Tips for Tone and Feel

These looks can be achieved by using standard theatrical fixtures with gels for washing the stage with color, and an ellipsoidal fixture can be fitted with a star gobo for putting that pattern on the stage, walls or ceilings. LED color wash fixtures can make washing the stage with color even easier. And while awesome beams of light shining through haze are usually associated with moving lights, a fixture that can project a pattern or well-defined beam (such as an ellipsoidal fixture) can produce the same result.Lighting can get even simpler for some styles.

“We have used strings of simple incandescent bulbs—the old-style Edison bulbs. And we’ve used lots of rough wood textures to add to our warm staging looks. You can also build nice, warm-looking set pieces out of pallet wood, or stained Poplar, that typically goes great with Christmas trees,” says Evan Rodecap, systems engineer at Northview Church in Carmel, Ind. Old pallets can sometimes be obtained for free from stores or companies that would otherwise throw them away. “Snow machines can be a fun addition to a Christmas service, with the snow passing through beams of light,” says Nicholas Palomo, director of production at Scottsdale Bible Church in Scottsdale, AZ. “Also you can create great Christmas looks by putting lots of trees on your stage and decorating with standard incandescent Christmas string lights. (Note that LED Christmas lights do not dim well.) Or, put a wash light on a tree to turn it a different color.”Of course, if you have access to moving lights or can rent some for your service, lighting your service becomes a lot easier and more flexible in many ways. But it’s not necessary to look for the hottest new fixtures available.

Creative Solutions

“We don’t use the latest and greatest lights,” says Palomo, “because it’s more expensive than the standard lighting that’s available in rental. For us, going with an older fixture gives us more fixtures and that enables us to do more. We’ll rent lights from a place called 4Wall; we’ve rented from Clearwing in the past, as well. We typically add 20-30 fixtures for our Christmas productions—we sometime rent Vari-Lite VL4000s to augment our existing rig.

We often look for some fixtures that would give us a different look from our regular Sunday services, such as Clay Paky B-Eyes. That helps us build the looks that we want to build. And if you can find a hybrid fixture that can do double-duty as both a wash fixture and a spot, that gives you even more flexibility.”Wray also looks for a hybrid fixture when possible.

“Last year we rented 12 Martin Mac Axiom hybrid fixtures. They gave us the option of a wide variety of looks. For our opener we used them as beam fixtures; for worship, we used them as spotlights projecting a subdued star gobo effect. They let you change up the look significantly.”Not everyone can go rent that many fixtures for an event, however. But even adding a handful of fixtures can make a big difference. And there can be other ways to get great light effects as well.“When we didn’t have those resources, we have used different means to achieve similar results,” Palomo continues. “Environmental projection (video projectors to project images on surfaces) can be used to put patterns on stage and generate effects. We’ve also used LED video tiles as scenic elements—those need to be planned out with your lighting so they work well together.”Part of solid lighting and stage design consists of hiding those things that are not particularly attractive, such as risers or the back wall of your stage. Appropriately lit set pieces can go a long way in dressing up your space.

This article originally appeared here.

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