18 months of freelance.

So, yeah It was a God thing.   

The day I put in my notice at New Life, my phone rang with a string of shows - it was bananas.   I had no idea that I was going to be as busy out of the gate.  Looking through my past invoices pants a pretty clear picture of how much folks wanted/needed someone with my skill set. 

So yeah, it was a God thing.  


Thus far

Over a year since my last post.   I am not the most consistent person in the world.   Sorry folks.  

Since we last left off.  I was at New Life full time as their lighting director.  

It was a great seven year run.   I wanted to try my hand at freelance and well. I resigned.   Don't worry folks, I left on swell terms.   I still contract over there on a pretty regular basis keeping their Cyberlights rocking!  I still talk to Jimi, Jeff, Carey, and Glenn (my bosses and mentors) on a pretty regular basis.  

I owe the folks there quite a bit for shaping me into the production technician that I am today.   

My number one advice for young guys that want to make a career out of this is to surround yourself with people smarter than you.  


worship service house lighting (and blinders)

I love a nicely lit stage, but I hate being in a black hole with the only light coming from the stage or worse - the house lights at 20% making everyone really brown.... not cool.

Whenever I can I try to have a house "white" for preaching and a house "color" for worship. This way the audience is lit with the same cool looking lights that are used to light the folks on stage.

Also if you are doing any form of TV lighting and want shots of the crowd worshiping, you won't be able to get those shots with brown audience lights or no house lights.

The first pic is an audience color wash from New Life with 12 source 4 narrows and 6 par 64 1k blue on top of all that. I will re-gel every quarter or to match sermon graphics. Also, (you can't see from these photos) there are 6 1k med blues from a midstage catwalk (pretty high) shooting at the altar area of the stage. This allows our hand held operators to take shots from the stage into the altar where people are usually hanging out.

The second scenerio is a portable rig with 10 led pars shot ABOVE the crowds heads. Looks great in haze and includes the audience into the various stage looks. I keep them on most of the time or I will go to a super dark congo or red when I want to make it intimate.

If you are using LEDs, being able to change your crowd lights to match your scenery is amazing. There is a lot of talk about creating the "ideal" environment for people to experience God. What better way than to make the house match the stage and include the people into the worship environment instead of keeping them in the black and creating a separation with (a lack of) light.

On a side note.... blinding the audience:

I am NOT into shooting lights right into the audiences eyes constantly in a worship environment. I know that every major worship dvd out there features copious amounts of 32k pars pointed right at the audience - and that is cool, because it is a DVD shoot, not a week to week worship service. House lights need to be above the crowd not in their eyes, blinders are cool every once in a while, but never continuous. If you have movers and you want them to fly around the house, be my guest, its cool, keep in mind that having a 56k arc lamp parked in your eyes hurts, even if you have blue or a breakup in the beam, leds in the eyes hurt just as much, and blinders [also refered in the concert industry as audience abuse lights] hurts.


Chamsys visualizer - quick review

This is a quick draft review (from my phone) of the Chamsys MagicVis Visualizer.  Sorry, no pics yet.

As you will probably relize after reading through a few of my posts that I am a big fan of Chamsys.

Recently Chamsys released a beta version of it's long awaited Visualizer.

What this means for those of you in the chamsys world is that you can setup your rig in 3d and start programming.  Once you get into your venue, all you need to do is tweak your position palettes.

For portable churches,  this means you can program your services during the week without setting up any gear.... roll into your venue and tweak your programming.  Chamsys is free and MagicVis is free as well.  Their dongles (needed to output dmx to your fixtures) start at $20 so there is no excuse for bad portable church programming. 

Go to their site and download their beta.

Its definitely a beta... for some reason on both my machines,  the Visualizer opens up on a second monitor, even if you don't have one connected to your computer.

I connected my TV to my laptop and opened up my last show.   (6 cybers, 6 studio colors, 12 LEDS).  Moving fixtures on the spreadsheet view is actully not a pain.

Weird thing...The beams from the lights aren't that bright, even putting the room in "dark mode" doesn't make the virtual beams "pop".  White is fine, but don't try to use red or Congo.

