Lighting design for outdoor event
Twice a year, my university has an outdoor event to celebrate cultural diversity. Mostly it features different ethnically-oriented clubs performing traditional dances in traditional costumes. It's held outdoors in a... call it a courtyard. The overall size is 40'wide, 75'deep. The performance area is 40' wide and 53' deep; there's a raised stage behind that which is an additional 22' deep. Most of the dancing occurs in the performance area; the stage is used for musicians and MCs.
We can't put lights in the courtyard itself nor immediately adjacent to it. However, the area is next to our library, and there is a balcony we have access to which faces the performance area. The throws are 32' from balcony to closest edge of the performance area; 78' to farthest edge of performance area; and 92' to farthest edge of the stage.
This event usually gets video recorded, with varying degrees of complexity based on how many ambitious students we happen to have at the time. Could be as simple as a single camera on the balcony; could be an 8-camera live-to-the-internet pageant.
I'd like to get some outdoor-rated lights that, from the safety of the balcony, can cover the performance area and stage with enough light to allow for the possibility of a nice quality recording. Power consumption is a concern. There are outlets available in the library, and they're wired for commercial loads, but certainly the designers didn't have multi-K lights in mind.
Budget... yeah. Budget. It's going to cost what it's going to cost, and we'll be able to find the money or not. Obviously I want to do this in as economical a fashion as possible, but I want effective products. I can find $1,000 easily; I can find $10,000 with extreme effort; I can't find $100,000 at all.
This can be a process of accumulation over the next few years, but I'd like to have something of use in place for the upcoming show in April. I'd appreciate any recommendations for instrument selection, overall strategy, affordable sources, and helpful tips.
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I usually like buying stuff (I like owning things) and don't really love renting things (our colleague Mark Suszko here is often the opposite)... but for an event that is only two times a year, I would say definitely rent the lighting gear you need.
You'll get so much more bang for the buck, and I see that you are in Honolulu where I suspect there are a number of camera/grip/lighting rental houses (and a quick Googling proves that). Even better, maybe there's a place that specializes in rental of theatrical lighting.
You won't get much for a grand, but if you can budget just a couple multiples of that (far less than the $10K) I bet they can light you up like crazy. One of them might (even likely) would have someone on staff who could visit your venue, check things out, look at power distribution etc., and recommend exactly what you need (and that they have) much better than we could remotely here. They'd probably even do the setup and strike for you.
And being a university, they'd probably give you a "scholastic rate" or some such....
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The kind of throw you're talking about from the balcony position to the stage area you're probably going to be looking at theatrical ellipsoidals.
See if there's a theatre supply rental company in your area. Thats what they do.
They can also help you assess the power draw involved and help you figure out where the power sources might be and how much cable you'll need to rig the proper lights.
It's also possible that somebody surveying the actual location would mount something closer on trees (fixed, multi-armed lighting stands) , or maybe even recommend using footlight strips for up fill if the choreography or costumes require a bunch of front lighting to show well.
Those would be some of my "top of head" thoughts.
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