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Buckhead Church Lighting the Way

Roman-JaredJared Roman, Lighting and Scenic Director at Buckhead Church in Atlanta, GA, shares some insight with us about lighting fixtures, mapping out a lighting system, and lighting with video in mind.

TFWM: Tell us about lighting at Buckhead.

Jared: At Buckhead church we are continually upgrading and expanding our lighting systems. One of the main things we look for when purchasing lighting equipment is the functionality and flexibility of the gear and whether it can be used for more than one task; we want something we can repurpose down the road. We look at the price, the value it will be adding immediately, and what we can do with it in the future. An example of this would be the Elation Flex Pixel LED tape, which we initially purchased to up light a specific set piece we were using. We’ve since reused it multiple times, in three or four different sets, in a variety of different ways for different looks. The same thing applies to our Chauvet EPIX V2 LED strips as well; we’ve used those in a variety of different configurations, from adding texture and motion to the set, to making a low-res video wall out of them.

TFWM: What are some of the main components of your system?

Jared: We have a Jands Vista L5 lighting console with a D1 distributed processing unit that drives our rig. We chose Jands based on the flexibility of the console and ease of use. Our volunteers were able to pick it up very quickly and enjoy programing on it. We also use Chauvet Colorado 1 Tri Tours. They were easy for us to choose because they are a tri-mixing fixture that has a nice, bright, high-quality light, and are easy to fit into small spaces. As for moving lights that we have recently purchased we have 10 Martin Rush MH3 beam fixtures. They are incredibly bright and the price was right, which was important to us.

TFWM: Tell us about your DMX system. What was it like mapping out your system?

unnamedJared: I usually spend several days prior to installing new sets mapping everything out in a spread sheets and in Vectorworks. This saves a lot of time during the set change by having everything well documented and ready for our staff and volunteers to reference. We have multiple Pathport Quattro and Octo nodes from Pathway Connectivity which allow us to stream all of our DMX over Ethernet. This allows us to run a single Ethernet cable from the console through dedicated network switches to our lighting truss the Pathport Nodes that are on them. The nodes then convert the Ethernet signal back to DMX which runs into the fixtures. This has saved us a huge amount of money on cabling and time troubleshooting large DMX distribution systems. Another benefit to the nodes is that less cabling looks cleaner and also means less weight on the rigging, which means it’s safer. We currently use 40 DMX-universes outputs, but they’re not all completely full; in actuality it’s about 22 complete universes.

TFWM: What about lighting for video?

Jared: We use all ETC dimmers and Source 4 Zoom lekos – there are eight on the outer catwalk alone. We spent a good bit of time dialling those fixtures in for a nice even wash. We use lekos instead of Fresnel’s because we can control the beam a lot better. Because the lekos are a hard edge fixture, we can really specify where the light will be and they eliminate bleed onto the set pieces, the screens, and other places we don’t want light.

Lighting for video has taken a lot of experimenting. We used to do the typical three-point lighting but have now moved to a five-point system. We have eight lekos pointed straight onto the stage, with another leko on either side to fill in the shadows. We added eight ETC Source Four Parnels for back lighting and 14 Philips Color Kinetics Color Blast TRX footlights to fill in from below. It’s taken a couple of years to get exactly what we want, but we have been very happy with our current setup. We do color correct all of our front lighting, especially because we use so many LEDs and moving lights. We currently use one-half CTB (color temperature blue) correction, which makes them look slightly cooler to the eye, but is better for video.

IMG_0362One thing that we always do is keep our worship and speaker lighting separate. Because they’re doing very different tasks, they need to be dedicated to their specific purpose. We have one set of lights for stage lighting, and another for the stage wash.

TFWM: What would you recommend to other churches looking at adding more lighting to their services?

Jared: The best place to start is with your front lighting, which is especially important if you are shooting video. Purchase good quality front lights, and then fill in afterwards with the ‘pretty’ lights, like LEDS, moving fixtures, etc. Figure out your budget and then balance that with your requirements. You’ll probably have to compromise somewhere – very rarely do you get a budget big enough to do everything you want – so establish your priorities. Determine your needs versus your wants; and fill the needs list first.

Buckhead’s Lighting Gear

  • 4: Martin Mac 700
  • 12: Martin Mac 250 Wash
  • 6: Martin Mac 250 Beam
  • 10: Martin Rush MH3
  • 8: Martin Mac 250+
  • 4: Martin Mac 250 Krypton
  • 65 :Chauvet Colorado 1 Tri-Tour
  • 34: Chauvet 560Z
  • 170: Chauvet Epix Strip V2.0
  • 12: Chauvet Epix Drive 642
  • 12: Elation 5×5 CuePix
  • 18: 2lite blinders
  • 2: 9-lite blinders
  • 7: Doug Flexor 24 Channel Dimmer
  • 19: Phillips Color Kinnetics ColorBlast TRX Footlights
  • 30: Elation Flex PIxel WP LED Tape
  • 2 Martin Jem Ready 365 Hazers
  • 1: Reel EFX  DF-50
  • 4: Citi-Theatrical Auto Yoke +ETC Source 4 26°
  • 52 ETC Source 4 Zoom
  • 32 ETC Source 4 Par
  • 10: ETC Source 4 Parnells
  • 12: ETC Source 4 26°
  • 1: Jands L5
  • 1: Jands D1
  • 1: arKaos MediaMaster Pro V4
  • 7: Pathport Quattros
  • 1: Pathport Octo
  • 2: Pathport 2-port nodes
  • 16:  1/2 ton CM LoadStar chin motors (new style)
  • 2:  Motion Labs Servers, (16 motors)
  • 365 linear feet of truss
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