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  #1  
Old 10-19-2008, 10:27 AM
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Default stage lighting on a budget... help

hey guys whats happenin?

my band is in need of some simple stage lighting.
as of now we have nothing.
we need something simple, inexpensive, small, and easy to transport.

we arent really looking for lots of flashing lights or anything.

what, if anything, do you guys use? what do you recommend?
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Old 10-19-2008, 12:13 PM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

by the way,

i was thinking about it some more and would like to get at least some front and back wash lighting as well as some type of effect to shine on the ceiling or out into the crowd.

should we mount the stuff off the ground? on tripods? or all out with those spans?

we arent looking to blow peoples minds, just meet the needs of the customer.
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Old 10-19-2008, 03:41 PM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

Years back I was in a band with no budget. For lights we went to a wholesaler and bought 24 reclaimed reccessed ceiling cans for a few bucks a piece. We used conduit clamps on the front of them for gel holders and ladder hangers put together to hang them from a truss made of old TV tower. We used lamp cord and cheap plugs to wire them to a homemade box full of stomp switches. It was done very cheaply and when all said and done, didn't look that bad with the lights out in a dirty bar. When we made a little money we bought a small light board and dimmer packs and then eventually bought a bunch of chrome PAR 56's on aluminum tripods.
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Old 10-20-2008, 02:16 AM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

after talking with the guys and looking around mf, i think were gonna use 2 lighting packages containing 4 - par 38s, a tripod stand, stomp box, and needed wiring at the back corners of the stage looking up, out, and across the stage with a plain white flood light directly behind me in the center. we also want to get a small fog machine to give the lights something to shine on.

we are wanting to give the stage a bluesier feel with all the lights mounted low without too much show. wed like to use mostly blue light for one set, full color for another, and pure white for the last.

does anyone else have any ideas, opinions?
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Old 10-20-2008, 02:19 AM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

The first thing to realize when you step into the world of lighting is that traditionally, light are going to be you absolute largest power draw- way bigger than your PA, your stage amps, and anything else you can throw up there. In fact, stage lights will draw so much current that most bars won't be able to support much lighting (if at all). Expect to flip a few breakers.

That said, technology is finally starting to catch up. High efficiency, low wattage bulbs are finally starting to infiltrate (albeit slowly), and LED cans are slowly starting to come up to spec with PAR cans, and with far less power consumption. Unfortunately, the price is often prohibitive.

So, you want to get into lights on a budget? There are 2 categories that you've mentioned that you want- stage wash and color wash (pointing out at the audience). The color wash doesn't need to be high wattage necessarily, and depending on how dark the performance space is, the stage wash might not need to be super bright either. I'd also suggest getting a small fog machine if you don't play in a lot of smoky bars (go out on Nov 1 and buy one in the clearance Halloween section). The light will catch on the fog or smoke and really help out your color wash. Depending on how low your budget is, here are some options.

1) Cheapo, cheapo, cheapo- probably $30-100:

Buy some shop lights with clamps built in. I'd suggest at least one per band member. Clamp this light to a mic stand, amp, cymbal stand, or anything close to the band member. Point it AWAY from the audience and at the band member. :-) Now you can see him. For color, you can buy a regular cylinder fixture and tape a colored gel sheet at the end (do it loosely so the gel doesn't get too hot). Alternately, you can buy a colored bulb and use the same cylindrical fixture- this time, though, get some tissue paper or something (especially if using the cool low wattage bulbs) and put it over the end to diffuse the light a bit. Be aware that incandescent bulbs generate a lot of heat- enough to melt gel packs and set fire to other things.

2) Less cheapo, the nice "bar band" option- probably about $3-400:

One of these for stage wash, and one of these behind the drummer. Alternately, you can get two of the lighting truss packages and set them up on either side of the band, crossfiring across the stage.

You might try one or two of these LED lights, but I've got no experience with them and can't vouch for their brightness. Some say two cans can light up an entire stage. I don't know- two years ago I would have said no way after seeing some lousy ones in action, but today? Who knows.

For what it's worth, here was my first lighting system:

I bought some of those spotlight fixtures designed for outdoors, and plenty of 100W bulbs. I then bought some long plastic planters and mounted the fixtures inside. I bought some sheets of colored gel from a local audio rental shop and taped them to the edges of the planters. The plugs all ran out to a homemade dimmer made with household dim switches mounted in a Radio Shack box. Found out pretty quick that all that wattage was more than the dimmers were designed for... :-) So no matter what you do, your lights will be better than mine (although mine still worked perfectly).

Oh, one more thing. Please don't use a ton of color in your stage wash- not if that's the only thing you've got lighting the stage. Use your back line for color, and keep your front line fairly neutral- either naked bulbs or mute colored gels. To me, there's nothing worse than a band spending a bunch of money on lights just so that they will be washed out in green or red the whole night. Color will work if it's all on most of the time- the colors will mix to white- but you're just hurting yourself if the whole stage is one color all night long.

Check it out. Washed out. Red from behind, pink/magenta from in front. I'm sure this is just one scene of many in the concert, but imagine looking at this all night...


Much better. Red behind, some blues and yellows coming down, but the whole band is lit from the FRONT with neutral colors to make them visible and look good.


Another awkward example. Blue is coming from every direction. Would not be fun to look at for an entire show or an entire song.


Another really good one. You see some blues in the background, as well as some magenta, but the performers are in white.


Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox now. :-) Good luck!
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Old 10-20-2008, 03:52 AM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

yeah look like ill do what we were planning except some small white on each band member.

and keep in mind we have NO crew so we cant really have moving or changing lights. its just the four of us all with another bigger priority. playing music. we just want something that will look good for a long period of time. not too distracting. just something to set the atmosphere and mood.
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Old 10-20-2008, 05:53 AM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

I have seen the following from touring bands at large bar venues.

