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More Lighting Links

Most of these are form Church Production Magazine.  It’s a *free* magazine and I would recommend it to our entire tech team.  Reading articles written by anfd for people in the church can make a big difference as they understand the balance churches have to find to be welcoming, worshipful, exciting, and on the cutting edge of technology.

Lighting for Worship

Basics for Lighting for Video

Mood & Color

Lighting and Production for HD Video


March 7, 2009 at 10:26 am Leave a comment

I can see clearly now

unique2Hazers.  Not fog machines or smoke machines.  OK, smoke machines might be acceptable since you can set off the fire alarms with the hazers.  Oh, yeah, it’s true!  I’ve done it three times now!  The first time, the fire trucks actually showed up… color me embarrassed.

The hazers use a water based fluid to create small particles in the air that are essentially chemically enhanced water vapor (essentially steam without the humidity).  These particles act like dust in front of a bright light… like dust in front of a projector, you can see the beam of light.  This enhances the moving lights by letting the audiences see the beams of light (see picture, below).  So, the beam actually becomes a part of your tool set as a lighting designer.  


We have two hazers positioned on either side of the stage.  So, I’ve patched the hazers to channels 201 thru 204.  Channels 201 and 203 are the “pumps” for the hazers… the actual amount of “haze” being created.  Channels 202 and 204 are the fans pushing the haze away from the units and dispersing the cloud.  I have the fans programmed to run at 25% when the light board is turned on, even when their channel level is at 0%.  This accomplishes two things: 1.) The fans run at a much higher speed than the pumps, creating a better dispersion for the haze, and 2.) the fans become white noise and the speed up to 100% is less noticeable if you happen to speed them up in a relatively quiet moment (very unlikely).

I have programmed a submaster (labeled Hazers) to run the pumps @45% and the fans at 100% while the sub is at 100%.  I also  programmed the bump button on the submaster to run that sub to fade up for 5 seconds, run at full for 5 seconds and then cut off autoimatically if bumped.  During the rehearsal last night, this seems to produce a good amount of initial haze without setting off the fire alarm too quickly.  To maintain the haze, simply run the sub at 50%.  This runs the fans at 50% on the board, but their actual speed is closer to 75% since they started at 25% actual speed.

Unless BK requests otherwise, we’ll likely turn off the hazers during the message.  So, we’ll likely bump the sub again post message and go back to running the sub @ 50% until the end of service.  Between services, we’ll likely turn off the hazers again.  Them, during the 5 minute countdown, bump them and return to 50% maintain to prepare the stage for opening song.  This will conserve hazer fluid (expensive) and also keep the haze from being a distraction in any sort of way during the message.

While the sub will be the main control for the hazers, the hazer channels can still be grabbed and set to a higher rate than 45%.  *At this time, I would like to highly recommend against this.*  It only takes a few seconds at 100% pump for the hazers to set off the fire alarm.

We are currently in the process of designing and implementing work arounds for the hazers/fire alarm predicament.  But you should know (audio folks should know this too), that if the fire alarm goes off, the sound system is shut off automatically.  This is a safety requirement so that people can hear the alarm going off.  Additionally, to reset the air duct sensor that is triggered by the haze, you must go up on the roof of the building, open a panel with a 5/16″ nut driver and push a button.  Then, the alarm can be reset at an alarm control panel inside the building, and the audio system powered back on.  So, setting it off on Sunday morning would suck on an epic scale.  We are also working out how to make it so that the alarm system can reset the duct sensors without going on the roof.


March 4, 2009 at 11:42 am 1 comment

Light Art

I’m not going to go into some exposition on art and beauty.  But there are some concepts that are fairly standard across humankind.  I’ve already talked a bit about the use of color.  But there’s more to our lights than color.  I want to talk briefly about symmetry and focus.  

