When planning a wedding or other special event, you may encounter industry jargon that can quickly become confusing and overwhelming. You may hear words like ‘leko’ and ‘par,’ and with no prior knowledge of lighting equipment and techniques, it can be a daunting task to effectively communicate with your project manager to achieve your dream vision. Today, we will cover the basic lighting styles that are encompassed by the term architectural lighting, and the appropriate vocabulary for each type of lighting.
Wall washing or uplighting, as its name suggests, is a type of lighting that projects an upward-facing beam. This service is the most frequently used and offers the best bang for your buck, as it can completely change the look of your venue. This type of lighting is the best place to start when building your event design, and is often considered the base coat of the design.
The fixtures used for this type of lighting are called pars, and there are incandescent and LED versions of these fixtures. For the incandescent fixtures, we use ‘gels,’ which are a thin colored film that is placed on the fixture to change the color of the light beam. LED fixtures can be programmed to project any single color light beam, or they can be programmed to cycle through various colors throughout the event.
Dance floor washes
Dance floor washes illuminate the dance floor in a rich amber or pink and project a softly-focused pattern to break up the harsh beams. Projecting the pattern slightly out-of-focus ensures no rigid beams are projected onto you or your guests, and blends into the floor more beautifully than in-focus patterns. Using 2 fixtures, we are able to adequately cover the entire dance floor and provide light coverage from 2 different angles. Dance floor washes look great on any color floor, but they truly transform dark wood or concrete floors to a more inviting place for your guests to enjoy.
For this style of lighting we use high-wattage fixtures called lekos, which feature ‘shutters’ that can be adjusted to frame the light, as well as a slot to accept a gobo. Gobos are sheets of steel or glass that are cut into a certain pattern or image, such as your initials, company logo, or autumn foliage. We also equip these fixtures with dimmers so that the atmosphere can be controlled throughout the evening.
Using the same light fixture as a dance floor wash, we project an in-focus pattern onto the ceiling of your venue. The number of fixtures required is dependent on the space, but this style of lighting typically requires at least 4 lekos. Ceiling washes can feature any colors, but for dark venues or venues with very high ceilings, lighter colors tend to work best.
Notice a pattern? Stair washes also use lekos, but generally require fewer fixtures than a ceiling wash. Projecting a full gobo pattern rather than a special shape typically works best, and having the pattern be slightly out-of focus also results in a better looking stair wash, as not to project harsh lines onto you or your guests. Any skin tone friendly colors such as amber or pink will produce optimum results.
Wall breakup patterns
Using the same fixtures as all other wash lighting techniques, we are able to project a special pattern onto a wall, such as polka dots, clouds, paisley, or even snowflakes. These patterns will be in-focus since they do not come in direct contact with your guests, and can be displayed in any color desired.
Unlike indoor event spaces, tents do not typically have permanent lighting installed. Working with a lighting designer can help illuminate the structures according to your personal style and event theme, and can also function as a safety feature in a space that would have otherwise been inadequately lit.
For tent lighting, we typically use a mixture of pars and lekos to achieve different results. The pars, mounted on the sides of the tent, point upwards to wash the lining of the ceiling. For more intricate designs, we use lekos to project a pattern for a ceiling wash. These 2 fixtures can also be used together to create a custom design.