A Few Things About Mood Lighting
I often get asked by customers how many uplighters they need for their event and what type of light would be suitable. There is no simple answer for these questions, but hopefully in the article, I can shed a bit of light on the topic (pun totally intended!).
So let’s get into it….
Type Of Mood Lighting
There are many types of light that can be used for mood lighting. At London Sound and Light we offer a selection of these for hire. Below you will find a list of these lights and a run down on the pros and cons.
These are the cheapest form of uplighter. The low price tag does come at the cost of having to run cables which besides being much less tidy, is also more labour intensive. Another factor is the options for control. With these lights, if you wish to change the colour at will, you need to connect DMX cables between each light, set the channels, and then use a DMX controller. While this is a much more work, the main benefit is that you can easily create custom fade options, and you have no worries when it comes to battery life.
Wireless uplighters are by far our most popular type of light. The ease of use is hard to ignore, and with modern technology, these no longer need to weigh more than small elephant. In fact, with the Chauvet Freedom Par, you can actually carry 4 in each hand with very little strain. The remote control makes changing the colour as easy as changing a TV channel. The battery will last for up to 15 hours on a single colour, but this is reduced to approximately 8 hour on some programs. For most events, this is more than enough, but for events spanning multiple days, recharging these lights is definitely something that needs to be considered. Usually, these lights are only suitable for indoor use, but Chauvet do also offer an IP rated range.
Another type of light which is often used for mood lighting is the LED Batten. These lights offer incredible brightness and functionality. We use the Chauvet ColorPix USB. I’ve found that these work great not only for stage lighting, but also placed behind sofas and other units and they wash a much wider space on a wall. I do feel these should be used sparingly in most cases but when appropriate, there is nothing quite like it.
Let’s take a closer look at some questions you should ask before lighting a venue:
1) What affect are you after? Would you like to completely wash out a room in colour, or just highlight the main features?
2) What aspects of the venue lend itself well to uplighters? *Plain walls and corners work really well. Columns, arches, domes all work great. Think about how the light will reflect, and also consider shadowing.
3) What is your budget for the lighting?
4) Is there easy access to plug sockets or do you need to go wireless?
5) Do you need to change the colour of the lights mid event?
6) Is part of the event outdoors? Do you need IP rated lights?
In image A, you can see a venue we often work at called the West Reservoir Centre. With the very high ceilings, white walls, and unique architectural layout, the venue lends itself very well to uplighting. When I first walked into this venue to do a recce, the immediate thought that crossed my mind was the amount of natural light flooding in. This is a huge consideration for daytime events, especially during summer, as the effectiveness of any light will be reduced massively by this alone. I always make a point of discussing this with the client, even if the event starts earlier and will go on into the evening. The reason is that first impressions count, and I don’t want the client to be underwhelmed by the lighting when the walk in. It’s important to keep expectations realistic. As the night goes on, mood lighting really comes into its own.
In image B, you can see the uplighters on an overcast day. The lights we used are Chauvet Freedom Pars which are battery operated. This means there are no unsightly cables running anywhere and everything can be kept clean and tidy. Due to the placement inside the RSJs and the fact it was overcast that day, the lights look really vibrant. As you may be able to tell from the image, this event wasn’t due to start for another few hours, so by the time the Bride and Groom arrived, it was already evening.
With most forms of lighting, symmetry is a key consideration. When deciding how many uplights are needed for this venue, I walked around and made a mental note of key places they would work. Now in this venue it was quite easy – 1 on each pillar (front, facing the door way), 2 on the back wall, and symmetrically coming down the room, another 4 lights. Through all of the events I have done here, this has proven to be the winning formula. Most people have agreed that you don’t need lights on the back of the pillars as it would be too bright and overpowering. The other consideration here is always cost, and it’s important to balance quality and quantity. Using more lights is not always better.
Mood lighting is not the most complex of effects, but it can take a bit of practise to make it really effective. Take time before plaing any lights to assess the venue and choose the right placements. Consider symmetry a priority, and try not to overdo it. Stick to these rules and you can’t go far wrong. For very large venues, it may be worth consulting a company, such as London Sound and Light, who can walk around the venue with you and give you professional advice.