This summer, the Department of Drama’s Production and Design (P&D) Studio at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts will become one of the first programs in the nation to fully convert a performance space to light emitting diode (LED) technology, giving students the unique opportunity to learn the latest lighting design techniques on state-of-the-art LED equipment.
This summer, the Department of Drama’s Production and Design (P&D) Studio at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts will become one of the first programs in the nation to fully convert a performance space to light emitting diode (LED) technology, giving students the unique opportunity to learn the latest lighting design techniques on state-of-the-art LED equipment. The LED P&D Studio renovation was made possible by an anonymous gift to the NYU Tisch School, as well as matching funds from Tisch Dean Mary Schmidt Campbell.
LED lighting is a rapidly evolving technology that produces light through electroluminescence, resulting in lower energy consumption and heat generation, longer lamp life, and improved durability over standard incandescent lighting sources. Though commonly used in aviation lighting, automotive lighting, advertising, general lighting, and traffic signals, LED lighting for theatrical production is only recently gaining wide acceptance.
“For many reasons, LED’s are finding applications in lots of industries and stage production is no exception,” said Chris Jaehing, Director of the Production and Design Studio. “For theatrical purposes—where lighting needs to do so much more than simply illuminate—it’s essential that the next generation of lighting and production designers develop an intimate, practical knowledge of LED’s differing capabilities. That’s what we’ll be teaching here.”
At NYU Tisch, the LED Project will replace the majority of the lights in the department’s Shop Theater with LED fixtures, becoming the first theater space on campus to utilize LEDs as the primary source of stage light. The new LED equipment will include wash units, spot units, and moving heads. The full system will be in place before classes begin in the fall.
Students will participate in every stage of the LED Project—from evaluating fixtures and meeting with lighting manufacturers to using the fixtures in class and in their productions. In January, several lighting vendors presented LED fixtures to the studio’s faculty and students, who were invited to express opinions of the gear. Additional presentations will be made over the next month, and fixture selection will follow immediately.
“We want students to be part of this experience,” said Jaehnig. “We chose the Shop Theater because it’s the space where students work most often with their peers. We encourage their participation as we determine which fixtures will best meet today’s needs and those of future designers.”
The LED Project gives students an opportunity to work with environmentally efficient, innovative technology and will have an impact on teaching and curriculum. The system will include both color mixing fixtures and white light units. With access to color mixing fixtures, students will have a hands-on opportunity to put color theory into action. They will also be able to experiment with a huge range of color without purchasing gel or relying on what color is in stock.
The students will also have a choice of technology with which to design. Incandescent light will remain a primary tool in teaching stage lighting, but the LED Project will give students the impetus to explore another important facet of contemporary practice. Students will frequently be in a position of choosing whether to use an LED source, an incandescent one, or both.
“The LED Project offers students a training ground in which they can experiment with the best uses of both types of light, and gain insight into what equipment is best suited to different purposes,” said Lenore Doxsee, Head of Lighting Design Training for P&D Studio. “The initiative will inspire new learning in both the technological and artistic areas of lighting design.”
About the NYU Tisch Department of Drama P&D Studio
One of eight primary training studios in the Department of Drama at the NYU-Tisch School of the Arts, the Production and Design Studio trains undergraduates in scenery, costume, lighting, and sound design; stage and production management; and technical theater. Students graduate with a BFA in Theatre. The mission of Production and Design is to provide students with the skills, techniques, and experiences necessary to pursue a career in the design, technical, management, and other production areas of the performing arts.