Technical stage lighting isn’t the type of endeavour that can be knocked up in a weekend with a suitably manly Haynes-type manual. In fact, it takes expertise, considerable electrical knowledge and a detailed understanding of how a performance space is expected to work.

While we aren’t suggesting you go out and get CSCS, IPAF and PASMA certified, you can glean a better understanding of how you can create effective stage lighting by getting to grips with simple techniques, terminology and insider tips.

Of course, a stage and studio installation company will be able to cater to your requirements, but it’s always useful to know what to expect when enlisting the help of the professionals. If you feel that we’ve missed any key nuggets of information out of this post then please get in touch via Facebook, Twitter, G+ or the comments box and we’ll try our best to help.


So many terms, so little time! Yes, the lighting dictionary is a long and varied one, but for your average stage lighting design there’s certainly some popular lighting styles which you are likely to utilise. There are a lot of great options granted, but these are the solutions you will regularly see mentioned and praised in stage lighting publications.

Intelligent (or moving) Lights: Intelligent lights are just that; intelligent enough to be pre-programmed or managed during the duration of a performance. Equipped to create a variety of effects in either simple ’play-back’ or live mode.

Striplight: A basic fixture which will usually be comprised of rows of lamps, striplights are a popular choice in a variety of performance spaces. LED lighting may also be utilised for its energy saving properties.

Colour Scroller: Perfect for creating ambience and mood, the colour scroller allows you to change between colour filters (usually gel) quickly.

Followspot: The classic spotlight, the followspot is ideal for illuminating single actors during monologues and solo musical performances. The Fresnel lens gives a similar, beam like effect; however, the light is softer and illuminates more of the performance area.

Scoop floodlight (ERF): A high-powered lamp commonly used in theatres to flood the stage with downlight. Fitted with 4 internal shutters, ERFs are ideal for channelling light over longer distances.

Divide Your Stage

We’ve mentioned the stage divide principle several times on the blog because it’s a great way of determining the type of lighting you are likely to need for the size and purpose of your stage. Of course it goes without saying that most performance areas will require adaptable lighting; after all, a musical is very different to a stand-up comedy act, so this simple plan will help you cater for a variety of performances.

For a standard stage (i.e. a typical school stage) then you can simply divide your stage into 3 main areas; stage left, stage right and centre stage. If you are likely to have large casts on stage then it is worth assigning adequate lighting to the side wings, so this model is a great way to ensure non-centre areas aren’t being neglected.


For the front centre section of the stage, a scoop floodlight (ERF) is ideal for bathing the stage in adequate down lighting whereas a selection of intelligent lights gives you the freedom to change lighting colours and illuminate individual performers.

For the side sections, a simple spot on each side can be used if these areas will rarely be used; however for optimum versatility, a selection of intelligent lights would also be useful. Of course every stage has individual requirements, but 3-5 intelligent lights to the front and 1-3 for the sides is usually a good guide.

We hope that’s introduced you to the basics without swamping you with technical jargon! Of course, technical installations require considerable expertise and no-one’s expecting you to become an expert in the run-up to your project, but a few basic facts can help you understand how our stage lighting team create effective solutions.

For more information or lighting inspiration, please get in touch with our stage and studio installation specialists at PG Stage.

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