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Stage Lighting - Shadows on Faces
First, thanks for your time and contributions to this great community! We are a church of 300+ on a good weekend service. Our sanctuary isn't large, but it just about accommodates 325 people comfortably. The ceiling is low, a very slight angle, that is about 16' at the apex.
We have overhead recessed lamps just about every six feet on the ceiling as well as four large ceiling fans with four normal 100watt bulbs in them. Our problem is that this lighting is sufficient for the overall sanctuary, but the faces of the people on the platform are shadowed because the overhead lighting doesn't reach past their foreheads. =)
We are looking at hanging either some sort of track or going with an actual lighting installation, but are unsure how much we would actually need.
For youth services and special events, we bring in about twelve PAR64's on portable rigging and that will wash the entire front of the sanctuary, but that is normally with a blacked out house or very dimmed house. If we are lighting the house with normal lighting and need to wash the stage in white light, do we need more? Or less?
In addition, I do not know if we need PAR64's, 38's, Fresnels, etc...This is all foreign to me.
Our main objective is to wash the stage with clean, soft light to enhance our video production and get rid of the shadows.
Any ideas or thoughts are greatly appreciated.
**As a side note, another thing we are considering is putting some sort of floor lighting in the back of the stage to illuminate the back wall. Would we have heat dissipation issues if we wanted to put some lamp type lighting in the floor, with plexi over the top? Are there any low-heat bulbs or lamps we could use?
Thanks in advance!
Hi James! Since you have access to some portable rigging, I encourage you to take a day, bring those in, and experiment. Here's some basic thoughts, though.
PARs are good for broad washes.
You do not want to eliminate shadows. You just want them to work for you instead of doing their own thing. That is one of the key arts in lighting. Proper shadowing creates modeling for a person's face, giving it appropriate depth and dimension. Front lighting should be no more than 45º down angle to your subject's face. I would even push as low as 35º if circumstances permit; not everyone would agree with me on that.
If you able to budget for it, allow for backlighting as well. Backlights can be hung 45-55º above and behind your subject. You can also use PARs for this. Good backlighting will create a "rim" of light on your subjects hair/headline and shoulder line. This breaks them loose from the background, again creating a sense of depth and dimension. This is more important for television lighting, but I believe it is still very beneficial even if you aren't lighting for cameras.
If you can budget for them, I really like ETC's Source 4 PARs. Easy to maintain, easy to change lamps, and they come with multiple lenses. Well made, very durable.
If you need low-heat, you need to look at color-corrected florescent or LED. Florescent will often skew green if they aren't the right lamps. "White" LED (especially inexpensive ones) will often skew magenta, I am told. LED PARs would be good for wall washes, though; lots of potential color options that way!
I may be getting way too picky - what you need may be much simpler. Got any local churches that you like what hey have done with lighting? Visit them and ask questions!
Good luck with your lighting project - I hope this helps some!
Hey James. Having set up a variety of portable and fixed rigs for churches over the years in all sorts of environments, here is what I would as you and tell you.
1. Do you use projection? If you do, this effect what kind of light you should use for your front light.
If not, then PARs would be fine for your front wash. Although in reality Fresnels are a better choice because you have the ability to control the spot and flood of the light to give you some control over where the light goes. You can go with their plain aluminum PARs or Altman 65Q Fresnels. Both are worhorses and were industry standards for years. If you have the scratch I would recommend ETC Source4 PARs or PARnels. You get better color temp, more robust units, and the ability to add Source4 ERS units that use the same lamp later.
Back light is good, but not necessary and it may be a problem for you given the ceiling height. I wouldn't worry about that at the moment.
Now if you weren't going to do anything with the back wall you could just put the units on a stand and point them directly at the stage with no problems.
If you want to do anything on the back wall, you are going to have to control the front light better (this is also true is you are doing projections).
The first thing you need to do is get the lights at the best angle possible to the stage. This angle is usually between 30-50 degrees from a line that extends from the eyes of the person being lit. However, sometimes this is not possible. So you have to compromise and find the best angle that gets your people lit, and still keeps the light off of the wall.
In this case you will want to use ERS units (which allow you to shutter cut the light to keep the light only where you want it). You can look into the older Altman 360Q units (good units) or ETC Source4 units (which are the industry standard).
This will allow you to do something with the wall. You can use LEDs to provide color uplighting on a wall or black curtain to provide a nice background. You can also add sheer curtains to project the color on to. If you would like some pics and ideas, check out my website Esoteric Visions.
Finally you will need to look at dimming and control, but that will come later after you decide what look you are going for.
Esoteric Visions Lighting and Video
A/V/L designers, installers, and integrators for churches. 15+ years of industry experience.
very low heat, so covers should not be a problem, they will need some air flow so make sure there are vent holes.
you will have to experiment with different brands to find the best color match, as there are different color temps,
but even television studios now use floros,
so the correct color temps are available.
let us know how you go!