September 18


Free Q & A TuesdayIn this week’s episode, we dive into the Mailbag for the Free Q & A Tuesday! This is where I take questions from listeners and walk them through my through my thought process.

If you’re new here, I have a Quiz that will help me send you a customized Guide on getting started with Lighting: FREE Guide @

Mailbag! (2:00)

Rika (2:07) I’m looking for a special school at Canada that teaches about stage lighting. Do you know any schools?

I currently am not familiar with any schools that do this in Canada. When it comes to learning about this industry I’ve met two different types of people. They either get into this business by starting as a stagehand or volunteer. Or they went to college but it was for an unrelated education.

My recommendation to you is to find local production companies that you can start working for or volunteer with local crews, such as churches who are always looking for helping hands. This way you can start gaining on hand experience and see if this industry is a good fit for you.

Gregory Hall (5:50) There are many more complex lights out there now and I’m not seeing a lot on how to use and how to program. Seeing more pixel mapped led fixtures (both bars w/ rows of lights and wash w/ combo of elements w/ various mapping.) And then really interesting/crazy stuff like the Elation ZCl bars w/ moving yoke, variable beam, mapped \”heads\”, etc. (or even the small individual heads…showing up now used fairly cheap, maybe from tours w./ multiple units in play, but not generic enough to keep in inventory. See many 1/2 price or less.) Specifically, have seen stuff on using effects across fixtures, but not much on effects “within” a fixture. (may be stuck w/ manual chases, etc.?) These special situations may be too variable to talk about as a group, but if there are any themes, might be an interesting topic.

There are a few ways to handle this. The first method is to run your pixels as video. The way you can do this is to hook up ENTTEC’s ELM, Resolume, or MadMapper which is a Pixel Mapping Program. It will allow you to play videos and then arrange your lights. Based on your console and equipment there are a few ways you will be able to set this up.

The second method would be inside of the unit. There are built in Chases and Effects. When you get into these fixtures that have a lot of parameters and effects. Once you get to know the program and different features you can set up an amazing show.

The last method you can patch them into your console as a regular DMX Fixture. But the downside to this is that building chases can take up a lot of your time.

Rags (9:58) I’m a solo acoustic performer and play twice a week on a stage at a local pub. There are two lighting strips on the ceiling with floods that put out very little light. I’d like to add some front lighting to make my appearance stand out more and be more appealing. I perform during the day, so the place overall is very light, but I want some differentiation on the stage and have never worked with lighting before. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

To get you started I want to direct you to Learn Stage Lighting and select Band Lighting. This will send you a Free Guide on how to get started with lighting for your needs.

This will walk you through a few things and ideas to get you set up. For bands, I like to recommend a couple of Front Lights and the software to control it is DMXis. You can run it from a foot pedal or run it from a DAW.

For your particular set up, I would recommend getting just a few of LED Par Fixtures or LED Strip Lights on the floor or around your stage to add some highlight to your stage. Use the lights to draw attention to you. With DMXis you can program the lights to go along with the song before the show starts, then all you have to do is press button when you go Live.

Show Sponsorship (12:50)

Learn Stage Lighting Labs is the sponsor of today’s podcast.

What is Learn Stage Lighting Labs exactly? It is a Shortcut to your Lighting Success. The simple truth is that most people will either go to a website or purchase some lighting equipment. They learn just enough to get them started and to get the equipment to function. It takes so much time to set up the equipment and networking. It’s an overwhelming experience!

At Learn Stage Lighting Labs you will have access to step by step tutorials, personalized assistance from experts, and ways to set up your lights for different venues and shows.

Learn More Here! Learn Stage Lighting Labs

Stefan (15:35) I have my whole bands set programmed through automation in my DAW using DMXIS and I was wondering if there’s an easier way to do this?

When you’re in you DMXis you have two different ways to control your lights. The first is you can control every individual channel for every light.

The second way is inside of Ableton you can use Macros where you can group your different colors together. But the best way is to select the banks and presets for what you want to do. Build a bunch of scenes or presets that you want to use during your show. Then you can trigger your presets as you want during the show.

Showbuddy is a great tool that can help you set this up. Here is the link: Showbuddy Info

Leonel (19:50) How many fixtures can DMXIS control?? I know its 512 Channels and all that but I’m asking because I have some issues.

The problem is that I can work with some lights with no issues, in fact, I’ve made my band lighting show and we run it thru ableton with no problem, for shows max. of 500 people.

Someone saw the show asked how I made the lights, they told him I did it, approached me to make the show for his band I said YES! and for my surprise, the show its for 20,000 people in a festival with a GrandMA, and I have no idea how it works.

I downloaded the MA2 on PC and watched a lot of tutorials, but I still have no idea how to make things work. So, I’m thinking to myself, can I work with my DMXIS and have a great show?

What are your thoughts on this one, can I pull this off or should I cancel and let someone with more experience do it?

GrandMA is one of the most complex consoles out there that you can learn. But it’s a great console and bigger venues and shows will use it for their lighting. You can learn it but it’s not something that can be taught overnight,

If your friend’s band isn’t headlining the show you won’t have time to program it before they go live. Generally, that programming time is given to the Headlined Band.

My best suggestion to best serve your friend’s band is to find out the lighting company that is handling the lights for the show. They should have a Lighting Designer or two that are responsible is to help guest designers program their stuff and to run lights for the bands that don’t have someone to run their lights.

You have a couple of options. You can talk to the Lighting Designer and have them show you the basics and you can run the lights live.

Or you can explain to your friend’s band and explain that you don’t fully know how to run the GrandMA Console. Then you can have the band go to the festival and explain that you know the music they have and that you won’t be able to run the lights but you would like to work with the Lighting Designer to make the most out of the show.

