Q&A With Peter Waxdal of Barbizon Light of New England

Dear Reader,

This month we sat down with Peter Waxdal, Systems Division Manager of Barbizon Light of New England, to get his take on the latest trends in the lighting industry, what to consider when planning your venue's lighting, and the importance of lighting and sound to your audience.  I hope you find it informative!  As always, we're here to help you when you're ready to address your audio and visual needs.  Call Shanahan today and one of our representatives will be happy to help you!

Best Regards,


Phase 1 of Northeastern University's Blackman Auditorium.

Peter Waxdal

Systems Division Manager

Barbizon Light of New England

Q. How would you sum up the best of lights and sound working together?

Good lighting and sound systems in any venue, regardless of whether it's a house of worship, corporate boardroom, or performance space, need to accent each other well. They do so by letting the focal point visually and audibly be the presenter. The lights and sound are meant to enhance the show, not overshadow it or detract from it.

For the people operating these systems, it's crucial that lights and sound are easy to operate and fulfill the right end result. That differs from venue to venue.  For instance, integrating light and sound in a corporate boardroom with a one touch pad that is discreet and easy to use is crucial. You don't need a huge console and lots of buttons and knobs, since it is not what the clientele needs or even wants to think about.

However, in a performance space, an operator needs more room and control. He or she needs to be able to control the lights and the sound as the performance goes on. However, those controls still have to be intuitively laid out.


Front of house view at 1st Congregational Church of Ossipee in New Hampshire.

Q. What are some of the newest lighting industry trends?

Across the board in all venues, the industry trend right now is unquestionably toward energy efficiency. People are installing occupancy sensors and daylight harvesters in rooms. Why light a room that no one is using? People are realizing a return on their energy efficiency investments in three years or less. They save money and lower their expenses.

They are also using more energy efficient light sources. For instance, just by changing out a light source, a venue can go from using 1,000 watts in a room to using only 150 watts. That can translate into a huge savings.

Q. What is the best step someone can take when planning his or her venue's lighting?

Make sure that all the lighting is on one platform, and that the points of access for that control are located in positions that make sense for the way the room is utilized. Having a light switch in a closet doesn't make a lot of sense. Having a control location on the podium in a house of worship makes a lot of sense. For instance, a pastor can read how his congregation is reacting and effect the environment accordingly. He can deliver his message more effectively if he has control over his lighting.


1 of 2 theaters at the historic Plimouth Plantation.

Q. What are the different categories of lighting?

Task Lighting: Task lighting is meant for people sitting at a desk or at any sort of work station. It serves a utilitarian purpose.

Wall washes or grazing: Wall washes or graze lighting highlight an architectural feature such as a waterfall you might see in a house of worship, or a video screen in a boardroom. A wall wash makes that screen more interesting when it has no content.  Wall washes or grazing create a more intimate feel.

General wash lighting: You often find general wash lighting in an entryway or other open spaces. It washes a room with light, opening up a space to make it feel less isolated.

Focused Lighting: Nightclubs and restaurants often use focused lighting, which creates a more intimate feel and leads people deeper into the space.

Q. How can lighting make a difference in a venue?

The lighting design for any space can really communicate a message about your company culture, or the message of your facility. By using it to enhance the mood of the different rooms, it can shape the functionality of the space.


Lighting truss and screen view of Northeastern University's Fenway Center.

Q. How much lighting can you control from one area?

We've done whole buildings on campuses in which you can control all the lights from one spot. There is just one comprehensive system that gives you control over the look and feel of the whole building. This way, a facilities worker can shut down all the lights in a building from one area.

Q. What are the more challenging types of lighting locations that you do?

Older buildings are more fun because they are more challenging. There are so many architectural features we need to work with. In older venues, you have to be very cognizant of putting modern lighting systems into older buildings. You can't just go knocking holes. It's not like new construction. We love the challenge and it makes our work fun!

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The stage at Northeastern's Fenway Center, once a church, but now a multi-purpose venue used for varied events, educational colloquiums, and worship services.

Let us help you turn your audio and visual requirements into reality. Give us a call at 800-786-1556 or contact us today. One of our professionals will be happy to work with you.   
Catherine Shanahan, President