(Image Left: Ellipsoidal Stage Light)

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Simply the Breast
Breast Cancer Foundation Fundraiser

The Commonwealth Ballroom
Westin Nova Scotian Hotel
Halifax, Nova Scotia
October, 2009

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This setup presented a number of
lighting problems to be overcome:

  • Being a fundraiser, costs had to be kept low, meaning fewer lights would be used.

  • A low ceiling compared to the height of the runway, meant lighting angles would become more shallow and thus offer less dimensionality.

  • Mirrors on the upper walls surrounding the room could reflect light back out along the ceiling.
  • Light spilling on to a nearby video screen would create image washout.

  • Because of a double-T runway layout, audience members would surround it and be almost within the gaps of the `T' sections. Those close to the action would get a lot of light into their eyes.

  • Balloons tethered at every table could obscure sight lines of the lights.

These were solved by:

  • Cost-cutting dictated that frugal design be employed to get the most out of less equipment. This meant choosing more lights with a wider coverage and that there not be as much diversity of looks. Only 15 fixtures were used for the entire show.

  • Bouncing light from the ceiling was used to add dimension. (Note in the photos that when these are not on, the lighting appears flatter.)

  • Spillage on the mirrors and video screen was eliminated or reduced by shielding them with barndoors (flaps) installed on offending lights, and through careful focusing.

  • Light into patrons' eyes could not be eliminated because they were so close to the models, thus their pupils closed down. So that they could see what was happening, levels were kept even on both sides of the runway. Any imbalance would have made the models look dark by contrast because of glare from opposing lights.

  • The balloons were simply positioned so as to make corridors for the lights to see past them to the runway and to the MC's lectern.


These first photos show the venue and runway before
the show and at the start of an earlier dress rehearsal.

(Image: The Ballroom as it appeared under
  Normal Room Lighting before the Show)
Catering staff do final touches on the tables while in the Center-Left background audio tech David Slimming reviews music cues. At extreme Left and Right Center, and partially obscured by balloons, are towers with the show's front lighting fixtures. That consists of 1000-watt, PAR 64 medium and wide floods, plus a 1000-watt, 19-degree ellipsoidal for the MC.

(Image: The Room as it appeared under
  Show Lighting)
A closer look shows ceiling and rear curtain lighting. Medium floods from the front towers create the oblique pink wash, while PAR 64 narrow spots from the floor hit the divider above the runway with turquoise. The curtain blues are from the floor via 500-watt, 150mm fresnels.
Note the extra dimension created by exaggerating the ceiling structure, and how much the separation appears to increase between the rear curtain and the upstage center sign. Compare that to the apparent separation under regular room lighting as seen in the previous photo.

Dress Rehearsal Photos

(Image: Models Strut their Stuff)

Models rehearse for an early act in the show. At the top, a reflection of the ceiling in one of the wall mirrors, but direct light has been masked from the mirror itself. Note the video screen in the left background with just a raster and no image. Video was not included in this rehearsal. Choreographer Penny Evans can be seen directing this sequence at Lower Right.

(Image: One Model Poses for the Camera while
 Another Walks in the Background)

Note the rows of lights outlining the runway and `T' sections. These are rope lights. They consist of strings of tiny, low-voltage, grain-of-wheat lamps within a transparent plastic tube. These are so small that each presents just a pinpoint of light.

The Shoes Act

Subtle atmosphere and music sees three girls lying down
with their arms and legs crossed in the air to start.
Lighting is a front deep blue with a top turquoise. As
they and other models come out, the front white is brought
up to a dull level to bring them out of the blue. Dim
rope lights are also added for this. During the actual
show, in their hands will be various shoe styles. As
this act unfolds, the runway lighting comes up brighter;
finally, the girls freeze pose prior to a blackout. Again,
the choreographer can be seen directing their positions.

(Image: Models Lie down with Arms and 
 Legs Crossed in the Air)

(Image: Girls walk down the Runway with
 Various Hand Positions)

(Image: The Girls group ogether for a
 Staged Stance)

(Image: The Final Version of the `Shoe'

This was taken during the show. One can see how the final pose turned out with shoes in hand.

(Image: Girls Model Sleepware)

Another show photo. It illustrates how the runway lighting can be bright yet masked from the mirrors at the top. Some light does spill on to the video screen, but careful focusing sees that it's not enough to dilute the image to a point where it becomes unviewable.

    Thanks to photographer Ian Fleming of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia for usage of his photos.

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