Best Lighting for B2B Events
Not all lighting is the same.
For example, the type of lighting scheme that is used for a live music event is quite different from the set-up for a B2B event. Imagine, the CEO is onstage making a key point about the future of the industry, and the lights begin to flicker and swirl the podium in a figure-eight pattern. Or, an educational session where the lights continuously move, shining into the audience before heading back to the speaker.
There are definitely corporate and industry events where this type of lighting is appropriate, such as a product announcement or an award ceremony. However, for most elements of a B2B event, flashy, concert-style lighting would be thematically unsuitable, potentially annoying (or cheesy), and needlessly costly.
That’s not to say that the lighting at a B2B or corporate event needs to be boring. Sometimes the subtlest lighting produces the most impressive results. The right lights in the right places can completely transform any event space.
Event Lighting 101
Being presented with lighting options from a vendor can sometimes feel like you’ve wandered into a country where you are the only person who doesn’t speak the language. That’s because lighting descriptions tend to be filled with technical and industry jargon. Sure, it’s nice to know that you have the option to use eight spots with a 50-foot throw. However, do you need them, and what are they anyway?
In general, there are two styles of event lighting: spots and floods. Most people have heard of a spotlight but may not have considered the aptness of the term. A spotlight is a narrow beam of light used to highlight a specific person (such as a speaker at a podium) or an object (such as a product). The term floodlight may be less well known, but the name is equally apropos. A floodlight (which is also known as a “wash”) is broad lighting that fills an area. So, while spotlights are intense and directional, floodlights tend to be subdued and wide.
The light from both a spot and flood must travel a certain distance to reach its intended target. The length that light is meant to travel is known as the throw. Similarly, a bulb’s light is also designed to cover a specific amount of space. This is called the light’s spread. Lights with longer throws also have wider spreads.
There are two broad categorizations of lighting systems: automated and conventional. Automated lighting is when the lights have motorized movement, such as tilting, panning, and dimming. Automated lights are usually operated from a console controlled by a lighting professional. Conventional lights are stationary lights that need to be set up by a professional. However, once they are set, they remain stationary until the show is over. However, a system of lights does not have to be one or the other. Frequently conventional lighting is found side-by-side with automated lights. You may also hear the phrase “ambient lighting.” This is any light that already illuminates the venue before additional lighting is added, such as installed light fixtures and sunlight through windows.
The act of placing and portioning the lights is known as rigging. Rigging usually requires a wide assortment of equipment to accomplish, including the truss, which is the metal frame used to attach the light.
Color temperature is the warmth or coolness of a lightbulb. While this is a literal temperature measured in Kelvins, it is best evaluated with your eyes. Warm lights (2000-3000 K) cast orange and yellow glows, cool lights (3100-4500 K) are mostly while, and daylight bulbs (4600-6500 K) give off a bluish hue.
There are also some specific lights that vendors may recommend. LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are environmentally friendly lights that, unlike conventional (incandescent) lightbulbs, do not have filaments that burn out. Instead, they’re illuminated by the movement of electrons. Where incandescent lightbulbs work by converting electrical energy into heat and then into light, LEDs convert electrical energy directly into light. It’s a process where little electrical energy is wasted.
You may also hear light techs talking about Lekos and Klieg lights. These are different types of spotlights made by competing companies (Leko is an abbreviation of Lekolite). These lights work by housing a bulb in a “half-ellipsoidal dome reflector.” The light is manipulated by adjusting the unit’s iris and shutters. Both types of lights may also be referred to as an ellipsoidal.
Ellipsoidals usually contain a slot for a Gobo. A Gobo is essentially a stencil but for light. It is used to create a pattern on a floor or wall. Gobos produce crisp designs, can be extremely detailed, and include colors.
Possible Lighting Effects
Often the average ballroom or conference room used for an event is just that: average. That’s where lighting can really make a difference. Uplighting is a very common technique used at events, but that doesn’t mean the effect is common.
Uplighting is achieved by placing lights on the floor and aiming them up a wall or drapes. The effect dramatically changes the feel of a room by brightening it and creating interesting shadows at the same time. Since colored lighting can be used, uplighting can also transform an event hall’s typically neutral color scheme into something vibrant and intriguing.
Using Gobos for Branding
Today’s event attendee appreciates that branding is a part of the event, but they prefer subtle and interesting twists on traditional marketing. That being said, it is essential to get your logo (and the logos of your sponsors) in front of your crowd. That’s where Gobos can provide an edge.
Because Gobos can project any pattern or image, they are perfect for casting a logo on any surface imaginable, including the floor or ceiling. The effect is stunning. The crisp look of a logo projected in full color is impossible to ignore.
Not only is the effect impressive, but it is economical, as well. Getting a massive image of a logo on a wall is costly to produce and costly to hang and remove. However, with a Gobo, the cost is simply in creating the custom Gobo and renting the light. The versatility and flexibility of using Gobos cannot be overstated.
Additionally, your creative use of Gobos does not need to stop at a logo. Gobos can transform a beige wall into a garden of flowers, a forest of trees, or a night of stars. There’s no limit to the inventive ways that Gobos can help brand your event and keep the theme consistent.
Pin lights are tiny spotlights that are spread throughout a venue. Pin lights can be attached to ceiling rigging, if it is available, or rigged to racks that are hoisted on tall pipes with heavily weighted bases to ensure stability.
Pin lights add a dramatic effect to any object. Imagine a spotlight shining on an actor on an otherwise darkened stage. That’s the effect that pin lights have when they illuminate objects throughout a venue. Pin lights are often used at dinners to make centerpieces appear even more vibrant, and they also draw attention to product displays.
LED Outlined Walls
LED strips are commonly used in houses as accent lighting. Typically, these lights are recessed in ceilings or hidden under cabinets and counters. For an LED outline, the LED strips are prominently displayed along the edges where walls and ceilings meet. The effect literally outlines a room in light. It makes a dramatic impact on a room and immediately sets the mood for attendees.