There is no rule of thumb for the brightness design. However, in addition to the performance lighting design, there are other important factors.

Image: Performance stage


Positions on a performance stage consist of the actor position and their movement. Stage lighting designer should understand this information in order to appropriately specify the lighting spots and brightness during the performance. Without an understanding of the positions, lighting design cannot really respond to the performance on stage. Hence, the first step in lighting design is to study the stage positions.

Image: Position of actors and lighting spot


On top of the characters and the acting of performers on stage, another element affecting the charm of the show is scene. The light scene enhances a show to have more aesthetics while being more realistic. The lighting design for a scene should consider the following factors:

  • Color such as the color of the light scene in different time of a day (morning, afternoon, evening)
  • Characteristics such as the light creating more or less intense shadow to amplify emotion and feeling of an actor/actress that is trying to imply
  • Selective Focus of the light which highlights the importance and main point of each situation
  • Mood and Movement that are related to the acting
 Image: Light and scene during performance


Property is another element complimenting a show to complete the show. The lighting designer should consider the size and color of properties to ensure that lighting and objects are congruent.

Image: Lighting, properties and performance stage

A sample of stage lighting system design

For the stage dimension: width: 12m, depth: 6m, height: 6m, including two performing and lighting areas with stage background

The image shows two areas, the main stage and the forestage. The design should be compatible with multiple purposes e.g. seminar, concert, theatrical performance, and other activities on stage which may not take up much space.

Lighting instrument for F.O.H (Front of House)

The lighting instrument at the F.O.H is the key light for the lighting at the forestage. The stage light should be able to light up from a distance to respond to the activity on stage.

Image: Lighting instrument for F.O.H

Example of the lantern for F.O.H

600W Ellipsoidal lamp light is used in projecting to objects to make them outstand such as beaming on podium or other specific spots. The characteristic of this type of lantern is hard-edge light with different angles for several purposes.

Image: Lighting instrument for F.O.H

Stage lighting instrument 

Stage lighting instruments are the key lights for the middle and inner area of a stage as the F.O.H light is not enough. This type of light will be the incremental part to light up the stage.

Image: on-stage light instrument

Example of the lantern for stage lighting

There are two types of stage lighting which are 600W Ellipsoidal for selective focus and 1000W Fresnel for illuminating objects by controlling the light beam to have a specific focus. They have a soft edge with smooth beaming. The extra brightness can also be controlled by the barn door.

Image: Lanterns for stage lighting


Sidelight is filled with light for the front lighting, usually using 600W Ellipsoidal light. While the light floods from the forestage direction, it will create a shadow of objects requiring sidelight to eliminate the reflecting shadow and bring out a clearer shape of the objects.

Image: Sidelight
Image: Sidelight


Backlight shines to an object from behind to eliminate the light from the front and sidelight. It helps in popping out the shape of the object and separates the object from its background, including creating depth and dimension. The lighting design employs 600W Ellipsoidal and 1000W Fresnel for the backlight.

Image: Backlight
Image: Backlight

Background light

The background light is the lantern that floods light on a large area to create the mood for background scenery and respond to the on-stage activity. 1000W Cyclorama light is often used, owing to its well-distributed brightness and wide-angle. Asymmetrical reflector designed for a large area and even light diffusion are also used as the reflector.

Image: Background light
Image: Background light

System operation

The lighting system control is done through the semi-automatic control desk for flexible and multi-purpose usage. The user can change any configuration during the performance for more convenience and efficiency. The semi-automatic control desk comes together with a digital dimmer of DMX-512.

Image: Lighting controller


Various factors should be considered for the stage lighting design, ranging from positions to properties. At the same time, the equipment for the stage lighting system should work in a harmonized fashion during the performance on stage in order to enhance the scene and to make a show the show.