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7 Tips for Designing a Portable Light Rig for Roadshows

Choosing the Right Gear and Plan to Deliver Big Results When Taking the Show on the Road


Roadshows have been a staple of brand activation marketing for years, but as “Experiential Marketing” becomes more and more of it’s own practice rather than just a sub set of larger marketing campaigns, roadshows have really taken on a life of their own! For marketers who are suddenly responsible for put putting production together on the tours though, designing a portable lighting right can be a daunting and intimidating task….

It’s always best to bring in a professional lighting designer, but here are 7 tips to help make sure that any design is set up for success!

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  1. Command your audience’s attention. No matter what you do at your event, you always want to make sure your lighting and décor is going to grab your audience’s attention. This will get them talking and moving around to see what you have to offer. If you do not grab their attention right when they walk in then they will leave not capturing the full effect that the night was supposed to have on them.
  2. Design your atmosphere to fit your brand. At every brand activation event you are going to want to make sure anything you do stays on point for what you want your brand to say to your audience. This is just as true for roadshows, and – with anything you are going to need sponsors for- you need to make sure that what your sponsors represent doesn’t conflict with what your brand represents as well.  As soon as you stray away from your original message you are going to confuse your audience which will leave a negative connotation of your event in their mind. Use your lighting to provide a consistency of theme and messaging!
  3. Incorporate your message throughout the event. You can do this with logo projection (gobos) and consistently using your brand colors to light the room. This will reinforce your brands message and remind your audience why they are there.
  4. LED wire free units are virtually a must have for any portable rig you are designing. The world is full of venues with inadequate power, and you never want to be caught without a solution. Wire-free LED lights  look great, give you a lot of control over your look, and – more importantly- allow you to do a nice wash when/where there is no power available!
  5. Always have high quality lighting trees ready to go, even if you expect truss to be available. If you haven’t done roadshow lighting before, you might be surprised to find out how often that the rigging you have been promised is either a complete myth (as in NOT THERE AT ALL), or it’s completely inaccessible. Having an extra couple of high quality lighting trees (preferably something that allows you to crank the height up) and some heavy sandbags is a life saver. Heck- even when you do have access to a truss solution, sometimes you just need to add a little extra control to other areas of the room, and having a few spare trees will make all the difference.
  6. Go heavy on Edison. Again, it doesn’t matter what you have been told about a venue, you need to plan for the worst and hope for the best, and planning for the worst means that you can still plug in your gear if you get there and find that there is nothing but Edison power. You might not be able to use all of the gear you have planned for, but at least you’ll still be able to the show off the ground.
  7. Mark all of your year for easier set up. Make sure that all of your cords, all of your cables, each tree and each light is very clearly marked as to what it is for, where it will go, and what it will go with. It might be a pain to put that level of detail into marking each and every piece, but it will save you a world of hurt during short set ups… especially when you suddenly have people who weren’t involved in the design or the pack up jumping in to lend a hand with the set up at a particular event!

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