I don't  believe the room size is editable (yet).   In my little experiment, the room got crowded with just 24 fixtures.

Also, its a processor happy,  so don't expect to get great results on a $300 laptop.

Overall, the experience with the beta has been pretty awesome.  I am looking forward to this really developing into something I will heavily rely on.

I only have one pic at the moment from my initial "tinkerings" with MagicVis from my phone's camera.

Stay tuned... I will pretty this blog up.


Stage design: projection panels

New Life purchased 3 ultra short throw projectors for some classrooms. The rooms weren't going to be ready till the summer.leaving the projectors "available" for Easter.

Before we could dream up any freaky projection surfaces, we had to see what the projectiors were capable of. Through the process of trial and error, we determined that the happiest size of surface would be 7.'5 by 10'. We could make a bigger screen, then we would lose too much punch.

We went to our local coroplast supplier and had them cut us 2' and 1' wide strips that were 7.5' long.

We then took the strips and zip tied them to 10' sections of conduit with 6" spacings.

Once the scenery was hung and projectors turned on, we connected them to a Matrox Triple head. My graphics/computer genius opened up Photoshop with a white background and drew a "black" mask between the coroplast. Once completed we saved the mask as a PNG and imported it into Song Show Plus, our projection software.

Song Show Plus has a secondary output with it's own independent cue list. From there we programmed our service, twice - one for the primary output (3 10k projectors off a triple head for lyrics and playback) and a second for the new scenic screens.

We would mix and match backgrounds from the same family/theme/color scheme

Other times we would mirror the top projection with the bottom

Using Song Show Plus remote and improv features, we were able to control all the projection from a computer near the lighting console.

We were able to create some custom graphics to match our sermon series.

Using the "flip" effect in Song Show, we were able to create fake seamless looks using the same background.


Stage Design - Pickup Sticks

After our spandex phase in youth, we wanted something a bit different. I already had some black antenna truss attached to the floor with various small lights attached.

We struck the random lights and zip tied silver pipe at various angles. We didn't actually have any pipe, we used pipe and drape crossbeams we found in a random closet.When we ran out of pipe... we were done and lit the little set with led pars. We individualized the LEDs to do a bit more complex looks. Add some 90's moving lights and its ready to party.

We put this together really really fast. I do not have a pile of close up pics, sorry. I can see someone doing this same set with 1/2" sticks of conduit from Home Depot. Last time I checked a 10' stick was around $3. Not bad for someone wanting something different than spandex or coroplast.


Stage Design - Ceiling Tile Grid

Hello blog. I've been wanting to make a cool post about something we did a while back after Christmas

I wanted something with copious amounts of squares that can be easily assembled.

Ceiling tile grid seemed to fit the bill.

So, we basically raided the ceiling grid section of Home depot.

We built 5 "modules" that we can easily hang once we got the grid assembled. Three 10'wide by 12' tall modules and two 4' wide by 10' tall modules.

The vertical pieces are 12' sections of grid. Snapped between the 12' sections are 2' crossbars.

To give the unit some rigidity, we used sections of the right angle wall channel on the top and bottoms with small self tapping screws.

Once the units were assembled, we hung them on rigid pipe with aircraft cables silver side out.

Once hung, we filled random squares "crystal" Mio drop in tiles with double sided tape. The Mio tiles come in packs of 24 for $100, they look great. To fill more squares, we cut up some plexiglass we had lying around and sprayed it with frost in a can. Natural coroplast would look great too. To hold the tiles and plexi onto the grid, we used double sided tape.

We then lit them with 1k cycs and wrote cues to toss our movers in the set to give us a variety of different looks.

The set had some great texture to it, the plexiglass, Mio tiles, and silver grid accepted the light differently.

The icing on the cake was us keeping our Christmas Lights up after December. We would glow the lights at 20% with the scenic lights and on occasion, crank the Christmas lights to full with no front scenery lights.

The whole set cost $400 and looks pretty cool.

In Service: