Being able to communicate well to your lighting technician using the proper terms signals a few things to him/her. First, you mean business and are very interested in making the lights a prominent part of your show. As a lighting guy, this gets me excited and more likely to go out of my way to make that long, built up crescendo look spectacular. Second, you’re pretty darn familiar with lights and if the lights aren’t up to par, you’re going to be able to tell. As a lighting guy, this would tell me that any chance of getting another gig really does depend on doing my job right.
To help with this, I’ve put together some more lighting terminology in Part 2 of How to Talk to a Lighting Technician:
A solid color covering the entire stage, produced by having all of the PAR Cans emitting one color. Can be used for an effect, such as covering the stage in a blue wash while some shoegazers jam out, or as the base for a larger look, such as a blue wash with movers set to a strobe effect while a band ends their set by smashing a guitar or two.
This is a predetermined lighting movement or change. A lighting tech can program a number of preset lighting cues before the concert starts. All it takes is the stroke of a button and all of the lights set up in the lighting cue move and change at once. If you have the prep time and the venue has the technology to allow it, these are great to add some professionalism to your show. Used in conversations such as “Can you guys leave me alone for about 30 minutes? I’m setting up my cues.”
LED (Light-Emitting Diode)
They don’t emit as much light as pars, lekos, or movers, but they can add a cool ambiance and some extra effects. You can get interesting backlight effects, wash looks and the ability to smoothly cycle from one color to another reaching any hue in between. Radiohead famously used all LED lights to illuminate their set during a tour a few years ago, getting some pretty cool visuals in the process.
These cause beams of light to switch from a solid circular beam to a design or pattern. Some look like stars or flowers, others abstract designs. Some lights can have gobos put in manually, while many moving lights have a set of gobos programmed in so you can easily sort through them and switch from any one gobo to another instantly with a click of a button or flick of a fader.
This is a common effect used on movers. Moving lights can have a prism effect added on to it so that where there was once one beam, there are now multiple (and somewhat fuzzy) beams. It can create more detailed and complex looks, especially when applied to movers with gobos being used. The prism effect can typically be set to rotate as well, to add some circular movement to the lights.
Pre-show set up of the lights. Techs can focus them on specific areas to hit band members, change the shape and size of lights, or even move some lights around to create specific looks. Be nice to the lighting tech and he might actually do some of that for you.
With all of these basic terms, you can hopefully feel confident in being able to talk to a lighting tech about your band’s lighting needs without the lighting tech’s eyes glazing over. Remember, no need to know the ins and outs of the lighting board or how the lighting grid is patched together. Just throw out a few of these terms while giving some creative lighting ideas and hopefully that will get your lighting tech excited enough to work a little harder for you.
* Lighting for concert of The Frail at The Mezzanine.
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