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.
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.
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.)
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.
More LED inspirations
LED tapes can be used to fabricate unique props and costuming, like this otherworldly full-face mask.
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:
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.
• 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
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
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
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.
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.
More useful LED products for stage-lighting applications
Strip lights aren’t the only LED devices that can help with stage lighting design.
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.
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.
LED downlights can be fitted around a stage, up walls and backdrops, and even in ceilings in some venues.
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.
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.