Lighting and Staging 101 for Headline Entertainment
Get It Right The First Time at your Meetings, Conventions, Trade Shows, Expositions, and Special Events.
Obviously, you need to make sure you have the right entertainer, and that he or she is well versed in the type of message you want to send attendees. But once you’ve met these two objectives, two of the most important aspects of incorporating a celebrity into your event are the lighting and staging. If only there was a book one could read. There is! Event Entertainment and Production. Also the Facebook page for the book.
Luckily for all of us, most celebrity contracts include a lighting and staging related rider, which is simply a mandatory clause or provision attached to the contracts. Typically, this rider includes a specific tabulation and description of required lighting and staging equipment as well as labor requirements to install and run this equipment. In some rare cases, the entertainer will provide most or all of the required items, but in most situations you will need to locate local labor and most of the equipment. Therefore, it helps to have at least a bare-bones understanding of some of the key terms involved in lighting and staging.
Here are brief explanations of some of the most common terms you’ll run across when dealing with headline entertainment.
Trusses, are structures that are internally braced so that they can span distances without bending, are almost always required to support light fixtures for each headliner appearance. However, they also can support drapery, backdrops, and scenery. Trusses may be “flown,” i.e., hung from above, or floor supported by vertical columns. The following light fixtures are typically attached to trusses:
• Automated/Intelligent Lighting — Sophisticate computer-controlled lights can change color, gobos, and focus by remote control.
• Fresnels — A light that projects a soft-edged beam, which can be varied in size from narrow focus to wide flood. Excellent for lighting general areas, dance floors, backdrops, foliage, and decorative vignettes.
• Gobos — Also known as templates or patterns, these are most often flat metal “stencils” that fit within a theatrical spotlight, or automated light, to project images such as clouds, corporate logos, geometric patterns, or any number of stock or custom images. Recently, heat-resistant glass and the ability to color glass gobos have increased the designer’s options for creativity. Many ready-made stock gobos are available.
• Lekos — The slang term for an ellipsoidal spotlight. This theatrical fixture projects a hard-edged beam of light, which can be shaped by built-in shutters or an iris, as well as by using a gobo. This fixture is useful for illuminating specific areas where control of the light beam is needed. Excellent for lighting single performers and architectural, or décor details.
• Par Cans — A 150w to 1000w lighting instrument that acts like a floodlight, providing an event light over a specific area; frequently seen in a polished aluminum version, hanging in large groups from ground support or flying truss system.
• Pinspots — This fixture projects a very narrow beam of light and is ideal for lighting table centerpieces, specific décor elements and details, and food displays on buffets.
• Follow Spot — This fixture basically follows the celebrity on stage. However, it can provide a broad or narrow or round or square light beam, and you can incorporate basic multi-colored gels. This fixture would NOT be attached to any truss.
The rider should also contain a stage plot, and provide you with the width, depth, and height of the intended structure. Within this stage plot, you’ll typically find the following terms.
• Wings — Platforms placed on either end of the stage for placement of lighting trees and/or audio speakers.
• Downstage — The portion of the stage that is closest to the audience.
• Backline — Instruments and associated equipment required for a performance.
• Risers – Small platforms put on stage, generally for the drum kit and the keyboards.
• Stage left / Stage right – The left or right side of the stage from the performer’s perspective.
While all of these terms may sound a bit daunting, you just need a basic understanding of them, as their intended use and positioning will likely be spelled out in the headliner’s lighting plot included in the rider.
Call on Mark Sonder Productions, Inc. (www.marksonderproductions.com) for all your production requirements as well as for acquiring your headline entertainment for meetings, conventions, trade shows, expositions, concerts, casinos, and special events. Call today +1-540-636-1640.
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