Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Lighting Small Puppet Theatre

I’ve been ask to light a small 3x3 foot kids puppet type theatre. I’ve lit models of this size before but they had a broader approach. I have yet to see photos but my gut feeling is I need something like mini par cans or micro source 4’s if you get my drift. Or perhaps even fibre optic lights. Also a small follow type spot (although an inky or such w/ a snoot might work). I envision wanting to rake or up light curtains, and be able to use a number of sources/specials on background and stage props etc. Also backs or edges on puppets. At this point I don’t think I’ll need dimming boards or cues, but I’d love to know about that option if they decide to get more complicated in their lighting approach.

If you’ve worked on this small scale I’d appreciate some advice or pointers to rental units that might be appropriate for this type set-up. I’m on the east coast.

John Roche, gaffer
Liberty Lighting Ltd - NYC

John Roche writes :

>If you've worked on this small scale I'd appreciate some advice or >pointers to rental units that might be appropriate for this type set-up.

Hi John,

Dedo lites with the condenser lens seem perfect for this application.

Jim Sofranko

Jim Sofranko wrote :

> Dedo lites with the condenser lens seem perfect for this application.

Is that the same thing as the focal spots?

John Roche, gaffer - NYC

>is that the same thing as the focal spots?

Similar. But I think they can create a smaller lighting effect. Dedo calls it the DP2 projection attachment. They are great for what you are describing. Also they are very handy for tabletop lighting. Be sure to get the ones with the blades attached because the unattached blades can all too often be a pain to work with delicately. They tend to fall out when making fine and delicate adjustments.

We always cut ND for them as well as different strengths of Hampshire frost (1/8, 1/4...) diffusion to soften. Anything stronger becomes way too much diffusion. Paper tape diffusion or ND gently to the front after setting the light and deciding on your needs.

Hope this helps.

Jim Sofranko

This is obvious, but it probably needs refreshing; it's easy to get the soft lights, but as for the harder shafts you'll probably need the Dedo's, you get very exact control with the lens and its iris or gobo's, there's also a 150mm lens which will give you very small and exact beams of light.

Best of luck.

Victor Lefelman


Aside from the undisputable Dedo, I have had tremendous luck with using small mirrors in situations like these. Using a larger hard source aimed parallel to one of the stage's sides one can position multiple dental mirrors within the beam to create multiple pin point sources from a single instrument. The trick is to look at the shadows cast by the mirrors to determine whether they are encroaching in each other's light. Most dental or inspection mirrors are attached to swivel bases that allow you to clamp them down after positioning them. I have also used fairly heavy armature wire and rigged simple mounts for inexpensive craft mirrors. If you need to break up the pattern, just apply opaque tape to the mirror.

If you do go this route, be prepared to spend time where you've saved money. Doesn't that always seem to be the case.

David C. Smith

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