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Who does their own lighting

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by perfdavid, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. We play modern rock/alt and will be playing frat/sorority parties and will have to have our own lighting. Does anyone here have their own equipment and if so, what do you use? Not necessarily the brand, but how are you set up?
  2. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    There are a couple of ways to go here. I assume that you'll not have a full time light tech, or even if you do, you won't want to be totally dependant on that person. So you'll want to be automated.

    Best case scenario - you've got two trees of 4 par cans on either side of the stage in front. These are so that the good people can see you. You'll have a truss and two trees across the back, probably with 8 par cans scattered across it. These are for color. Then you'll want a special effects light or two. I'd suggest going with a pair of robotic scanners... They're pretty pricey, but they can be pre-programmed to hit specific spots in their "random" paths, and can seem a lot more like people are controlling them.

    You're gonna hook all the par cans into probably 4 dimmer packs, and run it all back via DMX to a controller that will have sound activated chases. You'll program the lights to flash as necessary, and if you want, you can get a foot controller that will switch between programs on your DMX.

    Oh, and you'll want a high output fog machine so that the lights have more presence.

    That's your best case, and it will cost you probably close to 3 grand. What my band has is 3 par cans on either side of the stage, all 6 of them hooked into one dimmer that has an independent chase feature (not sound activated, unfortunately). Then we have a tree of lights that we affectionately call "Medusa" sitting behind the drummer. The controller for that is really just four switches that our bassist controls on the floor. Then we have a spinning effect light in the back as well. A fog machine rounds it out, and we also have the typical strobe/spinning police beacon/mirrored ball stuff, but we don't find much use for that stuff anymore.

    When I have a little more time, I can put up some links for you. What's your budget?
  3. I like the way you have yours set up. I was hoping to get by with only spending a grand or less. I already have a fog machine. I just wanted some light in front and some in back, nothing real fancy.
  4. DblG


    Apr 27, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    We have a few of those clip-on reflectors w/ colored floodlights you can get from Home-Depot or such. Total cost is about $12 for the reflectors & $6 or 7 for the bulb. This just gives us general mood lighting. We point a couple at the main singers, and a couple bounce of walls or ceilings. It all depends on how professional you want it to look.
    While we do eventually intend to get more professional lighting, it doesn't seem to be too high on the priority list. We've been investing in the music and the sound so far. This is "holding us over" until we get something real. :meh:

  5. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Ok, then here's a nice way to get 'er done. Pick up six Par 64 cans (you could probably get away with smaller cans, but I often wish I had more headroom than the 38s that I have).

    I really have been happy with clamping the lights directly to my speaker stands (it eliminates a couple of extra stands and saves space to boot). I'd suggest bolting at least one to a piece of wood and setting it on the floor next to the speaker stand and point it up.

    Point one on each side back at your drummer (or anyone else in the back row), and then point the other two across the middle to catch your front line. If you're really concerned about lighting your front man, drop a little par 38 or even a regular shop light right in front of him. Any ugliness of lights sitting around can be easily fixed with a little plywood and some black spraypaint. What they can't see won't hurt them... lol...

    Backline. Here you might do well to have one of those cheap par 38 or par 46 lighting packages. The important thing is to have the right dimmer pack (DMX compatible). Get a Vertigo light or a cheap scanner to hide on the back row and get some movement.

    Now, American DJ has a foot controller/dimmer package that you can pick up. You probably will want to buy one more dimmer pack, and then you'll have one on each side for the fronts, plus a DMX controller to control them all. Plug in your Vertigo or whatever special effects light to the extra channel on one of your front dimmer packs (long extension cords are cheaper than dimmer packs), and you're good to go.

    That should get you in around $1000. To cut costs (and get better dimmer packs), you could pick up a package from either American DJ or Chauvet that features 2 dimmers and a controller (not foot activated).

