Disco Lights or Intelligent Lighting …. What’s the Difference?

Disco Lights or Intelligent Lighting …. What’s the Difference?

Are you planning a conference, wedding or event and are looking for the right lights to set the mood and start the party? Maybe you’re not quite sure what you want but you just know you need something. In the fast-flowing factual world, we live in now, you may have seen the words disco light, sound-activated lights or intelligent lighting. So what are the differences in these lights, which option is best for your event and more importantly how much should this lighting cost to hire? We look at the options and the pro and cons of each. Once you have all the information, making the right decision on how to get the right lighting for your event at the best price becomes an easy task you will look forward to.

Disco Lights

Generally speaking, disco lighting has no control other than power on, power off. Think traffic lightboxes, band par can lighting and mirror balls. They have no other function than on or off, and when they are on they do their thing. This still has its application when part of a bigger design but then still it only works when combined with some intelligent lighting to bring them up to the modern-day. Disco Lighting first came about funnily enough in the era of disco and has slowly been fading into the background. Although the humble mirrorball keeps popping up in fads quicker than the yoyo.

Sound Activated Lighting

Sound activated lighting can most usually be found with low-end entertainment, mobile DJ’s, solo performers. They are also available in popular main street shops (think Bunnings, Jaycar etc). These lights are more commonly on the low end of the market and therefore cheap to purchase and easy to operate. That makes them very attractive to small operators and those who perform on a casual semi-professional basis. The cost-effectiveness of the lights mean they can be an easy add on for DJ’s and bands who come with lights included in their pricing structure. The downside of these lights really is that they are very similar in operation to disco lights in that they are, in a simplistic way, either off or on. Granted they will move with the music but they don’t really garner any control for the operator and are quite commonly not in tune with your event.

Remember that last wedding you were at when the lights were responding to the speeches and going crazy in the background. Yes, we have seen this situation lots too. We have even seen this during a major conference when they were presenting an in memorium award and the band’s lights were behaving like the party was in full swing behind the appropriately saddened presenter. This is the standard with sound-activated lighting. And yes, the operator does have control to switch them off but we have our doubts about killing the atmosphere to restart it again later. It’s very easy to maintain control over the lights and atmosphere much more effectively with intelligent lighting.

Intelligent Lighting

In this modern world, you might be excused for thinking Intelligent lighting has something to do with Artificial Intelligence or some robotic features. Unfortunately not, but we can’t wait for that to happen. Intelligent Lighting refers to event lighting where the operator, whether it be the DJ, Band or a technician at the back of the room, has full control over the movement and operation of the light.

Depending on the lighting fixture this can give the operator control of the brightness, colours, shapes, movement, flash rate and many other features all at the touch of a button. (or many buttons when programming complex shows). This means a skilled operator can meticulously plan, design and program a show that perfectly matches and sets the atmosphere for your event. The operator can set a slow-moving or static look for speeches, video presentations, and somber occasions whilst not losing the atmosphere that a small break in proceedings can cause. It also lets them truly match the music being played as an operator won’t (normally) go on a crazy hysterical binge of movement and strobing during a break in a song or speech.

With Intelligent lights at their control, an experienced lighting technician will hold an audience and create those inst-worthy, Wow moments, that will captivate and excite. But as with all things truely exciting you get what you pay for and Intelligent Lighting fixtures come with a price tag….. or do they?

So What’ Best for My Event?

There are 3 main factors you should consider when making this decision.

  1. Budget
  2. Venue Features
  3. Atmosphere

Budget is always first and foremost on every event planners list, and it should be. Quite often we hear people say they want us to quote on the best and then are shocked to hear the best is out of their $500 hire budget. Planning an event is difficult and becomes even more difficult when you raise the bar above your own means. Not to say you need to spend many thousands to get the right look, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. As long as they suit the venue and create the right atmosphere.

The first thing we look for when we attend a new Venue is its Features. Any good lighting technician immediately looks to the ceiling for rigging or mounting points where they can hang lighting. Or to the walls for flat surfaces or interesting features that they can light and feature prominently. Sometimes it can work the opposite way and we find items we would like to hide or draw the attention away from. No two venues are the same, so choosing the right lighting fixture becomes very important to enable a lighting technician to create the right atmosphere.

Atmosphere is all-encompassing to a lighting technician. It is what we strive for. Not just to create some flashing lights or that one perfect photo (although it’s a bonus). It’s what makes a night memorable. Having the room in the same place and with all guests feeling the same emotions at the same time. An extension of the music or of the moment itself. And when this happens the results speak for themselves. Everyone compliments the organiser, takes photos, post all over social media and line up for the next opportunity to do it all again.

Ok then, so what are the best lights for my event?

Yep, that’s the $10,000 question. Well if you put together all of the above we can start to drill down and answer what’s a very complex question.

Let’s say you’re holding a conference which is very factual and informative in nature. In an auditorium or ballroom dealing with sensitive issues on a low budget. Yes, you could have swirling lights and a grand entrance but does it really suit the atmosphere and price tag? Why not look at simple uplighting on stage that can move into different scenes for different occasions and speakers without drawing attention away from your content. Still an intelligent lighting solution, still controllable but it won’t break the bank.

But, what about weddings, house parties, and even lower budget events. The same theory can be applied. Whats features does the venue or house have. A back fence, a dance floor, a flat wall, a pergola or structure that is rated to hold your roof up? All of these things can determine what lights you can use. Do you have the budget to have someone operate them or will you need a pre-programmed controller or remote? Similarly what atmosphere do you want to create? Will there be dancing, will there be background music or do you want to create a magical spot for all those epic Instagram photos.

At Morrina.com we only stock Intelligent Lighting options but have worked hard to make sure all budgets are catered for. We are always happy to work with any budget and talk through options and design a solution that suits your budget, venue and the atmosphere you want to create. However, whoever you go with for your big event we recommend you inform them of your big 3 requirements and ask them is your lighting intelligent or should I be looking elsewhere?

More Information

For more information on event lighting check out our range of Lighting Hire products or should you still have questions please feel free to Contact Us and we will be happy to guide you in making the right decisions for your event, wherever you are and whatever your event. We like to help, it’s what we do.

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