When it comes to lighting your stage, the colours, contrast and brightness can all affect your audience’s engagement. As we saw with spotlights, the overall tone can be set simply by adding a little light here and a playing with a few angles, there. So, when it comes to light filters, there are a few things to note before getting too carried away.

While filters can certainly add atmospherics to the lighting of a production, it’s important to understand colour, tone and timing. When it comes to coloured filters, they are more commonly used with spotlights since they are easily applicable and often come as a single unit placed directly on the individual light itself. These evidently cast one coloured effect at a time (typically primary colours like red or blue). Given the additional wow-factor that these filters create, it’s easy to get quite carried away. So how do you know when to keep things minimal and when enough is enough?

The rule of thumb is to choreograph lights without a filter to determine their dynamic and movement. As a result, you can better understand the light direction throughout a production. Once you have decided on the light direction, determining which colours properly correlate to their movement becomes much easier. Bear in mind that movement adds dynamic and provokes emotion in the same way that colour can.

Another helpful tip to bear in mind is that placing a single filter over a single light, may be sufficient for an entire production versus placing multiple colours over multiple light fixtures. It’s always helpful to keep visuals consistent: if red is the primary colour, keep the lighting warm overall to reduce a jarring visual effect on your audience.

If you’re unsure, try standing or sitting in the place of your audience to get a firm grasp on how the experience you’ll be giving them. This way you can evaluate whether the light is too harsh, too jarring or too dramatic.

As the old saying goes “actions speak louder than words” and when it comes to lighting on stage, the same holds true. While your performance may be powerful, the marriage of light, effects and sound all contribute to the overall success of a production.

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