Next Level Uplighting

Posted on December 1, 2015

We encountered Matthew Beauchamp’s work last year at the Markham Museum in Ontario and were immediately impressed by the elegance and balance he achieved with uplighting at an event. Our opinion of his uplighting skills continued to rise as we encountered more of his work. Uplighting the Beauchamp way isn’t just simply positioning fixtures around an event venue and aiming them toward the ceiling. Instead, this talented Canadian works to weave uplighting into the critical scenic and architectural elements of a space, changing colors and the number of fixtures used to ensure that his design blends with its environment.  Beauchamp sat down with us on a recent Sunday to share his insights into uplighting.

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You’ve done some impressive uplighting work at a variety of different venues. Can you tell us how the process begins for you? When visiting a new venue or space, what do you look at first when you think of uplighting?
“I primarily look for features or items that will enhance the appearance and emotional impact of the architecture or decor in the environment. I determine if the design will be seen clearly, measure whether it should be subtly blended into the background or stand out, and assess what kind of human emotions the lighting should evoke without discomforting or distracting the people in attendance.”

So how do you decide how many fixtures to use when uplighting a space?
“Determining how many fixtures will be used for each space is essential to a spectacular design. Budget will also determine how I approach a project, but sometimes if it looks better to add a couple more to the overall design, I tend to have a soft spot for perfection (laughs). On the other hand, just because you may have a ton of fixtures at your disposal, doesn’t mean you have to use all of them and take away from the event space.  Indeed there is such a thing as too much uplighting.

“My advice is that when designing your space, be sure to take your camera with you — it will be your best friend.  Your camera will provide you with a second prospective of how the room will look to the attendees and catch anything that you may have missed during setup. I always think, ‘What would this look like in a magazine?’ In the final analysis, quality trumps quantity every day! Sometimes full room uplighting is not necessary. As a designer, you might determine that the biggest impact can be created with minimal lighting.”

What about the colors chosen for your uplighting, how do you select them?
“Color selection is based on three factors. First is my client’s vision as a whole. Second is the aesthetics of the environment and the impact that my lighting is likely to have on views of particular objects or architectural elements. The third factor is the color palette being used in the overall design of the event.”

How would you characterize your design philosophy with uplighting?
“Keep it simple is my theory, don’t overwhelm the audience, and incorporate fixtures that will create a balanced setup and lighting design. There should be a concept to your fixture selection.”

What are the most common mistakes that you see in uplighting?
“The biggest mistake is not giving enough thought to placement, overall design and fixture selection.  Be sure to study these three aspects with considerable detail when creating your design. Don’t under estimate the importance of lighting, as it is the main ingredient of the visual impact.”

Why do you think uplighting has become so prevalent?
“Uplighting has become a phenomenon at many events; it is truly a canvas to your imagination and creativity with your event space. It has no limitations when done correctly. By taking a more illuminating approach, lighting designers are able to transform event spaces from standard to spectacular. It creates an amazing experience that generates phenomenal reviews and beautiful photos.”