Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

Lighting and Video

One big challenge in the execution of ?The Fortunate Death of Phillip Randoll??was the combination of lighting and video for the event. They constructed a custom, very large screen to hang in the center of their stage ? hanging from a theatrical batten. It measured about 40?x17? and was a critical element in telling the story. It provided the scenery, the narration, and the lyrics for the moments of worship interspersed throughout the production. (They?used two Barco R12+ to rear project onto the screen, used ProVideoPlayer for playback, split the image using a TripleHead2Go, and blended the image with the built-in edge blending in the Barcos.)

But it wasn?t the only element. They also had to light the actors and stage props. Those were just as vital to the story as the large video screen. So the challenge was this: How do you appropriately light the actors and stage props without the light bleeding onto the screen?

That required a lot of stage plotting and creative lighting for their lighting director, Greg Saffles. They started by combing through the whole script from start to finish. They picked out the main things and figured out the three different places Phillip would be standing throughout his life. They marked those on the stage along with the set pieces ? bench, basketball hoop, and a cross at the church.

Then Greg, behind his Jands Vista i3, thought through how to make the dramatic experience feel large, even though the screen cut their stage in half. He also wanted to make sure he had four-point lighting on all the main things ? two lights in the front at 45 degree angles and two at the back.

Once he had his lights positioned, he spent 12 hours on Thursday, until 4am, programming everything for their first service. He put each scene in a separate cue list so the live process would be easy and consistent in each service. Tons of preparation to make sure things went smoothly.

It was definitely something quite different for them. It was a breakaway from a typical service into a 30-minute story of a man they invented. It was new for the tech folks and the congregation.

It was also a good opportunity to start from scratch technically. It was a breakaway from their typical stage and lighting setup. The band was lost in shadows most of the time with the actors taking center stage.

Instead of putting the focus on the musicians and speaker (except during the pre-drama worship and message portion) they had to work through the script and figure out what needed to be highlighted. It was something theatrical they don?t normally get to do.

So they relied a lot on theatrical techniques like color theory and the use of dark and light space.

For instance, during the song ?Beautiful Things?, Phillip was young. So Greg used a lot of greens and oranges. He wanted to highlight youth, vitality, and excitement.

During the scene where Phillip falls in love, Greg relied on using reds and pinks.

When Phillip?s wife passed away, they used more dim blues.

It was different for the team, but a lot of fun. And the feedback they got from the audience was worth all the risk. They had never experienced anything like that ? especially on Easter. It was totally different than what they expected.

They loved it.

Share This Post

More #ChurchComm Tips