Convergence, advancement, adaptation… all of this is going on right now in the lighting industry. With improvements in media server technology, LEDs, DMX and the ever-blurring lines between video projectors and moving lights, this is an industry that is moving at the speed of… fast.
TFWM rounded up some heavy hitters to talk about these issues.
National Market Manager- House of Worship
Martin Professional, Inc.
Daryl Sutton has been in the entertainment industry right at 18 years, with the past 6 years being employed by Martin Professional. In 2006 Daryl’s Life Purpose and Career collided when he accepted his current position of National Market Manager- House of Worship. Daryl resides in Branson Missouri with his wife (Heidi) and their 4 boys.
David Lincecum received a Masters degree in Lighting Design from Tulane University in 1990. After working in lighting and systems design for several years, he joined ETC in 1994. David now leads ETC’s product strategy team.
Eric is a California native, who has ranked among the most highly regarded figures in the lighting industry for over two decades. He ran the US operation of Martin Lighting for many years, before moving to Elation Professional in January 2006 to become director of sales.
Manager House of Worship Division
Terry Taylor was the manager of New Life Church’s lighting department for 10 years. Taylor has designed and managed many national worship events, corporate events and numerous retreats for youth groups and musicians and instructed lighting courses.
Mr. Ellison was trained as a theatrical lighting designer and has been working in the field for over 25 years. He has been working as a Systems Design Engineer for over 10 years. He is currently employed at Avcon, Inc. as the in house Lighting Designer for Commercial and Church Lighting Systems.
Don has been an integral part of Leprecon beginning over 20 years ago building custom lighting consoles for major rock and roll tours. He also has direct responsibility for designing Leprecon consoles and dimmers, including the more recent LP-X Series consoles. For relaxation, Don’s hobbies include taste testing fine brews from around the world and competitively racing his KTM motorcycle.
TFWM: In an age where we’re all trying to be more energy conscious, what steps are bring taken to increase lighting effectiveness while keeping energy consumption low? What is the effect of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating,and Air-Conditioning Engineers) on Congregation Lighting?
Daryl Sutton: Energy efficiency has been a focal point for Martin for the past several years. Other than the obvious benefit of Environmental Conservation, Energy Efficiency reduces Electrical infrastructure requirements as well as lowers the amount of heat (internal and external) generated per fixture. Due to our multi-market focus we have adopted compliance policies such as: WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) directive and RoHS (reduction of hazardous substances) and most all our products are either ETL and/or UL rated. We feel these sort of checks and balances keep manufacturers and the industry at the highest level of standards and accountability.
David Lincecum: The direct effect of ASHRAE is on determining local energy code policy. Most of these codes apply for permanent lighting – not portable or performance lighting. Every congregation needs to keep the main issue in mind: reduce the energy consumed on a daily basis. The most effective step that can be taken in energy consciousness is in the lighting and facility design. That issue needs to be addressed by doing a few things: Start with hiring a professional design team, produce a design that meets all the needs of the facility, install appropriate energy efficient lighting for performance and general lighting, and install a control system.
Terry Taylor: Many churches are doing more with less now thanks to automated lighting of all kinds. Color changing lights enables us to use fewer lights, giving us the colors we desire without an extensive array of PAR-cans. Stage lighting is being used for Sunday and perhaps a midweek service, with a choir or band rehearsal on one night. So, the average church would use their stage lighting about 10 – 15 hours per week. I believe the architectural lighting for most facilities is the place we can most immediately impact energy consumption. Lower power consuming fluorescent lights is a good quick solution for our work lights.
Eric Loader: There has never been a better opportunity to do something to reduce energy consumption than there is today. The reason can be summed up in three letters – LED! LED lighting consumes far less energy than traditional lamps, and since the lights last much longer, they ease a great deal of pressure on landfills. During the past six months, we’ve seen many more houses of worship look to LED lighting, especially for accent lighting, which provides more dynamic impact and allows complete control over the ambient lighting system. The ascent of LED lighting is really affecting the way houses of worship are being designed. Architects are considering how well a structure will be able to incorporate LED accent or wall wash lighting.
Stephen Ellison: I first heard about ASHRAE from a designer in California. She asked about the impact I was seeing in North Carolina, in a class held three years ago at NAB. At that time we were unaffected, and now that is not the case. The reduced energy consumption requirements are forcing a move away from an incandescent fixture as the primary source. At this time no one that I talk with has a clear answer on how to meet the requirements while maintaining the look and feel of incandescent fixtures. When the standards were developed they provided an exemption for theatre spaces, the fact that they did not extend this to worship spaces is the problem we are faced with.
