Lighting Techniques for Events

An Introduction to Event Lighting Techniques

First of a Two-Part Series

Lighting techniques are one of the easiest ways to transform the look and feel of a meeting or conference room.

Beyond making sure your audience can see the presenters, event lighting techniques can be used in many ways. Here are a few:

  • General stage lighting
  • Stage set
  • Ceiling décor lighting
  • Lighted podium
  • Gobos to project logos or images
  • Moving lights
  • Highlight awards for a ceremony
  • Product reveal
  • Lighted furniture

Lighting Categories

To keep it simple, event lighting can be broken down into two categories: decorative and functional.

This article will focus on functional lighting and in a later issue, we will talk about decorative and fun lighting. Functional lighting is the lighting needed to help your audience see the presenters/product/etc. In its most basic form, functional lighting is house lights on or off. Of course, your event determines your functional needs. If you have videos or on-screen content, you will need dimmable lighting. If you are recording your event, you will need stage lighting to brighten the stage and presenter faces so they’ll be visible for video recording and photos.

Ideally, lighting fixtures should be rigged or hung from the ceiling to create the best angle of wash light [Link to Glossary of Lighting blog]  for the stage. If it is not possible to hang lights in your venue, getting your stage lighting as high as possible will help prevent the lights from shining directly into the eyes of a person on stage. This can be done using crank-up stands or “trees” positioned to the far sides or corners of the room.

To achieve the best lighting look on stage, add backlighting that surrounds the sides and back of the person or group of people on stage to frame them. This creates a more defined look and will reduce shadows behind the person while also adding more depth.

Lighting Production: Questions to Ask

To begin a discussion with your audiovisual production team about optimal lighting design, consider these questions and gather answers ahead of time to help them create an optimal lighting design for your event:

  • Are you doing IMAG (Image Magnification)?
  • Will you be recording any or all your event?
  • What are your logo or event theme colors?
  • What are you doing for your stage set?
  • Will you be using projection or LED panels?

The last two questions seem like they might border on decorative or fun lighting, but it is more about controlling the overall lighting on stage.

Some details about your speakers that are important to consider and share with your lighting designer would be the type of clothing they will be wearing, their skin tones, whether anyone is bald, and if makeup will be needed.

As you are choosing a location for your meetings and events, make sure to look at room light controls and whether they have dimmable lights. The more controlled the lighting is, the more flexibility you will have with projection and lighting for your event.

Venue Capabilities and Lighting

Here are some questions you can ask your venue event manager to ensure the goals of your meeting or event are met:

  • Are the house lights dimmable?
  • How controlled is the lighting in the room? Is there a wall switch, program with a remote device, can light control be tied into the technology partners lighting control system?
  • What type of light fixtures are in the room? Fluorescent, LED, Tungsten?
  • How tall is the ceiling?
  • Can lights be hung in the ceiling?*
  • Is there sufficient power to support lighting?

Having the answers to these questions will help your AV production partner create a lighting solution for your next event. To learn more about CLE’s event lighting and see more photos, browse our Gallery or visit our Facebook page.

*This may involve rigging which leads to another conversation about their requirements.

Keep learning. View our Lighting Glossary of Terms

Read Part Two of Lighting Techniques Series: Lighting Event Techniques