Today on the podcast I have a special guest, Pete Greenfield. Pete has been a long time Learn Stage Lighting Labs Member and a good friend of mine. Today, he’s going to share how to get started with band lighting, working with a budget, and how to create a good show.
Main Segment (0:45)
David – Pete is from the UK and is a band guy. He plays in a few bands and is now also doing lighting for these bands. Pete, how did you get into lighting?
I had started by doing lighting for the bands I work with. We wanted to create a theatrical show and do something that none of the other bands were doing.
We thought if we could just figure out the lighting and effects we will be fine but it turned out to be much harder than we expected.
David – Yes, it can be really hard sometimes to get started and that’s why I began Learn Stage Lighting. That’s how you stumbled across the site, right Pete?
Right, even before that I had never even heard of DMX and had no idea what it even meant. We had our introduction show coming up and it was a big deal. One of our guys supposed to be figuring out how to use MIDI but he wasn’t really getting anywhere.
That’s when I had found Learn Stage Lighting and it really saved us. We already had a laptop and we decided to go with DMXIS because it was really easy to work with. Then all we needed were some lights and did get a few different types of Chauvet lights.
Once I was able to everything together I started watching your videos, the Zero to Lighting Hero and then the DMXIS tutorials as well. Once I got through those I was able to start working on the programming.
David – One of the things that I like about your show is that it is a rock show but has a theatrical essence to it as well. I feel that does come from the lighting design. When you start to program a song what do you think about as a musician when trying to choose and match the lighting to that song?
The first thing I would try to look at it from a color theme point of view. Then program in those different colors that would reflect the emotions of the music.
We didn’t have any moving lights but we used an Oscillator to depict motion. Then beyond that, we would use effects, props, etc.
David – I wanted to talk about how you trigger your shows because a lot of bands do ask about what console and programs they should use. What did you guys use to trigger your lights?
We decided to use Showbuddy and organized our songs that way. Then using DMXIS pulled the lighting prompts. So this had Showbuddy firing off all of the prompts and effects.
Then, once we had Showbuddy going we used the pedals on the stage. But we decided that we wanted more flexibility for the show so we got rid of Showbuddy and decided to stick with the foot pedals to control the triggers of the lights. That we found worked best for our band.
I really did like DMXIS because it was very easy to learn and use for our show. The show definitely puts on a good looking show.
David – The new scoop on Showbuddy Active is similar to DMXIS and now it can apparently work with audio and video.
Yeah, that’s similar to what we were looking for because we do use video in our shows. I’ve heard there’s a way to do this through DMXIS using MIDI.
David – There is another program called QLabs and that runs light, video, and audio. It is more expensive but it does have a rent to own option and it’s for Macs only.
So you have a new band going right?
Yes! We do have a new band called Son of What. It’s a great group of musicians and they do more rock music. So, that’s what I am working on today is setting up a small show for them and working on the lights.
Then, next week they are playing at a festival so we have a window of an hour only to get everything set up so I’ve been planning that show.
I did want to ask you, David, I know my way around DMXIS but what inspires your creative side?
David – Now that’s an interesting question! It’s a hard question to explain and teach others. In school, I did a lot of art classes and I believe that is what laid the groundwork for working with colors.
Another thing was that I watched a lot of others work in lighting. It’s really great to see what others are doing and what looks good. Just listening to the music and using that to help decide the colors.
Do you have like a top 10 Playlist on Youtube?
David – I do watch a lot of videos on YouTube. There’s a few from Genesis live and Pink Floyd has some great shows. Lighting wise U2 and Muse are awesome. A newer one is Twenty One Pilots is a band over here in the US that are 2 guys that do everything. Their lighting is really impressive.
Okay I’ll give those a look. I’ve been looking for more smaller shows because that is more relevant to what I am doing. Some of these bigger shows seem to have a lot going on.
We have gotten some great compliments on our lighting so that really helps. It may be a smaller show but it’s using what you have.
You’ve done a lot since I’ve joined and there’s been a lot more added in the past couple of years.
David – Yeah! I had a friend who has an audio website that challenged me to do videos for lighting in 30 days. That’s my series name 30 Days to Lighting Ninja.
That’s great and honestly, I don’t see anyone else that does what you do. It’s a very good community to be a part of.
David – Right, when I started there were other websites that taught lighting but they always disappeared. This is something I want to keep growing and that’s why I have Learn Stage Lighting Labs that helps offset the costs and keeps the site going.
We covered a lot today! But I appreciate talking to you today. Thanks!