Lighting Special Effects Equipment
Stroboscopes have limited use but are effective in the right circumstances. Special
consideration must be given to the speed of the flash and the length of time the effect is
used. Most professional strobes will not flash at a dangerously high rate. Probably the most
common use of a strobe is to create the effect of a an old movie "flickering" in
something like a pantomime chase sequence.
If you intend to use a strobe in your production place a notice in a conspicuous position in the auditorium, in the programme or make an announcement before the show starts, as strobes can trigger photo-epilepsy in susceptible people.
Ultraviolet light is another effective device for creating unusual effects. The UV light (or
"black-light") needs to be used in a very dark environment to work convincingly. It
highlights white and fluorescent coloured items, whilst anything dark or black is rendered
invisible. Often used for fantasy or pantomime sequences, where cut-out objects or puppets are
moved against a black background by people dressed in black, so only the puppets are seen.
A colour wheel is simple way to achieve a colour changing effect. The effect is primitive,
but could be adapted from its more conventional fantasy / disco effect use to create a
reflected water effect (with blue and green coloured gels) or fire glow (with red and orange
All of these effects can be expensive to purchase, but are widely available to hire.
copyright Leigh Graham 1997-2010.