Are you in the dark about how to configure the lighting for your corporate event, wedding, or special party without going postal? You are not alone. Lighting design is easy to overlook, but it can make a significant difference in the success of your event. Just like choosing the right theme, venue, or food, knowing which lights and equipment fit a particular occasion is not as simple as it seems.
Well, we’re here to help! In this article, we will discuss what you need to know before renting any type of lighting equipment and how to pick the right lighting options for your next event. But before that, we need to square away some basic concepts and principles behind light design.
Lighting Design Basics
Like any art form, lighting design involves artistry and technical know-how. Your lighting design can be the difference between a dazzling show that engages your guests and a dreary affair that has them yawning within minutes. Ultimately, that difference is decided almost entirely by how well you stick to the goals of good lighting design, whether it’s for a dynamic church event, a worry-free panel discussion, or a safe and entertaining party.
Some of the goals of good lighting design are:
3 Rules of Good Lighting Design
When it comes to lighting, what makes “good” lighting? Basic rules apply in virtually any situation–and thankfully, you don’t need a degree to understand or execute them properly:
- Lighting should be in harmony with your venue and theme. Fixtures must work well with the rest of your event design. For example, suppose you’re hosting a garden party. It might be best to use string lights instead of giant, bulky chandeliers.
- Lighting should enhance the mood or ambiance. It does not have to be overwhelming, but it should create a positive engaging atmosphere.
- Lighting should complement the tone of your event and draw the eye towards essential elements like speakers or displays — but not distract.
3 Types of Lighting
You can choose from three main types of lighting: ambient, accent, and task.
- Ambient light is the overall light in the room – usually provided by ceiling fixtures or wall sconces.
- Accent lights like track lights, spotlights, or pin spots highlight specific objects or features in a space.
- Use a task light, like a floor lamp, for practical purposes like reading.
Decide which of the three types you want to emphasize. For example, if you are going for a dramatic effect, focus on accent and ambient lights.
To create a more intimate atmosphere, use task lights to draw attention to specific areas and create pools of light.
Another thing to consider is color temperature. This refers to the warmth or coolness of a light source and is measured in degrees Kelvin (K).
A low color temperature (2700K-3000K) will produce a warm yellowish glow, while a high color temperature (4000K-6500K) will have a cool white light.
Most event light equipment comes in cool or warm whites, so specify which one you need when making your rental inquiry.
How to Choose the Right Lighting for Your Event
Now that you have a basic understanding of some critical concepts behind lighting design, it’s time to choose which lighting equipment you need for your event. Which lights you need is determined by certain factors:
Intimate vs. Large Area
To get the best rates, try to secure all of your vendors (i.e., catering, house bar services, security, and rental equipment) from the same venue.
This not only minimizes complications and reduces stress, but it can also save you money in the long run.
Theme vs. Functionality
Next, think about whether you want to use the lights primarily for their aesthetic qualities or if you want them to serve a practical purpose.
For example, if your event is themed around nature, you may want to use soft, diffused lighting to make the environment seem more relaxing.
On the other hand, if you are hosting a party at a bar, you might want to use bright, focused lights to attract guests’ attention.
Ambiance vs. Attention
You also need to consider what mood you want to create. Do you want the lighting to be subtle and romantic or bold and energetic? Will you use the lights to illuminate people or provide general illumination?
Once you’ve answered all these questions, consider the available lighting equipment. The following section outlines some popular options offered in your average event rentals store and which events typically require them:
Par Lights or Floodlights
These lights are ideal when covering large spaces, such as auditoriums or outdoor venues. They usually come in white light and can be used for accent and ambient lights.
Par lights are also often used by DJs during private parties because they produce intense beams that create a dramatic effect while keeping the space well-lit. Another word for these lights is cans, because they resemble metal cans with bulbs inside.
Pin spotlights are the way to go if you want to highlight objects or architectural features in your event space. They deliver a narrow beam of light and can be focused on specific areas of interest.
Pin spots are sometimes used when dressing up a cake for a wedding or birthday party. They are one of the most commonly requested professional options for event planners.
Up Lights or Track Lighting
This is a versatile type of light that event planners can use for both ambient and accent lighting. It usually comes in white and warm and cool colors, giving you plenty of design options. You can also buy them with wheels to make transportation easier.
Uplights highlight columns, stage sets, or outdoor areas. Use them for table lights with various colored gels for a gorgeous ambiance.
An experienced lighting designer sets up the lights if your event is set in a venue with a large stage. Stage lighting includes wash lights, spotlights, and follow spots, which project images onto a stage or set.
They are commonly used for corporate functions where a wide selection of activities occurs during the evening. Depending on your event, you might need a fog machine for dramatic effect during your performance or presentation.
Another type of light often used for special events is GOBO lighting. This refers to the design or pattern projected onto a surface, typically using a gobo projector or light fixture. Customize GOBO lights to suit your event’s theme or decor. Discuss your design ideas with your rental supplier to determine available options.
Quick Notes for Virtual & Hybrid Event Lighting
Virtual events are an entirely different beast than their physical counterparts, so there are a few different things to consider.
When you’re hosting a webinar or online conference with a large audience, create as much excitement around your presentation as possible. Try using lasers, for example, which can be bought separately or rented in conjunction with your traditional options.
Think about how lighting affects the audience. Lights can be important for webinars or other online presentations because it helps create engagement and a sense of connection with the presenter. This is especially true if you have attendees watching your event from home on their computer screens since they may not have access to a proper stage or venue setup.
For hybrid events especially, having a high-quality visual presentation is vital. Don’t forget to incorporate lights into your video, as they can make or break the overall immersion effect. This is usually done through low-level effects and soft backlights highlighting the presenter’s face during their speech.
Finally, don’t forget to create visual centerpieces with good light design. With many events, creating a focal point keeps the audience’s attention and ensures visuals are seen clearly. Use lights to highlight event decor through accent lighting effectively. But always avoid creating a distraction that would take attention away from your event’s purpose.
Need some ideas for your next virtual event? Here are the top virtual event types of hosting in 2022!
Sit back and Enjoy
Event lighting rentals can make a significant impact on your event’s atmosphere and overall success. By understanding the basics of lighting design and choosing the right equipment for your event, you can create a dazzling show that engages your guests and leaves a lasting impression. In short, lighting design can help you set the mood, enhance the theme, highlight the elements, and ensure safety for your event. Remember to plan ahead, coordinate with your rental company and venue, and ensure that everything runs smoothly on the big day. With the right lighting, your event will shine bright and stand out.
We & Goliath is a network of experienced technical producers, designers, and video editors who can help you deal with the tech stress for your special event so you don’t have to. Whether you’re planning a corporate conference or trade show, we have the expertise, tools, and resources you need to make your event a success. Contact us today to learn more!