Basics of Lighting the Stage in a Live Concert

There are situations when engineers find themselves in a tough situation while working in a live gig as the Front House engineer, only to discover that they also need to run the lights. In a live show, you must make sure that the show goes on. Lights are as important as the sound in a live show; can you picture a live band performing in the dark while the sound is still on? With lights, you can add energy, excitement, and emotion in your performance.

Coverage

To start off, adjust the lights to fit the needs of the night. Since most concerts use backlighting techniques, your fixtures should be close to the stage. You will ideally need to cover four areas:

  • Upstage center
  • Downstage left
  • Downstage center
  • Downstage right

There are different kinds of lights. We have those that offer diffused coverage, while others offer small but focused coverage like spotlights. Some have adjustable shutters to adjust how they spread their light. But to get proper coverage, you need to be aware of the sort of equipment you are working with. Let’s go through some of the most popular instruments for lighting the stage.

DMX Controllers

The DMX controller is used to control the Stage Lighting & effects through a digital communication network. In most venues, you will find several lighting instruments that are controlled by one console. This control is usually referred to as the DMX (Digital Multiplex) controller. It uses a DMX cable to be part of the chain by connecting to the first fixture. Each instrument is then connected to the other throughout the chain. The DMX controller will allow you to control the color, intensity and the movement of all the fixtures present in the chain. It will also allow you to fade lights and blend colors to the beat of the track.

Ellipsoidal Reflector Spotlight and LED

These are the most popular models because their focus can be adjusted to have sharp or soft edges. They also have shutters that adjust the “throw” of light. With LED you can create lots of color combinations just by pushing a button. They are cheap, they don’t use lots of power, and they do not produce heat.

Par Cans and Spotlights

This is a common lighting equipment that is made of the headlights of a car with a metal casing. They can get heated up fast, so you must be careful with them. A spotlight is the big light fixed in the balcony. There is always someone who sits up there to follow a performer around the stage.

Fresnel

These lights are the same as ERS lights, but they cast a soft light. They are placed close to the stage. These are also used as lights that color the stage without much focus.

Hazers

These are not actual real lights, but they play a crucial role. They are used to see the light beams, but only when they hit the floor. If you want to have a great light show, you need to incorporate a hazer.

Moving lights

These are sophisticated lights that are controlled using joysticks like the ones used in planes. They also have focus control, color changes, and motorized shutters. These help create a cool effect.

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