The Learn Stage Lighting podcast is an educational and informative look into the world of stage lighting. Starting with the basics, we choose a topic to cover each week, followed by a few listener questions. Our host is David Henry, a lighting designer and educator from https://www.learnstagelighting.com .
3 Types of Console Setups for ANY Size Venue
Welcome to the Learn Stage Lighting Podcast and today we’re discussing three types of console setups that will work for any size venue.
Main Segment (0:12)
Choosing a Console For Different Venue Sizes
David: What I wanted highlight today is some different options and what people might head for in different size venues. So at the end of the day, when I think about a console; a console used to mean some specialized piece of lighting board that’s a physical thing. Where you’ve got to put it somewhere, it’s got some faders, buttons on it, and you make lights happen with it, but today our options are a lot more diverse. So let’s talk about the very smallest venues. Some people like to run things just off tablets, and that’s totally doable, but at what point should people go with a physical console and have faders?
Troy: It all depends on the application but if, you know, it’s a church setting where you’d not necessarily have a lot of movement going on, you just want good clean light, to be able to move up and down at the appropriate times, a tablet is perfectly reasonable for the application. I’ve found with the tablets when it comes to concerts and those types of things, it starts to get a little tough. Once there’s more movement involved and you want to have a little more faders, more buttons, more knobs at your disposal; once you start to navigate towards doing more live shows that might be the time.
David: I think that brings an excellent point there, because all but for the simplest needs a tablet will leave something to be desired. So, if you’re looking at doing something for a small venue I always recommend, go fully wireless if you want but it’s always good to have some sort of a back up plan. There’s a whole blend of things between the full fledged lighting console and just a tablet. Tell us a little about your rig that you use most often and what some of the options are in the middle.
Troy: Sure! Right now I’ve been a fan of the ONYX software. It was the easiest introduction into an affordable professional lighting software that I could download right to my computer. My main for a 500 capacity club with a band I’ll bring my Windows based PC and I have two endplays. It gives me all the control I need as far as faders, the playback buttons are great, you can assign anything you want on them. So I prefer that. It was one of the cheaper options, it was one of the best options I found. I also love a PC based setup because I can do most if not all of the prep work at my house before the show. I invested in a great visualizer that I use all the time and I’m able to walk into a venue and plug in my DMX lines and everything fires up accordingly. The last thing I’d add is that with a PC based setup you have the ability to expand your rig at your own pace and budget.
David: That highlights a very interesting point too. You don’t have to be fully in the professional console realm or fully in the clicking and dragging with a mouse realm. With Windows you can get a touch screen on a computer really easily which is great.
Troy: That is a good point too. Having a touch screen makes everything amazing.
David: I think that’s important to highlight too actually. At the end of the day your console doesn’t have to be massive to work well. When you’re talking to somebody about what type of console or hardware to get for themselves, how would you advise them on what they need?
How Do You Create a Truly Unforgettable Environment with Lighting?
Welcome to the Learn Stage Lighting Podcast and in today’s episode, Troy and I will be discussing how do you create a truly unforgettable environment with lighting?
When reflecting on past events, there are some that really stand out in my memory and that’s what we’re going to unpack today. What made those events so special and unique from lighting perspective?
Main Segment (0:17)
How Do you Get Started?
David: A question I wanted to get started with is when you are hired, how do you look at a stage and the venue you are working with?
Troy: The first piece I look at is how to compliment the venue with lighting and that’s where I get started. This could even include what type of event is it and what does the audience expects.
David: On a smaller scale when lighting a band for example, what would you do in a setup that wasn’t able to use any overhead lighting?
Troy: So, on a small scale I would first start with is the front wash and backwash. But to add more to it, I like to use side wash and even some upwash on the floor behind the artist.
This gives the opportunity to reduce your front and back wash but with the side and upwash you can still see the artist while creating a very cool look to the stage.
Going Beyond Lighting the Stage
David: While the stage lighting and setup are very important, you can create a unique show by lighting entryways and parts of the venue that might not necessarily be the stage. But in a way compliments the venue without overpowering it.
Troy: Absolutely, there are a lot of things you can do like lighting the pathways, entryways, and so on.
David: You’ve mentioned there are some instances that you only use some of the lights and not always going to the full.
Troy: Yes, I get to work with a lot of bands and the first thing I like to do is to listen to their music and get a feel of what emotions the music brings. Sometimes, it’s totally cool to start with song one on all cylinders. But there are some bands that we can build up the lights as we go along.
It’s saving some of those lights for later on the show and making a huge impact on the stage. Deducting the lights in certain songs can be used as good lighting and enhancing the lights for more impactful lighting.
Taking the Time to Prepare
David: You may have seen 21 Pilots, their lighting gets used in many examples of ways to use unique lighting. What do you think are some differences between those who design lights to go with the music versus those who create unique lighting.
Troy: It’s easier said than done especially with all of the tools sitting in front of you. But to me, it’s all about intentions which come along with preparation and practice.
Practice running your lights along with the band and that’s always a great way to make adjustments.
