The Art of Lighting the Audience – A Roadshow Rundown

At ETC’s recent tour of global Roadshow events, we presented a variety of interactive seminars which were focused on the Entertainment and Broadcast markets. Today we are going to look at one of those sessions in a bit more detail: ‘The Art of Lighting the Audience’. Why bother making the auditorium look good? Everyone is there for the show, right? But what if they hate the venue, will they hate the show too? In ‘The Art of Lighting the Audience’ we took a look at both the commercial and artistic arguments for spending time and effort in getting your auditorium lighting scheme right.

Auditorium lighting is often considered as a low priority when it comes to upgrading a venue, but it doesn’t need to be that way – in fact it’s one of the most effective ways to reduce your electricity usage by switching to LED. There are two aspects of auditorium lighting which we explored – the operational savings and the look of the space.

In terms of operational savings, a key area is whether buying a new high quality, sustainable, auditorium lighting system actually saves money – do the electrical savings outweigh the capital expenditure? We also looked at how much it costs to offset the heat produced by a tungsten lighting system and the annual maintenance bill to keep tungsten and LED systems running. Using this information, we can find out how much money that venue would save each year if they changed an existing tungsten lighting system for a new LED one, and how long it would take for those savings to pay off the capital cost of buying and installing the new LED system.

The annual running costs with tungsten fixtures are significantly higher than that of an LED system – as well as consuming more power, there is more labor and cost involved in replacing lamps regularly. The costs of powering and cooling LED luminaires like the ArcSystem family were greatly reduced and therefore saves a venue a huge amount of money. The venue which featured as a case study in the session reduced its annual operational expenditure by 90%, resulting in a payback of the capital cost of moving to LED within two and half years. And the new system comes with ETC’s standard 5-year fixture and driver, and 10-year LED array warranty.

ETC’s ArcSystem Pro series offers quality light and perfect smooth dimming from 100% to zero and back again, without compromising on quality; in addition to providing up to 90% energy savings compared to tungsten lights, making it the ideal solution for an auditorium lighting upgrade.

Having explored the operational savings and commercial argument, what about the artistic argument? In the second part of this session, we assess the creative value in making auditorium lighting look and feel amazing.

The auditorium is the first part of the performance space which people see when entering a theatre space. We’ve all seen ‘bad’ theatres, but perhaps we don’t realize why we feel that way about them when we walk inside. People don’t tend to walk into a space and think the ‘lighting in here is horrible, it should be at 3200 K but it is clearly 4000 K!’ and if they are already not feeling great about the space before the show starts, then it is likely that they will go on to like the show less. Therefore, prioritizing the auditorium’s lighting should be one of the key factors to focus on.

There are many more aspects to explore when looking at the aesthetic of an auditorium – the position of the lights, the type, the quantity, the color temperature, the fade…etc! Standard LED replacement lamps do not dim well, have dubious color consistency, and are batch manufactured making finding spares and replacements harder to come by at a later date.

This is why ETC’s specialist research and development teams with years of expertise go to extremes to ensure that our design and manufacturing process create LED products which perform to the highest standard and for the longest possible time. Our range of solutions are suited for every application and auditorium, so it is always important to us that your space looks just as great on day 5000 as it did on day one!


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Opasna Randev
Opasna joined ETC as a Marketing Communications Specialist in the London office in 2018. Prior to joining the company, she worked in a communications agency in her home town, Manchester. Having a case of the travel bug, she took out some time to explore the world before starting with ETC; a few of her favorite stops include Montenegro, Italy, and India! If she’s not writing, reading or drawing, you will most likely find her dancing, playing some piano or trying out some sort of peculiar new activity (flying planes for example…).