Your Stage Lighting

What Do You Want From On Stage Lighting? – Interactive

On Stage Lighting is 1 year old today. We are asking our valued readers what kind of things they want, so come on and let us know what you would like to see here in the future.

Your Stage Lighting Interactive

Since launch last year, the On Stage Lighting community has grown quickly, with an international following of visitors all with a common purpose. To learn more about the theory and techniques in modern stage lighting.

On Stage Lighting is not an industry-back-slapping-new-kit-pushing site and we keep trying to produce high quality content, which takes time. There is plenty of interesting stuff in the pipeline and lots of things that we haven’t got around to creating/releasing yet (what with working full time in the lighting industry an’ all). While still publishing helpful articles on stage lighting basics, we also have plans to expand including:

  • Interviews with industry professionals, relevant to learning.
  • Lighting desks video tutorials such as the MagicQ PC and Avolites Pearl/ Tiger .
  • Beyond the basics of stage lighting – more advanced help.
  • A Learn Stage Lighting community.

Your Stage Lighting Interactives are about you, the On Stage Lighting readers and this one centres on what you are keen to read and learn about in the next year.

So, put your comments and requests in the box.

  1. Dimitris Vidos

    Hello Rob,

    here is my suggestion:

    I loved the Band Lighting series. What I would like to see is a rough but complete guide for band gig lighting. Viewing it from the point of view of a small band with a small budget.

    Some Par56 only, maybe a pair of scanners. Where to put the sticks, how to route cables, colors, focus points. And how to program this using either a small DMX console, a foot controller or MagicQ, what scenes or looks, what chases.

    I think many people will benefit from such a topic.


  2. Rob

    Hi Dimitris – I had been thinking about some information aimed at non-lighting people, like bands, who want to get a small amount of kit together. Your ideas sound good.

    Thanks for your comment, seems like many On Stage Lighting regulars don’t have opinions so far 😉

  3. Steaders

    Hi Rob

    Personally I’d like a mix of basic how-tos and more technical stuff ie what the pros like yourself do.

    Although I’ve been involved in lighting for about two years on amateur basis, I know I still have a lot to learn. I running the lighting the for a variety of things from Church to a small band to a AmDram group.

    I need the basics so that I know what I’m doing, and the more technical stiff so that when I talk to the people I work with, they at least think I know what I’m doing!

    A great series of articles, keep up the good work.

  4. Matt

    Hi Rob

    I’d like a how-to on general repair of conventional/intelligent lights.

    The more advanced help will be welcome.


  5. Pete Tabberer

    Info on lighting for duo’s, linking into backing tracks, ie. set up backing track and lighting required, then when play track lighting changes automaticaly. PS. must be as cheap as poss!!

  6. Matt


    How about something on follow spots?

    I heard a rumour about some that automatically follow a person through triangulation points.

    Know anything about them?

  7. Haydn

    At my school we have a 5m high and 11m wide cyclorama curtain.
    We were looking at the Colorfusion 803 for new cyclorama lights but the intensity wasn’t good enough.

    What would be the best lights for us to get?

  8. Dennis Dorling

    I’m always looking for articles about how lighting and video folks are using sound to control their visuals. I’m curious as to what the experts might comment on as to the current state of the art, both in technique and hardware. I know this is a tough question. Using sound seems to have so much potential but maybe I see a future that others overlook.


  9. Jeff Struve

    Lighting for bands isn’t what it used to be! Years ago when I had the light system, I used a little Sunn Midi controller, 2 dimmer packs and 8 PAR 46’s… a couple of rain lights hitting a mirror ball…

    Since I sold this all years ago… I find that I need to get into lighting the band again… with the same basic concept… only using DMX and PARs using LED’s What do I need to buy?

    I have a DMX board… and buying the lights is a gimme (I think I am opting for 8 PAR 56,s because they are still small in size… our stage is generally 14 foot by 24 foot)… and of course light tree/stands and cabling… but how about power? do I need dimmer packs or just power strips or what?


  10. David


    If I was looking to use colour wash moving lights in a venue to create a “hanging colour” effect, would I need to use smoke / haze to do this? Or would the beams provide the colour wash?


  11. Mahaveer Bhandari

    I wish to know the simple mathematical formula to compute the following.
    Requirement is to focus a LED industrial ligh on a machine to derive the required Lux illumination on the machine.

    1. The lumen output of the LED lamp is known.
    2. The target area lux required is known.
    3. The distance of lamp from the target area is known.

    What I need to calculate is the beam angle of the LED lamp required.

    a geometrical computational formula in excel format will be helpful in calculating any of the above fields.

  12. Jayme

    I am starting a small theatre group and am starting from stratch as far as lighting. So which way do I go? Intelligent, LED, old school pars and ellipticals? I am using different small spaces and will be travelling with some of the shows. I would also like these lights to work for our choir which is on professional risers (about 70 people) and we perform in an auditorium with very limited lighting. The stage there is sizeable…so how do I buy lights to do both purposes and venue types. Oh, and did I mention that I am in Mexico, so there can sometimes be power issues…buildings are not wired the same here.

  13. Joe

    A friend and I want to start our own sound technicial and stage lighting business, after working for someone else for 15years. We have no idea on costing our services – we have all the technical knowhow but not the business side of things.

    Does anyone know of a website I can refer to for free business planning for sound and lighting.

  14. Rob Sayer

    Hi Jayme

    If you are starting a lighting rig from scratch, your first port of call should be conventional lighting fixtures. Intelligent kit and even LED takes a significant investment in terms of skills and maintenance, let alone purchase cost. For you to service both venues with exactly the same equipment may be tough – a large auditorium can require different fixtures than a small theatre group in terms of power / light output.

    On the whole, conventional lighting fixtures like some fresnels and ellisoidals of all sizes, are flexible enough to be used for many applications. What is more of an unknown when using different spaces is stuff to rig them on.

    Hi Joe, we don’t know of industry specific business advice sites but in the UK, Business Link has some great stuff on all aspects of running a business. A business is a business, what ever industry you are in.

    If you want to understand more about specific business models in our industry I would suggest that you spend some time working with established companies and take time to try to understand how the business side stacks up.

  15. Derek Comins

    Hi. We have a church stage approx. 16ft. high x 36ft. across and 16ft. deep. At the moment we use frenzels to light the stage; Mainley used for church panto; We thought to ungrade to LED lighting; so many to choose fromm; what is the equivealent to 500w cans. Are PAR 56 lanterns DMX 153 leds 20w power consumption any good. LEDs come in different sizes? 5mm-10mm-1w-3w could you give me some idea what to buy; many thanks Derek

  16. Andre Robert

    I am a musician heavily involved with sequencing midi through Cakewalk’s sonar7 producer.

    I am looking for info on adding cues for lighting purposes. I do live shows and need smpte ( I think ) to cue the ligths in sync with the music. None of this audio sensitive lighting… just isn’t specific enough.

    Question is, where do I get tutorials or the “how to” to accomplish this. I’m rather new a lighting systems and have downloaded the magicQ. Just not sure how to make the music and lights work together.

    I thank you kindly for your time


  17. Mark Percival

    I am evry new to OSL and absolutely love the wealth of info. I am looking into buying new equipment for a small professional theatre in a small corner of South Africa. I am considering between LED pars or colour washes. What are the pro’s and cons of each, which would give me the most benefit from a flying height of +/- 6 meters?
    Please could someone advise me one the right product to do the job at the right price?

  18. Rob Sayer

    Welcome Mark,
    You can already find quite a bit of information and Q and A about LED Stage Lights and PAR lamps plus some FAQ in our How Do I…? article.

    Assuming you are not talking about huge budget LED fixtures, I would’nt count on the brightness of LED PARs or washlights at a 6m throw distance. Small theatres should always start with enough 500W and 1000W fresnels with barndoors, some profile spots and possibly some PARs for blasting a bit of colour when needed. A few sheets of gel, some gobos and holders and you’ve always got something you can do a show with.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  19. Rob Sayer

    @ Andre, I haven’t a lot of experience of using the MagicQ with MIDI but Cham Sys have a guide to interfacing the console to MIDI/SMPTE. Whether you can find a method of interfacing the PC version to a MIDI device on the same laptop or over a network, again I don’t know.

    The usual system of firing lighting cues using MIDI is advancing a cue stack or choosing single cues to the MIDI notes. I expect the interfacing is going to involve some investigation, probably on DJ or Muso forums.

