You’ll probably have seen lots of DJs brag about having “computer controlled lighting”.

But surely, disco lighting’s designed to flash on and off to the music isn’t it?

Well…..yes……and no!

Let me explain

Before the reasons for being ABLE to control lighting during your party or wedding reception, let’s have a quick classroom lesson.

There are two main ways for lighting to work in a disco environment. “Sound to light” and “DMX” or computer controlled.

Sound to light means that the lights basically react to the bass beat of the music which is picked up by microphones in the fixtures. The manufacturers pre-program different sequences or effects which are moved on a step each time a beat is detected.

In most cases, this is perfectly adequate. However, when several different types of lighting are added to the light-show, this can quickly become a confused mess of colours and beams not necessarily in coordination with each other.

DMX (Digital MultipleX) or computer controlled mode allows us to be just a little bit more sophisticated. Computer software or a hardware controller allow us to make all of the lighting effects behave in the way WE want them to.

In short, it gives us the ability to create different atmospheres or emotions depending on the music being played or the occasion. We’re able to control colours, brightness, motion and switch fixtures on and off depending on what’s needed.

It also takes a long time to learn and indeed to programme to get the right effects. It can take several hours to programme a sequence correctly.

Imagine the following scenario: It’s your wedding day and you’re about to take to the dance floor for your first dance. The photographer (and videographer if you’re using one) are ready to capture this special moment for those all important memories, and your expensive white dress is covered in green and red dots.

Laser dots on the first dance photosI’ll use an image to demonstrate what I mean (and no….this isn’t one of mine. It’s one I’ve “borrowed” from elsewhere on the web).

It’s not really very pretty or sophisticated is it.

Why are there so many dots?

Because the DJ hasn’t taken the time or the effort to gain even just a little bit of control over his/her lighting. All of the lighting is on at the same time, leaving that horrible matrix of green dots on the happy couple.

Even with the best editing in the world, there is no way the photographer is going to be able to enhance the shot to remove the laser dots from this shot (most photographers I’ve worked with absolutely hate this sort of situation because it makes their work look bad as well!)

Now, as a contrast (and this IS one of my photos, although I’m not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination!), this is a first dance scene where the lighting has been “controlled”.

When this is done, I work WITH those taking the professional images to create lighting suitable for their needs and well as creating the correct atmosphere.

In short, between myself and the photographers we’ll work together to create the perfect mood for your wedding album. It’s what we’re all there for.

In this case, the colour scheme of the wedding was pink and blue (as you’ll see by the LOVE letters and the lighting behind them). The photographer also wanted a touch of haze to enhance the mood.

Bear in mind the official photographs would have been much higher quality and with their use of diffused flash as well, the final shots would have been of the bride and groom in full and clear shot with nicely coloured lighting filtering through from behind them.

Another example of where controlling the lights in this way becomes useful is when the disco is set up during the wedding breakfast.

Your guests aren’t going to want lights flashing at them during the afternoon. By having control over the lighting it allows us to, for instance, match your colour scheme as can be seen in this photo (with a pink colour scheme this time).

Without such control of the lighting, the wedding breakfast would have been a mass of flashing dots rather than the more subdued effect achieved in this instance.

So, there you have it in a nutshell. When you next hear that the lighting is computer controlled, remember it makes the difference between having a wedding dress covered in dots during the first dance, or something a little more sophisticated.



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