    OR... If you're just playing small places, you can get by on 6 par 38s on front, anything colored in the back, and one dimmer pack set on chase.
  6. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
  7. Well, I went out today and bought some. GC had a pretty good deal on some Chauvert Stage Wash lights. I was able to get a set with foot controller for 300 and I also bought a LS-50A package which has 4 x 38 cans, timer control and stand for 180. I was able to get them to cut me a deal and walk out of there for 500 even. Those wash lights sell for 400 on the net, but they were trying to get rid of inventory. I think I might need one more LS-50A package. I plan on putting the wash lights on each side on the floor next to our monitors and putting the cans on the back near our drummer. What do you guys think of that setup?

    Thanks for all the help so far.
  8. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    The par cans can get pretty hot, so keep that in mind when you place them.
  9. So what you are saying is place them as close to the drummer as possible..muuuhwaaahhhhhhhaaaaaaaa
    :spit: :spit: :spit: :spit: :spit: :spit: :spit:
  10. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    That way when you fart on him while performing, the heat will increase the stench and magnify his enjoyment. The crowd will also get a better view of his facial expression.
  11. ric1312

    ric1312 Banned

    Apr 16, 2006
    chicago, IL.
    Coolest and cheapest thing I ever did for lighting effects was the following:

    I got a pair of those lazer lights that go out in a flower and react to the drums. I put those on either side of the stage, or on either side of the singer center on the floor of the stage, then flip on the old fog machine. Whole thing cost like $300.

    With the fog catching the beams going out and reacting to the drums it just looks awesome, the club has to turn down the lights a bit though, if it's too bright it kills the effect.
  12. FriscoBassAce


    Dec 29, 2004
    Frisco, Texas
    Independent Manufacturers Representative
    I think you went the right route with the Stage Washes. I was reading a thread on Harmony Central and a guy who had been in the lighting and production business a long time recommended AGAINST the use of any PAR lighting simply because you get more bang for your buck with stage washes, they are DMX controllable, they don't require nearly as much electricity (which a lot of bars or houses are going to have a problem here), and they are much less complicated to set up.

    Here's the thread.

    The guy with the answers goes by BillESC I think.

    If you browse the lighting forum there, you'll find some other good info.

    By the way, did they have any more of those lights? The GC here wanted more for a floor model than I could have got for one at Musician's Friend brand new.
  13. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Good call with the stage washes. As I was doing quick research for you, I saw a stage wash pack at MF that was still pretty pricey. That's actually the direction I would go if I had some money to spend.

    The only thing to worry about is that all your light is coming from two front sources. Be careful not to step too close in front of them.

    The real plus of those washes is that they don't use fancy bulbs - just your average flourescent bulb. Plus, you can link more washes together should you need more light. Good call.
  14. Thanks for the kudos on the wash lights.

    I couldn't pass up that deal. 299.00 for two chauvert washes with foot control pad and sound sensitive. I called a friend while in the store and he said the internet had them for a little over 400, so I think I got a good deal on those. They sold me the par 38s x 4 with stand and control box for 156.00. I think that was also a good price. I am probably going to go back and get another set of cans.

    Now I need advice on the wash lights. Stands for these guys are not cheap. They are around 90 bucks at GC. However, they are designed to be placed on the floor. Do you think those shining up on us with the cans behind the drummer will work for frat shows? I don't have a truss and do not plan on buying one. The local music store here rents lighting to bands but it is 150 a night. I figured I could save money by buying this stuff now, since I have the money.

    I was also wondering about white lighting. Do we need that, too. I mean, our band plays alt rock and all, but hell, I still need to be able to see my fret board on occasion.

    Again, thank you guys for your input so far, you have really eased my mind that I purchased the right stuff.
    Oh by the way, thank God they use cheap halogen bulbs, cuz I already broke two trying to put them in.
  15. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    There are a couple of things you can do. I'd suggest buying a couple of C clamps and see how they work just clamping to your speaker stands (assuming that you don't have a big stack of speakers on either side of the stage). You might also bolt them to a piece of plywood and strap that to the top of your speaker using bungee cord or ratchet straps or something. Floor use works as well, but you'll have more of your bodies blocking the light, so more shadows.

    Of course, you'll have to use your best judgement on how far apart to set them up for best coverage. As far as white lighting goes, the shop lights with clamps work really well for that purpose and are very cheap.
  16. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    On a similar topic, has anybody had any experience yet with the new LED par cans? They provide millions of color combinations, are DMX controllable and apparently, they're getting to be just as bright as their traditional counterparts.