Generally speaking, we find “beauty” in symmetry.  That being said, we also find asymmetrical things particularly interesting.  As we program our moving lights, it will be tempting to always program them in pairs.  Let me encourage you to find the times when interesting is needed and “beauty” simply gets redefined… by you!  For example, putting two different colors on a light pair.  Or, perhaps, shooting a light pair on the back curtain in asymmetrical patterns, focus points and colors.  Symmetrical lighting is particularly important to video if we’re trying to get a “good” IMAG.  However, even with regards to lighting for video, if we’re going for artistic, asymmetry makes things interesting.  Don’t be afraid to try something asymmetrical!

aflobet5Focus is also an area with a temptation to stay “safe.”  Just as in Chris pointed out here with regards to video, focus can be a awesome tool towards artistic impressions.  Initially, you may be tempted to use hard edges on the spots, particularly with gobos.  Soft edges can completely change a gobos effects, particularly when combined with other effects.  For example, the Aflobet gobo (right) is a colored gobo of a blue and white spiral.  If you put on a very soft edge, throw on the prism and some slow rotations, you can get a pretty neat cloud effect, especially on a white background (Monique from CPM showed me this one).  So, it’s all about playing around with focus… soft focus can add a tremendous amount of flexibility to your tool set.  Don’t be afraid to play with it!


February 27, 2009 at 10:26 am 1 comment

From the big O

So, I’m in Orlando and just finished my ION training.  It was very informative.  I learned a lot of neat things that I hope to implement at newhope.  Perhaps unfortunately, this means there’ll be a little more to teach and to be learned.  However, I think attending the training may help me present the information in a fashion that’s more conducive to learning.

I trully hope to make some of the more intermediate and advanced functions something that can be learned over time… and the basics aren’t really that hard.  In fact, most of them have already been covered and applying them on the ION is pretty easy.

Most of the stuff I learned will help me set up the board even better to, hopefully, give us plenty of control.  Still, no amount of extra control can make up for excellence in pre-planning.  I’m going to try to have a single song (“God of This City” ) programmed to the recorded version to demonstrate just some of the ideas that I’ve discussed on this blog and give us a starting point to examine the ins and outs of running the board and, perhaps to a lesser degree, even programming.  Aside from a training tool, I also desire for it to demonstrate how much more moving (and easier to execute) a pre-planned program can be vs. the limitations of on-the-fly effects.  Hopefully, it will help get you just as fired up about programming as you might actually get about running a Sunday morning.


February 25, 2009 at 5:34 pm Leave a comment


Moving lights offer a bunch of new parameters that have to be programmed to get the desired effect.  Most of them are self-explanatory like pan, tilt, & color.  Others might require a little more explanation or just a little hands-on to “get it.”  So, if you’re not following me on any concepts, I’m hoping that it will clear up when we get to hands-on training.  Please ask questions in the comments (even if you’re not a “lighting guy”!).  But, on to palettes!


Palettes are referenced data.  They incredibly useful for programming moving lights.  Essentially, if you’re going to use anything more than once, you should probably make a palette out of it.  There are 3 types of palettes: Beam, Focus, and Color.  Color and focus are actually pretty simple.  

For color, well, c’mon… but, color palettes are particularly useful on the washes where there are millions of color combinations.  On the spots, the color palettes let us quickly pick a color or split-color on the color wheel.  Basically, it’s just a quick way to get to the color you want.

For focus, it’s a set of pan and tilt parameters.  This can be a little confusing because the actual lens focus (amount of diffusion of light) is actually recorded under beam palettes.

For beam, it’s everything else: gobo, gobo rotation, prism, prism rotation, strobe effects, and diffusion/edge (focus).  Ideally, we’ll have a beam palette program for each one of these, plus combinations of these and we’ll probably make a ton more…

So, if you want the moving spots to point on DS center, you grab them and choose focus palette 10.  Want purple? Pick color palette 4.  Want soft edged, slowly spinning gobos in a slowly spinning prism? Pick beam palette 21.  So, you can see how palettes let you quickly set a bunch of parameters and how this can help you program the moving lights much quicker.

Luckily, on the ION, we can label everything, including palettes.  However, at this time, I’m having difficulty displaying those labels while you’re working on programming.  Until then, I can export the data to a PDF and will likely re-organize it onto a single sheet that we can keep by the ION for quick reference.


