Using Philips Hue lights for stage lighting

I had never considered the utility of Philips Hue lights for stage design until they release the Friends of Hue line. Then all sorts of possibility started to rattle around my head. I picked up 5 of the normal Hue bulbs to experiment with and see how they might work. I wanted to do a sort of inversion from the congregation lights to the stage. We have pendant globes that light the sanctuary, so I wanted smaller versions of those on our lamp stands which previously had edison bulbs in them. Here’s the result of that experiment.

Another cool shot from a church member.

Positives:

1. Flexibility. Any hue you want, you have available. This allows us to set better moods/vibe on stage that better support the story we’re singing. Now with the Friends of Hue release you also have LED strips and flood lights that give you a lot of options in placement. There are a lot of Hue apps in the iTunes store as well giving you a lot of controller options. We settled on Hue Disco, which in our experience is the best controller available which is available for both iPhone and iPad for $2.99.

2. Simplicity. The bulbs have networking built in, so there’s no cabling beyond the power outlet. This again assists flexibility in that you can start placing these in really creative places (more on that later) without a lot of work. Configuring the bridge took all of 60 seconds. Plug it into your router, open your favorite hue app and connect it to the bridge by pressing the 1 button on the bridge. Done.

3. Cost. The starter pack is $199 which comes with 3 bulbs and the bridge. 1 Bridge supports up to 50 lights, which is more than enough for our size stage. Single bulbs are $60, the lightstrips are $90 and the flood lights are $80. For our modest needs the price is really reasonable, especially considering a trip to Lowe’s to buy 1 white LED floodlight that isn’t networked costs about $45.

Challenges:

1. Restraint. I’m so lucky to have a couple guys I can really depend on to create the mood and support the story. While the setup is easy and the controller is intuitive, with many options comes much responsibility and need for restraint. Stay away from that strobe button!

2. Software issues. We’ve had some instances where a stray light has lagged in changing color as programmed. We’ve managed to find workarounds so this doesn’t happen live but now that the lights have embedded software you introduce a new layer of things that can go wrong.

What’s next:

We’re replacing all the bulbs in our pendant lights with hue bulbs so we can control the entire room better. And we’ve got some surprises for more stage work that I’ll post on once finished.

Overall I’ve been very impressed with the Hue lights and we’ve received overwhelming positive feedback from them the last couple weeks.

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