Lighting is the icing on your proverbial event cake. It can change the entire experience, look and vibe of an event. You can spend all the money in the world on an entrance, backdrop or other décor piece, but if people can't actually see it pop, it will fall flat. Our SEQ Production Team spends a lot of time within each event thinking through the lighting experience and utilizing the best resources for the most impactful results. Here are some tips for creating the perfect lighting look for your next event.
1. Map It Out
It helps to think through the key moments of your event and how guests will experience those live. Starting with arrival: Does a path need to be lit? Is there key directional signage which you want to feature? At registration: Can your check-in staff see what they're doing? Inside the event: Are there main bars, stations or displays that you want to draw guests toward? Is there a stage and/or lectern? Any roving or featured entertainment? Ensure that you go over the floor plan and design strategy -- better yet do a live walk-through -- and give you're A/V partner all of this information up front to ensure they will have the right staffing and equipment on-site.
2. Hire a Lighting Designer
There are many talented lighting designers who understand the nuances to creating the right look for your event. They know the lingo and can translate your vision into the right language and equipment package for the lighting technicians on the job. Sometimes, your A/V partner can provide this as an add-on service as well, or your lead lighting tech might have this skill set. If your event has anything more than the bare minimum of lighting, we'd recommend this as a focus (lighting pun intended). Lighting works very specifically when it comes to temperature, saturation, angles, etc. More often than not. if you don't have an expert in the mix, it could prove almost impossible to achieve the look you want.
3. Know Your Aesthetic and Mood
You'll want to share as much as possible about the look and feel that you're aiming for with your lighting designer. Are you going for sexy and moody, or bright and energizing? Are you trying to match a brand logo or a specific color scheme? Is it a celebratory party versus a more business-focused conference? Is social media posting a priority? If you have any mood boards, thematic designs or example images to share, you should definitely do so. The more you know what you want, the more likely you'll be able to achieve it (and budget for it!).
4. Don't Forget About Ambient Light
Light streaming in from a bare window, LED or projection screens around the room, and even functional safety lights can change the look of your lighting design without you realizing it. If your event takes place during the day, this is even more of a factor. Make sure you and your lighting designer understand the sources of ambient light in your space, and factor them into your plans. If possible, schedule your lighting test for the same time of day on the day before the event, so you'll know exactly what it will look like.
5. Consider Your Equipment's Visual and Physical Footprint
It's always more impactful when you cannot see the sources of your lighting. High ceilings, trusses and properly placed lighting trees can all help achieve this. However, we don't always have the verticality, floor space or rigging points that allow for such seamless install. Sometimes these aesthetics are not the highest on the priority list, but when they are, you can make that bulky equipment blend in a number of ways. Wrapping pipes and trusses with fabric, painting power cords, masking lighting equipment on the floor, etc., are all great ways to make this hardware disappear. You might also need to push your lighting designer and A/V partner to find an alternative option to a giant truss in the sightline of your beautiful stage set. These solutions all require forethought, labor and supplies, so make sure to ask you're A/V partner for an equipment layout, and review it with your design team as well.
Lizz Torgovnick is the chief creative officer of Sequence, an award-winning events agency specializing in strategic planning, production and design. More about Sequence can be found by visiting www.sequence-events.com.