  20. Ari

    Hi, nice website. Hope that I could get more information from here.

    I’m a musician, and within two weeks we are going to hold a jazz concert in a small sized auditorium. We can only use the auditorium’s lighting system, and we can’t afford to hire more lighting.
    But even if we hire them, the result is usually unsatisfying. They played too much with the lights during the show, which distracts our playing, and made our show seem cheesy and too flashy. We prefer more ambience and lighting design that is more static but creates certain moods.
    So we pretty much on our own, with a set of lightings, 6 PAR64s with color filters, and 2 unidentified LAMPO lights.

    Can I get information on how to design the stage lighting? (e.g. placing, colors, etc.) Maybe just the basic one that can be done with those lights that the venue provided. Or if you can help me out on this, I would be soo grateful. 🙂

    If needed, I can post the layout of our band equipments’ placement, and the size of the stage, which is 8 meters x 4 meters.

    Thanks in advance.

  21. Bryan Sullivan

    Hi there,

    I was wondering if you had any stats available on the estimated size and scope of the stage and lighting industry. North American and world wide. If you could provide info or point me in the right direction, it would be greatly appreciated.

  22. Mike Browning

    My problem is to do with lighting controls
    Currently we only have 12 fresnels with a 2 preset board. Because of power constraints we are considering purchasing LED par64 to give a general wash.
    The problem is the lighting control to use as we require to be able to move from one state to another (as we do now using the X fader) and also retain these states for future use. The current board has no XLR input so we are considering a new board. We have looked at Elation 192 but I don’t think this will do what we want as these boards appear to be set up mainly for disco use. As far as I can see the fade and speed faders control chases and not the speed from one scene to another.
    Can anyone point me in the direction of a board that will meet our requirements?

  23. Rob Sayer

    Hi Mike,
    Many lighting controllers will do what you want including things like the Zero88 Jester. But if your current control is not digital (desk with and XLR output) will your dimmer accept a digital signal input or do they only have 8pin DIN sockets on them? Something to think about.

    LED PARS are OK enough for a bit of colour blasted about the stage, but aren’t as good a general light source as your fresnels. There is plenty of info on that subject here at On Stage Lighting.
    Thanks for your question.

  24. Reischa Feuerbacher

    Hi, I am working getting a costume order in. Trying to pick out colors kind of quickly. The colors may involved a lighter pink, and a magenta. It will hint at a romantic setting, cafe type thing. In my case, I prefer to keep it VERY simple. Which color would be best for the floor and scrim – the lighter pink or darker. And the costumes in the oppossite color. I hope to also use some purple/lavendar for costumes or lighting.

    Also, would you just give me an idea of what colors normally are nice for back drop. Best for that.

    Reischa F.

  25. muzzy


    i need some advice. I used to do stage lighting for my school as there were no teachers to do it when i was there.
    i used a range of zero boards and basic frenel lighting
    i do not no how to program boards or chasses or anything like that
    i could basicaly busk a theatre or concert show

    i recently have gone more into the acting side of perf arts and i am doing a full time acting course.
    i have found a band who have a basic lighting setup that realy i think does not do them justice its just fresnels on a t bar on sound to light.
    i realy want to help them out but do not no if my knoledge is suitable
    do i need more training and if so which are the best day courses
    and what do you think the best lighting would be for a good touring band

    i no its a complex question but thanks.

  26. Rob Sayer

    Hi Muzzy, tell us a bit more:
    What kinds of band are they, music and head count?
    What sized venues do they play that will use their own lighting?
    Are you going to be available to help them on the night, or do they need something they can deal with themselves?

    The fresnels on t-bars sounds about right for a small gig band, but sound to light system doesn’t give enough control for specific lighting.

  27. muzzy


    well they are kind of making it up from just a small gig band they are playing bigger venues most of wich do not have there own lighting
    there is four in the band
    they play rock music mostly and rock ballads
    and i will be on hand to help them but it would help to have a system that they could use without me if neccesary
    thanks for the help

  28. Rob Sayer

    @muzzy. There are lot of ways to look at this, so I’ll try to be brief.
    A small gig band that want to own some lighting kit will always need tripod stands, light sources like PARs or fresnels, and some ,gel colours. An addition would be a certain amount of control like a small DMX desk or PC based controller plus some form of dimming. Adding to what they’ve got in that respect is the way to go. The key ingredient is you or someone to help them by making sure the gear is well used and control their show when required. Sounds like you have some of the skills to do that and the rest you can pick up by reading up on stage lighting and trying things out.

    For larger venues that don’t have their own lighting, you have a few options, the last resort for me would be buying a lot of lighting kit. Hiring or borrowing is a better option (if there’s no business case, i.e money, for hiring gear to do a larger gig, there certainly isn’t one for buying it). You can also choose your gear depending on the venue. Another thing to consider is asking the venue to provide it as part of the bands rider, in which case they have to deal with the kit hire and possibly a tech to go with it.

    If you want dynamic movement, a lot of disco lighting kit is perfectly suitable especially if you need to switch it back to sound-to-light when there is no one to control it. Remember if you want a real “light show”, you will need some kind of haze or smoke too otherwise the beams just won’t show up.

    There is plenty of information online and in books to get you going.

  29. muzzy

    great thanks for that advice

    so LED’s not the way to go then
    and are there any light desks and disco kits or effects good for this you would reccomend?

    thanks so much for your help

  30. Rob Sayer

    Hi Muzzy, I wouldn’t say avoid LEDs or any other suitable solution. I would say that adding system complexity doesn’t automatically create better lighting. Why not see how far you get trying to improve their show with what they have, that will tell you where you need to go next.

    As for actual kit, I can’t say I use much at that price point so don’t really have an opinion about specific models.

  31. Callum

    Not sure if this has already been covered or not, but how about some Desk specific guides.
    For example our Amateur Dramatics club uses a Leap Frog (which certainly has some quirks) which Im picking up quickly simply through frequent use. However when I had the opportunity to try the Avo Pearl it was like starting out afresh.

    Just my two cents 🙂

  32. Barbara Campbell

    I’m working on a new fantasy book set in a summer stock theatre. POV character is an actress who knows as little about lighting as I do! But needs to describe some basic stuff for the reader.

    I envisioned the opening scene taking place in front of a scrim on which a nighttime forest is projected. Lights change at end of scene, revealing village behind scrim. Scrim rises (?) for next scene. But during opening, I wanted the chorus to stand BEHIND the scrim to sing unseen. I read somewhere that this wasn’t possible because a gobo projection would illuminate them. True? False? Suggestions?



    we are a small theatre soceity and we sent three people to learn about lighting and sound but they where shown as if it was in a big theatre and not whith a 12 chanel board a 8 feet high stage ceiling i would like to know if there is any training coarses that would be available at our venues

  34. Anthony


    I am currently studying a BTEC in technical theatre. This website is a great source of information.

    I would like to learn abit more about Midi and timecode when it comes to theatre/live events. Are there any good books out there covering this or is the chance of an article talking about how such a system could work.



  35. Rob Sayer

    Hi Barbara. Scrim reveals such as you describe are possible and often used in theatre. The lighting trick is to wash out the scrim from the front with steeply angled lighting, keep the upstage dark AND use a secondary black tab to mask the scene behind until just before the reveal. So, it is possible.

    @ John Wright. We don’t usually note specific training courses here as the information soon becomes incorrect. I know that a lot of large theatre theory is not much help if you are using a small rig in a low venue. You probably just need to spend the day with a Lighting Designer in your venue who can give your the benefit of their experience and some ideas of what is possible.

    Hey Anthony. Information on MIDI and SMPTE is pretty thin and scattered around, we often use the guides written by specific controller makers when dealing with new playback challenges. And experiment. I’ll bear your idea in mind for an article too. Thanks for stopping by.

  36. Alex

    Okay, I have a dumb question…

    I’ve done a bit of stage lighting, but that was about three years ago. I’ve been in stage management since, don’t hold it against me.

    Here’s the rub, I’m coming from Australia to the UK, and all the electrical safety standards are different. I wanted to run a bit of maths past you, as I have lined up a bit of lighting design work in a small company, and I don’t want to electrocute myself particularly.

    Am I right in saying the standard is 230v and 13A? So all up, I can stick 2990w worth of lamps on the one dimmer circuit? For instance, I could get away with 4x 700w lamps in one dimmer and still have a bit left over (theoretically, I guess there aren’t that many 700w lamps around, but just as an example…). The maths is easier in Australia, because we work with 10A equipment, and multiples of ten are much easier for my feeble brain to compute.


