Lighting is a very important element of any project. It is often overlooked or treated as a last minute detail. In fact, lighting can have more visual impact than elaborate and complicated effects. The simple detail of adding lights with colored gels can really set a mood. Lighting can be used to make a space feel spooky, upbeat, romantic or any number of other themes.
Adding color, shadows, patterns, movement and flash to a lighting set up can be achieved simply and inexpensively and yet provide more bang for your buck than other complicated effects.
Theatrical lighting uses specialized instruments with high quality optics and features to light a stage at a distance. Professional equipment is expensive and typically requires additional equipment to operate it effectively. However, theater style lighting equipment is overkill for many venues. First of all, the distance of the light from the scene being lit is often much shorter than on a stage. Secondly, the required intensity of the lighting is much less demanding. A lot of lighting needs can be fulfilled with low cost, readily available resources such as halogen work lights and low-voltage landscape lighting.
Another concern when lighting a scene is the power required by all of the equipment. Use of low-voltage landscape lighting, fluorescent lights and LED lights is a great way to reduce power consumption while also reducing the need for heavy gauge electrical cables, not to mention reduced levels of waste heat from all those incandescent bulbs.
Some projects require something a little more special than general lighting. There is a large universe of specialized instruments that are priced much less than professional theatrical lighting. This type of lighting is targeted at mobile DJs, dance clubs and the like. The equipment is less expensive, less durable, less reliable, but still does a serviceable good job. Much of this equipment is designed to operate with DMX controls. DMX allows for all kinds of specialized controls of lighting including, movement, strobing, color changing, pattern projection and more. Additionally, DMX puts the controls remotely and power supply locally which means shorter heavy electrical cables and as few as one lightweight control cable.