6 Ways to Use Stage LED Lights the Correct Way
LED Lighting Can Solve A lot of Lighting Challenges, But You Have to Know The Lay of the Land!
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The fact that stage led lights are becoming more and more popular is hardly news- a quick glance at any rider, pull sheet, or plot will show you that the low-consumption fixtures are taking over more and more space on every call sheet.
And why not?
They are cheaper to operate, give off less heat, have over 16 million possible color combinations, tend to be more portable, and they generally have less maintenance to keep up with. LED’s are always the right choice…aren’t they?
Well… that depends on what you want to accomplish and whether or not you really know how to use them.
You see, LED stage fixtures have a ton of checks in the “Good” column, but they have their own weaknesses as well, and knowing how to properly use them will make all the difference in the world.
Here are 6 of our favorite tips on how to best use stage LED lights!
1.) Conventional lights are generally still better for providing a crisp spot beam. Because of the way LEDS are set up, they tend to make a better wash than to create a sharp spot or perfect gobo. There are exceptions (such as the ETC Source 4 or the Elation ACL 360i ) that are designed specifically to give you the benefits of an LED while still providing a true sharp spot beam, but before you make your plans, make sure you that you know whether or not your LED of choice will actually serve well in the function you give it!
2.) When you work with LED lighting, you need to understand that “white” doesn’t always mean the same thing that you think it does. There are TONS of variations of “white” that different fixtures will create different shades of white, and that a longtime complaint among many designers is that LEDs don’t always create a white that is flattering to human skin. Generally, it’s often best to use a conventional fixture for when a “true white” is must!
3.) Because of their (much) lower rate of power consumption, it is much easier to find ultra portable battery powered LED units than comparably powerful conventional units. Use this to your advantage! It’s much easier to get these battery driven units placed and focused on the fly, and even when using LED stage lights that do require cabling, chances are the unit will still weigh less which could make it ideal for placement when every pound counts!
4.) Speaking of cables- make sure that you use the right cables and controllers for your LED concert lighting! A good dmx controller and dmx controller cables are a must for a consistently professional result! Because mic cables will often fit, people who aren’t as familiar with LEDs have been known to use those instead, but mic cables aren’t designed to handle the high speed serial electrical data signals, and the timing of the show suffers for it. Use the right tools for the right job!
5.) Here’s a little tip for keeping the performers happy (you know… if you care about that kind of thing): Use your LED fixtures closer to the people on stage and keep your conventionals a little further back. Because the stage LED lights give off a cooler light, you won’t end up cooking the performers the way that conventionals tend to do! Just make sure that you focus the light at instrument level rather than at the face so you don’t blind them with those powerful lights!
6.) Not 100% sure about how you have your focus set up? Grab a digital camera and take a quick snap of the stage without the use of your flash! This will show you every gory detail of just how the focus really is… every hot spot, and every shadow!
So, which is better- LED or conventional?
It sort of depends on what you are doing, what your resources are, and who’s lead you are following. One thing that IS for certain though- arming yourself with realistic expectations and the right preparation can make all the difference!