  37. Rob Sayer

    Hey Alex, you obviously get the idea of Power Law, so your maths fine but you might like to know that domestic power outlets are rated at 13A (3 square pins) but that we use lighting dimmers of other ratings: 10A and 16A are common but some dimmers can be 5A or 20A per circuit. I’ve never come across a commercial stage lighting dimmer that is rated at 13A. Hope that clears things up for you.

  38. David Goodman

    I need help!

    I am new to DMX but happen to be an advanced music synthesiser programmer so the idea of DMX is understood.

    I have recently purchased 6 LED floods each with up to 27 channels of DMX control. The first desk I tried for controlling them had a dipless crossfade but not the ability to store a crossfade time or enough DMX channels to make full use of the floods so I sent it back. I replaced it with a desk for control of multiple fixtures which claimed to have all the functions I needed plus MIDI access (a must have) but it seemed that all it did was to re-label the faders as “Crossfade” etc (but not actually produce a crossfade function from within it).

    The salesman at the shop was completely baffled by my questions and kept trying to suggest that what I wanted was a chase. What I actually want is to be able to stand on stage and play while my computer triggers synchronised scenes via MIDI while it runs the show. These scenes should be able to crossfade my floods at a time I have previously set.

    My floods do not have a DMX accessible crossfade function programmed into them, just the normal dimmer function plus master fader, flash rate and program select. The desks I’ve tried don’t seem to offer what I need. I want to use two of the floods in 27 channel mode to create some effects and the others in 5 or 9 channel mode to wash the stage with colour.

    Is there a lighting desk which will do this? I would be very greatful for some help.

  39. Derek Gutteridge

    Hi – love this website
    I design lighting for amateur shows – I want to create the headlights of a car passing through the audience back of auditorium to stage together with “moving” sound. Seems I need a couple of par 54’s on a moving base controlled by DMX. (Toad of Toad Hall)

    However, is there an easy way to achieve this effect – amateur – hardly any money – could hire the lanterns?

    It would be ideal to use the lanterns on stage as the show is in a church and there are limits to the power available and dmx channels. What would be the best lantern to use? Pehaps a moving mirror lantern each side set part way down the auditorium?

    I welcome any comments


  40. Callum

    Ive created a similar effect using 2 shortnose pars on a short stand at the side of the stage. On cue i just turned the lanterns on and had a stagehand rotate the T bar on top of the stand.

  41. David Goodman

    O.K. So I didn’t get a reply. Here is a reformed question.

    Does anyone know of a desk which offers dimming control of 90 or more DMX channels and also a storable crossfade within each scene? – – AND has a MIDI control input?

    All help is welcome.

  42. Alessandro Pave Art

    hi to every one.
    I am a light designer freelance. At moment I’making a project for a little teatre.
    usually i work whit wysiwyg platform but at the moment is falled..
    so I have to use Autocad 2008.
    I need a special cad blocks about truss “americana” in alluminim to lift proiectors. is good 2d version file dwg or 3d…

    it is really important…

    so I trust in you…

    Alessandro Bianchi Pave Art lighting

  43. Rusty

    Is there any way to tie lighting control software like Magic Q to any sound cue software so that a tech could build an entire show – light and sound cues – on a PC and operate it by a single go button?

  44. Brian J

    We are looking into adding some lighting to our church and I haven’t found what I’m looking for. We have 2 main structural beams running perpendicular to our stage about 25′ apart. I want to hang something like an ETC 650E spanning it. That’s the easy part. The other thing I want to do is make the whole light rig movable along the beams–toward and away from the stage. I’m thinking something like powered end trucks on a bridge crane hoist system but I haven’t found a good option for this application. Have you seen anything like this? Does my description make sense at all?

  45. Rob Sayer

    Hi Rusty

    The usual method for tying many departments control together is often something like SMPTE timecode, although that is more timline, rather than Go Button based. And it can’t be hard to find sound cue software that runs MIDI.

    But the idea of building everything on a PC, with a single interface and dragging an dropping LX, Sound and other cues is more in the area of multi functional control software packages. I don’t much about them but people often suggest ShowMagic which apparently deals with lighting, sound and video.

    The old fashioned method involved a big desk for of control consoles including 3 Revox A77 tape players, a huge manual lighting desk and a load of wired slide projector remotes. The software and processing is all done in the human head. 😉

  46. Rob Sayer

    Hey Brian,

    I have worked with a number of rolling major beam systems, both used for lighting and other rigging applications, they have been pretty proprietory and are usually custom made. I suppose it depends on what you need the movable rig for: Maybe to make it safer to rig and plug up equipment from a nearby bridge, or perhaps your venue has extremely flexible staging / seating which involves a large temporary thrust that comes and goes.

    If a movable rig is really integral to your operations, then there are ways and means, involving a professional rigging and fabrication company. If you actually could get away with a positional compromise, or two positions rather than one, that the scenario I have come across most often. Or create a flying mother grid of truss on hoists, and bring it in to change the position of sub trusses depending on the venue layout.
    Interesting question, thanks.

  47. Rick Lister

    I am currently looking for LED scanner lights, I know a bit about them, but one thing I have noticed while shopping around is the LED bulb difference. Some lights have one single 20watt bulb that claim to be brighter than the rest. Others have 48 bulbs, red, blue and green but at five mm. size each. I would love to know what light would be brighter. Thank you.

  48. Callum Noble

    I havent had a huge amount of experience with LED Scanners, but I have noticed that you get a brighter output from fictures that have 4 colours of LED. Red, Green, Blue and also a dedicated white LED. This gives more of a “true” white instead of the blueish tinge assosciated with LED fixtures.

    Hope this helps.

  49. David Goodman

    Hi Rick,

    I’ve looked into LEDs carefully before buying and have formed these conclusions in the face of indifference or lack of knowledge from suppliers and dealers.

    1 – LED arrays (the huge number of tiny LEDs, are good only for short throw uses whereas a few high power LEDs can throw much further (think of masses of torch bulbs against a single 250w bulb).

    2 – A mass of tiny LEDs produces a better blend of colour wash at close range.

    3 – By my reckoning, a single 3w (very powerful) LED equals about 50w from and incandescent bulb (I worked this out with my eye and a light meter as no info could be found anywhere).

    The following is from a page on my website –

    LED lighting is fantastic, it can produce some incredible effects which cannot be produced by normal incandescent lamps however, there are some drawbacks to LED fixtures which you should know about.

    Ask almost any lighting salesman and they will tell you that their three colour LED fixture can produce any colour you want to make. This is not true.

    LEDs produce a very pure and intense light with an extremely narrow bandwidth. For example -the blue light produced by an LED is so pure that it contains almost no information other than blue. whereas a blue filter in front of a filament lamp will spill enough other the other colours to allow a more natural effect when colour mixing.

    This is how it works. If you mix red and green light at the correct levels you will usually get yellow. But what if the colours are extremely pure? Try mixing red and green with a couple of LED fixtures and you get a muddy brown colour (especially in cheap fixtures) which soon shows a bias to green or red as soon as it shines on any non white surface. I decribe this colour as “Bright brown” because that is the effect it makes. The green and the red LEDs in the fixture are of such a narrow bandwidth that when mixed, they can only produce a limited number of yellowish brown hues. Adding a hint of blue can make the “Bright brown” a little brighter but that’s all. The higher the LED power rating in the fixture, the better chance you have of achieving good colours as the LEDs are usually made to a better spec.

    Big TV productions often use 7 colour mixing which gives them a much better colour gammut but the expence puts it out of the range of us mere mortals. I purchased units with 3w LEDs in them because, besides the added punch, I can achieve a brighter “Almost yellow” which will fulfill most of my needs for now.

    Blue and Red mixing produces the purples and mauves. For the reasons above, you cannot make all of the colours you want but luckily you can make some of the most useful ones. All LED colours can look a bit “Cartoony” if you are not careful so don’t throw away those old parcans just yet.

    LEDs are instant in response unlike filament lamps which burn hot and take time to get hotter or to cool down. This can cause problems. The stepping produced by DMX shows up in LED fixtures, especially at the lower levels. LEDs are not “Bulbs” they are Light Emmiting Diodes – electrical components which emmit light.

    Change the DMX level of a filament lamp and the step in intesity is covered by the filament changing temerature relatively slowly and smoothing the step in brightness. Change the level of an LED unit and the change in brightness is instant, great for dramatic effect but not good for slow gentle fades as you can actually see the steps. Also, if you have a fluctuating mains supply some LED fixtures will suffer a from a slight judder (my name for small random changes in intensity).

