, this has prepared me to know that anything aesthetically pleasing can be given a feel of foreboding if used correctly. The images which I have provided, has proved to me why a set designer and lighting designer need to have communication at all times.

The second designer I looked at is, Eugene Lee, for the performance of Caryl Churchill’s, ‘Drunk enough to say I love you.’ As ‘Love and Information,’ and ‘Drunk enough to say I love you,’ is written by the same playwright, I thought that is would be a good idea to look at some others plays she has written.


(Brantley, 2008)

From what I have seen from Churchill’s plays, the set has been very simplistic. This one for example is of a sofa. However, props materialise from the set, and the further into the play we get, the sofa moves further away from the audience and gets lifted off of the space, until they are fully overlooking the audience.

Looking at the period has been hard, as when I have researched, nothing is validated into when postmodern Theatre arose. However, finding recent plays and looking at designers for the different performances has shown me that even the simplest sets are very effective if used correctly.


Set Construction Techniques: Joints


For this part of the ‘Scenic Construction For The Stage,’ I am going to be exploring potential joining methods for a number of materials, which can be used within set construction.

The Butt Joint:


(Butt joint, 2016)

This technique is where two pieces of materials are simply joined by ‘butting’ them together. It is the simplest joint to make as all it is, is cutting two pieces of material, such as hardboard, to the appropriate length and then butting them together. It is the simplest joint, however it is the most weakest. Because the material being used to butt is only the end grain and long grain this results in the joint being relatively weak.

The Dowelled Joint:


(maxwel and profile, 2008)

The dowelled joint, more commonly known as dowelled butt joint. This has been a common way of reinforcing butt joints. They are mainly used in frame and carcass construction. Dowel joints are mainly popular in chairs, cabinets, panels and tabletops. They may also be used to help with the alignment during a ‘glue up.’

The technique consists of cutting the material to size followed by drilling a number of holes in the joint surface. The holes are generally made by a dowelling jig, which helps with accurate hole placement. Accuracy is vital in this joint, as the material needs to be lined up perfectly to ensure that the holes are together. After successfully doing this, you then will put short dowels in the holes which were previously drilled. They would be inserted with glue. The joint would then be brought together and held together and clamped until the glue had fully dried. After all of this has been completed, it would have produced a joint which is much stronger than the butt joint without any reinforcement. The dowels provide strength even after the glue has deteriorated.  

Over a period of time, the dowels will eventually shrink and become loose. Loose dowels will then allow the joint to flex, although it may not fall apart. When rocking chairs start creaking or bookcases start wobbling, this is a sign that the dowels are loosening. With this reason alone, dowelled joints are not suitable for high quality furniture. For the full use of this joint, it is more suited to making frames, shelving and for alignment.

The Mitre Joint:


(Craftsmanspace, 2016)

The Mitre joint is simple to construct like the butt joint. Although it is rather similar to the butt joint, this one is stronger and has much greater aesthetics. This joint is much stronger and more appealing because the ends are cut at a 45° angle and then glued together. This creates a better surface area for when you apply adhesive. It also conceals the end grain giving it a flush look. For the best results of cutting this angle, is by using a drop saw instead of a hand saw. This will create straight and neat edges. This type of joint is common with picture frames as there is no end grain showing and don’t require much holding strength.

The technique used for making a Mitre joint, is by firstly drawing a 45° angle line on the material, which in this case could be either timber or mdf. After this, you would cut the material will a drop saw. When this has been completed, you must check that the angles are accurate. If this is correct then the next step would be to join the joint together with an adhesive and leave it to dry. If the joint is not accurate, then the angles will not fit together.

The halving joint:


(Reserved, 2016)

A halving joint is a woodworking joint where two materials are joined together by removing some of the material from each piece so that they will overlap. The halved joint is differentiated from the lap point (technique.) The material will then be joined at the edge rather than on the flat.

The halved joint is created by cutting a slot on the opposite edges of the material to be joined so that they slip together. The amount of material removed is equal to half of the material being joined.

This joint is rather weak and prone to splitting which is due to the lack of shoulders which would have prevented twisting.

The Dovetail Joint:


(2016, 2002)

A Dovetail is a joint technique which is most commonly used in woodwork such as furniture, cabinets and traditional timber frames. It is known for its resistance to being pulled apart, therefore it is an excellent joint for the sides of a drawer.

A series of pins are cut so that it can reach the other end and interlock with tails, which are cut to the other end of a board. The pins and tails have a trapezoidal shape which looks like this image on the right. Once it has been glued together, a wooden dovetail joint doesn’t require fasteners.

The way the tails and pins are shaped make the joint difficult to pull apart, and impossible to do so, after the adhesive has been applied and dried. It is a rather difficult joint to make and a lot of practise is vital. There is a number of dovetail joints, and when it is cut accurately they are impressive and attractive. The joint is especially strong when it is used with a good adhesive, such as PVA or cascamite. The slope angle varies according to the type of material you are using. For softwood, the slope is 1:6, hardwood is 1:8 and if you are not sure, you can compromise this with a 1:7.   

This joint is known to have pre-dated written history. One of the earliest ways this joint has been used, which has been recorded, is dating back to the Egyptian era as they were used in furniture entombed with mummies. In Europe, this joint is known as a swallow-tail joint and/or fantail joint.


Butt joint (2016) in Wikipedia. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butt_joint (Accessed: 28 September 2013).

maxwel and profile, V. my complete (2008) Dowel joint. Available at: http://galbraithbook.blogspot.co.uk/2009/03/dowel-joint.html (Accessed: 28 September 2013)

Craftsmanspace (2016) Free plans, patterns, books.. Available at: http://www.craftsmanspace.com (Accessed: 28 September 2016)

Reserved, A.R. (2016) DIY do it yourself how to information and advice. Available at: http://www.diydoctor.org.uk (Accessed: 28 September 2013)

2016 (2002) A design and technology site. Available at: http://www.technologystudent.com (Accessed: 28 September 2013)