From fringe productions and small events to festivals to large international tours, Vari-Lite offers a variety of luminiares and console options for touring and events. The lighting needs vary greately from event to event in rental productions, so products in these applications need to be powerful, multifunctional, and road-ready.


    To understand how Vari-Lite helps lighting for touring and events, it helps to understand the goal of performance lighting design. Performance lighting establishes the mood for each song or moment in the production and often prioritizes effect and mood over visibility and accent. With performance lighting in concerts in particular, heavy back light is often used, with light concentrating on the stage and audience to punctuate the music with heavy color or intensity with less focus on the musician’s face.


    That said, let's go through the various ways in which Vari-Lite is used in touring & events.



    PHOTO CREDITS: © Mogli Maureal


    Front lighting is used mostly for visibility and color. It is also used to isolate an individual person or set piece and provides most of the ‘key’ lighting when video is being utilized. Front lighting generally works better if placed at an angle between 30 -45 degrees.


    Front lighting in performance lighting is typically done with moving head profile luminaires, which offer hard edges and framing shutters to define the light on the subject.

    Case Study Examples


    PHOTO CREDIT: © Todd Moffses

    LIGHTING DESIGN: Sooner Routhier, Production Designer, Alex Specht, Associate Lighting Designer/Lighting Director, and André Petrus, Associate Production Designer/Lighting Programmer

    Lighting a subject from the side can be used to create dynamic effects. Side lighting is often used with bolder colors to accent movements, with visible beams and contrasting colors coming from the opposite sides.


    Similarly, illuminating the subject from above or the back creates depth on the stage and separates the subject from the background. It can also be used for effects. For example, downlighting or back lighting a subject without front lighting can create silhouettes for dramatic looks.


    Performer downlighting is often done with wash fixtures, although moving profiles and hybrid fixtures are also common. In any case, a motorized zoom is usually important to create a variety of looks throughout the performance. Side and back lighting can be done with a variety of fixtures but are often washes or moving head profile or hybrid effect fixtures.

    Case Study Examples



    PHOTO CREDITS: © Blearred

    SHOW DESIGNER: Jordan Babev, Blearred founder and Måneskin lighting designer

    Stage washes are typically installed above the stage, but unlike performer downlighting, which is designed to illuminate the performer themselves, stage washes give light and color to the entire performance area. A foundational element of the mood of a look, stage washes often change dramatically throughout the production, providing the visual dynamics that give life to the event.


    As the name suggests, stage wash is typically done with wash fixtures that offer a soft edge for smoother blending of multiple fixtures.

    Case Study Examples


    PHOTO CREDITS: © Becky Fluke and © Andy Barron

    LIGHTING DESIGNER: Calvin 'Mac' Mosier

    Background lighting is a very bold style of lighting and is often brighter than the rest of the stage. Although many modern productions use video as the background, there are still many events that use a cyclorama or textured backdrop as part of the stage design, and high output and bold colors are common requirements for these applications.


    Another option for background lighting is a matrix of fixtures in a direct-view positioning, with a grid of luminaires creating a visual that designers can run video and similar animations across. Luminaires in these applications typically have large apertures and/or have multiple LEDs on the face that are pixel-mappable. There are a variety of approaches to use luminaires as part of a production packground, and with the right luminaires and a bit of creativity, background lighting can be a very powerful way to create a picture and mood.


    Lighting of cycs and backdrops is typically done with strip, cyc, or wash lights that graze along the backdrop, with smooth edges that blend for solid walls of color. Fixtures in matrix applications can be nearly any type, from washes and strips to profiles, hybrids, and more.

    Case Study Examples


    PHOTO CREDITS: © Todd Kaplan

    LIGHTING DESIGNER: Travis Shirley

    Gobos can be combined with our exclusive VL*FX animation wheel on a surface such as a floor, wall, or even performer to create a textured look on top of a color wash. As well, gobos and the VL*FX wheel can also create beautiful mid-air effects when you add a hazer to allow you to see the beams of light in the air, for additional movement. From zoom, iris, and frost to gobos, animation, and prisms, adding layered light in the air and on surfaces is where you can get creative with your lighting design and can add dimensionality to the looks.


    By design, the most common fixture types for texture and mid-air effects are profiles and hybrid effect luminaires.

    Case Study Examples

    PHOTO CREDIT: © Alex Knowles, Encore Project Technician




    The lighting in a production will often also need to light the performers suitably so cameras can pick them up for IMAG (image magnification) or broadcast. This means that performance lighting not only prioritizes visibility by the human eye but also how the camera picks up light. The contrast ratio between light and dark for a camera is a lot lower than the human eye, so it’s important that items in near darkness are lit well enough that the camera can pick them up. There are also other technical considerations as well, such as compensating for camera frame rates and shifting the color green to aide in white balance.


    Many Vari-lite fixtures across types have camera-ready features, including high CRI, adjustable frequency to exceed camera frame rates, and green color shift capabilities. For examples, the VL5LED Wash was chosen for the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) corporate event because the fixtures "look great on camera, on the set and fabrics, and to the live audience."   


    To control the lighting in a touring or event application, a powerful, intuitive console is key. For fringe applications and other small or medium-sized events, FLX Series consoles provide intuitive programming, real multitouch control, and powerful features at an affordable price. For large events and tours, the powerful Neo Series offers a flexible design, with all the faders and effects you need to make your production a success.