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How to Use Lighting and Projections for Your Event: Tips from Nathalie Gelinas From ID3

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Let there be light. Sure, these words are famous in scripture, but they are equally relevant to planning glorious events. Lighting has a big effect on any space, yet often ranks lower in the barrage of variables that event professionals juggle. Whether a modest budget or a large-scale event, there are easy ways to incorporate light into parties, ceremonies and other social gathering.

To explore the subject of light, we turned to Nathalie Gelinas, Vice President at Idées au Cube (a special events and video producer). Here is some of her hard-won industry wisdom.

Lighting can help emphasize a client’s brand

At its most basic level, lighting is a decorative element used to highlight or hide the features of an event space. But it can be so much more. When working with different brands in non-traditional venues, it’s vital that the client’s brand stands out and is consistent at all their events. What is the brand’s colour palette? What is the brand’s emotional atmosphere? How can lighting help set the tone? A solid lighting plan helps achieve just that.

Projections with lighting effects, the Mercuriades gala

Light is a language that can bring out emotions and tell a story

Planners should learn to speak the language of light. More and more, events are using a combination of lighting and projections to do real storytelling. For example, when you map a surface in video, it’s amazing. But when you add a layer of light, it’ becomes magical. Technology now allows us to control this dual language of light and projections very precisely. More and more, we are moving toward combinations of light, video and projection mapping.

Projections with lighting effects, Théâtre St-James in Montréal

Lighting might need to evolve during an event

If an event starts in daylight and continues into evening, the lighting requirements will need to also change. The great thing about LED strip lighting, for instance, is that it’s flexible and can be dimmed or intensified to evolve your light plan to changing conditions. It also allows you to make easy colour changes to create moods or reinforce an organization’s brand colours.

Call in the pros

When you move into more complex combinations of lighting and projections, it’s important to work with suppliers who have a solid track record and can help you imagine the possibilities. By integrating specialists (like the seasoned team at ID3) into the planning process at the beginning, you can bring out the best in the space and strategically create emotions during the event.

Projections with lighting effects, Théâtre St-James in Montréal

Don’t leave lighting to the end

Too often, lighting is planned for at the very end of the event planning process. It should an integral part of the plan from the moment the venue is confirmed — or even become a factor in venue selection.

4 technologies to keep in mind


Gobo. Short for “Go Between Optics”, Gobo is a small stenciled circular disc, and used in lighting fixtures to create a projected image or pattern.

Gobo lighting

Pin spot lighting. These focused beams of warm white light are projected onto tabletop focal points.

Pin spot table lighting, Gala Reconnaissance, Palais des congrès de Montréal

LED Strips. A flexible circuit board with light-emitting diodes used for accent lighting, backlighting, task lighting, and decorative lighting applications. LED lights consume little energy, can flex around curved surfaces, are dimmable and can change colour.

Projection mapping. Everyday video projectors, but instead of projecting on a flat screen (e.g. to display a PowerPoint), light is mapped onto any surface, turning common objects of any 3D shape into interactive displays.


Idées au cube (ID3) is a Montréal-based special-event, video and special effects production company that takes ideas to reality for a vast range of corporate, associative, government, entertainment organizations. They specialize in many types of events (galas, product launches, conferences) and immersive experiences.

Read this next: What is the Palais des congrès de Montréal?


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