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Wedding Lighting

In Lighting Design by images310 / April 22, 2015

wedding lighting

A Lighting Primer

This past March, our lighting designer Lonnie Thompson took the stage with Colette Lopez of La Fete Weddings and Events.They spoke at Event Solutions, a top industry conference attended by thousands of our colleagues in the event industry. The topic was lighting for weddings, and they covered everything from basic tips to advanced lighting concepts. We share a few of those ideas with you here.

Lighting is a part of every event. At its very basic, its role is simply for sight and safety. But we want to show you lighting in all its glorious beauty as a design element.

wedding lighting

wedding lightingLighting sets the mood and can truly create an unmatched experience for guests. Knowing where to start and how to approach the subject of lighting can make the process seem way less daunting for the average person.

wedding lightingThe first step to great lighting is the initial meeting with your lighting designer. Bring as much information as possible to get the process started whether you are the couple getting married, or the wedding planner. We suggest coming with photos and examples of lighting that you like and would like to incorporate.

wedding lighting
In our case, when we have all the event information — the location, what type of location, guest count and of course the date and time of the event – we are able to come up with bright ideas for the lighting that you may have only dreamed possible. We love to work with moving lights, chandeliers, architectural lighting that is built into a tent or event structure, walls of lights, or the very simple yet effective string lights. There are so many possibilities! And, because as lighting designers that is all we do, we know a lot about new equipment available that will shine a light in ways you never thought possible.

wedding lighting
The lighting designer will also need to know some more event logistics, such as if there will be a band or a DJ, buffet vs. a seated dinner, the number of bars and food stations and any additional vendors that may need power and lighting. It will be important to find out what power the venue is equipped with to determine if a generator is needed. The best way to do this is to get power needs from all your vendors and figure out the best path to get those vendors the power they need safely.

wedding lightingThe power of great lighting is about making you look good in so many ways. Hopefully this article has illuminated the many ways you can bring an event to life, and light!

Targeted Event Lighting

In Lighting Design by images310 / April 18, 2015

148814_172783652732830_68889_nGreat event lighting is always on target. That was especially the case for this event sponsored by Target and held at LA Live. Working with event planner Mary Richerson at Rock and Rain, we were faced with the challenge of lighting a variety of spaces defined within the huge tent on LA Live’s event deck.

The event was for National Black MBA Association and there were upwards of 5,000 people in attendance. With that many people, it was important that every lighting and design made a powerful statement that would stand out within the crowd.

“The theme was a Red Room Speakeasy, using Target’s signature color where we could,” Mary said. “We separated the tent into various sections so guests felt they were in several different spaces and added a couple amazing elements such as waterfall chandelier and a surprise performance by Trey Songz.”

Together we aimed for a great collaboration of design and lighting hit our Target!

Targeted Event Lighting

Targeted event lighting

Targeted Event LightingPhotos by Daniel Scott

HBO Premiere: Lighting with a Byte

In Lighting Design by images310 / April 12, 2015

HBO Silicon Valley Premiere Party at OHM, Hollywood, CA

The Ohm Nightclub at Hollywood + Highland was a perfect venue for the second season premiere of HBO’s Silicon Valley. Ohm, a term for an electrical happening, was certainly the case for the event thanks to the design by Billy Butchkavitz. Tables were covered with black-and-white linen in a design reflective of computer coding and centerpieces such as keypad and op-art sculptures were enjoyed by the attendees — the cast and followers of Pied Piper, the start-up company the series at the heart of the series. As a fun activity, artists were on hand to portray guests in the same cartoon style as the show’s branding of the main characters.

Our objective for the lighting was to create a cohesive design throughout the venue and provide a sophisticated atmosphere. We achieved it by altering the existing house decorative fixtures by re-lamping the fixtures with neutral colored bulbs and turning off some of the illuminated permanent displays. This enabled the focus to be on Billy’s décor. Finally, we added another layer of interest by projecting a single texture of unique symbols, some of which could be taken as computer coding, throughout the entire space.

Lighting + Design = Programmable Success!

