Lighting Design Communication
What is the best way to convey lighting ideas to design team?

Black & white (but sometimes color) sketches of lighting scene by scene

• Quick to create (and redraw if necessary).
• Inexpensive.
• Easy to transport.

• Difficult to render color mixing.

• Drawings can sometimes render the impossible.

UMD Theatre South Pacific
Lighting Design by James Eischen


Photos or paintings demonstrating lighting effects

• Easy to find.
• Photography can vividly capture realistic images.
• Paintings can demonstrate historic style.
• Easy to transport.

• Abstract in that images are not of actual theatre space.

Movie House
by Edward Hopper


Great God Brown

Arden Weaver, Scenic Designer
UMD Theatre

Old Mill Pond
Maxfield Parrish


Ann Gumpper, Scenic Designer
UMD Theatre

Light Lab
Miniature lighting set-up to light scenic model and/or costume swatches

• Accurate color rendering.
• Capable of demonstrating lighting transitions.

• Expensive.
• Requires a sizable amount of space.
• Difficult to transport.

• Requires 3D model of scenic design.

Light Lab Diagram

Fiber Optic Set-Up

Tom Thatcher, Scenic Designer
UMD Theatre

Endgame Model
Mindy Jost, Lighting Designer
UMD Theatre

Production Photo
UMD Theatre

Virtual Light Lab
Computer software capable of rendering light in 3D.

• Reasonably accurate color rendering.
• Capable of demonstrating lighting transitions.

• Software options - VectorWorks, PhotoShop, Sketch Up, WYSIWYG and more

• Learning curve.
• Computer compatibility.
• Requires virtual model of scenic design.

• Expensive (software and hardware.)

WYSIWYG Software
(What You See Is What You Get)

A Streetcar named Desire Virtual Model
A Streetcar Named Desire
Virtual Light Lab Images by Colin Reibel

A Streetcar Named Desire
Lighting Design by Curtis Phillips and Colin Reibel

Collaborating with Actors and Directors
Steps a lighting design must take before finalizing a design approach.

Watch how the director blocks each scene.
Watch how actors use the space.

Determine Lighting Areas

Determine a Lighting Key and a Color Key