    And finally – LED levels are refreshed constantly by circuitry in the lighting fixture, it’s part of how they work. If the refresh rate is too slow, any video recording made of your band will suffer badly from flickering. More expensive LED fixtures are made to refresh at a fast enough rate for broadcast use and the problem is eliminated.

    Hope this helps.

  50. courtney

    i just got contracted to design lighting for a small theatre–the problem is that the entire production is in grayscale. all the sets/scenery/costumes/makeup are black/white/gray. the director thinks he are only able to use ungelled lights and i’m trying to explain that no, the audience will be incredibly bored if there is no color at all on the stage and that the actors will look like ghosts with only white light.

    is there a website that references this type of speciality lighting? i’m thinking some pastels and defusion b/c i hate naked instruments.

  51. Alex

    hello there,

    You may have already covered this somewhere, but I have just come from overseas and I have landed a bit of lighting work. Basically I am going to be putting up a standard rig in a small concert venue, “designing” and rigging it myself. There are only about 24 lights, shouldn’t take too long. I don’t know the kind of rate I should be invoicing the company for though. I assume I can do it all in about 4 hours, is this a usual amount of time for a call? In Australia, we work in 4 hour calls all the time. Any hints? I still don’t really know what crew rates are…

    Thanks everyone

  52. shamon

    Hi. My cousin has this ridiculous make-up work to do for school regarding set design and lighting. I am trying to help him out so he doesn’t flunk the 9th grade. Can you please help give the solutions to these problems? Thanks in advance. 1) The characters onstage appear one dimensional. 2)how to similate a street light shining in from the set exterior 3)need a flashing neon sign to light the stage through the open window of a set 4)similate a car with its headlights on pulling up to the exterior of the set from offstage. 5)you have twelve lekos and six Fresnels to give an even general illumination for a one-set box interior. You have one overhead pipe and two pipes over the audience to hang lights. 6)You want the effect of a dimly lit forest with light cast through trees. 7)You are asked to create the lighting for a show. Give a step-by-step account of what you must do before you begin using the light system. 8)You have lekos, Fresnels, and border strips to create a standard general illumination. Don’t quite understand what they want but please help us out. Many thanks. If i can i could return the favor.

  53. Callum Noble

    Well hopefully I can offer some insights to your problems without nessescarily just giving away the answers. Although if your at all unsure about some of my explanations than please just let me know 😛

    1) Its important to think about what might cause the characters to appear flat on the stage. Things like colour and the direction of the light incident on the character are worth thinking about here.

    2) Consider framing the light beam to look like its partly blocked by a window frame or similar. Again think about colour.

    3) Similar to above, consider where the light is coming from and work from there.

    4) Ive had first hand of this in a recent production. Our solution involved mounting the fixtures we were using as our “headlights” onto a rotating turntable offstage, this meant the lights could be swept accross the stage as if the car were making the turn into the drive. Ive also seen this done using followspots.

    5) Here its important to consider lighting from different angles to ensure that there aren’t shadows which may obscure the actors (not that shadows are nessescarily a bad thing :P)

    6) Again consider colour and also texture, possibly make use of gobos to give the impression of light shining through a forest canopy, maybe make use of some light haze so show the effect better.

    7) Not sure I can help much with this one as every institution has a different way of teaching these things, but just go through all the pieces of paperwork you might be required to complete in a real production.

    8) See 5, similar principles apply.

    Most of these responses are purely from an LX perspective but I hope ive been of some help. This was quite educational for me too 🙂

    Best Wishes


  54. Seb

    hi anyone a bit of an odd question but, I need some new comfortable steel toe cap boots and don’t know where to start. My last pair i got from Setons for £5 with a theatre. But i’m no longer attached to a theatre.
    My basic problem is i have size 11.5 flat feet so comfort is preferred also low cost would be great. Trainers or boots way too much chioce. Sorry this a bit of a ramble…
    If any help/ideas welcome Thanks.

  55. Rob Sayer

    Hi Seb, it seems everyone has their favourite steels, but I’ve always got on well with a well known brand in the world of lampie work boots – Caterpillar. They ain’t £5 a pair but in our business it’s still possible to end up spending over 24 hours in ’em, making paying for comfort worth it.

  56. Raymond Purvis

    I have 4 x 4 way old gg racks which I would like to put to work I need to be able to convert them to accept dmx(mux) most of the converters hardly make to project worth it- has any one got any Idea where I could lay my hands on a second hand one or plans to build one from the old “RS TAKEAWAY”!!!!

  57. Benjamin Mills

    I was just wanting to know if it was possible to control a moving head or a similar intelligent lighting unit with a manual desk, seeing as the dmx controls are simply binary codes for each element in the light or is it more complex than that? I’ve only really had opportunities to work properly with a semi-programmable lighting desk and a completely generic system.

  58. Raymond Purvis

    Hi marf41
    Many thanks for the info I get the idea of fitting it into the box trailing leds out dmx sockets how are the analoge control ways from the dimmer hooked up to the pcb? do you know?


  59. Rob Sayer

    Hi Benjamin,

    Yes it is possible to control any DMX fixture such as a moving head with a manual DMX desk – we used to do just that a while back. However, a manual control has no features to assist you and prioritise all channels on an HTP basis rather than LTP. A huge PITA for intelligent light control. But still possible.

  60. Des

    As a largely self taught lighting technician, with how some 8 years experience, I find that your articles are very helpful in areas where I do not yet have any, or limited experience, and your advice has pointed me in the right direction on a number of ocassions.

    To date I have never had the need to work with gauze, either for spliting the stage front to rear, or for front or back projection.
    I am therefore asking if you have any advice on these matters, such as the best type of gauze for which effect, where I can purchase same at a good price, and advice on gauze installation and between show storage, etc.

    The production that I am considering using gauze is for dance, and to project a flame effect or water from the rear, and maybe interchangeable with moving light effects projected from the front, with dancers postioned both to front and rear of the gause but not necessarly at the same time.

    I am happy to experiment, put with limited budget I feel that your advice would be invaluable.

    Finally I am based in Spain, so cannot just pop into a local UK supplier, so all dealings will need to be completed via the internet and telephone.



  61. Sage88

    I have a corporate gala dinner coming up and I am looking at some options for a colored room wash. I have 12x 2k fresnels washing over the room. 6x a side, rigged on truss about 6m off the deck. I would love some suggestions for a 2 colour wash over the room, probably a warm and a cool. Any suggestion for some nice colours that are a bit subtle and not too invasive, but will give the room a bit of mood, would be much appreciated. Cheers!

  62. Benjamin Mills

    Last time I worked with this kind of set up, I used 4 1/2K fresnel from the centre of the room at roof level, reflecting off the roof. I used amber for them and it worked quite well in creating a dimmed effect, although I think it would have been more effective with a slightly redder colour. Granted my experience is very limited and I’ve still got a huge amount to learn, i thought I’d give my say anyway. I’m very interested to see what others say though

  63. Benjamin Mills

    between a parcan, a PC and a fresnal, what is better to use for side lighting and why. I’ve heard people talk about using specific lights from specific positions but never understood why these lights should be used from this position but not others. For example I’ve heard you shouldn’t use fresnals for side lighting but never understood the reasoning behind it. If we could get an article on this topic, that would be the real win for me but a simple answer would also be hugely appreciated

  64. Rob Sayer

    Hi Benjamin

    On the question of which is a better fixture type for side light it comes down to what you are trying to achieve, your rigging possibilities and all those other things that make up a design decision (including what you’ve got 😉 )

    A light source is a light source and it either fits the bill or doesn’t. There may be a case for saying “I usually use x in this position because …”.

    Things can work well in some set ups and venues for a particular reason. Fresnels are not as punchy as PARs and the oval CP62 beam might be just what you need to blast colour across stage and off into the opposite wing. With a fresnel you might barndoor off half the available light to get that same shape.

    So, I’d be wary of trying to apply such “rules” unless you understand them. In lighting, we don’t do rules apart from the laws of physics 😉

  65. Chris Ferenci

    I’m very new to lighting systems, but want a simple way to enhance my band’s live shows.

    We plan having a set of flood lights to be used as some back lighting and I was just wondering on how I can get them to flash with a hit from the drums.

    Is it as simple as just using some sound activated lights?

    Thanks for any information you have!

