By Jim Moody
Most designers develop their little tricks for their work. Some rely on a tried and true set of colors. Some are into certain instrumentation. Some rely on their unique ability to write cues. And some are whizzes at performing complex live cues.
I rely on P.A.I.C. What is that? You never heard of P.A.I.C.? Sure you have, not in textbooks, not even in my own, just not laid out this way. So here is the deal, it stands for the four elements I believe make great lighting. Not that you all use these elements in your own designs every day, this is just a memory trick I use in my design work. You probably just never put a label on it.
Now, that is simple. Sure, we all use these, just not spelled out like this. But let me give you a little more definition and my way of using P.A.I.C.
There would seem to be limits on all of these categories, and there are. But how you make them work together is the key to your individuality as a designer.
Let’s take Position. Front, side, top and back are the traditional positions in most live show designs. With a few variations, except for specials, that would be all we need to consider. But there is more to it. Front; How far out
front? Where are the places to hang a truss or where are the fixed pipe positions you must work with to hang the fixtures.
If we are speaking of theatre, the front light is mostly area lighting. Personally, I always layer these in last. Other than deciding how many fixtures will be placed in each area; the traditional Stanley McCandless method of two (Warm and Cool) or a third (Neutral) or even a fourth (Special color)? Side Light. Hight or low or a mix of both. How many colors do you need to project from this angle or multiple angles up and down stage. For dance, this is the most important angle. Top Light. Most often a special or a way to wash the stage floor in a color or patterns. Back Light. So important in concerts and now used heavily in dance and to a lesser extent in theatre.
Angle. After determining position, angle is of utmost importance. Anywhere along the length of a pipe or truss that a fixture is placed make a huge impact on the design. Careful consideration must be employed here.
Intensity. Most designers think of intensity as being a factor in the cueing process. However, as an example, a primary color will need a larger fixture to balance with the rest of the stage picture. If we use all the same fixtures then the lighter colors will need to be dimmed and that changes their color rendering, not good.
Color. Most designers admit to having a list of their “go to” color palate. But this is the one area that can make or break a unique design. Careful consideration can make your design stand out over all others. Consideration of the set, costumes, artist’s coloring, and environment play a major role in color choices.
So, this is my little memory trick to always keep me aware of the four elements that I believe make a good design great!