Think Big To Get The Most Out Of Even A Small Lighting Budget

February 24, 2010 by Mobile Beat

Ask Alfred
Think Big To Get The Most Out Of Even A Small Lighting Budget
Don’t have a lot of money to spend on lighting? Not to worry, you can still achieve big results if you think big -and put together a coordinated system, rather than a collection of individual lights. That’s the view of Alfred Gonzales, National Sales Manager of American DJ. In this interview, Alfred draws on his extensive experience to share advice on building a system.

So, you’re big on thinking in terms of systems rather than lights, how come?
“I’ve worked many gigs of all types and sizes as a DJ, and from experience I can tell you that the best light shows aren’t necessarily the most expensive ones; they’re the ones that have been put together best as a system. You don’t need to have the most expensive fixtures, newest cutting-edge technologies, or greatest numbers of lighting units. What you do need is a well-balanced system, in which the various pieces in your toolchest complement each other and work together. Your lighting system, as a whole, should be able to cover all the different moods and activities that occur at the various venues you perform at — or even at a single event. That’s my philosophy of lighting.”

How does this philosophy translate into practical reality for the average DJ?
“I think it means have a diverse mix of lights so you can do a good job in a variety of situations. You have to think of the different types of gigs you play, then make sure that you have lights that fit all of the different moods you’ll be called upon to create. After all, this is a big part of what DJs do – they create moods.

“In most cases this will mean having a balance between mood and effects pieces. For example, you’ll want par cans, color washes or some other types of effects to create a laid back mood for the cocktail receptions and the beginnings of events. Then you might when the mood heats up, you’ll want moonflower effects, gobos, chasing bars and moving heads to enliven the atmosphere. Of course you can use fog or haze to transition from mood to mood.”

Does conveying different moods mean having a lot of different lights?
“Of course you need a variety of lights to create a variety of moods, but you can stretch your budget quite a bit today, thanks to the affordable lights that perform multiple functions. There are quite a view two-in-one lights in the American DJ line.”

Any examples?
“One that comes to mind instantly is our Mega Bar Pro. The thing I like about this light is that it can be used as a wall wash to set a soft, quiet mood, or as a heart stomping high energy color chaser. I also like the American DJ H2O LED; it’s a real budget stretcher because it can be used in combination with other high-energy effects to create some very memorable blends of images.”

Are there other ways to add versatility to your light show?
“Yes, I would definitely advise DJs not to over look the creative use of gobos. Changing gobos is a quick and affordable way to create different looks. I also suggest that you invest in a moving head, because even though it may be costly next to some other fixtures, it adds so much to a show. The pan and tilt capability of moving heads gives you great coverage — and you can use many as a gobo projector, which only increases their versatility.”

So, it’s not how much you spend as much as it is how smart you spend it that makes a great light show?
“Absolutely — this is true of lighting, just as it is with so many things in life, you can’t buy your way to a better light show. Lighting is a creative activity, and you can’t spend your way to creativity; you have to have a vision and then know how to make it happen. American DJ lights are tools to help you turn your vision into a great show. “

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This is the general editors account for Mobile Beat Magazine and Website. Who reads Mobile Beat online and in print and attends Mobile Beat events? DJs, VJs and KJs to start with, especially those who own and operate mobile entertainment services. They provide music, video, lighting and a myriad other entertainment choices for corporate events, wedding receptions, dances and innumerable other gatherings.


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