The beauty of art is that it is largely subjective; while someone can say that your latest stage production is lacking in depth, that doesn’t necessarily make that statement true. Some might have found your production so deep that they’re actually still lost in it. There are no right or wrongs, just opinions.

Unfortunately, the same isn’t necessarily true of stage lighting. Although good stage lighting does require a lot of creativity, lighting design is also a technical discipline. For some people, just hearing the word ‘technical’ conjures up confusion and the fear that everything is going to go horribly, horribly wrong.

Fortunately, stage lighting isn’t as technically difficult as engineering, for instance; a lighting design company such as ourselves will take on a brief and design a solution according to your preferences, so that takes a lot of technicality out of the process.

Where most mistakes occur, in fact, is in the actual use of the lighting setup during productions, events and so on. The ‘mistakes’ listed in this post technically aren’t mistakes – art, subjectivity, remember? – but they are some of the most common gripes when it comes to lighting a production!

So, without further ado…

Not Enough Budget

‘Oh, we see what you’re doing PG Stage, trying to get us to spend more money!’ Well, it may sound like a cynical ploy to get you to spend more money (it’s not, honest!), but a lack of budget when investing in stage lighting can lead to poor quality productions and events later down the line.

Lighting, unfortunately, is often an afterthought – especially in schools. This leads to low budgets and ambitious teachers and amateur dramatists having to ‘make do’ rather than maximising the potential of their space.

While top quality lighting installation companies such as ourselves (if do we say so ourselves…) are more than able to make the most out of any budget, spending enough so that you can get exactly what you want from a space rather than trying to cut corners is a much more fruitful path. That means planning exactly what you want to get from your lighting so that you can budget accordingly.

Colour Explosions

Let’s be honest; lighting gels are fun to play with. Changing your plain old white light to a much more appealing blue followed a quick change to an angry red? Brilliant.

Unfortunately, a lot of lighting designers are too keen to use all the tools in their box at once and will throw every colour they can into a production. This leads to a messy production that leaves the audience with eye ache – and no-one wants that.

To avoid this mistake, make sure to invest in a broad range of gels that complement each other. Consider the kinds of mood you want to convey in your performance and set a maximum number of tones to be used – it’ll make your performance more coherent and a lot more easy on the eye.

Lighting Overload

In much the same vein as the previous entry, using all the tools in your lighting basket at once can transform a serene performance of Romeo and Juliet into a bad rave from the ‘90s. No-one wants to see LEDs, strobes, pulses and all other kinds of lighting going off at once.

One way to alleviate this is to play around with your lighting after it’s been installed for the first time and get it out of your system. Another way is to carefully consider what you need for your particular space.

Do you really need an LED light? Is a strobe the best idea when you have a drama class full of 14 year-olds desperate to recreate the bullet-dodging scene from the Matrix? By narrowing down your lighting options, you can improve the coherence of your lighting design. Keep things as simple as possible!

Missing Lighting Cues

As easy as lighting design looks, it actually takes years to master. That includes changing lights on cue during a performance.

The fact is, with no experience, no-one is going to be able to time their lighting cues perfectly, which can make school productions look a bit shoddy (although a lot of people would argue this is part of the charm). Luckily, machines have provided the answer.

Control desks can be programmed to change lighting states on cue, in a professional manner, without any human intervention. You’ll need to programme in the lighting states beforehand in sequence, but once the performance is running, you’ll be able to let the programme run and enjoy the performance. Just make sure to keep an eye on the control desk, should the machine decide to go rogue.

If you’re interested in having your own stage lighting setup designed and installed in a way that’ll ensure mistakes are kept to a minimum, why not give PG Stage a call on 0161 830 0303 or contact us online?

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