  66. Des

    Hi Chris.

    You can purchase a low cost 4 way dimmer on the internet, from suppliers such as Thomann, into which you can plug 4 separate lights, or even pairs, depending on loading, to a maximum of 1000watts per channel, but only 3000watts in total. The dimmer will work both on base beat, with an inbuilt mic, or by a set time. The dimmer can also be worked from a smaller DMX board. I have a number of these dimmers and you can set up quite an effective show. Alternatively, you could use a number of three colour led parcans with inbuilt mics, would also be effective. Ultimately, you could use both. Ideal for set up and go.

    I would keep the floods on a simple dimmer just for general lighting, but have two sets, one with a warm gel and one with a cold gel for different ambienence, depending on the music.

    For bands, also use a smoke or haze machine, to help improve the lighting effects.


  67. Derek Gutteridge

    I would be pleased to see some advice about cleaning faders on control boards. There seems to be conflicting advice from blasting them with electronic component spray cleaner/lubricants to using only alchohol. Then some sources emphasis a need to lubricate.
    What do you do?
    Derek G.

  68. David Sage

    I am a professional producer looking to hire a talented lighting person with some sensitivity to techno and modern pop, to program a lighting component of a recording artist’s show. It is not a traveling gig, but rather a one-time DMX programming gig set to tracks which will be used in a live show. I have not seen a resource for this type of hiring, perhaps you could put some recommended names on your website. Thanks.

  69. Des

    Hi Derek.

    You do not say why the board needs to be cleaned, but I would ask myself “what does the operating manual say”? If there is no advice then contact the manufacturer. To do anything else may exclude warrenty. If the manufacturer cannot tell you then it is probably best to do nothing until the unit fails to work. If it is an old piece of equipment and is still fully functioning I would follow the general rule “if it ain´t broken, don´t fix it”

    Perhaps you should also consider a few preventative measures, such as; the board is always covered when not in use. Food and drink are not to be consumed anywhere near the board, or any other equipment come to think of it, to prevent accidental contamination. Keep loose items away, ie, paper clips, staples, as any small item which could cause a whole lot of trouble.

    I would be interested to see other replies to your question as well, as I am by no way an expert on this.


  70. Cal

    Hi Derek,

    I would say the above advice is spot on. However if it absolutely has to be cleaned then you can’t go wrong with some Isopropyl alcohol, which you can get hold of in most electrical shops. This is good as it evaporates without leaving any residue on the board.

    On the couple of instances where ive had to clean the faders or a board this has done the job admirably.

  71. Benjamin Mills

    Does anyone have any advice on using boomlighting at around head-height and at shin-height withought blinding the performer at even 250W, but still getting that magical effect where only the subject is lighten? love the effect but when I tried it I was forced to move them up and shutter off the shin-level ones and spill them onto the floor. They looked ok, but didn’t nearly have the same effect.

  72. Rob van Poppel

    Hi, i spend the last days reading most of the articles on this site and I’m impressed about all the knowledge gathered here, I learned a lot.
    I’m pretty new with modern stage lightning but getting around the ways of programming DMX intelligent lights.
    The only thing i just don’t get is setting up movement for a movinghead in my control panel.
    Creating scenes is no problem but as soon as i want to program a chase it goes wrong, it must be my lack of knowledge, perhaps someone can help me out .
    The problem is timing, i want this fixture to go wild in movements between Pan and TILT, all recorded in a chase.
    I a create the steps but i don’t no how to handle speed / fade or whatever i need to make the movement to go smooth.
    The steps i made are cut off by the timing (or in other words the steps are going faster then it takes to get the movinghead from 1 position to another).
    All the articles on this site gave me a lot of inside on how to deal with steps and scenes but i can’t find any info on movement timing.
    The goal is simple instead of pointing the head on fixed locations i sometimes want it to be “impressive” and going all kind of directions true the crowed.

  73. Des


    In respect to your request on advice when using boom lighting, you do not say if you have tried using a diffusing filter with the coloured gel.

    Diffusions spread the projected beam of light over the subject, although some loss of light will possibly be seen. The greater the diffusion, the greater and more even the spread of light will appear. Shadows will also be reduced.

    Lee Filters have a number of options, including a directional soft lighting effect used for scattering light in one direction only.

    I therefore suggest that you contact them directly to see what they suggest. It would be interesting to see if they can help you.


  74. Franky A


    I play in a band (guitar player) and I also programmed the lights with MagicQ on my laptop. As I’m playing in the band we always need someone behind the laptop to push some buttons.

    My new guitar pedalboard (POD HD500) can be used as a midi controller. So I’d like to explore that to trigger MagicQ.

    Does anyone know a MIDI/USB device that will interact with the MagicQ software ? … the manual says MagicQ only support the Chamsys MIDI interface which will problably cost a great deal of money. So i’m looking for a budget friendly solution…

    Thx !

    Kind regards,


  75. Des

    Hi Franky.

    Have you asked Chamsys what the MIDI interface will cost if it is over your budget, they may have another solution for you.

    For your information, Chamsys is running free training courses in the UK in November and December. Please contact for full details.



  76. Kelly Porter

    I have a Korg Triton and would like to run my DMX controller from one of my tracks in the sequencer for my lights… My DMX controller does have midi in,out,thru.. Can anybody give me any suggestions on how to perform this task?

  77. Minerva

    Hello ! I just want to say thank you so much for your constant wisdom and information. I have been offered my first professional gig as an LD with a production company in a theatre which I trained in less than 6 months ago as a trainee rigger so needless to say the tech manager does not believe I am capable of this job , however I am sure he won’t say, his reaction and stress on his face was enough : ) Any advice to a very nervous but really really willing ld on her first job to prove herself? Thanks!

  78. Benjamin Mills

    Not that I’m the most incredibly experienced LD out there, in my experience most of the more important stuff comes from experience and instinct and seeing what different things do and how they work out. My advice is just to trust yourself, trust your instincts and remember, lighting is to aid a show, not to give a show all by itself… otherwise just have fun 🙂 hope I was able to give you something usefull

  79. Minerva

    Thanks a million for your advice. It has helped. I am sure every LD has had this on their first big job but the nerves are killing me : )I’m so scared when it gets to the focus I am going to get really confused and just bomb.

  80. David

    It helps to do a “test run through” by yourself when there is no one else in the theater. You must know your moves like second nature “the back of your hand” as they used to say. If you can do your job in your sleep because of practice, then the reality is that in a real show you always have to be flexible and deal with something that does not go right. Aim for excellence and you will achieve very good.

  81. Sam

    I am researching into some lighting effects for a small school musical production in the summer. The performance is ‘Cabaret’. I am looking to create a old feeling with a row of normal light bulbs across the front of the stage. (Similar to this…

    Firstly how would I go about it? I am looking to make it from scratch using Bayonet lamp holders but I want it to be connected to a 3 pined uk plug to be able to control it from an old analogue system.

    Can you explain how I would do this and what would be the best way.


  82. Des

    Hi Sam.

    I would suggest that you make a three sided trough with the top at an upward angle and also use small reflective spot lights instead of bulbs. Wire the spots in at least three different series so you can use different colours’ spots, or a mixture of each at different dimmer levels, i.e. White, blue, red, similar to a LED PAR.

    Alternatively you could invest and buy a number of floor standing black LED pars, cables, and a simple DMX controller for I expect not much more than the cost of the materials for your homemade footlights, as well as saving the time needed to make them, and also the need to get the completed fittings signed off and approved by a qualified electrician under Portable Appliance Regulations.

    The LEDS will give you a similar effect as for that from a old style footlight, even more so if you use a defusing Gel.



  83. Sam

    Cool thanks Des that’s helpful to know.

    Just another quick question, I’m also looking into 2 moving heads – Starville MH-X25 LED (which would be the DMX controller).

    I am looking to hang these from an old style light bar. Would this bar be able to support its weight?

    Thanks for all your help,


  84. Des

    Hi Sam.

    Glad I could be of help.

    The starville moving heads must weigh about 10kg or 22lbs each but I do not know enough about your lighting bar to say if the load limit is exceeded, but I would have thought not. Is it fixed bar or can it be lowered, and is the operation by hand or winch? A hand operated bar will be hard work to raise with that sort of weight, but would not be impossible.

    The controller you use for the moving heads will control the LED pars without any problem.



