10 Tips To Help Your Mobile Light Show Shine
Lighting is a central part of the service provided by professional mobile DJs. A good lightshow can transform dreary function rooms into dazzling party spaces and inject energy onto a dancefloor to encourage guests to strut their stuff. This list of 10 mobile lighting tips is intended to provide ideas and advice for everyone from new DJs setting up a lightshow for the first time through to experienced professionals looking to tweak their show to get the best possible effect from their fixtures.
1) Use a Mixture of Fixtures
Mobile DJ lighting units can broadly be divided into three categories: Washes (par cans, battens, etc.), Beams (moving heads, mirror scanners, barrel scanners, moonflowers etc.) and Effects (Lasers, UV, etc.). To create a varied and impactful mobile lightshow it’s best to utilise a mix of these different fixture types, especially Washes and Beams. The Washes provide broad swathes of coloured light to illuminate the room, while the Beams punch through these washes with more concentrated light that moves and changes to add energy and interest.
2) Direct your Effects
Each time you set up your show, spend time angling each of your lighting units so that together they fill the space effectively and uniformly. Take note of where the dancing will take place, and where people will likely be congregated to chat. Focus your Effects lights and Beams on the dance-floor and be careful to avoid lights shining into the eyes of people who aren’t dancing but having conversations at their tables. This can cause real annoyance to guests, possibly even leading them to leave the room and therefore making your job of encouraging them onto the dance-floor much harder.
3) Less is Sometimes More
When it comes to a mobile lightshow, the old adage ‘less is more’ is often true. A few good-quality fixtures, carefully chosen and effectively used, will generally look better than loads of random lights thrown together. Multiples of the same fixtures working in unison, especially moving heads and scanners, can be much more effective than the same number of individual units each doing something different.
4) Keep Control
While sometimes considered by DJs as a ‘black art’ DMX control is a powerful tool for controlling, and therefore getting the most from, a mobile lightshow. These days most lighting fixtures on the market are DMX compatible and there are some excellent, intuitive and affordable control options – both hardware and software. If you don’t want to go down the DMX route, linking together multiples of compatible fixtures in ‘Master/Slave’ mode and connecting a simple 3-button controller is an easy way to achieve a synchronised lightshow over which you have an element of control. If you are using ‘plug-and-play’ effects, connect them to a Switch Pack so that you can turn each one on and off individually. Cycle your effects throughout the night to keep things fresh.
5) Look with Your Audience’s Eyes
As DJs, we spend most of our time stood behind our console looking out at the dance-floor; we are positioned behind our lights seeing what they project onto the back of the venue. This view will be very different from that of the audience. Make sure you get out in front of your rig and look at what the guests at an event are seeing. I recommend doing these both when you set up and at least a few times while the event is in full flow.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 75, Pages 32-34.