Concert Lighting Basics

February 9, 2023

Preparing your venue for a live concert involves an extensive checklist. Event planners work hard to deliver a captivating stage show. Naturally, venue lighting is on the top of the list. Lighting at a live outdoor concert serves multiple purposes. Concert lighting is used to illuminate the performers on stage and to set the mood for the entire performance. Typical groundwork for outdoor concert lighting includes selecting equipment and fixtures, setup and positioning, and creating a dynamic light show that connects the audience and performers, resulting in an amazing sensory experience for everyone. 

Here’s a few concert lighting basics from Mobile Illumination.

Venue and Performance

Selecting stage lights for an outdoor event varies according to your venue size and performance needs. These factors will determine the lighting design’s overall scope and scale. For instance, a small-scale ensemble of acoustic musicians won’t require the same lighting production that a large-scale rock or rap concert needs. Specific requirements and limitations of the outdoor venue also determine lighting design. What can be accomplished in one location might not be possible in another. Experienced lighting professionals will know what lighting design will fit the space while still meeting the expectations of the performing artists and managers.

Equipment Safety

During the planning phase, the safety and preservation of outdoor venue lights is very important. Remember that the outdoor lights are exposed to nature’s unpredictable elements. Proper outdoor concert lighting should be rated for wet or damp usage. Blowing rain or debris can impact lighting and create potentially hazardous conditions for everyone involved.    

Functional Lighting

Every area of the venue is different and has its own unique lighting needs. Effective venue lighting includes the entrance or lobby areas, seating sections, vendor spots, and pathways leading to restrooms and exits. All these areas have vastly different lighting needs, and while recessed lights may be ideal in one spot, another area may benefit from spotlights or track lighting. A combination of lighting options provides greater flexibility and successful outcomes.

Popular Lighting Options

Uplights are perfect for creating dramatic columns of light and striking stage effects. Uplights add visual interest and can create a more spacious feel in a smaller setting.

LED pixel tube lights are waterproof and can be mounted just about anywhere. These versatile lights  can also be linked together to create a unique 3-D light sculpture.

Inflatable lights are stunning, glare-free, and provide extra bright, 360-degree diffused illumination. Set up is quick and easy because inflatable fixtures are portable and lightweight.

Ellipsoidal spotlight (also known as Lekolite) is a powerful light source that focuses light to a specific area. emitting a spotlight beam. The light focus can be sharp or soft depending on the lens you choose. Lekolites can be focused on areas overhead, peripherally, or for stage washes.

For big stage productions PAR lights deliver tons of illumination, delivering a warm wash of light to the stage. LED PAR lights are just as bright and are great for color mixing, allowing you to flood the stage with vibrant hues. 

If you’re looking for movement, intelligent lights are the perfect choice. Intelligent lights feature a movable head on a rotating yoke. Intelligent lights can have internal Gobo wheels, patterns of light, color wheels, and flags for dynamic effects. Plus, they’re available in wash, spot, and beam fixture varieties.

Create a captivating scene using projection mapping. Take a journey with lights underwater, into space, or inside a video game. Transport the audience to another place by projecting images and designs onto the stage, backdrop, or ceiling. Projection mapping adds depth and visual expression to your venue.

Kinetic LED lights allow you to merge lighting technology with mechanical movement. These sleek overhead motors combine with movable light fixtures on a remote-controlled cable winch. Each light module can be adjusted to a specific position, speed, and color, using software. Kinetic lights are a favorite at live concerts.

Safety Measures

Live concerts attract a lot of people, in addition to stage lighting, navigation and visibility are essential lighting design elements. A few ways to implement lighting for safety include adding rope lighting to walkways and perimeters, illuminating stairways and changes in elevation, and properly labeling exit paths, exit signs, and first aid stations. The goal is to provide adequate visibility during the concert to allow guests to safely navigate the venue. When the show is over, all walkways, paths, and parking areas should be well-lit, so people can see clearly as they leave, especially at night.

Setting up a successful stage lighting system involves much more than what’s mentioned here, but with some design inspiration and expert planning, your goals can be accomplished! If you have any questions about stage lighting or what light fixtures would work best with your application, click here to talk to one of our experts at Mobile Illumination.

Want to see more deck lighting tips? Check out our photo gallery!

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