  85. ralph netzel

    this is new to me our church has a ventura 1000 light board there are 2 dmx lines running in .i would like to control it with a pc can you tell me where to start . we already have dimmers and such.i believe all i need is a usb to dmx adaptor . and software from yall thanks ralph

  86. Sam

    Hey Des,

    I’ve trolled the internet looking for answers to no avail but I’ve come back again to ask another question to see whether you can help me again!

    Basically we have a tight budget for a production we are putting on in March and one thing that I want to include is two moving heads to be able to focus white and coloured lights to specific parts of the stage at specific times… but I want to be sure about what I am looking for before I get the school to order some equipment.

    We have around £540 for 2 moving heads – around £270 each… I have found these two… ( but they are both around 20W LED…

    This image show where I am looking to hang them from… (

    My question is, would these lights be powerful enough to be used as spots on the stage and a temporary stage just below?

    And also, what DMX desk would you suggest on a £120 budget. There are a few around that are almost the same.

    Thanks for your help! Its been so good to be able to message someone that has helped me!


  87. Des

    Hi Sam.

    Glad to see that I was of some help.

    I have looked at the photograph, and it looks quite a robust structure, so I am sure that the loading should be ok.

    Buying a DMX desk on a budget is difficult as it is only when you look at it in detail that you realise its limitations. What I would suggest is that you down load some manuals first and read them cover to cover, making sure that you understand them as much as possible.

    Many desks are sold under different names, but are all made by the same Chinese manufacturer. The first DMX desk I purchased was similar to the ELATION DMX PROGRAMMER, but was under a different name. The manual was two pages long and quite useless. In due course I realised that it was the same desk as the Elation and I downloaded their manual, it was like a fog being lifted and it all made sense.

    I do not feel that I can tell you which is the best one for you, however many suppliers do have a hands on department where you can go and try out the equipment with systems all ready in place, and I know that Hard to Find Records in Birmingham have one where you can see all the available options. Unless you can get to Thomann in Germany, and I am sure that there are others.

    Regarding low power LED lights, I have found that the effect can be washed out, unless they are used alone, or with a good haze machine to show the light beams, great for dance & rock, but not so much for drama.

    I see that Starville make a 250watt Moving head available from Thomanns for 288€, which as well as having a higher wattage lamp, also uses less DMX channels to the ones you point out and therefore probably means a cheaper desk.

    This will hopefully point you in the right direction, but you might also consider how many DMX channels you may need for any future new equipment, so to avoid the desk becoming rapidly outdated.

    Regards Des

  88. Monique

    I’m a rookie who has just recently upgraded to the Lepricon LPC-48. I have two DMX lines running to it one with conventional fixtures and one with movers. I have figured out how to patch the lights to get them on, identified what dmx channels are what fixtures and I can turn the movers on -however i cannot get the board to actually control them (i.e. move the lights, pan, tilt,and so forth) any suggestions?

  89. JANE

    I am putting on a small show made up of three different pieces. Can you give me an idea of how to guide the lighting students as to what gels they could use. It is basically evening, day, evening – but different from first evening. It is a very basic set up I was thinking red and blue gels for the first evening but I don’t really know after that. Would be very grateful for any ideas.

  90. Des

    To Jane.

    You do not say if the setting is inside or ouside. For day light I would use Lee 202, mainly from one side, with 136 from the front to show the structure of the actors faces. For evening I would use a mixture of 154 & 136, but more of an even cover. If you want to make the second evening different than either set the dimmer at a lower/higher levels or try adding a third warmer colour such as a straw, but maybe from the same side as the day light effect. No doubt others will have other opinions, so experiment & see what is best for you and the fittings you have available.

    To Monique.

    DMX to the unaware can be a bit of a minefield, & the Lepricon is quite a step for, in your words, a rookie, I can only suggest that you check that you have correctly addressed/allocated the DMX channels, as it appears that the language of the desk is not understood by the moving heads. You could also ask the supplier of either the desk or the moving heads for advice.


  91. Bob

    Maybe I have not dug deep enough into the site, but *somebody* really should publish an article about the very entry-level basics of small lighting systems. For example: An entry-level stage sound company wishes to add lights and has 8-10 par cans and trees available (or rigging setup). What all is needed for simple basic control? Must we have both a desk and dimmers? Back in the day, we used small colored floodlight bulbs mounted inside coffee cans with just an extension cord to get power to them. Par cans were very high-tech and fairly expensive,too. We may wish to have the ability to provide more than just one scene also, but I am lacking enough information on the operation of the equipment to make any shopping decisions. Any and all info hugely appreciated.

  92. Monique

    Des- I ended up figuring out the exact DMX channel. It was programmed through two lines A and B. Thanks for the response..

  93. Rob


    I was wondering if anyone could offer their professional opinion about question I have.

    Is is possible to effectively “blacklight: a large outdoor area? Picture a marching band standing in a formation measuring approximately 60 feet across and sixty feet deep. It is an evening event in the winter so the sky is dark. The only ambient light would be that which comes from normal “street lighting” (street lamps in an urban setting).

    Is it possible to “blacklight” the band’s performance so that their uniforms (which contain a whole lot of fluorescent materials and colors) and their fluorescent face makeup will effectively react to the blacklighting (glow)? Or, is that not possible in a 60′ x 60′ outdoor, partially lit (street lights) seting?

    Any advice or info would be appreciated.



  94. Des

    Hi Rob.

    I have only ever black lit an internal stage, however if it helps, I have noticed that using blue LEDS as a wash without any other lighting, does have a slight UV reflective effect on fluorescent materials, but this was in a total blackout. I can only suggest that you experiment prior to the event.


  95. ken turner

    I am working with live art on stage and looking for a hand held light beam that concentrates in one spot to highlight objects and people’s faces.
    Is there such a torch light available?

    many thanks

  96. Des

    Hi Ken.

    There is a battery powered pin spot available from American DJ, which would be suitable for your needs, but it is quite bulky and not what you would call subtle! They may be other makes available.

    I did light a production where a small choir of children came on stage during a part of the performance, when only the soloist was lit by a follow spot, and so each of the choir held a small 3 bulb LED torch below the chin shining upwards onto the face, which was fairly dramatic.

    Hope this helps.


  97. ken turner

    Thanks, I have ordered a LED torch to see if this works and it would be good if it was fixed to a stand to avoid lights moving indiscriminately.

  98. John

    We are small theatre group who perform in a village hall and have 10 spots in font of stage with 5 old spots on the stage. I want to replace the old spots on the stage with LED lights to allow some colour and overhead light to stop shadows. Any suggestions – I used similar effect in a theatre in Glasgow. There were LED’s around the stage and were all connected together working from a small control box to allow fade and colour change plus other effects. The LED spots had about 100 small LED’s on each light
    Working with a £400 budget for lights and controller.

  99. Des

    Hi John.

    LEDS are ok for a wash, but I would advise retaining the spots as well as they are much more flexible and have a greater impact. There is nothing wrong with old theatre spots as long as the lenses are intact and safe electrically. Unless you mean domestic spots, in which case replace them with a number of theatre spots. You can buy a number of PAR 36 LEDS and a contoller on the internet for well inside your budget. Try Thomann or Stage Electrics, etc, there are many others, for both spots & LEDS. Finally, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with shadows as they are an important part of the visual impact.



  100. John

    Thanks for the reply.
    I dont think the stage light are actually spot lights, my mistake.
    They are large square and hollow with a large bulb in it. You cant adjust them and they fill the stage.
    Thanks for the info and I will look for the LED’s you suggested



  101. Ralph

    i left a question before we have a celco light board and would like to go pc controlled do you have any products we can purchase from you thanks ralph

  102. Des


    Try researching into, as an example, MYDMX by American DJ, although there are many other systems on the market. Use search terms such as; PC. Software. Lighting. DMX. Control. You need to consider what you want to achieve and what is the capacity of the PC you are going to use. Tip: Download a few manuals from the internet and read them cover to cover to ensure that what you need is what the system will provide and that your PC memory and drives can handle it. All this costs in time, and could save an expensive mistake.


  103. oli

    Hi all
    I´m a lighting designer from Argentina
    Anyone know LIGHTFACTORY? (
    Or reviews for this software?
    Looks good

  104. Michael

    I have a fairly simple question, maybe even stupid. Sorry. I’ve been doing some lights at some clubs around LA and I’m pretty new to it. When sliding a slider up to get to a color I want on an LED, it goes through all of the colors and drives me nuts. I might want to get to blue, but sliding it makes it scroll through all of the other colors before I get to it, and makes me feel like an idiot. Is this an attribute of the LED or the console? (I assume console.) And when I’m using these boards (Elation Scene Setter 2, Leprecon LP-X24 or Elation Scene Setter 48), can I change that? Thanks! Awesome website.

