Lighting is one of the most important and often overlooked aspects of your event. Music shows have no trouble with this and what follows is not for the the LD currently out on tour. It is for you who accept whatever comes in the package at your venue or if you have not given is serious thought at all. Let’s start with the basics:
Lighting takes power and can take alot of power. Find out what power is available, how much is there and what else you need to power. Distance to your source is also important, as planning on where wires will go, if they will be seen and how the various users will tap into it.
Where are the lights going? Are you bringing them in or are they already in place? Are you in a building and what types of control do you have over the lighting (dimmers, on/off switches, etc). If you are bringing in your own gear, where can you hang them and place them? Are there points in the ceiling or existing truss?
What are you lighting?
Lighting is used for practical, necessity, safety, and of course creating the event experience. Do you need light to see in the dark, while setting up or early in the morning? Do you need to alert people to hazards or lead them to specific areas? Do you need to light signage? Do you need to simply modify an area to make it more home-like, more club-like or whatever effect you are trying to achieve? Will the lighting need to change over the course of the event?
Once you know what you are lighting, you can now make choices on how to do it.
Getting Help from Pros
Are you working in an established venue? If so, ask who does lighting. Good chances there is a company very familiar with the space and can not only consult on what work, but get it done well. Are you in an outdoor space? The same maybe true.
Going more DIY? Stage lighting is not like house lighting, it is way more powerful and electrical loads matter. Thankfully, there are some really easy solutions. First, there are a multitude of really simple lightboards that are nothing more than advanced dimmer switches. Get the guy at the lighting place to show you how the dimmer packs work and how they run to the board.
Lighting takes time, a lot of time. Leave yourself plenty of extra time and plan ahead. Take measurements to make sure you have plenty of cable.
You love fluorescents, right? No, nobody likes bad light. The physical wavelength and temperature matters and you should take into strong consideration the feel of the lights matches what you want to achieve.