    They produce almost no heat, will run for literally DECADES for typical band use (and that's just until the LEDs decrease to 70% of their original strength), and work with a ton less wattage.

    The downside is that they're a bit more expensive on the front side (about $200 right now for AmDJ), but I'd think that the features and ease of use would outweigh the cons...

    Anybody try these babies?
  17. One tip...make sure whatever venue you're playing at actually requires you to bring any lighting. I know it sounds obvious, but...

    We did a NYE show in Milwaukee this past year, where our drummer (who was basically an idiot) _way_ overestimated the size of the vneue. This was partly due to miscommunication between himself and the bar/restaurant owner, but we ended up playing in a bar area that was only about 15 feet by 30 feet...held about forty or fifty people _max_. Anyway, the drummer was way overzealous, and booked a lighting and sound guy, which was totally unnecessary because we had our own PA, and our guitarist has an entire lighting rig (four trees each with four cans, robotic control, sound sensors, the works...). Anyway, it ended up being that the sound guy could only set up two cans...but they were they huge barrel sized lights, probably at least 12" in diameter each...best part was they were aimed directly at the drummer, and were HOT. Ended up being turned off by the end of the second set (out of five sets).

    So, yeah...just make sure whatever gig you're doing actually requires any kind of lights...we would've been fine with just the house lights in the above instance.
  18. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I've been doing the lights in every band I've been in for 25+ years.

    A very simple thing you can do that maximizes the effect without shelling out a ton of money for the impact it has, is to place four lights at floor level behind the band (tilted up) and use green/blue gels.

    The back lighting from the floor works great on low key parts of songs or ones where you want kind of an ethereal mood established visually.

    Other things to keep in mind...

    Never use green gels on front lighting (especially if your lighting is sparse to begin with)...unless it's a halloween gig and you want everyone to look like Frankenstein. It's alright to use in conjunction with other lights if you have enough to offset the ghoulish cast it puts on people.

    Don't aim your lights directly at the faces of the performers. Even spots have a wide enough radius of dispersion to allow you to point the main beam of it at chest level or lower and still light the face plenty.

    Upper back lighting should be pointed downward...and not AT the crowd. Again try to point the main beam of light more towards the floor, or the lower half of the musicians bodies. You know how bright (blinding even) lights can be, and if you aim your back lights at the crowd, it will detract from your stage presence.

    Avoid pastel looking gels. Try to find deep colors. If you don't use a deep red gel, the light will look pink instead. Which might be used to good effect, if you have enough other lights. Most of the very light (I think...pastel) colored gels leave everything too washed out, to the point that a gel is almost unnecessary and looks more white.

    A BIG, and very easy thing...A simple black cloth (even large black sheets stitched together) and draped behind the band before you setup will help focus ALL the attention on the band, and not on the the bar signs and posters on the wall behind you. NOTHING improves the look of a band more than using a simple, solid colored backdrop. It allows you to get away with fewer lights too. It's a lot like how they dim the lights in a movie theatre so your attention is on the screen and not on the rest of the room. Try it once. It only takes a couple of minutes to hang up and DRAMATICALLY enhances the look of the band. Cheap too!

    If I think of anything else, I'll post it.
  19. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    I would prefer to have too much lighting rather than not enough. Lights just do so much for the show, which is why you'll see even big outdoor festivals with the colored lights blinking in the middle of the day. Do you need them to see the band? No, but they add to the performance.

    But yeah, what you're describing sounds a bit like overkill... lol...
  20. I really like the black curtain backdrop idea. I need to figure out what to use. Maybe just some black sheets sewn together. However, how would you suggest hanging them up? Did you make your own stand to support them, or do you throw thumbtacks into the establishments walls (I would not trust the latter).

    I set up my lighting in my house today and am definately get one more stand with 4 par 38s. The wash lights looked great sitting on the floor angled up, just gotta make sure I don't look at them.
    Any ideas on some other stuff? I see all of these dj effects and am not sure what looks good and what is overkill.

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