Lighting is the icing on your proverbial event cake. It can change the entire experience, look, and vibe of an event. You can spend all the money in the world on an entrance, backdrop, or other décor piece but if people can’t actually see it pop it will fall flat. Our SEQ Production Team spends a lot of time within each event thinking through the lighting experience and utilizing the best resources for the most impactful results. Here are some tips for creating the perfect lighting look for your next event.
1. Map it out
It helps to think through the key moments of your event and how guests will experience those live. Starting with arrival: does a path need to be lit? Is there key directional signage which we want to feature? At registration: can your Check-in Staff see what they’re doing? Inside the event: are there main bars, stations or displays which you want to draw guests towards? Is there a stage and/or lectern? Any roving or featured entertainment? Ensure that you go over the floor plan and design plan - better yet do a live walkthrough - and give your AV partner all of this information upfront to ensure they have the right staffing and equipment in your order.
2. Hire a Lighting Designer
There are many talented Lighting Designers who understand the nuances to creating the right look for your event. They know the lingo, and can translate your vision into the right language and equipment package for the lighting technicians on the job. Sometimes, your AV partner can provide this as an add-on service as well, or your lead Lighting Tech has this skill set. If your event has anything more than the bare minimum of lighting, we’d recommend this as a focus (lighting pun intended). Lighting works very specifically when it comes to temperature, saturation, angles, etc. More often than not if you don’t have an expert in the mix it’s almost impossible to achieve the look you want. To use the above cake metaphor - it would be like hiring a celebrity pastry chef to make your layer cake, and a 5-year-old to ice it.
3. Know your aesthetic & mood
You’ll want to share as much as possible about the look and feel that you’re aiming for with your LD - regardless of where you find them. Are you going for sexy & moody or bright & energizing? Are you trying to match a brand logo, or a specific color scheme? Is it a celebratory party vs. a more business-focused conference? Is social media posting a priority? If you have any mood boards, thematic designs or example images to share you should definitely do so! The more you know what you want, the more likely you’ll be able to achieve it (and budget for it!).
4. Don’t forget about ambient light
Light streaming in from a bare window, LED or projection screens around the room, even functional safety lights can change the look of your lighting design without you realizing. If your event takes place during the day, this is even more of a factor. Make sure you and your LD understand the sources of ambient light in your space and factor them into your plans. Depending on the event specs, you have pre-event load-in day. If so, schedule your lighting test for the same time of day on the day before the event so you know exactly what it will look like. If you don’t have the luxury of dark time in the space pre-event, ask if they have blackout shades and see Point 2 above and hire that pro!
5. Consider your equipment’s (visual & physical) footprint
It’s always more impactful when you cannot see the sources of your lighting. High ceilings, truss, and properly placed lighting trees can all help achieve this. However, we don’t always have the verticality, floor space, or rigging points which allow for that seamless install. Sometimes these aesthetics are not the highest on the priority list, but when they are you can make that bulky equipment blend in a number of ways. Wrapping pipes and truss with fabric, painting power cords, masking lighting equipment on the floor, etc. are all great ways to make this hardware disappear. You might also need to push your LD and AV partner to find an alternative option to a giant truss in the sightline of your beautiful stage set. These solutions all require forethought, labor and supplies - so make sure to ask your AV partner for an equipment layout and review it with your design team as well.