David: That’s a great point. While as you know there are last-minute jobs that come in and there’s just not enough time however, there are some instances that you have the opportunity to take the time to think through the audience, the experience, and the lighting.
Troy: For you, what do you think makes a great lighting experience?
David: Yeah, so for me I was thinking more about the environment surrounding the stage.
What is the Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Lights?
Welcome to the Learn Stage Lighting Podcast and this episode, we’re going to discuss the difference between cheap and expensive lights.
Troy will be joining us again today and we’re excited to have his perspective on the topic.
Main Segment (1:03)
When someone asks you what is the difference between cheap and inexpensive lights, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
How Will it be Used and by Who?
Troy: The two biggest things that come to mind right away is how is it going to be used and who is going to be using it? While we would all love to get the highest quality that’s just not always possible.
So, that’s a good starting point for me is considering the answer to those two questions.
David: That’s a good starting point, so from there what do you look for in quality and the building aspect? Where do you go from there?
Troy: First, I think about the build quality because I want to consider how the light is going to be used. Whether it’s traveling or more of a permanent install. Some lights can handle the road but most lights do not do well when traveling so often.
Then, it goes to who is using the lights. Is it the team I normally work with and I am aware of how they handle the equipment or is it going to be volunteers or stage hands?
Those types of questions allow me to decide what type and quality of light I should consider purchasing.
Finding A Fixture That Meets Your Needs
David: There are instances when someone will be looking at a less expensive fixture that the brightness is not very bright. You can see that often with less expensive fixtures but if that fixture meets your needs then who cares, right?
Troy: Absolutely, I completely agree with that. On the opposite side of that, there may be times when someone has to purchase a more expensive fixture because it has spot or color mixing.
Some setups will need certain attributes and that’s important to know when investing in a fixture. Generally, with more expensive fixtures the more attribute options you’re going to have.
David: A bonus tip for those who are shopping for lights, look at the color wheels because each fixture and brand set up their color wheel a little differently.
Troy: That’s something to remember and to know that you can find a less expensive LED par that may have less brightness but does exactly what you need it to do. You can invest in less expensive LED pars and then invest in that higher-end spot fixture that is able to do things in a powerful way.
With all of that, it’s so important to know what the rig and the venue needs. Also, it’s important to pay attention to the fixture attributes and decide what’s most important and what are some ways you may not have to buy the absolute best fixture.
The Dark Side of Cheaper Lights
David: One thing I have noticed more often is the number of cheap lights out there and this is where it gets to be the dark side of lighting. When so many people shop on Amazon looking for a light and there are so many options that really aren’t that great.
Troy: I have seen some of those lights at a venue. There was a venue that I had set up some of my lights on and the venue had its own. I had suddenly lost my DMX signal to their lights and their lights completely bl...
What Type of Moving Head Should I Buy? Spot, Wash, Beam, or Hybrid? With Guest Bob Mentele
Welcome to the podcast and episode 115. Today, we have a special guest Bob Mentele of Elation. Today, we’re going to discuss what type of moving head you should buy?
Main Segment (0:10)
David: As you might remember about 5 years ago we started hearing about hybrid lights and led to this question. How do you choose between a spot, wash, beam, or hybrid?
This is a question that has been coming up more often. With some of the hybrids, when you have one light trying to do three different things, it unfortunately did not do that well.
I do believe that they have improved the past couple of years and to it’s core the hybrids should have the primary function of either wash, beam, or spot. In my opinion, there are still only three types of lights which are spot, wash, or beam.
David: For those that are newer to lighting, with a wash fixture you generally start with color mixing and zoom. With a spot fixture, you can get a wide variety of features but the main point is that you have a spot light function. Then, you have the beam which is similar to a spot but has a sharper point of light that can be used.
Definitely, and especially now those different features are very important. With a spot light you have a very even field of light that provide an even lumination of a space.
A wash fixture will typically provide a even wash of light that has soft edges and work well with being able to blend with other lights.
Lastly, you have the beam fixtures which create a very sharp light that isn’t meant to be used to light up a stage nicely. The sole purpose is creating unique effects in the air.
I do see spot and washes being the important lights you would want for your stage. The beams would be considered the eye candy and the hybrids it just depends what the main function of that light is suppose to be.
With hybrids, while it may be able to do certain effects make sure it is able do the spot lighting well or if it is able to do what you want it to do well enough.
There are hybrids can offer a dual purpose but understand that it might not be the super sharp spot light or even a solid wash light. The lights may be able to do both just watch for the wattage, capabilities, and reviews.
David: That’s a good point because we do use those terms and labels to help keep a spectrum of the type of lights they are working with.
We discussed wash lights and there’s only two options because it can be either a wash or a beam. It was very interesting to see the evolution of LED lights. In the beginning there was very few options but now it has grown to be one source of light that can illuminate enough where you might not need multiple LED lights.
We now have engines bright enough to provide a higher output that you would need for a standard wash light. There are still some entry-level LED lights that still might not be able to offer a beam type of light. LEDs are not bright enough for that yet but it is being worked on.
We do see lasers being more used in this area when the proper license and documents are in place. With lasers, they are able to offer the extreme output to create a beam like look.
