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Business Meets Pleasure: Lighting Corporate Shows

Posted on June 29, 2017

You’ve worked a lot of concerts and music festivals, as well as shows by artists at corporate events. Do you approach the two jobs differently from a lighting standpoint?

“I do look at corporate show and festival lighting differently, because they are two different animals. All corporate events, including their shows by national artists, tend to be more controlled since we have to include the corporate aspect of the event into the artist’s show lighting. We tend to have more restrictions when it comes to stage size, room size, ceiling height and power at a corporate event. If the artist has a rider that we must follow, then we’ll have to balance its requirements with those of the corporate sponsor. In most cases, we also have to use smaller fixtures at a corporate event. However, there is enough output from today’s compact LED fixtures that we don’t sacrifice much in the way of powerful looks. The overall outcome is that we have the right lighting for both the corporate partner and the artist.”

You like to use a lot of beams in your designs, but corporate events are often held at venues that don’t allow fog. Can you use beams in those cases? How do you adjust your design?

“I rarely use beams inside for a corporate event unless it’s call for by an artist or the design just screams out for it. I may be more old school, but I like to design corporate with more big aerial effects than beams. At venues with no haze, then we will use the walls, scenic elements or ceiling and throw breakups on them to create the look we need.”

Corporate concerts are also often held in rooms that are also serving as banquet halls. Do you try to blend your stage looks with the surrounding room when you do a corporate concert or do you just focus on the stage and not worry about the room?

“It all depends on the theme of the event, the room we’re in and other elements surrounding the concert. It also depends on whether or not we’re lighting other parts of the room besides the stage. In most cases, we’re also responsible for accent lighting the room, but sometimes it’s a separate company doing that. In either case, we try to blend the stage into the room theme when we can. Sometimes, however, when it’s a national artist our lighting will be pretty much just about the band. We’ll dim or turn off the room lighting and only do the stage until the band in done. Then it’s more like a concert project.”

Regardless of the artist though, we know setup time is typically tight at corporate events. How does this influence your design or the fixtures you select? Are you less likely to use scenic elements?

“Timing is always the wildcard at corporate events. I’ve never been involved in an event where everyone didn’t wish they had an extra day to get ready. Most of the time, though, we have only 24 hours to set, program, show and strike. There are events when we do have to adjust the lighting design for the artist’s show to fit the time line we’re forced to work within. This is a lot easier today because of all the new technology. With all of the LED engines, we can create a design with fewer — and most importantly, less cable management. Attaching fixtures and wiring up truss almost take less time than flying soco cables all over. The more we can use the new LED engine fixtures, the better; because fewer cables are needed, less power is drawn and less time is spent on the install.”

Corporate concerts draw a mixed crowd as far as age groups are concerned…does this make you design more conservatively? Do you use audience blinders?

“Yes corporate audiences are different, but it also depends on the artist’s needs. If a national artist calls for blinders, we will have blinders. If we design a lighting package, we will also design it around the theme and type of music. So if it’s a rock theme, yes blinders. If it’s kick back jazz, no blinders. If DJ or cover band, we need to just use the moving lights as a crowd wash when needed and strobe when needed. We always design around the theme of the music and the notoriety of the artist.”

What is the most important thing to remember when designer a corporate concert?

“I think what’s important is making sure your customer receives the best experience you can offer. So when it comes to lighting, use the lighting to make a statement when a statement is called for, but at other times keep lighting soft and easy since you’re dealing with a business event. A corporate event is all about seamlessly creating different looks with your lighting. In most cases, the same event will move through different phases that call for different types of lighting, from accent and scenic to stage washing and dance floor, as well as concert lighting for your artist’s performance. No matter how much you want to create big looks for the artists, you can’t do this at the cost of sacrificing flexibility. Unlike a concert on a tour, a corporate event concert happens within the context of other things, so your rig has to be flexible enough to make transitions.”