LED Panels and Lighting Design: A Powerful Partnership

After attending WFX in Orlando last month… it confirmed for me that we are in a modern day gold rush of LED Video technologies. So many products are hitting the market, and the lowered cost has made integrating LED panels a possibility for many venues that would have never been able to in the past.

There have been some fair questions recently raised about how using LED inside a venue with controlled ambient lighting is overkill. I do agree that there are organizations that are installing cheap LED Panels when their venues would be better off integrating quality laser projection. Inside my venues that utilize LED – we do run the brightness of the panels at only 15-20% brightness, so why use LED when you are only utilizing a fifth of the potential output?

The answer: Negative Space

In lighting design… I heavily lean on the use of negative space in creating my most dynamic looks and it helps create depth and adds flexibility to the stage.

In recent years we’ve been alternating the look of our Christmas stages. We’ve been alternating between whimsical Christmas looks and more natural and abstract Christmas looks.

Here is 2015 when we recreated the iconic Santa Slide from ‘A Christmas Story’

Using a white cyc as the background to this set allowed for vibrant colors, and the snow allowed for some fun experimentation with texture. However – Programming against such a bright background and positive space really limited the dynamic range of the moving fixtures. That year we didn’t use any LED panels, but in retrospect – if I were to do this today… I would really enjoy blending the practical and digital together.

With this year’s concept being centered around light… I knew that we would want the lighting to have multiple layers and the possibility of contrast and depth.

This shows my favorite purpose of integrating LED into Light Design… LED can totally disappear into the black. Projection requires a screen or reflective surface, and that doesn’t go away when the projection goes to black. So much contrast and flexibility is added with LED, and allows for the lighting designer to not be as limited by traditional displays.

There are plenty of other benefits with LED in terms of color rendering and output. However, I just wanted to highlight my favorite benefit of the new technology.

A few more examples from this year:

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