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1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 242 (218)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 242
Page 242

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 242

* Interior lighting - Stepchildof Dosign

Inside Illumination Methods Must Follow A Definite Plan, From Marquee to Screen

In the planning of a motion-picture theatre, all elements which make up the whole must contribute to the basic function. Just what this basic function is may be a subject of some discussion. Some would say entertainment, others say education, still others say relaxation and escape from the environment in which the beholder finds himself. These are all correct answers, but fundamental to their achievement is the establishment of illusion. The patron steps from the street, the world of today, and, in a very brief space of time, must shake that off and enter into the mood of whatever is being offered. Now this process is almost entirely visual. ' It has long been established that over 80 per cent of the impressions which people receive from their environment are by way of the visual sense. This being the case, it is surprising to find so much theatre lighting which falls far short of its ability to create mood, and furthermore to uni so little understanding of the basic visual problems set up by the chain of sequence from lobby to viewing the picture.

These essentially involve the process of

adapting the eyes from the brightness

under the marquee to the dimness of the auditorium. For daytime patrons, the conditions are most severe, and some compromise must be made. Night-time patrons, however, can be very satisfactorily accommodated. Thus, the visual - problem is in tw0 parts: one, the psychological, in the creation of impressions which in turn create mood; and the other, a straightforward recognition of the physiology of the eye in the change of light adaptation.

The opportunity is now at hand to rectify old errors in existing structures, and to avoid them in the new. It is realized that every theatre presents problems which can only be solved by individual


Consulting Illuminating Engineer. and Pnsl-Presillcnl of the Illuminating Engineering Soniely

study. The purpose of this article is to present, in so far as possible, basic considerations which would be germaine to overall planning and certain specific suggestions which Would serve as guides, but still require detailed planning and specification before being incorporated in the structure.


While this important part of the structure has at first thought no part in a discussion of interior lighting, it is the first link in the visual chain. The function of the marquee is to attract, and, for this, color, motion, and brightness are basic elements in which lighting plays a large part. In the daytime, this lighting treatment builds up no brightness which can compete with daylight adaptation, but, at night, the patron is under its influence long enough for the brightness to haVe meaning. An analysis of effective marquees shows that approximately 30-40 footcandles of light will be found under them. These footcandles result more from lighting effects, which have attraction as their basic function, than deliberate attempt to just build footcandles for seeing purposes. However, this resultant light should be taken into account in the design of the interior in order to accomplish a smooth transition during the time the patron moves from entrance to auditorium.


This serves as an emergency waiting place and patrons are not in it for any appreciable length of time. All lighting equipment should be concealed and a horizontal level of illumination of not over 10 footcandles is suggested. The dec FIGURE L-A suggested treatment for lobbies is indicated here, using concentrating reflectors. At locations other than bulletins, poster frames, and the like, the light is directed away from the walls, through the use of Iouvers, or lenses, at the ceiling openings. Diffusing material should not be used, as this would not keep the > light away from the walls, which is the important angle of this particular type of lighting installation.


orative scheme, if in the darker tones on sidewalls and ceiling, will aid in lowering the adaptation level and enable display posters to be effective when dimly lighted.

A suggested treatment is to provide a light colored fioor, and to conceal all lights in the ceiling (Figure 1). The light floor is a safety measure while allowing darker side walls and ceilings. Display panels for advertising purposes could be correlated with the ceiling downlights so as to make unnecessary any supplementary lighting. This not only effects an economy but removes sources of brightness to which the eyes adapt. Many designs have erred in that dark side walls, ceilings, and floors, and low levels of illumination have been achieved, but spots of light intrinsically not bright, but relatively so, create a pattern of confusion which makes vision difficult, and hence tends to nullify the effect desired. This has been true not only in foyers, but in many public areas of theatres and elsewhere. The point here is to urge a lobby treatment which is sub.d'ued, yet visually comfortable while meeting the needs of safety and recognition.


The foyer is a circulation area, yet it may also be a waiting place, so an opportunity is presented to create atmosphere or mood as well as contribute to the conditioning of the eyes for the auditorium. In many smaller theatres, the foyer opens directly into the auditorium, and this restricts the treatment. For those theatres with a large foyer, separated from the auditorium by opaque doors, the latitude is greater. Inthe former an amount of light about double that of the auditorium is indicated, probably not over two-tenths of a footcandle, but the light sources must be well concealed. Large luminous areas set into the ceiling, or circular coves (Figure 2) are the best choice because they are the least conspicuous. Low redection factors eunder 50 per cent for wall and ceilings and 10 per cent for fioorseis necessary. As decorative touches, murals or figurines which fluoresce under ultraviolet, can be incorporated because their brightness can be controlled and they are of themselves no source of light.

In the foyer which is separated from the auditorium, more latitude is available. Again, however, the general level of illumination should be low, not over 2 footcandles. Walls and ceilings should be in dim tones, but the carpeting could be reasonably light to add to safety and interest. In addition to recessed ceiling sources, as described above, cove lighting, extended troughs, and suspended fixtures may be utilized. Fluorescing murals, statues, and niches for silhouette effects can be utilized so long as brightnesses

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 242