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Stage Lighting 101: A Quick Guide for Event Planners

Stage lighting

An often unsung hero of professional events, stage lighting plays a pivotal role in making sure your on-stage talents and props are sufficiently lit throughout the duration of your event. However, there’s a lot more to stage lighting than visibility.

We’ve put together a short but useful stage lighting guide for all event planners. This will help you to better understand the purposes of stage lighting, identify commonly used stage lighting equipment at events, and the four points of lighting:


Purpose of stage lighting

1. Stage illumination

It should go without saying that first and foremost, stage lighting is essential for making sure your stage, talents and props are adequately visible to the audience. This not only allows them to see your stage more clearly, but also gives your talents better visibility. Remember to also factor in such as whether your on-stage talents are moving around, so you can ensure their faces and expressions are clearly illuminated.

2. Shift focus around the stage

Stage lighting also acts as a “director” or sorts. It moves your audience’s attention towards key spots on the stage, making sure they remain focused on what you want your audience to concentrate on. Some examples include a speaker moving around a stage, dancers performing and moving props. It can also do the reverse, which is to reduce attention on certain spots so that more attention can be placed on the focal points of your event.

3. Set the tone (and mood)

Stage lighting – Mood setting
An example of using stage lighting to set the mood, as seen here with the vibrant purple lights in this performance.

Finally, stage lighting lets you set the tone and mood for your event. Make use of elements such as colour combinations, angles, light intensity and other effects to elevate the performance of your programme for different event types. Whether it’s for formal events such as conferences, panel discussions and forums, or for more upbeat events such as performances, concerts and festivals, your stage lighting serves to communicate your intended mood and ambience to the audience.


Common stage lighting equipment

There are many types of stage lighting equipment, but regardless of what you need, there are some common ones you’ll need for most event types. While the following examples are not exhaustive, we believe they’re a good starting point for all event planners:

1. LED light

A common fixture in most stage lighting settings, LED lights are energy-efficient, produce less heat and are generally more eco-friendly than their fluorescent counterparts. They’re also easily customisable, and are able to emit various colours, hues and temperatures for a wide range of lighting setups.

2. Ellipsoidal reflector spotlight

Great for front lighting, ellipsoidal reflector spotlights (ERS) produce powerful, intense beams of light that are mainly used to draw attention to a particular subject. They also come with adjustable focus, and can be equipped with gobos and gels to create patterns and colour combinations.

3. Fresnel

Named after its inventor, Augustin Fresnel, these stage lighting fixtures come with lenses composed of concentric rings. The rings produce more intense light from the centre ring and less intense light from the outer rings, producing a wash effect which is softer than that of the ERS.

4. PAR light

PAR light
PAR lights are useful for covering any blind spots and shadows that may have been cast from the rest of your stage lighting fixtures, while adding more variety to your lighting angle options.

A commonly used stage lighting fixture, parabolic reflectors (PAR) are able to produce washes across large areas. This allows you to cover any blind spots that your other stage fixtures might not be able to reach. While they do not have any zoom or focus, they come with a variety of lenses that let you create different lighting angles.

5. Moving head

Moving head
As one of the most versatile stage lighting fixtures, moving heads allow you to direct light in all directions while providing a wide variety of lighting functions.

One of the most versatile stage lighting fixtures, moving heads, as their name suggests, can be programmed to produce and direct light with high-speed movement. They come in a wide variety of designs and effects, such as spot, wash and beam, and come with a suite of functions to let you truly tailor your lighting to your event type.


The four points of stage lighting

The final element of stage lighting all event planners need to know is the fundamental four-point lighting system. This will allow you to understand how to position your stage lighting fixtures, strategise the look and feel of your stage, and plan out their throw distances.

1. Single-point lighting

As its name suggests, single-point lighting refers to a stage lighting setup where there is only one source of light. This creates a powerful beam of light that draws focus to a single subject, producing a more dramatic effect.

2. Two-point lighting

Two-point lighting differs from single-point lighting as it produces a more three-dimensional effect on the stage. The first light is positioned diagonally in front of the subject, while the second light is usually diagonally positioned behind the subject to avoid shining it directly into the audience’s eyes.

3. Three-point lighting

This is the most common type of lighting used for live productions, public speaking events and conference presentations, as it reduces most shadows from the point of view of the audience. Two lights are positioned diagonally in front of the subject on each side, while the third light is positioned behind the subject.

4. Four-point lighting

Four-point lighting is less common, and is mostly used when video recordings are involved. In this case, adding a fourth light source directly facing the subject helps to remove nearly all shadows from a camera’s perspective. With four-point lighting, it’s important to ensure that the intensity of each light is appropriately adjusted, so the overall lighting is balanced and well-blended.

Plan your stage lighting with a full-fledged event production partner today

Stage lighting is a complex affair. Planning and setting up effective stage lighting from the initial phase all the way to the event day requires the expertise and experience of lighting specialists. That’s why we recommend that you work with a fully equipped technical production team to ensure smooth workflow and access to top-of-the-line lighting equipment.

Live Productions is a full-fledged technical production agency that boasts an inventory of over 500 light fixtures, including hybrid moving heads, LED par cans, LED light bars and LED light strips. complete with an experienced team of engineers who will set up and programme your stage lighting fixtures according to your event needs.

Create your next event stage lighting setup with us today!

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