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OT-Lighting our stage?-Need some basic advice!

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I am the Youth Pastor/Worship leader of a mid-sized church. (250 at 1 service) We need to light the stage from the front, not just the top house lights!

I really don't know where to start. I understand we need to get controller, dimmers, lights, and cabling, light bar...but thats about as far as I can get on my own!

Any additional advice is welcomed

Our budget is 1000-1500$ appx.

Feel free to point me to any web sites as well.


As my background is more of an audio background, I'm going to give that as a disclaimer.

The first thing that comes to mind is to see if there is a consultant you can hire. Ask others about the consultants work ect. just like you should any other projects. All to often in many contractor roles I hear of organizations hiring so and so b/c he's a friend of Mr. Big Donor who sits on the board. Often times whom ever so and so is, they do a half baked job. Granted their cost to you may be lower in the short term, in the long run it can become more expensive to redo things the right way.

Having said that, most installed systems I see have a mechanical room for the dimmers, and the lights are hanged from the ceiling on some sort of rigging. You want to make sure anything hanging from your ceiling has a fail safe system, stationary light fixtures normally have a strap that the light will hang from if the clamp fails.

I can't really tell you which fixtures to use, but I can say from experience that you want the lights to cross the stage, so if a light is stage left, it should be focused on an area stage right. Direct lighting will remove depth and can make things appear washed out.

If you video tape your services, you need to make sure the lighting is even, especially if the speaker wanders. You will also have to be careful with what color gels you use b/c some colors don't work as well on camera (I don't know why, it's just what my TV production friends tell me when I ask about gels).

For the experts here to give good advice you will need to better describe the area you need to light: stage size, stage elements (risers etc), what you need to light, location of current hose lights, etc.

For an installed system, I think $1500 might not be enough so if you can raise some more funds that would be helpful for you. You'll probably spend more money on dimmers and installing things correctly than you will spend on the light fixtures themselves.


Hansel Anasarias:
(from the viewpoint of one who researches stuff online a lot, especially, websites)

i haven't messed much with lighting, but you can go to where they have a bunch of lighting packages.  Depending if you wan't intelligent lighting that's robotic and stuff like that....that'll get really expensivem. But if you need just spotlights (even kinds that change color, etc.) i personally don't think you'd need a consultant.  

Just figure out what you want in terms of the ambiance, and how it'll affect the mood of worship, and other aspects of the service, you'll know exactly what kind of lights you'll need.  Because i've always had to work on tight budgets, grab a package deal.  Eh, i dunno, good luck. But, yer on the right track: dimmers, controllers, etc.  Oh and make sure that yer room can handle all the power needed to power all those lights.

Mike Sveda:
Contact some sound companies that deal in lights.  Invite them to bring some gear over to your church and demo it for you.  You cna see first hand how the lights will work in your application insted of seeing them online or in a showroom.  Most dealers will gladly work with you.  Tell them your budget and what kind of lighting ideas you have and they can bring out some stuff, rig it temporarily and see how it looks.

Well, considering the budget the consultant advice was probably a little over the top, but for a permanent install there are building code issues to contend with. With the size church mentioned, it shoudn't be too hard to find some members who know the code and could do the job but make sure they are qualified, you want to make sure the job is done right the first time.

My thought process with things like this is along the lines of "buy once, cry once" (a wise poster(I don't recall who)). So with that in mind, I'd do what I could to learn about different installs and the process, read online, go to the library, visit other churches, etc. One of your top concerns should be saftey. The last thing you need is a light fixture falling from the ceiling and the church being held responsible for the medical bills or worse. Following saftey, your going to want to look at expandablity. Sure a few lights are good now, but what about the future. It might be worth it to find a good sized light console and while your dealing with the electrical system, have a few extra circuits or more amps (more power) planned than your going to use now.

One church that I attended where I grew up ran extra 20 amp power for dimmers and extra microplex wire. This sort of planning came in real handy the year we decided to use pro level lights for the Christmas contada. The guy who had a major hand in the design and construction of the building attends the church, so he came in and put some pipe in place so we could hang the lights, and after the contada was over, we took most of it down for athestic purposes.



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