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DC Behind the Scenes: Making The Lion King – Lighting and Projections
Written by Erin Sforza on August 13, 2019

In the next part of our Lion King series we get to take a look at the lighting and projections that helped to transport our audience to the African savanna. We’ll check in with our very own Mr. Joe who designs the lighting for our entire recital each year, and Laura Scheving, our projection designer for the production.

Laura Sheving is a 25 year old artist obsessed with creating. A 2018 B.F.A. graduate of UNC School of the Arts in Design and Production. She painted for theatre and murals in cities, but now is studying MA 3D Animation at Bournemouth University in the UK. Laura developed the projections from sketches to the finished product which were digitally painted to then be programmed into the projections computer for the show. Below are some of her original sketches.

I was able to talk to Mr. Joe about the next step of the process, combining the projections with lighting to create the perfect visual for the performance.

How do you approach lighting a piece like this? Do you have a general sense of what you are looking to do and then work that into the choreography or do you like to see the performance first?
When lighting any recital opening, it’s important to start with the visual ideas of what the piece should look like.  This comes from research images, talking with the choreographers, and seeing the choreography.  Since Lion King was a remount this year, that makes it somewhat easier since the choreography is already developed and there is a video reference to start from.  Once I have the visual ideas, the next step is to make sure I have the proper equipment in the right places.  Because the opening is only one of 50+ dances that will be performed throughout the recital weekend, it’s important for me to create a versatile lighting plot that allows me flexibility to beautifully light a classical ballet piece, rock out to an energetic hip hop number, and create the theatrical lighting for our opening number.  Once the equipment is in place it’s about figuring where each of the light cues (different lighting “looks”) will go based on storytelling, musicality, and choreography patterns and then programming those cues into the computerized light board.  Lion King had over 100 light cues in the fourteen minute piece!

What kinds of different lighting elements and projections were used for this number?
To create a light plot that can work for the diversity of dances in the recital, it includes (22) moving lights that can move and re-focus to various areas of the stage, (39) LED color changing lights, and (49) incandescent lights.  The projector is a 15K Epson Laser Projector.  It has a laser engine so that it’s quiet enough to not over power the music, has a lower power consumption, and is bright enough to cut through the stage lights.For those interested in the technical details, the recital lighting/projections equipment list is…..

(2) Elation Artise Picasso
(8) High End SolaFrame 750
(8) Martin MAC Aura
(4) Chauvet Maverick MK3 Wash

(24) 50º ETC ColorSource Spot Deep Blue
(8) ETC ColorSource PAR Deep Blue
(7) Chroma-Q ColorForce 72″

(12) 26º ETC Source Four
(11) 50º ETC Source Four
(4) 70º ETC Source Four
(2) 90º ETC Source Four
(10) ETC Source Four PAR
(10) ETC Source Four PARNel

(1) ETC Ion 6000 Lighting Console
(1) ETC Net3 Remote Video Interface

(1) 15K Epson Laser Projector
(2) 5K Varko Projectors

(1) Mac Pro w/ QLab Software

What is the most challenging part of lighting a piece like this?
One of the most challenging parts of lighting the recital opening each year is the timeline.  We have less than 8 hours during recital week to put together a fully-produced professional production.  It requires our creative team to spend a lot of time in pre-production planning ahead and to work quickly through technical rehearsals.

Below you can take a look at Joe’s ” “Magic Sheet” – a cheat sheet of the lighting channels.

After a look at the amount of effort it takes to “set the scene” through Projections and Lighting, for the opening of the recital, and how it needs to be incorporated into the overall lighting design for the entire show, you may never see our recital the same way again! Thanks to Laura and Joe for giving us a new appreciation for how lighting and projection helps us to tell the story of each recital number.

Erin Sforza

Erin is the Public Relations Coordinator for Dance Connection. She studied dance from childhood through college and continues to be an active member of the Long Island theatre community. Erin received a BA in both Musical Theatre Performance and History from the University of Tampa, and has utilized aspects of both degrees working in the hospitality industry, as an Event Coordinator for the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, and as the PR/Marketing Coordinator and Group Sales Coordinator for the CM Performing Arts Center in Oakdale. In addition to being a part of the Dance Connection staff, she is a Travel Consultant affiliated with and