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LEDs for theatre sets and stage lighting2018-11-28T11:29:17+00:00

If you’re involved in stage lighting design and construction, LEDs can be a great way to achieve impressive, reliable and flexible effect.

Every stage is different, each event is a new challenge… and often the lighting is the most important aspect. That’s fine, because LEDs can be used for stage lighting in a variety of ways.

There are many different LED products and techniques that you can use in your stage lighting design. Let’s take a look at some of the most useful.


Using LED strips in stage lighting design
– how and where

LED strip lighting can be used to highlight areas of the stage, or to create striking divisions and borders. This can be achieved either by ‘hiding’ the LEDs (positioning them out of the audience’s direct line-of-sight) so their light falls onto a surface creating a glow effect, or by mounting them in plain view.

LED strips used to create formal spaces in set design - image/video from John Wick 2

LED strips create formal spaces in the movie John Wick Chapter 2

Stalls bar in this theatre is lit by 10-watt unbranded LEDs

Entrance to the Stalls Bar, ENO London Colliseum

Different levels of brightness from your LED strips will produce different effects, and throw light over longer or shorter distances. (The brightness of LED strips is often measured by their wattage or power, although the more correct scale for comparison is lumens per metre.)

Simply adjusting the space between the LEDs and the surface to be lit can create a range of effects, depending on what you want to achieve.

For example strip lights can be mounted on stair treads, to shine up and add a glow to a flight of steps.  We created an effect like this for the stage of the London Fashion Awards in 2016.

This kind of configuration can be used to highlight the edge of stages, pillars, trussing, or any area that you want to draw the eye towards.

InStyle's warm white LEDs lighting The Fashion Awards stage steps (2016)


LED profiles

If your lighting design includes LEDs placed in plain view, then mounting them in an LED profile could be an excellent option.

Our range of LED profiles / extrusions have a frosted acrylic cover that helps diffuse the light from the LED strip’s diodes, to create a smooth bar of light – ideal when an audience can clearly see the strip.

Profiles can often make installation easier too – they’re supplied with their own fixing clips.

InStyle supply a wide range of aluminium profiles / extrusions, typically available in standard 1m or 2m lengths. (They can be cut or butted together to create shorter or longer lengths, if required.)

Tube-surface aluminium LED profile - diffused cover open

Tube surface LED extrusion - split view

This awesome stage-light effect was created by mounting powerful 20-watt RGBW LEDs in our aluminium tube extrusion.

The LEDs are positioned to face outwards, so the audience’s line-of-sight sees them at their brightest.

NERO gig - RGBW LEDs by InStyle

InStyle’s 20W RGBW LED strips mounted in aluminium tube extrusion – NERO live in 2016


Props & lightboxes

LED strips can be fitted inside transparent / translucent stage features, to make them glow (similar to a traditional LED lightbox). These pics show InStyle’s RGBW LED strips creating dynamic colour-change effects at the Shepherds Bush Empire.

Creative application of LED tapes can add prominence to stage props and assets. Manchester synth-pop duo Hurts used InStyle LED strips (20W RGBW again) on their 2016 Surrender tour to focus attention on the Grand Piano played by Adam Anderson.

Design for piano's three independently-controlled DMX zones

Hurts heat up on tour


More LED inspirations

To provide pre-programmed lighting effects, self-contained LED products like the Ultra-V-Box or this Retro mobile lighting system can be a very effective, straightforward approach.

Both of these cabinet lightboxes were created by Dave Basford of Studio 2, using InStyle LED tapes.

The Ultra-V-Box - UV mobile DJ lighting showreel

The Ultra-V-Box

Retro Lightbox #1

The Retro lightbox

LED tapes can be used to fabricate unique props and costuming, like this otherworldly full-face mask.

LED mask by Jamie Evans

LED mask in full colour

LED mask - design sketch


What colours & white lights can I use in my stage lighting design?

We offer LED tapes in a wide range of colours and brightnesses. Choose from:

white LED strips – from very warm to very cool whites: standard stock colour temperatures include 2400 Kelvins, 2700K , 3000K, 4000K , 5500K & 6500K


20 Watt White LED Tape (240 LEDs)

19.2 watt RGBW LED tape on a reel

colour-control LED tapes – RGB (red/green/blue lights) mixed at source | RGB + warm white (3000K) | RGB + cool white (6000K)


specialist colour-mixingDual-White (CCT) LED strips have warm 2700K and cool 6000K LEDs mounted in tandem, to mix any shade of white light | 5-colour RGB+CCT LED strips offer a palette of red/green/blue + warm/cool whites for the ultimate in colour mixing and control


24 watt RGB + dual-white (CCT) LED tape on a reel

14.4 Watt 5050 SMD colour LED Tape on a Reel

single-colour LED tapes – stage lighting for a particular show may not require full colour control, so we have a full range of fixed-colour LED strips (red, green, blue, pink, orange and amber available as standard; other colours on request)


Ordering and installing your LEDs

Ordering your LED tape pre-cut makes building your stage or set easier.