HBO Silicon Valley Premiere Party at OHM, Hollywood, CA

HBO Silicon Valley Premiere Party at OHM, Hollywood, CA

HBO Silicon Valley Premiere Party at OHM, Hollywood, CA

HBO Silicon Valley Premiere Party at OHM, Hollywood, CA

HBO Silicon Valley Premiere Party at OHM, Hollywood, CA

Photos: Gabor Ekecs

Shining Golden Light on Savage Beauty

In Lighting Design by images310 / March 31, 2015

event lightingThe premiere of Season Five of Game of Thrones was held at City Hall in San Francisco. It’s safe to say the historic building might never be the same after designer Billy Butchkavitz transformed it. Using mostly lighting for the décor, the look was a combination of the two worlds of the epic HBO series — golden beauty and savage harshness. On the exterior, we used both architectural lighting and projections of texture on the stairs. Four larger-than-life torches had been installed and we added uplighting to appear as if flames were coming from them.

event lightingInside the main rotunda of the Opera House, the golden age of architecture was given its rightful treatment with our lighting palette. More patterned texture of light was projected onto the walls while the stairs and the space in front of them were lighted with a rich, saturated single tone.

event lighting
Talk about inspired guest seating! Only Billy could pull something as fabulous as this off. We framed the throne with architectural lighting that also enhanced the beautiful, historic architecture. The throne itself was given a blue light to convey the icy coldness not only of the dangerous, yet coveted, throne, but the environment of the land in which the HBO show takes place.

event lighting
The details including a pattern projection over the table tops to build layers of sensual texture. Again, architectural lighting was used to highlight the Game of Thrones décor elements Billy installed, such as the standing caldrons of bones.

event lighting

8Lighting was one of the main décor pieces to this look, from the small candles whether in lanterns of “nests” to the large architectural swaths. Like everything in Game of Thrones, the feeling was moody, sexy and a constant shift in temperature and environment. Winter is coming … indeed.

Photos: Gabor Ekecs

Lighting for the Runway

In Lighting Design by images310 / March 26, 2015

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Now into our second decade with the FIDM show, we are proud to be a part of the show that once again was named one the Top 100 Events in Southern California by BizBash!

The statistics of the show are staggering … 3,000 people for each of three shows within two days. The load in entails 450 feet of truss, 230 conventional lights, 30 intelligent lights, 30 LEDS, and 96 channels of changes. And then all of this is completely changed out for the gala event on Saturday night when the chairs become round tables for a seated dinner and yet another fashion show.

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The main show, called the FIDM Debut, is divided into four segments each with its own graphic design look and lighting design. The first section features collections from graduating students from FIDM’s Theatre Costume Design Program. This year the theme was beloved musicals. The second part of the show is called Chairing Styles, a creative collaboration between students in three FIDM majors: Textile Design, Fashion Design, and Interior Design.

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The runway show ends with the collections of the top graduating students; a debut show of graduating students from FIDM’s Advanced Studio Fashion Design Program. From a line of children’s wear and resort wear to men’s wear, social and even wedding, the lighting and graphics were reflective of the designer’s color palette and inspiration.

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We on the site for five days for the setup. On Monday, the truss is installed. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the lights are blocked and focused and there is a dry run of the show. Thursday is the dress rehearsal with the first show at 5:30. Friday night there are two shows and on Saturday, a sit-down gala event.

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Runway lighting, and the world of fashion, is fast, exciting and totally on trend. No, scratch that. Fashion shows are actually “before trend” as often they are showing next season’s looks now. We love shining our light on the work of these highly creative artists.


In Lighting Design by images310 / March 19, 2015

2015-01-24 19.52.22-1We have had the honor of lighting the SAG Awards Post Gala hosted by People magazine for the past seven years. Each year the event has been held at The Shrine in Los Angeles and each year there is a different theme rendered by the event’s producer and designer, Tony Schubert of Event Eleven.

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This year the theme was a speakeasy with a modern flair. After the telecast, more than 1,000 attendees made their way from the theater into a large tent right off the main building. To create the effect of a prohibition era club, Tony designed a very grand, architectural space, with drop ceilings of large planks of wood in a grid pattern, to mimic the ceiling of a loft or warehouse. Yet beneath that rustic ceiling was a luxurious space filled with oversized couches and chairs upholstered in lush, jewel tones of emerald green, royal purple as well as rich chocolate.

2015-01-24 18.35.19-1The look was very moody and out lighting was designed to complement the aesthetics and to deepen the tones of the space even more.