A very low key stage light (which you could replicate with cheaply from Lowes) with 1) a couple of household floor lamps or 2) only a lighted acrylic set (which, of course, not everyone owns).
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Old 10-20-2008, 10:51 AM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

mf has par 36 spotlights for $10 each that can use colored plastic lens caps. i think were gonna get like 12 of those (four in each back corner, one on each person) and a cheap flood light behind me.
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Old 10-20-2008, 02:27 PM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbmills View Post
mf has par 36 spotlights for $10 each that can use colored plastic lens caps. i think were gonna get like 12 of those (four in each back corner, one on each person) and a cheap flood light behind me.
The 36 spots don't put out a lot of light, especially when the colored filter goes on. They're good for things like disco balls, but not so good for lighting people. The $10 shop lamp from Wal-Mart will do much better, with the clamp built in. If you want color, you can always get colored bulbs.
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Old 10-20-2008, 07:16 PM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkerwood View Post
The 36 spots don't put out a lot of light, especially when the colored filter goes on. They're good for things like disco balls, but not so good for lighting people. The $10 shop lamp from Wal-Mart will do much better, with the clamp built in. If you want color, you can always get colored bulbs.
were are not wanting to much light but what about the 38?
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Old 10-20-2008, 07:44 PM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

The PAR 38 should cover your needs. Know that you'll need to be relatively close for the 38s to be adequate- more than about 5-10 feet, and they start to fade pretty badly. I use 8 38s on the front to cover stage wash. I mount 3 cans to the speaker stands with at least one on each side pointed back toward the drummer. One can mounts to a 2x4 on the group in front of the guitarist and the bassist (2 cans total). If we're really hurting for light, I'll break out a couple of 36 spots and point them at the drummer. I then use a couple of effects lights shooting up from behind the drummer to give some color.

This setup is fairly "adequate". We plug the 6 lights into a dimmer box set on chase, which provides some variety in the color scheme, as well as the effects lights in the back.

We've thought about getting more extensive, but we already pop breakers in some locations with the lights we have.
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Old 10-20-2008, 08:20 PM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

that sounds cool, but we dont need nearly that much. we just want some light and color.

we played at a fraternity house last may and played in a dark room with almost no light.
now, technically it was our responsibility to bring light but we were told that it would be provided. all in all it was kinda cool because it was just a dark jam session with a few fans, but we need to have something to brighten the room.

we did like the feel of that and just want a little back lighting. i think were starting with just 8 colored 38s - 4 in each of the back corners. as of now we are planning on not using front lighting. we are shooting for a dark yet colored stage with silhouettes of the band. if the 38s are too much or not enough we can still use those in another place (either up front on the band or something else) and get bigger cans for the backlighting. on musicians friend, 8x par 38 cans, 8 lamps, and 2 standard color gel sets come out to about $155. we will look for a fog machine at a halloween shop like you were talking about ($30ish), and might get a flood light behind me ($15ish)...

all together it should cost around $200 total. not too bad split between four people. sure id like more but having only $600 in the pa and knowing that the best thing for our "image" is that we sound good and play well (most bands around tuscaloosa are really lame) makes a bigger investment unnecessary.
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Old 10-21-2008, 04:56 AM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

How do you plan to mount the lights? Clamps are going to be necessary if you don't buy them in a pack... that's why I recommend the packs.

You CAN semi-permanently mount them by bolting them to a 2x4, and you could even lean that up in a corner, but it won't be very portable.

If you're going specifically for the silhouette look, that's fine, but be aware that some people will want to see you. That's why people go out for live music- to see and feel what they can normally hear. After all, isn't that the major difference (besides price) between bands and a DJ?

Anyway, best of luck to you and enjoy your new purchase!
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:09 AM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

we are just going to build a box frame to mount them in.
and tuscaloosa is not a beacon of musical talent. at most of the places we play, we are just a jukebox... sucks.
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Old 10-21-2008, 04:53 PM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

Quote:
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we are just going to build a box frame to mount them in.
and tuscaloosa is not a beacon of musical talent. at most of the places we play, we are just a jukebox... sucks.
Exactly my point. Consider this: If the bar owner wants a jukebox, buying a jukebox or hiring a DJ is a far simpler and cheaper (and, thanks to the heaps of loser bands out there, more reliable) solution than hiring an entire band.

And yet they still hire a band. Why? Because for whatever reason, people there like live music. It might get more people in the door, or it might simply sell more drinks once the patrons are inside. In any event, there's something different about "live" music. I submit that while there is certainly an audible difference, the general public really just prefers the excitement of live music over recordings. Part of that excitement for many is the chance to connect with the music by connecting with the musicians performing it. That means being able to see them.

I'm not advocating turning it into a concert. After all, you're hired (I'm gathering) to be background music- something danceable, yet not so overpowering that patrons are unable to carry on a conversation. All I'm saying is that you lose a certain part of that excitement if the band is nearly invisible, and if live music is what's pulling people in and keeping people there, you don't WANT to be invisible.
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:22 PM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

you are right i dont want to be invisible. as of right now, we are. any light should help. we will get somekind of frontlighting.
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Old 10-20-2010, 09:58 AM
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Default Re: stage lighting on a budget... help

Let the beat of the music activate the projector nowadays. This Mini Laser Stage Lights Projector can be activated by sound or you can select automatic and it will keep projecting visually interesting patterns.this cool Mini Laser Stage Disco Lighting Projector will provide the ultimate environment for having a good time.
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