by Richie Van Buren
Bonita Valley Community Church has between 2500-3000 attendees on a regular weekend. We currently run two contemporary worship services every Sunday (9:30 am and 11:30 am), and will be adding a Sunday night service starting in February. Just over a year ago, we moved into a new building and had the opportunity to introduce an entirely new lighting grid with all new ﬁxtures into our worship. Our Pastor, Jeff Brawner, has a background in media production, so we knew we were going to expand our lighting in the new building because it’s very important for the cohesiveness of worship and setting the moods of the songs. We wanted to have the ability to light all of our backdrops, expand our DMX, and also add the ability to grow theatrically. Building God’s Way (BGW), the company that we hired to do the build for us was also in charge of recommending all the new gear we would be getting. BGW’s Jim Martin helped us choose our audio equipment and all our lighting, and highly recommended Mega Systems, Inc. to us, the manufacturer of Mega-Lite lighting ﬁxtures.
Jim was able to send us a Mega-Lite Baby Color Q-70 LED, which is only about 4” square, to look at. The color was so bright we knew they would work for us. We ended up introducing 80 Baby Color’s to our lighting grid, mainly positioned inside the trussing on our stage to light up the truss. We also use them for uplighting. They do have the power of bigger lights, so they’re really functional and can be used in multiple ways with multiple different settings, including 3-channel, 4-channel and 7-channel DMX. We can also set the fade rate to go either fast or slow, which gives us the option on transition speed from color-to-color. We added 20 Mega-Lite Axis 7D5 from Mega Systems to add more movement to the stage. We wanted to be able to see the beams of light, and I’ve been able to create backdrops just using these lights, including a grid design, where I created a 60’ wide grid x 20’ high grid using 20 of the AXIS movers and 40 EvriColor LED pars, also from Mega Systems.
We use our 45 Mega-Lite EvriColor’s as part of our backdrop, adding plenty of color. These wash the entire stage. Using haze really makes these beams stand out. We also use these lights as uplights on set pieces. We currently are using about three EvirColor’s to light each Christmas tree on our Christmas set. They really add a lot color to the trees that are decorated with silver and white ornaments. We also purchased 22 Mega-Lite Color Punch ﬁxtures, which are a bit larger than the Baby Color’s, with a wider spread of light. We typically use them for uplighting a backdrop or a set piece, and I also have some on our stage truss pointing straight out at our audience at 10% brightness to add a bit more color. I design the lighting so that it doesn’t blind everyone; but still effectively augments the atmosphere we’re trying to convey, without distracting from worship. I see our lighting as a form of outreach; people will come and check out the church because of our production values, but they stay (and keep coming back) because of the message. If our lighting distracts, we’re defeating our purpose: we want our lighting to be cool, but we don’t want it to be the star – we’re not promoting Club Jesus. We run two full DMX universes with the lighting through our Mega System Mega-Lite Enlighten One Console; but the truss lighting is broken down to only take up four DMX addresses. Each piece of trussing has a Baby Color running in both directions.
I run two addresses each on both the top and bottom truss, which saves channels for other lights instead of addressing ever light individually. When needed, I can repatch and reprogram the ﬁxtures very quickly to reconﬁgure the DMX. One of the great things about Mega Systems is that their lighting software allows us to patch lights very easily, because they have every lighting company and all their ﬁxtures already listed in the system. I typically program the lights, but have taught a couple of other guys on weekends how to make changes when needed, and it’s been very easy. The software allows us to make changing the different themes as easy as just clicking a button. There’s really not a lot too it; the system is set-up in groups, and it’s just a matter of clicking the right button in that group to get the lights to do what I want. I’ve got a group set for house lights, a group for movers, etc., and the ability to have those buttons easily clickable makes it really simple for volunteers.
One of the things that impresses me most about Mega Systems is their customer service. Every time I’ve had any questions or any problems with a ﬁxture or the LED wall we also purchased from them, they’ve gone out of their way to make it right. They are super responsive and committed to ensuring their gear runs at top capacity. With a lot of the bigger companies, trying to reach someone and talk to them is brutal, but at Mega Systems we’ve never had that problem and I feel like they’re friends now – I even have some of them on Facebook. Our church congregants truly appreciate our lighting. It adds so much to our time of worship. Whenever we have a special event or concert, it is great to have the ability to take the lighting up a notch or two. Our transition into our new building has been great with Mega Systems easy to use interface and very functional lights.