How to Run Lights Live to Music

Are you ready to take on your first project of running lights for a live band?

It doesn’t have to be as difficult as you may imagine it will be. Are you unsure what to program and where to program it?

Here are 3 Tips you need to know before running your first show.

This method of running lights will apply to any music you light. whether it’s a rock band, worship music, or even DJ/EDM music.

Programming and Setting Up

With most intermediate and advanced consoles you will have the option to program and set up the lights, colors, and positions. The first step to running lights for a band is to start by programming all of the presets or pallets for the show. These will be the building blocks for the show.

For starters, some do recommend programming the front lights as desaturated and to use more pastel colors so that the colors reflect better on the band. This method is not normally used for Rock Bands.

If you’re looking for more on how to setup and use moving lights check out this related article: How Do I Focus Moving Lights?

Laying Out Your Console

MIDI controller for lighting
My MIDI Controller labeled from a recent show.

The next important step to running light for a band is laying out your console. Ideally, you want to keep your buttons and controls organized. The most important recommendation is keeping your presets and pallets on a Single Bank or Page Only.

This will prevent you from scrambling during the show to find the function you are looking for.

As seen in the YouTube Video the buttons are laid out in rows for:

  • Positions
  • Solid Colors
  • Front Light Colors Only
  • Color Combinations
  • Half Lights and
  • Gobos.

Be sure to label everything and even the physical buttons themselves. This will help you be able to focus on the show and be able to produce amazing results.

Buttons are a great way to start when you’re just starting out. In some cases, you may not need as many Fader controls for your colors, positions, and gobos.

Running Your Lights Live

Band on stage with lightingThe final step of running lights for a band is to go ahead and run your lights live.

Let yourself get familiar and comfortable with which function does what. This also will help catch any function you may want to change before the show.

If you really want to set yourself apart and impress the audience it’s all about watching what the band is doing. This is another reason why to get yourself familiar with the control before going live. By listening to the music and watching those on stage you will be better prepared to respond with the appropriate lighting and functions.

Want to hear from those that do lighting for a living? Check out my interview with Nook Schoenfeld a Lighting Designer for big-time artists and shows. Click Here for the Full Interview

Learn Stage Lighting Labs Member Extras:

Learn how to run lights live and on the fly for music in Puntastical!  This step-by-step guide will walk you through everything you need to set up your first punt page, with how-to guides in several consoles!

If you’re new to lighting consoles, first check out the full guide on programming professional lighting consoles here: Professional Lighting Console Basics

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