Don Stauffer: As manufacturers of control & dimming, we’re not so much involved in the efficiencies of the light source itself, but more directly with how to control it. That being said, compromises do need to be considered to achieve proper lighting. Either way we have control & dimming products to work with all of them. As for ASHRAE, some questions to ask might be: Are you using video? What are your goals? LED’s and fluorescent are great for long life and energy efficiency, but incandescent lighting seems to be the preferred choice for video applications and performance lighting. Again, it all comes down to what you are trying to achieve.
TFWM: What is the most creative way you’ve seen lighting used in a worship setting (Sunday morning service not a special presentation)?
Sutton: I truly get a high out of seeing different ministries creativity in the area of Lighting and Staging. I can’t say that there is one particular setting or application that strikes me more than the next. I love to see creative team focused efforts, as I personally feel team ministry is both effective and contagious. The concept of changing the entire stage set per teaching series is fun to experience. I think it keeps the ministry staff sharp and focused and keeps the congregation looking forward to “what’s next”!
Lincecum: I favor the subtle use of light. Focusing the minds and views of the congregation through small, slow adjustments to the lighting is the most creative use of lighting. I have seen this really affect the delivery of the message. The emphasis is on design and planning rather than size of the rig or technology. This effect of added focus can be achieved with small systems and big creativity. Delivering a message is the real goal.
Taylor: I love to see what many churches are beginning to do with their color changing fixtures to light soft goods and architecture. The powerful effect of color mixing enhances the emotion of the worship time and helps create an atmosphere of reverence and awe. Also, if cameras are in use, one can create beautiful colored backgrounds to introduce depth and give a three-dimensional look.
Loader: The Church of Hope in Sarasota, Florida uses our RIVA 80 fixtures to accent the walls around the congregation. These lights slowly change colors to set an appropriately warm tone for the services, while contributing to an uplifting, bright and happy feeling in the room. This lighting design really gives the church more freedom of expression. For example, the walls can be kept white, but then they can be colored differently to fit the moods of different services and different holidays, as well as different observances and occasions.
Ellison: I enjoy it when churches use lighting as a way to match the mood of the worship songs; and then focus the eye towards the pastor for the message.
Stauffer: In many cases, the simplest techniques tend to bring out some really creative and unique lighting results. Simply picking some points of interest and directing the eye is very basic but effective, especially in a setting where it is still relatively new. Color is also very effective in setting the mood. We offer a free 37 page booklet “Lighting Systems Made Easy” to help guide you through some lighting basics and determine the size of the system that fits your needs.
TFWM: What’s the next stage in the development of control protocols? How soon do you think we will realize the benefits of bi-directional communication?
Sutton: The next significant step will be the ACN protocol standard that will be established, and confirmed, by ESTA. As far as the bi-directional communication, this is an element that Martin has been working on for some time. In the architectural world we have already implemented bi-directional communication via our MUM device and some architectural based fixtures. For some time we have known that bi-directional communication would become reality, we have been manufacturing our fixtures as “hardware ready” as possible for transitional ease. This is one of those situations that HAS TO BE RIGHT THE FIRST TIME, and is being addressed industry wide in this manner.
Lincecum: The “next stage” has been reached, in theory, with the ratification of the ACN protocol. The user experience, in contrast, is still in its infancy. We will begin to recognize the value of this technical achievement when the protocol shows up in target products like moving lights and media servers. It will require more outreach and collaboration among manufacturers and users to identify real needs for this communication. Only then will the end customer see the real benefits of the technology.
Taylor: We are already beginning to see the developments of new control protocols. With RDM already installed in Wybron’s new line of IT products, we have bi-directional communication giving feedback on things like lamp-life, gel life, temperature, current and voltage readings. This can give technicians all kinds of data about systems that might be run by volunteers who can then easily pass on the information. Therefore, a technician can simply schedule times during the week for maintenance and repair.
Loader: This is already happening on a limited basis, but now that the protocols of ACN and RDM have finally been formalized, a growing number of manufacturers will begin implementing this into their fixtures and control software. At one time, this technology was protected by proprietary patents, but now it’s public domain, so its adoption will be widespread. All of our fixtures can be upgraded easily to this technology. However, it really becomes less important with the advent of LED. Nevertheless, it’s still very beneficial in terms of reporting problems in a system.
Ellison: Even as fast as they have rolled out RDM and DMX512A, I think the work being done with an Ethernet protocol will be implemented faster. For the smaller spaces the bi-directional control will not have a great impact until they upgrade in four to five years. In every system I design the cable being installed is Ethernet ready so there will not be a need to re-pull the wires when the need for more channels occurs.
Stauffer: The protocols themselves are well defined, and several de facto standards have been used successfully for several years, such as ART-Net and PathPort for transmitting DMX over Ethernet. Bi-directional communications can transform the business of setting up and maintaining a lighting system. The technical issues are not a barrier, there have been RDM systems demonstrated at LDI for several years. I believe that there are still some intellectual property issues with the concept, and beyond that, a lack of market awareness and acceptance. I can’t predict when the market will be ready to accept and expect RDM and bi-directional communications, but I do think that when it happens it will quickly become an expected product feature.
