Heading in to the beginning of 2013, Clifton and I worked day and night (on several occasions- day into night and day again literally) to bring to life a lighting system for Southland Christian Church‘s new Richmond Road Campus, a 3,000 seat state of the art worship space. (Take a look at a post on the Arch Daily about the building) Our work began over a year out from opening weekend by talking through the objectives for the space, challenges and how we wanted to approach lighting the first weekend. The drawings began on a napkin. Yes, really, a napkin. Even in the early days of discussing the concept, Clifton and I felt strongly that the visual experience should surround the audience, in line with our philosophy of extending the palette. We also recognized that this lighting plot would likely remain in place for a number of months, so versatility would be extremely important.
We worked hand in hand with our good friends at Michael Garrision Associates to coordinate details on the ETC dimming and control system consisting of two and half ETC Sensor racks, and ETC EOS console and a NET3 DMX data network. For fixtures, Southland turned to several of Bargeheights’ fixture offerings to gain enough equipment to light the space while staying within the project’s budget. Clifton and I specified the Bargeheights 1200 MKII profile as the primary hard edge luminaire in the space. The MH 1200 MKII’s wide zoom range and dual rotating gobo wheels and footcandle punch equated to lots of versatility to create textures in a fully hazed space. In the wash category, Bargeheights MH LED RGBW moving head LED washes provided a great system of tight beam visual punch, with all the inherent benefits of an LED color engine- deeply saturated blues and the potential for snappy color moves. To complete wash duties, we specified the tried and true VariLite VL500. The warmth of a tungsten wash was ideal given the gear compliment, helping balance the color limitations of arc-lamp and LED gear within the rig while maintain excellent output horsepower. Further, the VL500′s lens options provided valuable in gaining the zoom range we desired—from a tight punchy column to a diffused wide wash.
We landed on a plot based around triangles. Gear was placed very symmetrically, with lots of triangular relationships within systems. Although much greater distances, we maintained the same proportions in the house system. We both wanted to see a large bank of MH LED’s upstage, a nod to our affinity for a recent NIN tour with a upstage “wall” of VLX fixtures. While not as dense, we loved the idea of a vertical fixture grid. To keep things interesting, we flew the grid from four positions on vertical pipe, two from an upstage truss, two from a midstage truss. The result is a really versatile division of the grid into vertical columns – offering tons of programming options down the road. Even cooler, as the audience moves off the center axis of the room, the grid visually breaks, helping to keep wide sightlines from getting a “flat” looking focus geometry.
Like many (or all) large scope construction projects, timelines slide. Clifton and I are familiar with the shifting sands of Gantt, so to some extent, timeline crunches are to be expected. Originally we planned to have a 60 day window to install equipment, commission gear, rig, hang and focus the plot and program. Yes, two months is a lot of time. True, many church guys (us included) have rigged, hung, focused and programmed a rig within a single week. After all, that’s what we call a stage turn. However, the difference between bringing a new room online is huge. Projects like this are a reminder of all of things taken for granted in an existing and known space. Designers who work primarily in one or two worship spaces are familiar with the infrastructure, proportions and relationships. A resident designer knows the limits of the room, which one of his moving head washes has a tendency to throw errors, etc. In a new space, everything is new. Troubleshooting becomes a nightmare–there are no safe assumptions. New fixtures are a challenge too. Unboxing new gear is great, but it takes more time than you would imagine. For this project, the unboxing of lighting fixtures (just fixtures) and lamping of fixtures took around a week with a crew of two folks. How about bench focus (fine adjustment of lamp position inside the housing). Bench focusing every fixture in the rig doubled, if not tripled, or normal hang and focus time. Time, more time and more time.
Back to the 60 day window–we planned for a 60 day load in. However, construction was behind, so our 60 days overlapped with the last 60 days of the project. The result was a crazy mad dash to the finish working beside or on top of general construction. Craziness that I can only really describe with pictures.
As soon as the stage had a solid surface, we went to town on rigging and hang of the stage lighting rig. No paint on the floor, in fact, the downstage of the stage was still under construction. There was no other choice. Like in so many situations around stage turns in church lighting, everything in the air has to be completed first to allow work on the stage deck to take place. Luckily, we had prepped our fixtures well and knocked out rigging, hang, power/data and rough focus within a couple of days.
Here’s Clifton up in a lift. Two lifts on site can be a luxury, but in tight timelines like this project, it’s the only way to maintain productivity.
The end result was well worth the effort. Stay tuned to the blog for another post where I’ll breakdown the process we used to program and bring the rig to life.