How Do I Organize My Band’s Lighting For Quick Setup?

As the old adage goes, “Time is Money”, and this can’t be more true when you’re setting up your band’s lighting rig.

Whether you’re paying someone else to setup, or just trying to get your gear loaded in and out as fast as possible, you can make a huge change in your setup time with just a few simple steps.

Step 1: Think

Planning is the most crucial step in making your life easier!

As you plan out your lighting rig, you can save yourself a lot of time by simplifying the number of lighting positions you have.

Can you hang that LED striplight on the back truss instead of having it on the ground?  It might not look exactly the same, but think about the time savings when you don’t have to wire up any fixtures on the ground.

Can you use a couple of truss towers behind the band instead of multiple stands?

Think about different ways you can simply your design to optimize for setup, and save time just by laying out your rig effectively.

Step 2: Address

Always pre-address your fixtures with the DMX addresses you’ll use during your show.  Make sure you place a label with the address on each fixture so you know at a glance which fixture goes where.

That way, as soon as you setup your console, you can begin testing your fixtures to make sure they’re getting DMX correctly!

If your rig doesn’t change much, buy some Avery Printable Labels for your DMX addresses and stick them to your fixtures for a neater label! Use the mail merge function of Excel or a similar spreadsheet program to create labels really fast.

Step 3: Label (Colors and Numbers)

Labeling every cable with numbers and color makes it simple for you to setup your rig without having to think too much.

When I can, I label and color code as much as I possibly can.  In general, I like to use color labels to note positions where the lights go and numbers to note cables when I’ve got more than one of a type of cable in a position.

For example, say I have 4 lighting positions – Left Frontlight, Right Frontlight, Left Backlight, Right Backlight.

Let’s color code them like this:

Left Frontlight: Violet

Right Frontlight: Green

Left Backlight: Red

Right Backlight: Blue

Go ahead and also label the fixtures with the appropriate color code so that it’s easy to find their location.

Then, say I have (2) power cables for the Left and Right Backlight.  I’d then label those cables (1) and (2) with the color code as well.

That way as you setup your rig you can troubleshoot easily when problems arise, because you KNOW where that cable goes!

Step 4: Loom:

Looming, or bundling your cables together, is a great way to save time on a gig.

As you’ll see in the video below, you can tie your cables for each lighting position together with electrical tape, and then you simply lay out your cable and all the connectors fall right where you need them!

Check out the video below – he gets into looming around 6:00.

It doesn’t take much to begin organizing your rig and really become more efficient in your setup.  It’ll save you time, maybe money, and surely make you enjoy lighting even more than you did before!

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