Theatre Design & Technology - May 1971 - 21
I think it's exactly as Don Gersztoff said:
simply a matter of degree. What do you
consider spill and what do you consider a
I think a diffuse field is one that is receiving in every point light from every point
on the lens.
that Mr. Wolff dealt with earlier, and Point
Twelve, stereoscopic projected scenery to
be obtained by better colors and with more
compact and more intense light sources,
has also been mentioned. But I think we
had better throw around that Point Twelve
a Iittle more.
MR. WOLFF: I disagree. Because a parabolic reflector does that. From any given
point in the field you are receiving light
from all parts of the reflector. It doesn't
happen to be a lens, but it's the same
difference. And yet that is certainly not what
I would consider diffuse light without spill.
MR. OENSLAGER: Well, when I speak of
projections, I don't think of realistic photographic projections. I think of projections of
Iight and shade that are concerned with
mood and atmosphere.
MR. OENSLAGER: Bill, if you put a top
hat on it and frost it, you cut out a great
deal of the intensity of the light.
MR. OENSLAGER: I think if you project a
realistic projection, say a photograph of a
house or an actual landscape on a large
backdrop, which you can do admirably, all
of the three dimensional qualities disappear
and it becomes flat when you put an actor
in front of it.
MR. WOLFF: We are really begging the
question. You can keep on adding one
thing after another to a standard unit and
pretty soon you may have what you want,
but you haven't got any light. (Laughter)
MR. OLSON: Is that what you would call
shadowless illumination then, Mr. Wolff?
MR. WOLFF: No, that's Point Ten and I
still say there is no such thing. If you have
no shadows you've got no illumination.
If you had a completely diffuse sphere
and you were at the middle of it, that's the
only time that you could possibly have
shadowless illumination, and yet even there
there would be a certain degree of shadow
in the penumbra.
I know what Don means here and he is
perfectly right: he wants to be able to illuminate an actor brilliantly without casting a
shadow across the backdrop, stagefloor or
whatever piece of scenery happens to be
near. I feel that this would be physically
impossible, except by begging the issue
and by illuminating the background to such
an intensity that by comparison with the
light on the actor you don't have any
MR. OLSON: Are there any other comments on that? Don?
MR. GERSZTOFF: I came across a unit in
a catalogue not too long ago that advertised
itself as producing shadowless light. It was
meant more for television and motion picture work than the theatre. It was basically
a large floodlight where the light source
was hidden, and the entire reflector, which
was quite large, was the light source.
If you were to place your hand between
the unit and the backdrop and move it
away from the drop, the shadow would begin to disappear because of the size of the
light source itself. It is not a solution but
people claim to do it.
MR. WOLFF: In other words, the projection
can't possibly be realistic anyway.
That's what disturbs me about realistic
projections. Perhaps many don't agree.
MR. WOLFF: I do.
MR. WARFEL: I think we all have
ideas of both the quality of and
"realism" or "naturalism" in the
Today the vogue runs less and
realism per se.
A few people are still getting rich off
realistic plays, but very few, and I don't
think too many of us have a great deal of
interest in producing terrific sunrises or
terrific sunsets right now aside from the
academic problems that they present.
We are seeing a catapulting interest in
the art and uses of projection in our medium. This is stimulated not only by motion
pictures which are essentially the art of
photography and projection but also by the
great interest in light shows and psychedelic
effects, etc. In the latter, projection exists
entirely for its own sake and ideas are
grabbed and tried that we would dismiss before even giving them a chance. That medium is far freer than our own, even though
it's beginning to exert its influence.
The word that trips me up here, though,
is stereoscopic, and I think that we all
agree that that very limited word came to
the end of its usefulness with 3-D movies.
So I would have to agree with Don that
realism really ceases to be a factor here,
and what we are trying to do is expand the
dimension of the screen, and I don't think
we have come anywhere near that. We
haven't begun to break down that singlesurface feeling even though we have done
fantastic things with that single surface.
MR. WOLFF: Too much. (Laughter)
MR. GERSZTOFF: I would take exception
to that. It is possible to create an illusion
of two images existing in separate planes in
a variety of ways. I was fooling around with
such an illusion last week.
MR. OLSON: We have talked of most of
the twelve points-Point Eleven is a greater
variety of heat-resistant glass color filters
I came across a thin sheet of acrylic
plastic that had lots of swirls and things in
it. Put some tiny lamps behind it you get
You mentioned manufacturers not having
much imagination. They did have some when
they made this clai m. (Laughter)
THEATER DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY
the diffusion effect. Put a projected slide on
the front and it so confuses the eye and
mi nd that th e Iights that were actually behind the plastic seem to be six inches in
front of it.
MR. OLSON: It seems to me that psychedelia for what it's worth, and perhaps it's
still with us, at least brought us to a point
where we can begin to evaluate creating
that kind of environment or atmosphere not
only for discotheques and places of light,
but also, perhaps, to advance the art of the
MR. WOLFF: Just because we can partially
overcome the technical problems for today's
drama doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive
to do so for realistic drama as well.
As long as you can work only in an arbitrary nonrealistic manner, you haven't completely solved the problem.
MR. OLSON: That's true.
MR. OENSLAGER: I think this is a point
where designer and lighting engineer must
meet and work out the problems posed by
I think it is for designers to go to men
like you, gentlemen, and ask your aid in
achieving certai n effects.
MR. WARFEL: The director has to ask for
this. There are many shows that are overburdened with projection, which could survive just as well without, perhaps better.
I have just done a show in which we
broke our backs producing all kinds of slide
projection. The show didn't need it. It was
a gimmick imposed on the show by someone other than the playwright.
There are other quite successful and well
thought of shows which go on and on without a hint of projection in which, perhaps, it
could have added pragmatically.
MR. OLSON: So where do we go from
here, gentlemen? Are there things you
would like to see in the next 24 years
that we have not done, in addition to the
things that we obviously have not done
from the list we have discussed?
MR. WOLFF: I think Don should write
another article like this and simply revise
MR. OENSLAGER: That's easy. There has
been a lot of discussion about problems relating to the dollar. It's of the greatest importance, but I still feel that the theatre
should not be controlled by it. While equipment may become more expensive, our
theatre is going in a direction that will seek
out better developed and contemporary
MR. WOLFF: You're right. The theatre is
probably one of the most uneconomical arrangements technically and otherwise that
the society has developed because we are
not really interested as much in efficiency
as we are in the end result. If the end result is what we are looking for, we figure
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