Quick Ways To Set Up A Portable Lighting Rig
You may be wondering, "How do you get your lighting rigs up so fast and not have tons of equipment in the way?". It's simple. Consistency. Consistency is the key to everything. Things get easier the more you do it, but sometimes you get those events where you need to rethink how you set your lights up. Let's talk about that for a minute.
When I do an event, I always ask what the clients want to accomplish, what kind of vibe are they wanting and if they want equipment everywhere (the answer is always no for that last one in case you're wondering). When the occasion is right, the best way to go is to mount what you can to the ceiling if it's accessible. If not, you'll more than likely have no choice but to get some stands or rigs. When you have to resort to that, that's when things get a little tricky. Here are a couple of things you can do to make things more portable and less of an eye sore.
This one is one of the most obvious things you can do, but there are different one's you need to look at. You could go the simple route and get some DJ light stands and wire all your stuff together on one pole, or you could go the DJ light truss route and have a bigger and bulkier light stand that looks a little more professional. Depending on what kind of venue you're needing to light up, you'll need to choose one or the other. Some clients think that the DJ truss is too much of an eye sore and you'll end up having to go with the basic stands or they'll be fine with the truss system and you can have your setup look a bit more professional. Either way, all your stuff can be wired on one pole or between the truss system.
This is the one we usually do when we deal with lighting. Our main clients are wrestling organizations and we are usually able to mount our lights on the ceiling of the venue. Granted, we can usually get to the ceiling with a ladder, but if we ever work in a venue where the ceilings are too tall and we can't get to it with a ladder, then we fall back on the light stands. Mounting everything on the ceiling makes things look way better since you can hide all your wiring and you won't have to worry about damaged lights. Usually when we mount to the ceiling, we grab some pipes, mount everything and wire everything and secure the pipe itself.
Now that you got the basic idea of what you can do, the question still remains, how do you make it more portable and easy to setup? If you ask me personally, I don't like leaving lights on the stands or pipes when I tear down, however I leave all the hardware attached to the lights. I leave the clamps and bolts on the lights and store them in one case and call it good. All my wires are on a few cable reels and I roll them up when I'm done and roll them out one at a time when I am setting up. It makes things neater and more efficient, and it helps you keep track of what you may have forgot to pack at the end of the day. Which leads me to my next point, LABEL EVERYTHING! Label which cords need to go where and where you're lights need to be mounted by marking them. The more you mark, the easier it will be to organize everything when it comes time to setup. If you can, set up what you are able to before the event so you have less to do on the day of. If you can mount dmx wires in the desired position for the event, mount them with Velcro or zip ties.
All in all, cut corners wherever you can in the setup. Once everything is labeled and marked the way you need it to be, setup for an event will get faster and faster. It makes you look like you've done this a million times (which you will the longer you do this) and it'll make your clients very happy. Before we started pre-setting up, our setup time was about 4-6 hours, now it's between 1-3 hrs depending on the venue. Keep all this in mind when you decide you want to start saving some time.