The key is to be respectful to the Lighting Designer, as their hands are full and they have a lot to work with. You can work side by side with the Lighting Designer and let them know what you want the lights to do.

Will (26:58) I was wondering what you would do for lighting in a band if there were people in all 4 sides of the stage and the band needed to be well lit.

What we normally refer to this set up is “In the Round” it may be a square stage but that’s the term we use.

You want to look at it as the Stage having 4 Front Stages. If you can I would recommend setting up Stand Lights on each corner and get the lights on every front of the stage. You may block a couple of people in the audience but it’s what you need to do to get the job done.

There are 4 Front Stages so you want to keep it consistent with each one. If you are working with fewer lights you’ll want to dedicate those lights to the Front Stages.

Ian (30:00) Setting up my first lighting installation for a small church in the UK – seating capacity 250. I have 5 of 35watt led coloured par cans, 3 white spots for lighting the speaker – two at 45degrees left and right and one behind. and some moving gobos for the left and right areas behind musicians. Plus a 1500 watt hazer. The question I have is, do I put the 5 coloured led par cans behind the musicians, above the musicians or in front of them. The ceiling is 5m overhead, modern sanctuary. I had planned to put Coloured Par Cans above the band but cross them over so that there are longest light paths in the haze. My minister wants them from the front pointing towards the bands’ faces and I seem to be reading that they would be best behind the band – who stand\\sit in a line across the front area but would that not mean poorly lit faces? Should I put some behind and some in front? all in front? all behind, or stick to above? The gobos would have the rear area which is 3m deep in a raised area behind the podium (houses the baptistry) to shine their many light beams moving through the haze. We currently don\’t have the budget for a DMX controller so initially will need to use the sound to light options but will add DMX control probably via a laptop plus USB dongle as soon as funds are available. Currently, the church is very small in attendance but we are effectively starting a new venture in the existing building so funds are very tight.

If you have already purchased these Items I would recommend returning the Hazer or a couple of the colored lights to purchase a Console. I would recommend getting the DMXis Console so that you can have a level of control. You can read more here about ENTTEC’S DMXIS.

If you decide to use the Haze I would keep the Gobos behind or on the side of the stage. Make sure between your white fixtures and your colored fixtures you have enough lights on stage to see the band and the speaker.

Getting your front lights set up is very important and you can always set up backlights later.

Aidan (34:40) Who is in charge of safety in the theater? Is it OSHA? The local union? Is the same true for school theaters and churches? 

The quick answer to this is that everyone is responsible for Safety. But OSHA is a government program that is in charge of regulations for Paid Employees. But if you have Volunteers then it’s going to depend on the insurance companies and yourself.

When an accident does happen that’s when Regulations set in. But OSHA doesn’t stop into theaters or churches unless someone was injured. The same goes for the Insurance companies. Ultimately, you are responsible for recognizing any safety precautions.

Stacey (38:35) I just purchased some addition LED par 64 lights and now I have too many light fixtures for my console to be able to individually control each light.

Do I go to ethernet with a controller? I am looking to add 4 more LED par 56 and 2-4 moving spots this year. I have a small theater company and currently have 14 Led lights with an Elation 12 fixture console, with the additional lights I would have 20+ lights.

At this point, you don’t have to go Ethernet. I would look at ENTTEC DMXis because you have 512 channels. You can go down the list and set up the scenes. When you have everything programmed you can just have someone press the button for the cues.

For more information on ENTTEC DMXIS, Click here.

If you do need more help check out Learn Stage Lighting Labs where you will have access to step by step tutorials, personalized assistance from experts, and ways to set up your lights for different venues and shows.

Learn More Here! Learn Stage Lighting Labs

Ivan (41:35) I’m working on live events, where it’s impossible to use timecode because of nature of such events (like when the performer want to hear people in audience to sing a part of the song, and you’ll never know when it’ll occur), I’m always “busking”, and currently I’m using a laptop with Martin MPC. Although it’s a good software, it can be often difficult to achieve what I’ve imagined without a touchscreen and dedicated controls, so I want to afford myself a console. Therefore my question is: what console would be the best for “busking”?

Since you’re already using M-PC you may know that Martin was bought out by Elation Lighting and is now rebranded as Onyx.

They still offer the same product line. They now offer the M-Touch and M-Play controllers. Having a touchscreen PC that has the specs needed.

M-Touch Review

M-Play Review

The difference between the two is the M-Touch has fewer faders and buttons but it has a programming section. The M-Play is all Playback and has no programming option.

If you are looking for more info I have a full action plan in Learn Stage Lighting Labs called Puntastical how to program and set up a console for the Busking experience.

Justine (44:43) So I work as the LD/VJ/Audio person at a large club. We have hip hop and edm events on an almost weekly basis. I’ve noticed that during hip-hop nights I create some jaw-dropping effects and amaze even myself. But during EDM nights, despite me loving the music so much more my timing can be off, and there’s a ton of industry related people standing behind me judging my every button press. 

I guess in asking how can I shut out these distractions and make dubstep/house/trance shows better?  How do I get in the zone? 

I feel you and it is tough when you’re getting started. But I will tell you that in this industry some of the best people working in our field are Women. Women are great and extremely talented in what they do in this industry.

There’s an expectation that is set. But your boss or whoever is in charge needs to let people know that these large shows had dedicated people for the audio, for the music, for the lighting, etc. So, what they are asking you to do is the Job of 4 people.

From your boss, they need to let you have your space and respect your space. Have that conversation with your boss and let them know that it’s not okay that people are disrespecting you. If they have someone to take over for your they will quickly realize that it’s not easy and it’s a difficult job to do.

Closing (51:05)

If you enjoyed this show be sure to leave a rating or review

Be sure to tune in Next Week to dive into Part 2 of Lighting for Video, you won’t want to miss it!

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