February 24, 2009 at 10:26 am 1 comment

Moving Light Details

krypton-1We’ve got MAC 250 moving lights.  There are actually two types of MAC 250’s: Spot (Krypton) and Wash.  They have a tilt range of 257 degrees and pan range of 540 degrees.   You can tell the difference by the “lens” on each.  The spot (left) has a smaller lens set deeper in the front of the fixture.  The wash (right, below) has a wider lens set closer to the front of the fixture.

The spot provides the ability to create a sharp, defined edge on your light.  It also has a gobo wheel and prism effect.  It can rotate the gobos or prism effect.  And it’s color is provided by a single color wheel with 10 pre-set glass “gels.”  The wash can cover a large area with various diffusions of light and has a CMY (cyan, magenta, yellow) color mixing system.  It has no gobos or prisms.  Both can strobe in various ways.

The drawback to the spots is that color and gobos changes (typically) need to be done with the fixture shuttered.  Otherwise, you’ll see the wheel spin through the gobos colors between the one you’re on and the one you want.  The drawback to the washes is that they don’t do much except give you a wash.


We have 4 of each.  Two of the washes are on the front electric (in front of the stage).  There are two spots on the next electric, just above the DS (downstage) area.  The last four are on the next electric that’s about halfway between the US (upstage) and DS areas.   The washes are on the outside and the spots are in the middle (likely be right over the drummer).

I’ve patched the lights in pairs and inverted one of each pair.  So, when you grab a pair and pan them, they’ll move symetrically.  Of course, you can always grab an individual light and move it wherever you want.

While the movers give us a lot to play with, it’s easy to get wrapped up in all they can do.  I promise you, it won’t be that complicated… learning the tech will take some time, I’m sure, but it will happen soon enough and we’ll all feel confident on the board.  So, just remember, as we continue down this road, that lighting is as much art as tech.  This is particularly true with our movers: Our best lighting will be lighting that we feel as we let the music move us.  And, more importantly on an eternal scale, the lighting that you create as the music moves you will help move the hearts of others in the congregation.


February 22, 2009 at 10:26 am 1 comment

Advanced Cues

So, cues can get “dangerous” when the plan changes.  In the previous example given, perhaps we delay the start of a service by two minutes for some reason.  There are things you can do with cues to make them work in the context of a dynamic service.

In the case of delaying a service, you can simply pause one of the cues (or the delay in the link) for two minutes.  You can also take control of a cue and control it manually.  When you do this, it’s similar to having a sub-master programmed to a slider.  As you move the slider one way, the cue moves forward.  You basically take manual control of the t variable.  You can even take control of some of the other variables (intensity, non-intensity variables, etc.)

You can go backwards through a cue list and/or jump to a previous cue.  You can also skip forward to future cues.  Though skipping through cues poses its own issues… But, that’s the points of this… all of this control is what makes cues powerful as well as dangerous.

You must know what your cues are so that the correct lights turn on and off at the right times and at the right speed.  If you don’t, some lights might blink on or off.  The light board typically runs in Tracking mode.  This means that if a light is on in Cue A and does not receive a new command, it will stay on when you launch Cue B.  So, we have to be aware of this and learn to work within the concept of Tracking to produce excellent lights.  

But, with practice and good prep work, (and more practice and prep work :)) you can alleviate these concerns.

Before I wrap up cues, I want to say that I’ve defined cues conceptually for the sake of simplicity.  Cues on the ION are actually numbered (not lettered) and can even use decimal numbers (to insert cues in between other cues).  You can also record and run multiple cue sets (very advanced!).  Additionally, you actually program the cues slightly differently… You basically say where you want each light to end up, then set up the timings.  Though, with moving lights, sometimes you have to set another cue to get the lights into position.  There is a feature called “Mark” in the ION that does this automatically for us, but I’m not sure how well it works and how we’ll use it.  Often, it’s better to manually set a cue that sets your moving lights in the right position (so that you control when they move and they don’t make noise in a quiet, tender moment).  It may take a little getting used to, but it’s not that hard once you get the hang of it.


February 16, 2009 at 10:26 am 1 comment

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