LED pixel tape is incredibly versatile. When you’re designing your stage lighting, it can be an incredibly powerful tool to have available. It provides you with far more options than classic fixtures you would use for a basic show. That makes LED pixel tape a magnificent supplement to include in your light installation if you want to take things up a notch.
If you’re curious about how to use pixel tape on stage, here’s what you need to know.
What Is LED Pixel Tape?
LED pixel tape – which is also known as intelligent tape, smart tape, or pixel tape – is a lighting option. There is a flexible circuit board that serves as a base. Along the front-facing surface of the circuit board, you’ll find light-emitting diodes (LEDs). On the back of the pixel tape, you’ll typically find an adhesive backing.
With pixel tape, you get a lot of opportunities for customization. Often, the tape can be cut to size, allowing you to achieve the perfect length for your needs. If you aren’t sure if a precut run is long enough, default to a longer one. That way, you can get the perfect length with a quick snip.
In many ways, LED pixel tape is RGB tape that’s been taken to the next level. Since it uses addressable surface-mounted LEDs, every LED is controllable individually. You can get a broader range of colors, turn each light on or off independently, and use other programming options you won’t usually find with classic RGB tape designs.
Using LED Pixel Tape on Stage – A Step-by-Step Guide
1. Gathering Your Supplies
Before you can incorporate LED pixel tape into your lighting design, you’ll need to gather some supplies. Along with the tape itself, you’ll usually need a lighting console, a DMX controller, and a pixel driver. That way, you can have complete control over the LEDs, making it easier to achieve the desired lighting effects.
2. Mounting Pixel Tape
Before you begin deciding where you want to place your LED pixel tape, you want to think about how you’ll mount it. While the adhesive can stick to a range of surfaces, so you do have choices. Additionally, if you opt for higher-quality tape, it’ll commonly stay in place for quite some time.
However, you may not want to place it directly on walls or painted surfaces. If you need to take down or reposition the LED pixel tape, there is a chance it could cause damage upon removal.
At times, using metal channels can be an ideal approach. Aluminum channels are lightweight and heat-dissipating. Plus, aluminum is easily cut to length.
Another benefit of using metal channels is that, instead of removing the tape, you can simply reposition the channel. You don’t have to unstick and reapply the tape if the position is a bit off. You just shift the channel into the right place.
3. Creating a Plan
Like every part of your lighting design, you want to have a plan before you start mounting any LED pixel tape. Usually, it’s best to start with your key light, add in your basic complementary fixtures, and then look to see where LED pixel tape may be beneficial.
If you’re using pixel tape for special effects purposes, then it’s wise to work with the director to determine the type of look they want to achieve. This will give you clues about positioning and programming, making it easier to get the right lighting effect for dramatic moments.
4. Running Tests
Once you have your design plan, you can tackle the installation. However, you also want to run a series of tests. That way, you can make sure everything is hooked up and working correctly.
In many cases, a pixel controller will have a built-in test mode. This is great for ensuring the connections are functioning and that all of the LEDs light up correctly.
Once you’ve done that, you can start mapping out the lights and programming effects. As you do, perform tests regularly. That way, you’ll be sure everything is just what the production needs as early as possible.
Why Use LED Pixel Tape on Stage
LED pixel tape is a versatile tool. You can create shapes or stripes, use it as under-mount lighting, illuminate dark corners, outline objects, backlight floating wall art, and so much more. Since the tape is highly flexible, you can bend it to your creative whims. Let your imagination (and the production’s needs) guide you. If you do, you may be surprised by what you can accomplish.