While complex stage elements and lighting can provide outstanding visual effects on stage, the little details are just as important in captivating the audiences’ imagination. A perfect example of this is how Houston Ballet used Rosco Custom LitePad HO90 to provide a little Nutcracker magic using a simple lighting solution for their 2017 production of The Nutcracker.
In one famous scene from The Nutcracker, the wall clock strikes midnight and the transition from reality into fantasy begins. To enhance the impact of that scene, the designers at Houston Ballet wanted to have Drosselmeyer's face magically appear in the clock as it begins to chime. The challenge they faced, however, was how to properly illuminate it. “The problem was to find a way to reveal the face of the Drosselmeyer character in the face of the clock and have it be seen from the back of the auditorium,” said Lisa Pinkham, Resident Lighting Designer at Houston Ballet.
The printed transparency behind the scrim is barely visible when the LitePad is not lit.
Throughout Act 1, the audience is looking at the face of the clock, which is a painted scrim that is lit from the front with LED tape so that the audience cannot see the transparency at all. The LED tape had too many hot spots, so Andrew Nielsen, Director of Production at Houston Ballet, who had previous experience with Rosco Custom LitePad, suggested it as the backlighting solution for the graphic.
Front illumination of the clock turns the painted scrim opaque.
They installed a 15” Round, 5300K Custom LitePad HO90 unit inside the clock set piece, and placed the printed Drosselmeyer transparency between the LitePad and the clock face to create a bleed-through, backlit effect. When the front lights dim out, and the LitePad is illuminated, the clock face disappears - revealing Drosselmeyer's glowing face in the clock. The ultra-soft light output of the edge-lit LitePad ensured even illumination of the Drosselmeyer graphic without any hot spots or shadow areas.
Delighted with the results, Houston Ballet will continue using their Custom LitePad to create the same bit of Nutcracker Mager in their future productions. Many thanks to Andrew and Lisa at Houston Ballet for sharing this story with us.
Rosco LitePad is a flat panel LED light source that provides even, indirect lighting. LitePads are constructed with LEDs around the perimeter of a cast acrylic panel and light amplifying channels that are etched into a grid onto the rear surface of the plastic. This technique evenly distributes the light across the entire surface of the fixture to provide a soft, homogenized glow without shadows and hot spots. Custom LitePads can be fabricated into virtually any size or shape and its lightweight and slim profile make them easy to install. If you'd like to learn more, explore all of our Custom LitePad options on the Rosco website.