  105. Rob Sayer

    Hi Michael

    The issue sounds like the way that the LED attributes are being handled by the board (HTP vs LTP) and the simple fact that fading between two colours using an RGB colour mixing LED HAS to go via some other colours. If you are fading from Yellow to Blue, all Red and Green LEDs fade down – and the Blue LEDs fade up. At the mid point, you have all colours at 50%, creating a dirty white colour and all stages in between create a range of often horrid colours.

    The easy solution is to create quick blackout cues in between each fade, so one colour fades down, then the other fades up – if you are using faders by hand, just fade one out, before pushing the other one up.

    Another solution if you don’t want a blackout is to put additional cues that make a nice job of it using colours that you like. If going from Yellow to Blue, you might say Yellow > Red > Magenta > Blue or another way you like. The key is to make staged changes to the RGB channels that avoid nasty colours.

    Thanks for your question, make sure you check out the LED articles at On Stage Lighting using the Search box.

  106. Michael

    Thanks so much for the (quick) reply. An article too! As I said I’m fairly new, so bear with me. It will take a bit to digest your info. But I’d like to ask, are you saying it’s possible to adjust the order the lights come on in the LED? For example,with one LED on one slider, moving the slider from bottom to top it might go from orange to yellow to red to blue. Can you change that order? And are all of those colors a different channel, whereby you could cut some out? Again, my big issue is say I want the blue at the top of the slider, without going through everything, and hoping that when I quickly slide it there I get right to blue and not stop a smidge too short or far landing on a color I didn’t want, frustrating and humiliating myself. I guess what I’m sort of asking is can you make those LED’s act like a par 64 (i.e., only give off one color). I won’t even ask right now how is it that on one club’s board that three different sliders change the colors of the same LED, depending on the position of another the sliders in relation to one another. (First 2 sliders up, third down=blue. First down, next two up=yellow…) Thanks again. I’m going through the site backwards and forwards. Been unemployed forever, but I will send beer money soon.

  107. Rob Sayer

    Hi Michael,

    It seems that you are still learning how the colours are produced: Using 3 different coloured light sources that are additively mixed to produce the final colour (Red + Green = Yellow, for example). This has a huge bearing on what and what isn’t possible.

    No, it’s not really possible to adjust the fading order when simply using 1 fader, particularly on the desks you describe. In the article, I discuss techniques that either use multiple cues or the colours are mixed by hand – with Red on one fader, Green on a 2nd and Blue on the 3rd, faded in by different amounts. That sounds a bit like the kind of thing you are describing with the club’s board, where a few faders control one set of fixtures. Essentially, you are adding different amounts of different stored colours and they all add up to a final colour.

    The issue is that if you want the LED to behave like a single colour PAR properly, the desk ideally needs to treat the colour attributes as LTP, Latest Takes Precedence, and the LED also needs to have a Dimmer or Intensity attribute that deals with the fading on and off. Then, you set the colour and simple use the fader to turn the Intensity of the LED up and down. But this is straying into the realms of a lot better understanding of lighting equipment and control.

    If you want a similar effect, you should set up a fader with your preferred colour on it, and other ones with other looks or colours you want. Then, always fade the running fader all the way out, before pushing the next colour up. No crossfades, only one fader up at a time. That’d pretty much do it until you become more confident in what you are dealing with.


  108. Michael

    Thanks. You’ve given me an idea to work with. Next time I’m at that club I will set up the LED color I want and just fade it up and down. As long as those sliders don’t control anything else when I’m changing scenes…heh heh…Thanks.

  109. rick olcott

    rent lighting for small local festival – have used 24 par 56 cans for show – thinking about switching to LED panels – rental company hasn’t been much help in
    – how many do I need to get equivalent lighting
    – how to control each light for color/effect
    They gave me a “user manual” equivalent to 2 3×5 cards – looking for reading material/software/? to help minimize the learning curve (and relieve my anxiety)


  110. Derek Morgan


    I wonder if you could give me some advice as I think I kow what would be ideal froim my point of view but I don’t know if such a thing exists. The scenario is as follows:

    It’s a church congregation but we don’t meet in a traditional church building instead we use a community hall. This hall is used to staging amateur dramatic shows, pantomimes etc so has a proper stage with a ceiling mounted lighting rig infront of the stage with about 10 par cans arranged as you would expect for a stage performance.(The hall seats about 300)

    The band that plays music during a service are set up on the stage but the guy who is doing the preaching uses a small raised staging area on the floor infront of the main stage.

    My problem is that whilst there is plenty of light on the stage this raised area on the floor infront does not have sufficient lighting and I want to correct that. I want to buy some new lights rather than move the existing ones. I’m concerned that if I buy a theatre spot (which is what we have at the moment) and mount it on the rig pointing down at the preacher it will be really bright in his eyes and becasue of the angle of the lecturn won’t properly light that up either.

    What I am thinking is if I had two spots mounted on the side of the rig pointing down at the lecturn than because the light source is at the side it will not dazzle the preacher but should hit the angled lecturn. (It doesn’t need to be mega bright just nicely illuminated).

    I am not sure of the capabilities of LED lights but (and this is where I don’t know if such a thing exists) my ideal would be to have the LED lights set to give a white light with a narrowish spread and more importantly it can be turned On and Off and dimmed via a handheld remote control.

    Would you be able to tell me if such a thing is possible and if not, tell me what you would advise.

    Very many thanks

  111. kaylea young

    hi im looking at getting into the lighting industry like the concerts and that but dont now how to i use to do lighting for partys along with music and would love a full time job doing lighting how do i do this

  112. B J McComis

    Hello We have a Red Devil canto 1200th Follow spot but I don’t know if it will take a gobo. I have gobos but I can’t see where they go or what to do. Can you help me. BJ

  113. vb

    Hi, i have 8 lights on my lighting rig for a tiny stage. they are just basic lights ad a spot light. The lights turn on and then 5 6 7 and 8 flick on and off in a sequence continously. I cannot get 1 2 3 or 4 to come on. The lights do not have any controls on them and do not respond to the lighting deck. When i uplug the deck the continue so i have to unplug them from the rig to turn them off. Please help as i cannot gain control of them and they were fine when last used!

  114. Torben


    Im making stage and light for a mini festival for upcomming bands.

    I would like to make a effect on the scene, with a fan casting shadows on the floor – Just a slow rotating fan and some white light.

    Im wondering if you have any ideas how I could make this?

    Thanks for a great site!


  115. Benjamin Mills

    Hi Torben,

    The effect you want is normally created by a gobo (the shape of the shadow) in an intelligent light. I don’t know what kind of system you have set up there but you’d need a desk that can control the light as well as some kind of intelligent fixture. Try check a DJ equipment place, those would probably be the cheapest if not most controllable.

  116. Torben


    I have 16 Martin Mac 250+, 48 Par 64 and 12 spots – All controlled by a Pearl 2004 desk.

    I know I can make the effect with gobos, but I actually want the fan on the stage. So the stage look kinda industrial.

    Best regards

  117. Morten Torbensen

    LED FAN Noise!

    Hi Rob
    Many thanks for a most useful website!

    I’m in charge of lights in a church housing 70-100 concerts a year. We have just purchased 16 stairville par 64 led cans with which we are very satisfied for their light output. However, we are cheapskates and bought cheap lamps. They are fitted with a constant running fans, which are delivering noise output to our dissatisfaction. Many of our concerts are chamber music. I have disconnected the fan and installed a max/min thermometer in one of the lamps. I have conducted trials with different loads in 8 hour runs, and have measured a max temp of 54 deg celsius. Thats not quite uncommon in electronics. Is it safe to leave the fan off?
    I’m thinking of installing thermoswitches to turn on at 45 deg celsius. Is it needed? Does anyone have any experience with these things?
    Is this maybe stuff for an article ( the DIY approach to cheap lamps)?

    Sincerely your grateful reader


  118. Rob Sayer

    Hi Morten,

    I’m not aware of anyone making such mods, it’s a risky business as you are aware. Perhaps the OSL readers might have some experience of it though. Let us know how it goes.