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To create this lighting effect, we used very small fixtures called Par 20s or “Birdies” in TV lingo. These are 75 watt lamps similar to an MR16 which are widely used throughout residential and commercial projects. Instead of using big and bright fixtures, we opted for about 150 of these in order to create small points of light that created a very even, yet dramatic illumination throughout the entire space.

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Of course, this being a speakeasy, the bar was the main focal point of the room and what a bar it was! Our lighting ensured that all eyes were on it, and the mirrored walls Tony designed into the space reflected the bar, the floral and the seating. In fact, they reflected everything but our lighting fixtures. We took great pains to ensure that there would not be seen in the mirrors.

In addition to myriad Par 20s, we used other sources of lighting that would enhance the architectural design. These included sconces, chandeliers, and an LED tape that adhered to the underside of the center bar and the interior column details. The glow from this added yet another architectural highlight.

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This was a complicated job in terms of planning. The lighting design required layering of the timeline for all departments since power was necessary at interior points of the event cables had to be pre-run before the subfloor was laid and then pulled through to various center locations.

For the ceiling, cables had to be pre-run and dropped before the constructed ceiling pieces were raised in to place. The fixtures had to appear very architectural and therefore all C-clamps were removed and fixtures were attached using drywall screws into the scenic elements. We even made sure that all our fixtures matched the dark wood so they wouldn’t detract from the designer’s vision.

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For all the care and attention to detail that went into lighting this event, it was very much in keeping the spirit of a speakeasy in one important way – it was here today and gone tomorrow. The day after this event, the lighting was professionally loaded back onto our trucks; not even one drywall screw was left behind to indicate we’d been there. Now that’s a feat we can all raise a glass to!

Photos: Line 8 Photography

This article also appears on DesignDawgs

On the Warner Bros. Lot

In Lighting Design by images310 / March 7, 2015

This article originally appeared on the Warner Bros. Special Event blog by Hillary Harris


Lighting is one of those design elements that can really propel an event to the next level. There’s good lighting, and then there’s great lighting. One of the great lighting companies I’ve worked with for years is Images by Lighting. Founded in 1982, it was one of the first independent (i.e. outside the studio system) production lighting design companies in the nation.

The work of lighting designers Ray Thompson and Curt Stahl, who are now joined by the talented Lonnie Thompson, has truly set the standard for event lighting. With the company’s reputation for creative, beautiful, and professional work, the company quickly became the go-to lighting designer for Hollywood – and it remains so today. Now, Images shines its special brand of lighting on events in Dubai, Bora Bora, the Caribbean, and across Europe, as well as all over the United States.

I have worked on many events at Warner Bros. Studios with Images, and the team always sheds new ideas, perspective, and, of course, light on them. During a light check at an event last month, I had time to chat with the guys about the importance of lighting on an event design and how to create the greatest emotional depth with it.

Hillary: Ray, you were trained as an engineer, which some might assume means that you take a scientific-minded approach to lighting. But in actuality, I know you approach lighting design as an emotional element. Can you elaborate on that?

Ray: Without trying to sound like a professor, I often say that I choreograph an event with lighting. Memorable events are created not just through props or entertainment, but through emotion. And so it’s essential that these events follow an emotional arc in much the same way as a great opera. At Images, we do this with lighting rather than music.


Photo: The Primetime Emmy Awards’ Governor’s Ball 2013 began with cool tones. Photo: Nadine Froger


And then transitioned into warm tones and back again throughout the night. Lighting was really one of the main design elements in this large space, so it was heavily used in order to build emotion. Photo credit: Nadine Froger

* * *

Hillary: How so?

Ray: Well, for instance, we may begin with a room set in amber, which makes people feel warm and comfortable at the beginning. Lavender is also a nice color to begin with, as it’s very relaxing. Plus, both make people look beautiful!

Then, as the event goes on, we introduce the emotion of color, taking the guests on a journey from sunrise to sunset. And then, as dinner is done and dancing begins, we introduce those hot colors like red and orange which are vibrant and add excitement and festivity. Then we might do one or two lounges in the soft warms and lavenders more conducive for intimate conversations that continue on into dessert.


A birthday event at the Bacara Resort & Spa with Colin Cowie Events.

HBO Emmy Awards After-Party 2014. Design: Billy Butchkavitz. Photo: Gabor Ekecs

HBO Emmy Awards After-Party 2014. Design: Billy Butchkavitz. Photo: Gabor Ekecs

* * *

Hillary: I love thinking of lighting as another design element. Curt, I’ve noticed you work a lot on the HBO projects designed by Billy Butchkavitz. He also uses lighting in this way. What are some things you’ve learned by working together about how lighting and design function?

