Glossary Of Lighting Terms

glossary of lighting terms

Additive Color Mixing

Additive Color Mixing is layering multiple light sources on top of each other to create the desired color. So, when we take a red light source and a blue light source and combine them, we create magenta. This is how most LED fixtures create color. 

See also: Subtractive Color Mixing


Amber LEDs

Amber LEDs create punchy pastel colors because they are able to provide a unique blend of yellow and orange hues that are not achievable with other colors. The amber tones of the LEDs can provide a softer, more muted look than red or green LEDs and are ideal for creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.


Art-Net is a protocol for sending large amounts of DMX data over ethernet. It connects a server (your lighting console) to a node. The node would then convert to DMX and connect to your lighting fixtures. Some high-end fixtures (usually with huge DMX channel counts) feature a built-in node.

See Also: DMX, sACN, and Channel of DMX


Backlighting is lighting that illuminates a subject from behind.

See also: Three Point Lighting



Barndoors are flaps built on or attached to the front of a fixture that can be opened and closed to help frame the fixture’s output.

*pictured above is The Springtree COB with built-in barndoors.

Beam Angle

The beam angle is a measurement of the distribution of light from a fixture. Larger beam angles mean the field of light produced by the fixture is more spread out and less intense. Smaller beam angles mean the field of light produced by the fixture is less spread out and more intense.


CMY is a form of subtractive color mixing where a fixture features a color wheel consisting of dichroic “flags” in the colors; cyan, magenta, and yellow, which are applied in different combinations to achieve the desired colors.

Read more about CMY here: A Beginner’s Guide To Color Mixing!

Color Temperature

color temperature scale

Color temperature is a scale to describe the color of white light a source creates as measured in degrees of Kelvin. Around 3,000º and below would be a warm white, and 5,000º and above would be a cold white.


Color Rendering Index (CRI) measures how accurately a light source makes colors look compared to natural and incandescent light. It is on a scale from 0-100, with 80-89 being good and 90+ being great.


A lighting cue is a saved look that can be played back by a button or fader.

Cue List

Cue Lists are a saved sequence of cues you can trigger in order. Cue lists are the typical way theatrical lighting is programmed. During a show, the tech will hit the Go button on a console and click through the lighting cues in order, at their marked times, during the play.

(also known as a Cue Stack)


DMX (digital-multiplex) is a protocol language primarily designed for controlling theatrical lighting.

DMX Channel

You can think of a channel of DMX like a fader that controls a parameter on a scale of 0-255. Common parameters could be color or strobe. If a DMX channel control’s a fixture’s blue LEDs, then 0 would be off, and 255 would be blue LEDs at their highest intensity.

DMX Universe

A DMX Universe consists of 512 channels of DMX. Light shows can have multiple DMX Universes.


Ellipsoidal fixtures are static wash fixtures that allow you to adjust focus, shape the light via shutters, and insert GOBOs. Their ability to shape their light output makes them extremely useful stage lights. Most ellipsoidal fixtures feature interchangeable lenses for changing the beam angle. Variable zoom ellipsoidal fixtures don’t allow you to change lenses but give you a range of beam angles by moving the lens.

Also known as lekos.

*The ellipsoidal pictured above is The Springtree HD202RGBWW Color Ellipsoidal


Followspots are spotlights that are typically manually operated to shine focus on a performer on stage. Followspots will usually allow the operator to adjust the size of the beam and the color via built-in panels.


Pronounced Fruh-nel

Fresnels are static wash fixtures with a soft edge to their beam. Frensnels are used for top and backlighting.


Lighting Gels are translucent pieces of colored, heat-resistant plastics placed in front of a light to change color. Gels are becoming less common these days with the advent of colored LEDs.


GOBO stands for “goes before optic,” and they are a stencil or template that goes in front of a light source to create a pattern.

Click here to learn more about GOBOs!

House Lights

House Lights is a theater term. House Lights are the lights that illuminate an auditorium.

*Pictured above is a Springtree Spatial Pendant.

Light Plot

A Light Plot is a diagram that shows the layout and position of lights on a stage.

Locking Power Connectors

A locking power connector is a connector with a locking mechanism that is used to securely connect two electrical components, such as a power supply and a device. It is designed to prevent accidental disconnection and to ensure that the connection is secure.


A lumen is a unit of measurement that is used to describe the amount of light emitted by a source, such as a light bulb. It is defined as the amount of light that is emitted in a given area, per unit of time. The higher the lumen rating of a light source, the brighter it will appear.


A lux is a unit of measurement for the amount of light that is present in an area. It is equal to one lumen per square meter. In lighting, a lux is used to measure the intensity of light, typically on a surface such as a wall or floor.


As the name suggests, movers are lighting fixtures that can be programmed to move. Movers come in all shapes and sizes for a wide array of applications. Some movers are high-energy effect lights made for clubs and concerts. There are beam, spot, and wash movers that are best at one of those applications or hybrid movers capable of producing all three.

Also known as: Moving Heads and Intelligent Lighting


LED Pars are static wash lights known for their compact design.

Par is an abbreviation for parabolic aluminized reflector, and in the pre-mover, pre-LED world, incandescent par cans were the backbone of stage lighting. Today, LED pars don’t feature a reflector but are categorized for their compact design.

*Pictured above is the Springtree Silent Par.


A pinspot is a type of spotlight used in theatrical and event lighting. It is a narrow, focused beam of light that is usually used to highlight a specific area or object.

Pixel Mapping

Pixel mapping is a technique used to map an image onto an LED display. It involves assigning a specific LED to a specific part of the image, and then programming the LED to display the corresponding color or brightness. This technique is used in LED displays for video and lighting applications.


A lighting safety cable is a device that is used to secure overhead lighting fixtures in place. It is used to prevent lights from falling and causing potential damage or injury. The cable is made of metal or steel and is attached to the light fixture and the ceiling or wall. It is also used to secure other heavy objects such as speakers, projectors and other equipment.


A lighting scene is a pre-programmed setting for the lighting in a room or space. Lighting scenes are commonly used in theatrical, film, video and architectural lighting, and can include multiple lighting fixtures, colors and intensities. They can be used to create a specific mood or atmosphere.


A spotlight is a focused beam of light that is used to illuminate a particular area or object.

See also: followspot

Three Point Lighting

It is a lighting setup that includes three lights—a key light, a fill light, and a backlight. The key light is the main light source, the fill light is used to fill in the shadows created by the key light, and the backlight is used to separate the subject from the background and to add depth to the image.



Uplighting is a type of lighting used to create ambience in a room or outdoor space. It typically involves placing lights around the perimeter of the room or outdoor area, pointing up towards the ceiling or walls, creating a wash of light.


UV LEDs are light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that emit ultraviolet light and cause certain materials to glow. They are often used to create an otherworldly atmosphere.

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