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The Power Of Stage Lighting

There’s nothing quite like the feeling great quality stage lighting brings. It has the power to set the mood, excite the senses and create an intense emotional response. With the flick of a switch, you can invoke anger or sadness, convey a message, and energize the room. But what is stage lighting exactly, and why does it possess such a powerful ability to delve deeply into our emotions? Let’s find out.

What Is Stage Lighting?

Stage lighting is the art of lighting productions like dance, performing arts, opera, etc. There are multiple forms of stage lighting, from basic to complex, all with specific designs to create a unique and stunning ambience. 

Where Is Stage Lighting Used?

Stage lighting is used in a variety of settings, from the small to the large scale. It’s common to see a form of stage lighting used in concerts, corporate events, television, photographic studios, trade shows, churches, and more. 

The History Of Stage Lighting

Although we equate stage lighting as a modern invention, people have used it for centuries. The earliest form of stage lighting wasn’t with LED or even incandescent bulbs; instead, it used what occurred naturally, the sun. Early Grecian and Roman theaters were constructed facing east to west so the afternoon sun would only shine on the actors, not those in the orchestra. This impressive form of lighting worked as a stage spotlight to bring the audience’s focus to the intended target. 

This design continued for centuries, with English theaters constructing an open-top to utilize the natural light; however, as theaters began moving indoors, the need for artificial lighting became necessary. Candlelight became the preferred method in these new indoor locations, but their ability to set fire and burn down buildings within minutes meant they weren’t an ideal solution.

As time progressed and theaters grew in size, the need for larger lighting sources increased, and we see the emergence of the chandelier. Although it solved the problem of lighting the stage, chandeliers would drip hot wax on the audience and actors, and the candles inside them needed constant trimming, making them a less than perfect solution. 

There were very few advancements to stage lighting for over two hundred years until the 1820s when the gas light emerged. Gas lighting was a game-changer and opened new doors previously unimaginable. Gas lights were a fairly simple design where a gas flame would heat a cylinder of calcium oxide, also known as quicklime, and would begin incandescing once it met a specific temperature. Stagehands could then direct this light using reflectors and lenses toward the stage. Limelight, as it was called, was used until the invention of electric lighting, but they successfully paved the way for the lighting advancements we enjoy in today’s modern world. 

What Functions Do Stage Lights Have?

Stage lighting has many functions, each integral in creating a unique look and feel for each performance. 

Position, Hanging, and Focus

The position of the lighting refers to the location where it is located, either on permanent structures or in a theater’s fly system. Hanging is when you put the lighting instrument in the position where it belongs, and the focus is where you point it. There are two types of lighting instruments – automated and scanners. Automated instruments move through motorization, and scanners are manual. With a scanner, the light fixture is made up of a lamp, transformer, circuit boards, and effects (iris, color, etc.). A mirror near the instrument pans and tilts it around, which causes the beam of light to move. 


The intensity of stage lighting is measured in three ways, foot candles, lux, and lumens. There are many factors that determine the intensity of the lighting instrument (known as luminaire), including:

  • Optical obstructions (mechanical filters or color gels)
  • fixture field angle
  • lamp power
  • Instruments design
  • Material and color being lit
  • The contrast of the other illumination regions


When speaking of stage lighting, the direction means the lamp’s output’s evenness, quality, and shape. Three factors primarily influence the pattern of light the instrument creates. The first is how the pattern of the lamp is directly affected by how it’s focused. Every lighting instrument has beams of light that it emits. When the cones of light interset at the distance of the stage (throw distance), it creates a sharp definition known as a hard edge. When the cones don’t intersect at the throw distance, it creates a fuzzy soft edge. The light can also be made to have a “fat and soft” or “thin and soft” pattern. 

Secondly, the light can create waves, stars, leaves, or other similar patterns by using a Gobo template. Gobo templates are generally thin sheets of metal cut into a specific shape. Lastly, the lamp’s directional output is affected by the specifics of the instrument’s assembly, including the reflector, lamp, and lens. By using different mounting positions, shapes, reflector sizes, and the lense’s nature, you can control the pattern the light puts out. 


The unit of measurement used for color temperature is called Kelvins. Four determining factors influence the color the light emits, including the power level, the color of the material it is lighting, the lamp color, and the gel colors in its optical path. Depending on the type of lamp you choose, there are different ways to change its color to create a custom look and feel.  



A stage spotlight can direct the audience’s attention to a specific area on stage or effectively distract them from another.


Stage lights can be turned into multiple colors creating exciting visual effects like strobing for concerts, raves, and shows.


You can use a stage spotlight to project the appearance of scenery on stage.


If the audience cannot see what is happening on stage, the performance is ruined. Stage lighting provides the necessary visibility for the audience to enjoy the performance and keep the actors safe.


Lighting has the power to set the tone and mood of a scene. Using different colors can mirror the actor’s emotions and directly connect to the audience.

Stage Composition

Stage lighting can paint a picture for the audience of the composition of the stage, drawing the audiences’ attention to areas the director wants to highlight.

Plot Advancement

Lighting can be used to help advance the plot by triggering actions off or on stage.

Form Revelation

Stage lighting can alter the audience’s perception of multiple shapes on stage and is especially effective for three-dimensional elements.

Stage Lighting Qualities

Stage lighting has many qualities that work together to create an impactful experience for the audience. Each quality creates value and ensures an incredible experience for everyone in attendance.

Where To Find Out More Information On Stage Lighting

Stage Lighting Gurus is your one-stop for everything you could ever need to know for those who love stage lighting. We are super passionate about every aspect of stage lighting and are dedicated to providing you with all the information you need on the subject.

We have a large variety of awesome guides compiled together in one place for your enjoyment. We have it all, from the history of the different types of stage lighting to information on which lights on the market are the best for you to buy.

We proudly do the research to find the best deals, taking the time to go through the trial and error process, so you don’t have to. We show you how to improve your stage lighting so you can have the highest quality stage presence possible, saving you time and money. At Stage Lighting Gurus, we provide beginners guides for those just starting out in the stage lighting field. We have highly informative articles on laser lighting and show you environmentally friendly options, so you can feel good knowing you’re caring for the planet.

Whether you’re just starting out with stage lighting or you’ve worked with it for years, there’s always something new you can learn, and we’re here to teach you. Let our passion for stage lighting give you the tools you need to become a master of your craft. At Stage Lighting Gurus, we give you the in-depth knowledge you need about stage lighting so you can create the light effects you want, all while having a blast!

Here at Stage Lighting Gurus we are super passionate about stage lighting. If you’re looking to upgrade your lighting or to learn more about the differences in the kinds of stage lighting available today you’re in the right place.

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