Send us a list of the lengths you need, or a sketch/diagram, and InStyle’s technicians will cut and solder your LED strips to the exact dimensions. We’ll also attach custom-length starter lead cabling and flexible corner links if required.

You’ll receive your order packaged and labelled by area/zone, for an easy installation. There’s a wealth of helpful support info on our website, and if your electricians need more advice then our LED experts can talk them through any issues.

Ordering checklist:

When ordering white or single-colour LED strips – you’ll need a compatible LED power supply too

When ordering colour-control LED strips (RGB / RGBW / CCT) – you’ll need a compatible LED power supply + an LED receiver + an appropriate controller for your LED colour palette

Cutting & soldering LED strips - feature pic


What brightness should I choose?

Check out the full specs of our LED tapes here.

As a guide, if you are adding highlights / feature lighting to your stage or props, these LED tapes should be your first choice

  • 5W / 10W products (if using white or single-colour LEDs)
  • 7.5W / 10W products (if using RGB/RGBW colour-mixing LEDs)
  • 12W dual-white LEDs

5-watt blue LED tape unspooled

10-watt LED tape (daylight white option)

If you need to create more intense primary lighting, extra-bright features, or rich wash effects on walls or other surfaces, then try these LED tapes

  • 12W / 15W / 20W / 24W products (if using white or single-colour LEDs)
  • 15W / 20W products (if using RGB/RGBW colour-mixing LEDs)
  • 24W dual-white LEDs

15W pink LED strip lights

24-watt white LED tape unspooled from its reel

LED controllers for stage lighting

InStyle offer a variety of useful controllers and receivers to control your lighting designs.

The right option for you might include RF-signal remote or fixed-panel controllers, 0-10V or TRIAC-dimming modules, or more complex and flexible DMX or DALI control systems. You can even control your stage lights via an Android/ioS app.

Button-press DMX control panel (stainless steel) - white, single-colour or colour-change

Controllers are here

5-channel RF receiver for 5-colour compound LEDs (dual-white / RGB mix)

Receivers are here

DMX control is probably the standard for professional stage-lighting.  This highly-regarded and reliable protocol can use a range of head units (typically a DMX control-desk or a PC with DMX interface) to control lights and other fittings through a single system.

This allows all lights to be dimmed, colours to be selected and adjusted across lighting zones independently of each other, etc.

16-bit 4-channel DMX 512 receiver for LEDs

DMX receivers


More useful LED products for stage-lighting applications

Strip lights aren’t the only LED devices that can help with stage lighting design.

300 degree LED tape light - available in whites, single-colours, RGB & RGBW options

This LED tube light is a simple and efficient way to create angular hyperreal effects and settings. It can be attached to a wall or suspended at any angle, and it’s available in a range of single colours and colour-changing options.

White 300-degree LED tube light

Red 300-degree LED tube light

Green 300-degree LED tube light

Blue 300-degree LED tube light

When managed via a DMX controller, it’s an eye-catching way to create all kinds of strobes, chase effects and other dramatic sequencing.

If you have a large backdrop to light, then one of our high-power LED RGB/RGBW wall-washers may be ideal.

These do exactly what the name suggests, offering enough lighting power to illuminate surfaces up to 5m high.

Stooshe performance - purple LED lights

Fashion press event showcases LED wall-wash effects

8-bulb LED wash light - white, single-colour & colour-change options

19.2 watt LED downlight - white, single-colour & colour-change options

LED downlights can be fitted around a stage, up walls and backdrops, and even in ceilings in some venues.

Green LED downlights

Downlights allow the lighting designer to add beams of light, rather than a wash effect.

InStyle’s range of downlight products offer a choice of optic-lens options, each giving its beam a different ‘spread’ – so your design can specify a wide light-wash or a tighter (wall-graze) focus.

If your production or performance needs more than just standard preprogrammed lighting sequences, LED digital tapes could be the solution. Each digital LED is individually addressable, so it can be driven by a custom-written program.

Dim, mix colours and create waves of light along the length of the tape. LEDs can be controlled in bespoke groups or independently in separate blocks of three, to create striking and utterly unique lighting.

Fitclub - SPI digital LEDs offer full colour control

Samba Swirl ceiling LED strip - red colour sequence

Digital LED tape showreel

Custom programming for digital LED strips

Programmable LED strip lights (SPI digital)

LEDs for theatre sets and stage lighting

Among the most ubiquitous and popular of stage-lighting products are the many types of LED moving head units. Available in a choice of white-light or colour-change (RGBW) LEDs, these devices can move to follow the show dynamically and throw exciting lighting effects in the audience. They’re a great way to really bring the set to life!

Prolight moving head units can be ordered through InStyle LED as part of your LED lighting project, or directly from Prolight.


These recommendations apply to InStyle’s commercial-grade Epistar-branded LED strip lights. For lower-grade strip lights from elsewhere, adjust accordingly.