Friday, July 9, 2010

A Lighting Guide for Your Church on the Go


In the July issue of Church Production Magazine, Greg Persinger wrote on the increasing trend of “mobile campus” churches. These mobile churches require the same excellent lighting as traditional churches but require their lighting systems to be easily transportable. Devising a proper system for a mobile lighting system can be both intimidating and challenging, but hopefully this article will provide you with some ideas on how to get your mobile lighting system rolling. Selecting what you will mount your lighting system on is one of the first decisions you will have to make. In order to decide whether you need a tripod stand or a truss system you will need to figure out how many and what size par cans, ellipsoidals, pin spots, etc. you require for your service. Tripod stands typically come in 9-ft or 10-ft spans with a 30lbs and 100lbs maximum weight load respectively. If your lighting needs exceed the limitations of these stands, then a truss system is most likely for you. In addition to being to bear more weight, trusses come with the added benefit of being able to fly lightweight speakers. Truss systems come in non-crank or crank-up versions. They typically have 10-ft spans with maximum loads of 200lbs to 300lbs. The truss systems themselves weigh around 85lbs.

Another crucial decision you will need to make will regard what type of par cans and other types of lighting you will want to use. The heart of your lighting system will be a combination of PAR cans and/or ellipsoidal lights. For your par cans you will need to select a par can size and bulb and choose an appropriate beam type and wattage for your specific space.
LED par cans should be seriously considered for your mobile lighting set up. Their energy efficiency will reduce the amount you need. Furthermore, LED par cans have on board dimmers, lighting effects, and color changing abilities which will cut down on the number of dimmer packs, gels and other hardware you would otherwise need. The durability of LEDs makes them ideal for regular transportation. LED par cans are often weatherproof in case you want to bring your worship service out of doors. BulbAmerica sells PAR can packages to help you assemble an appropriate lighting system and choose the specifications that are right for you. Ellipsoidal lights feature an ellipsoidal reflector and often a series of lenses, a lens train, an adjustable barrel for focus, a gel frame, and a slot for gobos.

In order to dim and control your lighting you will need a dimmer pack and a control console. Portable dimmer packs, like those made by Optima, feature an easy to use LCD display and will enable you to control your lighting. You will also need a controller. Controllers can be extremely complex and deserve an article unto themselves, luckily we have one on our blog (see “Taking Control of Your Lighting System”). You’ll want to choose a controller that has controls that will be intuitive and easy to use by the light operator, whether that means selecting a controller that uses primarily sliders or a more computer-like interface. You may want to choose a controller that can save your lighting settings and scenes either on the controller’s hardrive or externally on a thumbdrive or CD. No matter what features you end up choosing, you must ensure that your controller is compact and durable enough to survive constant transportation.

Of course you may have more questions than this article is capable of answering. You should always consult an expert rather than make a decision with limited information. Though your church venue may be temporary, the high quality of your worship service should not be. Our experts would be more than willing to field your questions either through email or over the phone. Safe travels!

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