The importance of lighting in event production

Blog Thought leadership
Lighting can be key to setting the atmosphere at events. Production Manager, Jen Cohen, shares what you need to think about and how to make the right choice with lighting to bring a venue to life. 

Before I became a Production Manager I worked as a technician, and lighting was my favourite. I could make sound go from a microphone to a PA, and content from a laptop to a projector, but lighting was FUN. I remember lighting a gig and going on social media afterwards and seeing everyone posting videos of the lighting effects. It felt good to feel like I was adding to the music and the experience.

Lighting can be used to amplify the theme of the event, for branding, or to influence the atmosphere such as creating an intimate feel with warm and shadowy lighting.

If I’m planning lighting for an event, I think about the story and what the clients to achieve, the space its happening in, and, while crossing my fingers and hoping, the venue will let me use the haze!

On a site visit look for any architectural features in a venue that can be utilised. Even if an event calls for just a stage wash and house lights, you can add so much to the atmosphere and bring the room alive; uplighting walls that have interesting textures or accent lighting for arches or pillars. It doesn’t need to be complicated — a classic warm dapple affect breakup gobo layered over a colour and focussed on a feature of a room is so simple yet so pretty. 

If the venue doesn’t have any obvious architectural features, you can create these with lighting, for example, using LED battens or rope to create shapes on walls, ceilings or in the air. You can go further and, rather than lighting just being a cool visual feature, use it practically to move your guest through the venue by making pathways in the space or focal points to draw people to different areas.

Lighting is another touchpoint to consider when looking at the sustainability of an event. Something we are hearing more from clients is requests to use energy efficient lighting in their events. This is doable using LED, which uses significantly less energy than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs to create the same amount of light. They also have a longer life span and create less heat, which contributes to better energy efficiency. 

Lighting within LED walls can be used to replace stage sets and prints, which are often single use and get thrown away after an event. Pixel mapping or feeding content on to LED walls removes this waste. Though you could argue you’re straying away from lighting and into the video world there.

Finally, all that kit is nothing without a great lighting technician and operator. They know better than anyone what the kit is capable of and can translate creative ideas in to impactful visuals, having us oo-ing and aah-ing like we’re at a fireworks show! Lighting can have such an impact and do so much to enhance an event!