Curt: It’s a very symbiotic relationship. The event design and lighting design depend on each other to reach their full potential. Billy’s designs and event composition naturally lend themselves to layered lighting. Without it, the end result would be less dimensional. Often his designs are inspired by art in some form, like painting, fashion, film, and architecture. Our approach with lighting is equally inspired by the genre.


This event took place in a tent on a private estate and in the course of two days was completely transformed with décor and lighting. See below!


6* * *

Hillary: What are some of the latest technological advances that are changing event lighting, and how have you used them?

Curt: Advances continue to be made with LED technology. Every year we see new products in different shapes and forms. Often this equates to bigger, better, and brighter options for lighting events. These lights have many applications, from lighting press to runway and concert special effects.

Ray: And I just love these new Sharpies. They are a tight beam of light with unprecedented brightness that can be trained to a very specific place and usage during the event. For instance, on a mirrored ball, it can make that light explode into a thousand exciting refractions. Or, as we used it recently, we were able to create an old-fashioned Hollywood ballyhoo in the night sky using this intelligent lighting as opposed to a large Klieg light.

Hillary: That Hollywood look is something you can’t get away from in this town! Of course, you’ve worked at Warner Bros. quite a bit. Is there a different approach you take when working at a studio lot, and what is it?

Curt: Each studio is set up a little differently; however, most studios have some form of existing theatrical lighting. It’s important to determine from the beginning what lighting is available and if it can be incorporated into the event. Often this leads to a cost savings for the client.

Ray: And of course, working at Warner Bros. we always work with the most amazing team of professionals, from event coordinators to electricians, who help make the process seem effortless.


This year, Lonnie Thompson was the lighting director for the California Science Center Discovery Ball and premiere in the Pompeii exhibit. Guests had dinner outside the Coliseum, and Lonnie was able to really express the architecture through big, bold lighting. Photos: Nadine Froger

* * *

Hillary: Lonnie, you’ve been working with some big clients, such as Virgin and USC. What do you feel the new generation brings to the table?

Lonnie: A sense of what went before is so important. Ray and Curt have taught me about color as emotion, the technical aspects, and how to run a great crew. I want to honor what they have done and then bring my own style to the table. I do a lot of weddings, which I love doing as each venue is so spectacular. But this year I got to work at a really amazing venue and run the job on my own… I was honored to light the California Science Center’s Discovery Ball – a real career high for me to date. We added lighting to the iconic Coliseum for dinner and then got to light the Endeavour for the after-party!

The Endeavour

The Endeavour

* * *

Hillary: Are there still some events you would love to be part of, and what are they?

Curt: We always enjoy working abroad and getting to experience and learn how different regions or countries approach lighting. Of course, the World’s Fair in Milan, Italy this year wouldn’t be so bad.

Lonnie: I agree with that one! Super Bowl had been on my list, and this year, that one came true. We worked on the big, 2,000-person Friday Night Event in Phoenix. So now I’m working on number two and three on my list: Comic-Con and Coachella. I’d love to do more of these festival events.

Hillary: (laughing) Well, that’s that next generation talking for sure! Hey, I just heard them singing our song, “light check!” That’s our cue, guys. Let’s go and make this event beautiful!

Lighting the Oscar Greenroom

In Lighting Design by images310 / February 26, 2015

Oscars lightingEvery year since 2003 Architectural Digest has sponsored the Oscar Greenroom and every year, Images has been honored to do the lighting. The lounge is actually in a sound stage off the main theater where the telecast goes on, yet it is designed to look like a home interior in order to make the stars waiting their turn on stage more comfortable.

Each year a different interior designer from the Los Angeles area is chosen. This year actress Julianne Moore, who has a love of designing, joined the founders of the design firm, Commune —  Roman Alonso, Steven Johanknecht, and Pamela Shamshiri — to create a setting inspired by Southern California’s mid-century architecture. The design showcased the region’s famous indoor-outdoor lifestyle with skylights, sliding glass doors and terraces.

The lighting we provided called upon both architectural and interior design techniques such as recessed lighting, natural skylight looks and wall sconces. And on one side of the limestone-floored living room, a wall of Samsung LED displays served as a virtual picture window with a view of the city that went from day to night and back again.