  119. L.K. Beckler

    What do we need to convert older digital 96 rack ( Electro Controls Catalog number 0420-31) to DMX control. Thanks Dim Witz

  120. James Chen

    Hi I have a question

    Is there a filter that is 2 colors? What I mean is that When I sit in the theater and look at the lights, the light appears to be yellow. But when it hits the stage, it’s actually red light.

    I have white LED lights and I would like it to shine white. But from a distance, I want the white light to appear more pleasing, not white….maybe a dim color that goes well with green.

    Thank you

  121. Benjamin

    No, gels (filters) can only be one colour. What you’re seeing is the difference between the colour the gel reflects and the colour it creates. Some gels, especially colour correction, ie white gels, often look a different colour to what they will produce through an open white light. But they only will ever make the light one colour. The best easy I know to tell what colour a gel is, is to look at it in front of a bright light, our even better, look at the colour light it gives with light shining though it.

  122. Jeremy

    We are looking to build a new team of engineers who have competent skill in electro-mechanical and structural, to develop a new range of automated lighting here in a new facility at Panyau, Guangzhou, China. Knowledge in DC and 3 phase stepper motor control, belt control systems, gearing, IC programming, LCD interfaces, variable DC power control, optical and magnetic sensors, and thermal management.
    If you have skills as listed above we would like to hear from you.
    Accommodation and travel expenses paid, negotiable salary.
    With kindest regards,
    Jeremy Guest-Smith
    Greenlight Lighting
    108 Tsueng Kong Wai
    Ha Tseun , NT HONG KONG SAR
    Vice President
    Entertainment lighting division
    Neo Neon International Ltd.
    China +86 15546846306
    HK Office+852 24422131

  123. Jack Mountain

    I am the owner of Music Mountain, a new 36 acre Live Music & Arts event park in Maine USA. I have a 200 amp service for the stage. How many amps should I designate to the stage lighting system and what do you recommend for lights. We will have all genres of music except Rap, Disco and Hip Hop. I am so glad I found your site through a google search.
    Thank you for your help.
    Jack Mountain

  124. Michael

    Hi Rob. Maybe you can help with this. Using an Elation Show Designer 2 at a club last night I had this issue: If I had some LED’s set to a color, then went and worked on a scene or maybe different light fixtures using the same sliders, when I went back to the same LED fixtures, if I moved a color slider they wouldn’t change. I would have to tap the shutter slider, even if it was all of the way open, which would unfortunately make the lights flash, to get them to respond again. (Sometimes this happened or all of the time, I’m not sure.) I have a feeling it may have something to do with HTP vs. LTP, but I’m not sure. Also, other issues could be that the SD 2 is really meant for moving lights and a lot of the fixture profiles on the board did not match the lights they were controlling. Any advice would be appreciated. The band I worked for wants me to be their lighting guy and we’ll probably play that club again. Thanks.

  125. Daniel

    Hi, this is a simple one.

    Just looking for pointers for shooting concerts in an outdoor environment during the daylight. I know there are many limitations, but seeing if there’s anything else I can add to my bag of tricks to make the show more exciting.

    Thanks in advance,

  126. Benjamin

    Just in terms of personal insight, I’d use a lot of lighting that will be easily noticed by the audience such as backlighting or lighting up set pieces and also lots of colour. Basically cuz it’s outdoors and during the day, the sun will do a lot of the general lihting for you. If the shows during the evening though or if the stage casts uneven shadowed areas you might want to consider a general wash, otherwise focus mostly on your effects. The audience is more likely in this case to see the light than what you’re lighting. A hazer could also help to.make the lighting effects clearer

  127. Michael

    Hello. I have a couple of questions. If I bring a couple of lights to a club and want to add them to what is already there, can I just stick them between any lights, and connect via the dmx cable? Of course then I’ll have to add them to the board. Also, if I bring my own board with my own lights to a club/theater, is there a way to connect through the console that is already there, so I can use the existing house lights as well as the ones I brought, or do people just leave the house console alone and connect their own lights to their consoles and run the two boards. I’m asking because I anticipate going on the road with a band and I don’t know if I should bring my own lights and console or just the lights. Of course I don’t even know if there’s money to bring anything. Thanks for your help, and (again), great website.

  128. Jim

    Hi Rob
    I run a theatre company on Ireland called Monkeyshine . I am operating sound in upcoming show. I have used Qlab to run the show and have now got the main cue list loaded on to Qlab 3.0.14. I have purchased short term license to validate audio and video cues . I have learnt to patch cues using older Qlab version the same as on your demos on you tube to get rid of red x indicating invalid file . Using preference bottom etc..
    I am wondering how to do this in Qlab 3.0.14.
    Would be greatful if you could help
    Regards from not very techy jim

  129. Rob Sayer

    Qlab 3: to patch audio and video output devices you either go to View / Workspace Settings OR just hit the cog icon on the bottom right hand side of the Qlab pane. This flips Qlab over so you can see ‘around the back’. HTH.

  130. Rob Sayer

    Hi Michael, yes you can usually add additional DMX fixtures between existing ones, as long as there are free channels on the DMX universe and you aren’t trying to make that particular DMX feed deal with more than the 32 fixture limit on one discreet line.

    If you take in your own desk, you have the option of either running the two side by side or patching up your console to fit the house rig and just plugging their kit into the DMX outputs (or other data streams) from yours. Given the choice, I would always take a desk with my own programming (and one that I can use). It is easier to integrate a DMX based rig into a console that I know well, rather than trying to make a show every night not only using strange fixtures but also whatever-the-hell console the place has. Either way, technical details of the venues are your friend. Ideally, you’d go with a show file already patched for their rig and with any luck all the programming done for your own kit.

    I wouldn’t generally run ‘through’ the house desk unless there was a really good reason to have to. I’d just label and unplug the data cables and reinstate them after the show.

  131. Michael

    Thank you. One follow-up. Are most clubs/theaters going to have an available DMX line already in place? I guess it only makes sense a venue is going to have available cables already in place for all the consoles passing through…Thanks!

  132. Rob Sayer

    If their system uses moving lights in the rig and they have a common controller, then there is likely to be access to DMX infrastructure. Some places may use network control at the console end including things like sACN, Pathport or ArtNet but generally at the moment you are more than likely to find good ‘ol fashioned DMX hardware and cabling.

  133. Dominic

    I run a pop up cinema and we do some cool and interesting stuff with our films.

    We have a Romeo and Juliet gig coming up next week and we have a live Choir singing along with some of the songs in the film.

    You seem to know what you are talking about when it comes to QLab and they don’t seem to be getting back to me and normal tutorials are not helping.

    We want to play the main Video file which is the film with the normal sound, this will be coming out of the main speakers for everyone to hear.
    We also then want to have a click track for the choir to hear which we want to come out of a different output into some in ear packs which only the choir can hear.
    We have an edited audio track which is the same length as the film and were hoping to play them both at the same time and then re route the audio tracks.
    One to the main speakers and one to just the in ear speakers.

    Is this something you think can be done? Would you be willing to give us some advice? I am really stuck as to who to ask and like I said you seem to know what you are talking about.

    Any help would be MASSIVELY appreciated.

  134. Chris Wemyss

    Hi, I’m part of the team that run Stowed Out Festival in the Scottish Borders. We are a tiny organisation and do our lighting in-house. (including training local youngsters in the mysteries of basic DMX programing) We have a mix of traditional Par 64’s and led floods controlled by a cheap 48 channel desk. We run chases and washes. Some times illuminating a thin white backdrop creating complete back drop colour changes. Shows are beefed up by running “bomb” a free sound activated fractual generator software program projected behind the bands and a fog machine. This year we managed to raise some cash and purchase our first moving lights(18 channels of DMX). It is now obvious that our desk is no longer up to the job. In this world of fast moving technology can any of your contributors make some up to date suggestions about upgrading our desk. New/Secondhand/laptop based

  135. Bernard Haste

    I wonder if I can ask for advice?

    I`m looking to light a model railway about 10 metres long, and with a depth of 2 metres(approx.) maximum.

    The layout is taken out to shows and it is important that as little weight as possible and certainly as little voltage and current as possible be present wherever the viewers may stand.

    I wish to create the effect of the sun rising in the east and then developing into bright sunlight overhead and then fading away to darkness in the west.

    Is this possible and if so, how might it be achieved?

    Many thanks,


  136. Rob Sayer

    Sounds like an interesting project. Although LED may not represent proper sunlight or daylight, it would give you a compact,lightweight and low current draw solution. The tricky part will be how to change the angle of the sunlight throughout the day period. And avoiding shadows of the viewers falling on the layout.

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