TFWM: How far off do you think we are from LEDs being used in live performance instead of traditional Tungsten Halogen fixtures?
Sutton: The great debate question in the industry! I think we have to consider the basic characteristic of a Tungsten source verses the limitations of an LED source. In this comparison we have to view the facts: First fact is the CRI (Color Rendering Index) in Tungsten sources are considerably higher than LED sources at the present time. This limits the color mixing capabilities of LED (inability to create true Yellow and Deep Congos for example). The second fact is the overall output for long throw purposes. Even though we are seeing improvements, there is still a ways to go before the industry can consider replacing Tungsten sources with LED sources.
Lincecum: I think it will be 5 years, probably more. Some of the technology may be ready sooner, but making it a commercial reality will be far more difficult. It isn’t only about light output. Other developments such as color rendering qualities, heat dissipation, wireless control and control devices that handle RGB are involved. There is a lot involved in making this adoptable over tungsten. When it does, the outcome will be very dramatic. The reduced power consumption will allow many HOW facilities to add lighting without adding power.
Taylor: LEDs are being used in live performances now but as effects lighting. LEDs have not matched the warmth and smooth output of Tungsten Halogen lamps.
Loader: Not far at all; perhaps 1-3 years in sweeping large-scale terms, but in reality there are fixtures out there now like our new Impression, which compete very well with conventional fixtures in terms of lumen output. At the same time, these LED fixtures like the Impression represent an energy savings of 50 percent. Energy is being consumed more efficiently, because more of it is being turned to light and less of it is being lost as heat. Of course less heat means a greatly extended lamp life. Plus you don’t need a dimmer, and you can save a substantial amount on electrical infrastructure costs.
Ellison: This year, the new fixtures with 1-watt LED’s are ready to use now for back light, cyc, and set washes. There are still some challenges to overcome before they can be used for front light or as side light. The two biggest issues are multiple shadows of different colors and the color rendering.
Stauffer: We’re seeing LED’s as being a big part of live performance already. If you look at some of the big tours on the road today LED fixtures far outnumber the tungsten halogen fixtures being used. For us we look at how that affects the long term. There’s always going to be advances in this industry and our job as a control & dimming manufacturer is to continue to offer products that allow the user the best possible tools that work with whatever technology is being used.
TFWM: What should churches be on the lookout for as far as developments in media server technology?
Sutton: As we all know our services are planned a week or two in advance and never have a change in format at the last minute… RIGHT?! The ability for easy and flexible operation is the most important area where you will see further development. Being able to shift content (grab, change and execute) on the fly has been limited in most media servers to date. When developing our Maxedia Media Server we focused our efforts, from the concept stage, to have a content oriented GUI (General User Interface) for this purpose. I’m sure we will see more bells and whistles (such as more number of outputs and HD options to name a few) as all media servers are refined, but this is where I feel we will see the most advances.
Lincecum: I think churches should be on the lookout for buying and using this technology now. What the current media server technology has brought is primarily the ability to introduce digital images as a part of the lighting. The video production teams will likely look at what we lighting folks are doing in media servers and laugh at the simplicity of it, while secretly admiring the speed with which we can manipulate and control the video in real-time. This technology puts the use of still images in reach of many congregations without adding staff and equipment. It allows a skilled lighting programmer to integrate powerful visuals into the worship service.
It also allows for more fun and creativity in youth events and non-traditional worship. I say look now at the lower powered software solutions available and see what it would take for your lighting desk to handle the control. This may be within your reach now. Again, I stress that the design of the experience is far more important than the technology.
Taylor: Probably RDM and ACN protocols will begin to be introduced with brighter output to compete with moving lights.
Loader: There are quite a few crossover products that provide churches with the opportunity to integrate their lighting and video presentations by using a media server trigger by their lighting director. For the most part, this only works well with pre-programmed performances. However, what is great about media servers like the SD3D is the fact that you can create content on the fly and not have to go back to post production to edit your video content.
Ellison: Simplicity of operation is going to be the biggest improvement. More graphics and video wizards are emerging with the ability to control and integrate these elements into a service. The twenty something generation has been raised on video to a level never seen before; they will drive the integration of this media into services. The media servers will become commonplace in the next five years. The company that has a simple, familiar interface will lead the market.
Stauffer: It really depends on the church. Many of the churches we’ve been involved with recently are just beginning to realize the benefits you can achieve with a fully integrated lighting system. That doesn’t necessarily mean a media server is involved. For them it’s more about what helps them create a compelling service and effectively deliver their message, not so much about the latest technology.