Lighting does not get enough credit – your audience probably doesn’t pay any attention to it, yet it is a significant factor in creating a memorable atmosphere that is essential to a successful event or performance. It’s a huge part of your event or stage design, whether you are putting on a church service or a heavy metal concert.
Shopping for professional lighting can be intimidating and confusing, whether you are starting from scratch or updating an existing system. You may know what you want the final look to be like, without knowing how to get there. Here are some common terms and types of lighting that will help you get a handle on what your lighting needs may be:
- Pin spot: This focused beam of light highlights a single object or person, to draw guests’ attention in a dramatic way.
- Color wash: This is a seamless blanket of colored light that covers an entire area. Color washes are an easy way to create a mood or theme, or change the look of a less than ideal room or venue.
- Gobos: These stencils are placed over a light in order to project a design or pattern onto a wall, ceiling or floor. The options for designs are endless, and can be customized with options like logos, band names, wedding dates, nearly any kind of decorative imagery.
- String lighting: Also known as Christmas lights, market lights, or fairy lights, these lights can produce great effects with a low cost and easy installation.
- Uplighting: To create the effect of uplighting, small lighting units are placed on the floor around the edges of your room or venue. This illuminates the walls with white or colored light to create an effect that can be anything from soft to dramatic.
How To Pick The Right Professional Lighting
Before you make an investment in your lighting system, consider these seven questions. Your unique answers will help you make choices that will meet your needs.
- What are your goals? What type or performances or events will you be lighting? Are they consistent, or do your needs frequently change? Will you be lighting moving performers, or will you need lighting for still photography or general room ambiance as well?
- What is your budget? How much you have to invest will influence your purchasing priorities. Make sure that you consider the versatility of different professional lighting fixtures as well as the individual price tag – can a slightly more expensive piece replace several cheaper pieces of equipment? Less equipment often leads to a more reliable and easier-to-use lighting system.
- Where will you be using your lighting? Will it be installed in one place, or will you need to move it from location to location? Will it be exposed to the elements? How will it be powered? Can the equipment you are considering stand up to these requirements?
- What are the styles of events you will be lighting? Do you need to create a soft, traditional look for weddings, or do you need to do dramatic modern effects at nightclubs or scary Halloween parties? You may need less equipment than you think, as many modern professional lights are capable of creating multiple effects.
- What type of interface do you need? In order to control your moving, or intelligent lighting, you will need an interface, or console. Will your new equipment work with your existing interface?
- What lighting do you already have, and what do you need? Now that you have answered the previous 5 questions, you probably have a plan. Do you have all (or at least part) of the equipment you will need? If you need focused light, ellipsoidal spotlights and followspots will let you create precise pin spots of bright, directional light. To create soft overall color washes, look for fresnel spotlights, pars, or flood lights. If you need to light backdrops or scenery, look for border strips.
- Can new technology help you? Whether you are shopping for a whole new system, or just need to update a few key elements, consider LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting fixtures and intelligent lights. LED lights use much less electricity than incandescent bulbs. They also stay cooler to the touch, and can be wireless, which makes them incredibly flexible. These options are more efficient, versatile, and can allow you to produce multiple effects with fewer pieces of equipment.
What is on your professional lighting wish list? Let us know in the comments!