In the world of live production, stage decor needs a keen eye for detail, creative problem solving and the best in class technology to create an extraordinary experience. No matter what feeling you are trying to evoke, there are some moving components that you need to pay attention to when decoring a stage for live event production.
Creating Focus and Composition
When decoring a stage, first determine the central focus of your production. Whether you are performing a show with a full ensemble, an awards show, or a solo musical act, you need to have an understanding of what your audience needs to see and experience.
For example, when a solo artist is on stage, the support group is usually created to draw the audience’s attention to the main part of the act – the solo artist – instead of removing it. However, at an awards show, you may need to have multiple areas of focus as so many people are coming and going off stage.
Once you know the focus of your show, you can compose your own scene from there. A strong visual composition is necessary for every successful production. This involves how small and large elements are placed and displayed on stage. It also deals with the lines, shapes, and sizes of all the items on the stage. The composition can create any kind of feeling from calm to restlessness to chaos. Moreover, the composition can only be changed by the way the lighting projector illuminates the view.
If you are trying to achieve a sense of focus on stage, perhaps the best way to do this is through lighting.
Light is an essential part of any production scene. Not only does it help everyone see what is happening, but it creates specific moods to support what is happening on stage.
When implementing a lighting system for your next production, always use lighting elements on purpose. Stay away from over-washing the white stage decor and instead, use light to create a sense of depth and refine at different focus points.
To focus the audience’s attention on a particular element, you will use what is known as directional lighting. People usually know this as a spotlight – which obscures everything in the room except the main point of focus.
It is very easy to simply flood a stage with white light, as you would see at a graduation ceremony or corporate presentation, however, this does not help the audience connect with the activities on stage.
For example, in a play in a theater, you will see the lighting used to help the audience connect emotionally with the acting, dialogue, or stage. If there is a dark moment on the scene, you can see deep red, dark black, or even a backlight that creates silhouettes in the background. A cheerful or happy mood may require brighter colors, which evoke a sense of abundance. Beyond that, there are several other ways that color can affect your scene.
The working color in your light display helps convey emotions, humor, setting, energy, and many other important elements during a live production. With color, you can create a connection between the action on stage and the audience.
Even adding a single filter to your stage lights can help convey a form of emotion – reds indicate warmth, intimacy, intensity; blue adds a soothing and serene feel to your scene; yellows convey excitement, energy, and action. Furthermore, you can explore different saturations, shades, and color tones to see how they affect production.
Of course, with more colors, you can create even more attractive light displays. Colors are what will make your stage decor really exciting. Most automated lighting fixtures allow you to mix a myriad of colors to achieve whatever look you want.
Setting your base color is what’s most important in setting the mood of the environment, but one or two other colors you add are the ones that add grace to your stage decor. Most of the time, you want to limit your use of colors to two or three colors – more than that and risk being distracted by stage activities. While multi-colored glitter can be appropriate in some situations, when creating intentional, cohesive environments, do not use more than three appropriately matched colors to achieve a good stage decor.
While, in general, more color means more intrigue, to help guide your choices, here are three specific schemes you can try to use to keep your overall look more cohesive:
A monochrome color scheme is derived from a single base shade and includes all variations of shades, tones, and shades of that one color. Lighting with a monochrome color scheme really focuses on a particular sense of an environment and can be a very effective way to set the mood.
Complementary colors are just two colors that are on opposite sides of the color wheel. The use of complementary colors, yellow and purple for example, creates a strong sense of contrast and is very effective in drawing in the eyes of the audience member as a part of the scene.
Analog color schemes use colors next to each other on the color wheel. For example, yellow, orange, and red are analog colors. This type of color scheme usually matches well and is used to enhance intrigue, compared to a monochromatic scheme.
The texture is another essential aspect of an impactful stage and can be produced in several different ways.
To reach the structure through the lighting, you will use something called a gobo. A gobo is a thin piece of metal, wood, or glass used to modify the shape of the designed stage light. Commonly used with ellipsoid reflector lights, profile fixtures, or automated luminaires which have a specific location to insert the gobo plate.
When the light turns on, the gobo blocks parts of the beam, casting a shadow in its shape, just like a stencil for spray paint. With this, you can add stunning structures to your set that will add depth to your overall stage decor.
Another way to create depth through structure is by modifying the physical appearance on stage. By creating contrast between a structured background element and a smooth plan layout (or vice versa), you create a powerful way to draw the eye to different parts of the scene.
With such a wide range of potential, the video will certainly help you create an impactful scene.
Video can make a fantastic part in designing your scene. Video walls and massive projections will surely catch the attention of any member of the audience. The biggest benefit of using a large central video screen on stage is that it eliminates the need for complex physical groups. Instead of building a large structure, you can now build that structure using software on a computer and project it into the background of the scene.
Furthermore, the video can be used to achieve other elements of the scene in this list, light, color, and texture. Breaking the screens around the stage allows you to fast and easily add these visual elements to your set. When you coordinate video, color, lighting, and texture, you can greatly boost their power, compared to what they can achieve separately.