David: At least on a big scale, it’s not there yet but in smaller venues, there are options available. LEDs are great but sometimes the efficiency isn’t always there.
Efficiency, for example,
Should I Learn Multiple Lighting Consoles or Software?
Welcome to episode 114! It’s a new year, and it’s a good time to consider our goals for the upcoming year. Today’s topic is should or shouldn’t you learn multiple lighting console or software?
First, if you are someone who is wanting to learn a specific console or software consider checking out Learn Stage Lighting Labs. It’s a great resource for those getting started and a fast track to get you onto creating great lighting.
Main Segment (1:02)
When I was getting started in lighting, the technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today. One of the first consoles I learned was the Hog 3 and then stepped back to learn the Hog 2 as well. As my career developed, I would learn the console that my clients used and went from there.
If there is one thing I have learned through all of this, it’s that if you going to do this as a professional or even a dedicated hobbyist, it’s very important to learn multiple lighting consoles or software.
This doesn’t limit it to just the professional consoles but take the time to learn the entry level and mid grade consoles as well.
I recommend learning multiple consoles because as I started learning more consoles, I had found different ways to do a certain effects easier on one console compared to another console. Slowly, I learned different ways to do certain things easier on one console and finding a workaround on another console. It opens your creativity in lighting and different ways to do things.
This will help enhance your lighting shows, your skills, and your experience in working with stage lighting. Learning multiple consoles will only help you and your career in lighting. Once you start learning multiple consoles you can start learning any new software will get easier.
Thank you for joining us today and don’t forget to check out Learn Stage Lighting Labs and grab your free one-month subscription to try it out!
We have a guest in our next episode, Bob Mentele and I will be discussing what type of moving head should you buy. We’ll see you then!
Why Should I Buy Name-Brand Lights vs. “From China”? What constitutes a “name brand”?
Welcome to the podcast and Episode # 113! Today. we’re going to discuss purchasing name brand name lights versus purchasing from China.
As some people have experienced is buying a new brand, have issues, and the brand disappears within a year or two. I don’t want that for anyone and that’s why I think it’s an important topic to discuss.
Show Sponsorship (2:49)
The sponsor of today’s show is Learn Stage Lighting Labs. If you’re new here, the Labs is a great community for those that are getting started with lighting and are looking for help to set up their rig that is designed for their needs and goals. Inside of the Labs, we have action plans, tutorials, and a forum for all Lab members to ask questions. It’s a great resource and it really has helped so many people in the lighting industry.
As a special offer to those listening to the podcast, I want to offer you a free month inside of the Labs, you can check the page here: Join the Labs! This is a great opportunity to join and see if it is a good fit for you at no cost to you.
You’ll have an entire month to binge-watch the videos, check out the action plans, and join in on the discussions in the forum. If you decide after the 1-month trial it’s not for you then you can just cancel. It’s very easy to do. If you decide you want to stay on longer we have monthly and annual payment options.
I hope you’ll give it a try and see if it’s a good for for you.
Main Segment (5:00)
When going out to purchase lights, most of these are assembled and made in China. There may be some more high end brands that may be assembled here in the Unites States. It’s safe to say that most lights are in fact manufactured in other countries such as China.
In the previous years, when outsourcing products had began, generally anything made in China was manufactured at the lowest cost possible. Which in return meant very low grade products that did not last long and were cheaply made.
It turns out, that it was quickly found that certain manufacturers wanted their products made as inexpensively as possible, China caught onto this and made it happen. However, China does make some of the best quality lights, computers, and electronics. It just depends what the company is looking for and willing to spend.
There is a big difference between the no name brands on Amazon and the big names known in the industry. One of the pieces to look for is the build quality. There is a big difference in needing a light for your church, DJ, or side business versus what you would need for on the road tours. If you are the one handling the lights and you’re careful with your equipment, you can afford to have something that is decent and works well when taken care of. But if you get a light that has lower build quality that is loaded and unloaded by stage hands, then most likely it’s not going to last very long.
Should You Buy Lights from a New Brand?
There will be times a new brand gets introduced and sometimes they take off. I’ve seen this many times and my rule of thumb is waiting a couple of years to see if they stick around and get established. You’ll see these companies and brands pop up, grow really fast, can’t keep up, and then go under.
My question was answered! Awesome resource!
Found this podcast awhile back. It is an awesome source of real world information and not just a sales pitch from a vendor. It has taught me so much about lighting design and fundamentals and doesn’t just focus on how to get geeky with a console.
I love the Q&A. I just asked my first question and to be honest didn’t know if I would get a response. I got a quick response with exactly the answer I was looking for.
Thank you David for this great podcast! I can tell you really care about your audience and what you do. I’m hoping to join the lab soon!
Great educational resource
Great information and very useful content for a person new to lighting like myself.
These podcasts should be included in any light training venues. Info is straight and true from a reliable source. I highly recommend. Personally, I have never submitted a question that was not answered. ... believe me, it’s great to be able to get any questions about lighting, hardware,software, best practices, and suggestions are answered efficiently and quickly. Thank you David for what you do!