We were proud to be part of the event, and filling the Oscar Greenroom with light. With our job done, it was the Academy’s turn to fill it with stars.

Photos by Roger Davies

oscars lighting design

Oscars green room lighting


lighting design

Oscars lighting design

A Very Super Bowl!

In Lighting Design by images310 / February 25, 2015

10377162_10153111351121340_1786365754726908670_nSuper Bowl is super in so many ways. The biggest sports event of the year also creates some of the largest events as well! As one can imagine, Super Bowl is not just one day either. The festivities began on Friday of that weekend with an event for 2,200 guests. Images was brought in to light this event by Barton G, a Miami-based event and restaurant firm that had just opened another division in Los Angeles.

Images’ lighting designer Lonnie Thompson headed up this massive undertaking that took place at Phoenix Convention Center, Halls F & G. “We trucked to Phoenix with two semis loaded with more than 1,200 lighting fixtures,” Lonnie says. “The entire set up was seven days.”


The theme was a rugged look with many areas for seating and viewing. The large set pieces emulated Phoenix’s many craggy outcroppings of rocks and boulders. Lighting added the heat that the state is so well known for – rich ambers and reds were “painted” onto the sets with lighting. Other areas were washed in deep lavender. Texture and layering was key to lighting this event. To that end Images created six different gobo patterns for the various areas of this huge event. Intelligent lights were used to create a slow ballyhoo of monochromatic washes that moved over the base layer of texture. In all, 40 moving lights were programmed and cued.

The venue’s design required two types of rigging for the lights. In the entrance to the halls, the ceiling was lower and had no rigging points. Here, all the lighting was ground supported. Yet in the main halls, 25-foot-high ceiling enabled the team to set up 600 feet of truss with 32 motors to run all the looks.


The main stage area was designed with three semi-translucent panels of Spandex that were hit with both rear and front lighting for greater depth of color. The look was perfect for the hot country band, Lady Antebellum, who took the stage by storm. It was clear that Super Bowl weekend had begun and just as it was heating up our crew was chilling out after this week-long setup!






Timeless Lighting at HBO Golden Globes

In Lighting Design by images310 / January 18, 2015

lighting the golden globes

Imagining worlds and then producing them is the art of the event designer. It’s also the craft of the Hollywood art director. So it’s not surprising that when Billy Butchkavitz began to design this year’s Golden Globes look for HBO’s after-party, he’d call on the spirit of Cedric Gibbons, one of Hollywood’s most influential production designers. Working in the thirties, Gibbons’ style was decadent Art Deco – the type that is associated with platinum blondes, endless cocktails and piano lounges.

And so taking his cues from this, as well as one of Cedric’s musical sets, Butchkavitz conceived a rich topaz and gold palette for this annual indoor-outdoor event held at the Beverly Hills Hilton. To recall a Hollywood premiere from Cedric’s era, we added a classic effect – Klieg lighting, only with a modern technology spin on it using a series of Sharpie fixtures that did a “ballyhoo” in the night sky, just as they did in the thirties.

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Inside, our lighting was just as classic (yet modern). Designed to highlight certain areas, as well as cast an overall texture across the major architectural elements, we used several techniques. One of these was the projection of a swirl pattern on a major element in the “set” — a dramatic golden staircase that descended from a 24-foot-high upholstered perimeter wall. This same lighting pattern was then projected over the charcoal grey carpeting.

golden globe lighting

Around the perimeter of the room, we used LED uplighting to overlay an architectural element to the space. These light columns anchored the space while lighting washes in gold and amber added warmth. Pinspotting on the table made the flowers – arrangements of gardenias, cream roses, China mums, and white amaryllis true to the trends of that era – pop.

premiere lightingTo add yet another layer of texture onto the timeless event design, we created a custom pattern inspired by the work of the artist, Gustav Klimt. This was projected on the perimeter surfaces, including the exterior of the ballroom wall used during the broadcast. Between these, the warm tones and classic color palette, everyone look gorgeous. Finding lighting that flatters everyone, as well as the design, is a talent that we’ve found in Hollywood never grows old, no matter the era.hollywood lighting And just to end on a little Hollywood magic, before and after shots that truly reveal the unbelievable work that went into this event

Photos: Gabor Ekecs