For Jacob VanVlymen, the uplifting Easter lighting display he created this year for the 7,000-member Fairhaven Church was really the second piece of a two-part design. The power of his Easter Sunday lighting grew out of the work he did 72 hours earlier for his church’s Maundy Thursday service, which commemorates the events leading up to the crucifixion. “Taken together, the Thursday and Sunday services embody the meaning of Easter,” he said. “They take worshippers from anguish and pain to hope and renewal.”
Capturing this transformation in light was critical to VanVlymen’s design. To do this, he relied on some profoundly evocative color changes created with CHAUVET Professional Rogue R2 Wash fixtures, purchased from Mankin Media.
“I find the connection between color and emotions to be extraordinarily powerful,” said VanVlymen. “It’s truly amazing how color can change how you feel or reinforce the feelings that are evoked by what you’re seeing. So, if I had put out blues and greens instead of reds when the band played the song ‘Oh the Blood’ during our Thursday service, it would have made less sense to the audience.”
The Thursday night Maundy service at Fairhaven features powerful scripture readings with breathtaking images displayed on video panels throughout the church, and a handmade wooden cross that is walked onto the stage. “Fairhaven has many amazing special services, but Maundy Thursday is my absolute favorite from a design standpoint, because of the amount of emotion that is built into it,” said VanVlymen. “I believe our lighting really amplified the power of this service with the palette that we selected.”
That palette was dominated by deeply saturated reds, blues, and purples from VanVlymen’s nine Rogue R2 Wash fixtures. To lend depth and a sense of solemnity to his design, he added texture to the colorized stage through gobos and by overlaying different hues.
VanVlymen enhanced the impact of this intense palette by departing from it at key points during the Maundy service. “Sometimes the best way to accentuate an effect is to take it away for brief period,” he said. “As choruses and bridges of songs built during the Maundy service, I went with the flow and reduced the saturation level to create really powerful moments. I even went white on occasion, which was impactful. I think it’s important to feel out the room in the moment and vary the color scheme.”
In contrast to the Maundy service, VanVlymen’s Easter Sunday design featured a wide spectrum of bright colors dominated by purples, blues, oranges and some green. “Of course, my Easter colors were not saturated,” he said. “Easter is a bright, joyful day, and this was reflected in our lighting. I used a lot of pastels and had considerable movement. My Rogues served as washes, spots, blinders, crowd sweeps — pretty much anything that contributed to creating a positive, hopeful visual impression. For Maundy, on the other hand, I relied on the Rogue’s wide zoom to paint the stage in saturated colors. I also had my two FOH Rogues light the large wooden cross.”
In addition to the two FOH Rogue units, VanVlymen had seven Rogue R2 Wash fixtures on a grid 27’ above the stage deck. “Having the Rogues in the grid gave me a great, flexible tool,” he said. “They have the output and wide zoom to cover the stage without making it look small, so they gave me beautiful saturated washes on Thursday. Then on Sunday, I was able to have the Rogues whip around with their zoom all the way in, so I could create some nice beams.”
The wide zoom range of the Rogue fixtures was especially important to VanVlymen, given the dimensions of this church’s stage. “Fairhaven Church has two satellite campuses that receive broadcasts from the main location,” he said. “However, the main location wasn’t built with large-scale productions in mind. It has an extremely wide 75’ stage deck, which, along with the 35’ shallow curved depth of the deck, creates some unique design challenges. The deck is deepest in the center, then it tapers off on the sides. We have some tight restrictions when it comes to getting light in the eyes of the audience. This is one reason why I love the Rogues and their zooming capabilities.”
Based on his experience, VanVlymen believes the Rogue R2 Wash is a fixture for all seasons… especially one like Easter!