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Small gig lighting (front/side lights)


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Hi, I work a lot of function and tribute band gigs that take me to a big variety of rooms and stages. I always feel I'm struggling to get decent lighting in the small room where I can't get lights above and in front of the band so I'd appreciate any advice and tips.


I usually try to squeeze in some uplighters between the front wedges and if I can manage it a tripod at each of the front stage wings with up to 4 pars on each. Problem is that can end up behind the main speakers which isn't ideal.




I thought about securing a powerful par on top of the mains (I don't want to bolt mountings into my top speakers but I can see that as a solution). Or perhaps a single pole stand next to the mains with a side mounted par(s) - is anyone mounting lights this way?

Is there any mileage in looking at fresnels instead of pars if I go down this route?

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I would try a tall-ish stand each side with a couple of fresnels on each. Fresnels with barndoors will give you far more control of where your light goes (& more importantly, doesn't go).


Thanks for the reply - that makes sense and fits how I was thinking that a fresnel might give me more options for side lighting when strong pars at the side lights the room as well as the stage I'll start looking for some.

Edited by John_P
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Lack of height and space in such rooms is an age old problem and one we used to solve quite often by using a box of simple reflector floods stood behind the columns at the sides - indeed people like SAI used to make things for the purpose which clipped together to form a carrying case. Roger Squire did the same sort of thing see https://www.karillon...979/Cat_P38.jpg The fact they were in a box limited spread. It didn't look great but it was lighting it squirted pretty colours all over the place it was dead simple and it saved a lot of bother with stands and wiring and colours. It was all designed for a one person outfit and quick get ins out outs. From a convenience point of view it had a lot going for it particularly for people like me who distrust stands in places difficult to supervise.In the end I decided that getting decent lighting in the average small concert space was impossible so cheap and cheerful was the way to go....Having seen many a band touring pricey lighting that was doing a grand job of lighting the drummer and the back wall and not much else I've never seen the need to change that view. Edited by Junior8
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For rigging perhaps consider tank trap + tube? Probably depends largely on whether you can transport the length of tube and if it's ok to have that as a fixed length. For fixtures I would be tempted by some sort of LED batten with a suitable beam angle mounted vertically on the tube. It will splash the opposite side of stage but this will be impossible to avoid without height, regardless of fixture. Alternatively you could use the tank trap/pole with a couple (or more) of LED pars with suitable beam angle per side. This will give a bit more flexibility in focussing if that's practical and what you need. This can work ok on the vertical pole - the sources will be at different heights but this can be effective. Of course you could add a cross piece to the top and get the equivalent of a T-bar although personally I would only do that if I needed to outrig (slightly) further downstage than the ground support allows and/or if the focusing from the vertical pole was causing splash too far upstage and need to rig further upstage to avoid. Obviously care should be taken to ensure the rigging is safe.
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Thanks chaps - some really great ideas. I don't know why I hadn't thought of using a tank trap and pole to effectively replace a tripod so I can get it close to the speakers - maybe a little t bar for two lights so I can get them high and reasonably forward and downlight the front of the stage.


I'm conscious of making sure its safe - I'm paranoid about any gear falling or being knocked over and it is one of the curses of being mobile and having to set up a rig every week.

I also trying to get the lights above head height - I know performers moan about bright lights but if they are close and eye level it's asking for people to be unhappy.


My other thought is to have some form of bracket I can attached one or two lights onto at the top side of the top speakers and secure it by having a plate on the top that is strapped into place - I'd have to stick with light weight lights if I go that route - maybe there is an existing product I can use or adapt.

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If its really important for the show to front light the show, when I did these small gigs I rigged a couple of profiles on a stand at the back of the venue next to the desk and ran them at a low level, just warm enough to kill any shadows and allow the audience to see the act but without blinding them.

Adding some gel, straw/light amber, light pink helped make the source a little less obvious if the rest of the rig was using primary colours.



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ran them at a low level, just warm enough to kill any shadows and allow the audience to see the act but without blinding them.


In a similar vein, if you are able to put in light at more interesting angles (back, 3/4 side etc), that are easier to rig and in "safer" (away from the audience) positions, then you might find you need far less front/face light than you thought, which means you could get away with a small number of Fresnels from the front at non-ideal heights and angles.


Even consider putting your power PARs 3/4 backlight with strong gels in, then your other stand at front of house 180 degrees opposite (diagonal) to add a little face light. One at the opposite side front of house maybe from your tops riser would fill in gently on that opposite side. Being at a lower level but to the side and checked down will mitigate the "blinding the frontman" issue.


Something like this (my ASCII art doesn't render - looks ok in the editor... so ignore the dots, pretend they are spaces!)


PAR \\\\


......... Band

Fill / .. Crowd .. \\ Face


Probably a bit more theatre than rock 'n' roll, but it might be an approach which reduces the challenge you're having with FOH height and angles.



Edited by kgallen
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