From Boring to Bridgerton: The Power of Event Lighting Ft. Pierre Marleau

This week we welcome event lighting expert, Pierre Marleau! With more than 20+ years in the industry, Pierre has produced lighting for Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera, Showboat, and even Cirque Du Soleil. We talk about the value of great light design, why light production deserves space in your budget, and how bad lighting can make us all look like dinosaurs! You won’t want to miss this episode!

What is your background?

I graduated college in Canada and started working for broadway shows like Phantom of the Opera, and Showboat, and I was the Production Manager. I worked on lighting design for “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” which is the Calgary Stampede, I came on as a lighting and production designer. From there, I began my business Orange Frog Productions, and we do corporate shows and have worked in Las Vegas and things have just snowballed from there.

What has been the most influential in your career success?

I think mentors are so important. Later in your career people always seem to question having a mentor because they think you’ve arrived. But you are never old to learn and I was lucky, during my time on Broadway and television, I have worked with big lighting designers that have inspired me. I have seen what they are doing, and I have tried to create my own personality out of that. Observing and learning what outer people do has influenced my career?

What is your personality in lighting design?

It’s geographical for me. In Quebec I’m known for theater design, and In Alberta I’m known for corporate lighting. In the past 15 years I’ve been known mostly for that. CBC knows me as a light designer for television. I worked to do an Elton John tribute and I was focused on textures and changed the expectations for television people of what lighting can do. I’ve never got so many hugs at the end of a show.

Event planners always say lighting is important and that they love it. And usually, as much as they love it, it’s the first element to go out the door in the budget. I’m hoping to inspire people to think about lighting differently.

Why is lighting so important and how does it impact a project?

Lighting is all about conveying feelings and emotion. Lighting can really dress the elephant. Corporate events are always held in giant bunkers, these spaces are meant to be neutral. To dress a room like this, the decor budget would have to be huge. Lighting has the power to do this and transform a space mush more easily. I think what good event planners are able to convert boring rooms into something beautiful. Lighting can really transform spaces, and sometimes you have no idea what it can do.

If you don’t invest in light, you’re entire event, including photos and videos, can not look how you want. Lighting creates the mood and atmosphere, and it can change the tone of what you’re trying to deliver.

What are your suggestions for event planners and lighting?

You have to dress-up your space. We’ve become so casual about our screens and environment. Have a clean space with a clear backdrop. Have some lighting, just a simple ring light, is enough to help. You don’t want to look like a Dinosaur, and bad lighting can do that. So invest in good lighting and warm up your environment!

How do you use lighting to sculpt a space?

Learn about lighting from the outdoors. The sun and the outside is always dynamic and has movement. Lighting has to be moving. What I mean by sculpting is bringing a lot a textures into a room with light. Create textures and there will be an optical image of different tones of light.

Why should people make space in their budgets for lighting?

They need to see lighting as something besides a technical element. Lighting is about passion, and it’s my job to deliver that vision. Lighting is painting life, and that’s an incredible job. If you want you events to look different, look for the artists and people who can do it different.

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