LITTLETON, CO – Your finest hour is not often your favorite hour. These words by Christian author and educator John Maxwell have been a source of inspiration for John Clark of late. Like virtually all of his colleagues, Clark, the Production Ministry Lead at Red Rocks Church, has had to dig deep and explore new ways of doing things now that worship services have moved completely online. Although not necessarily a “favorable hour,” it is, in Clark’s view, one that presents an opportunity to think outside the box and achieve something memorable for his church.
Clark demonstrated this in stunning fashion on Easter, creating a rich and engaging visual setting for Red Rocks’ online service that was, at once, powerfully moving, yet warm and intimate enough to engage viewers through sometimes small, mobile screens. Livestreamed on Living as One and featuring a 50-member “virtual choir,” the harmoniously balanced service was illuminated by a rig that featured CHAUVET Professional COLORado, Ovation and Rogue fixtures.
“I like to think of challenges as opportunities,” said Clark. “Lighting a completely streamed or online service definitely changes the game. A fair amount of principles stay the same, but by and large LDs are called upon to ‘throw out the playbook’ and start from scratch. The services we’re lighting today don’t involve a full auditorium where you’re tossing lights around to wow the crowd. Lighting an online service requires a new degree of intentionality. Basically, you’re only as good as it looks on camera. This is not really about how many affects you can run, it’s about how well you can light your subject and set. This situation is really forcing LDs to lean back into the basics — and I love that.”
Key to helping Clark create an engaging look on camera are the 15 COLORado Panel Q40 fixtures in his rig. More than half of the RGBW rectangular wash lights were arranged on stage pipes and used to bring the large video screen into the overall presentation on stage.
“We added the Q40s to make the video wall really pop,” said Clark . “This fixture has a great flood light kind of feel with a lot of glow, so it looks great on camera. The Q40 also takes up a lot of dark real estate behind a pastor or worship leader, which enhances the intimacy on camera, which was one of our main objectives for the Easter service.”
Adding to the depth of the Easter livestream was the presence of extra video cameras. On a typical Sunday, Red Rocks uses five or six cameras, but for the Easter service the church had two extra positions.
For Key lighting, Clark and his team relied on eight Ovation E- 910FC color rendering ellipsoidals with 50ﹾ lens tubes, which allowed them to achieve an even stage wash with no hot spots. “Since our worship leaders and pastors like to move around all over the stage, we find that this keeps the key light dialed in regardless of where they go,” said Clark. “We keep the programming system simple for key light with one preset for the pastor and another for the worship leader. The preset for worship has a little less output then the pastor preset because there is generally more fill and scenic fixtures that are on during worship, rounding it out.
“We also are careful never to change our camera shading from teaching to worship because the lighting is dialed in across the entire stage,” continued Clark. “On occasion, if we want a slower, more somber section to not have the entire stage lit up, we’ll turn all the key lights off and just use the ‘fill’ fixtures.”
Rogue RH1 Hybrids positioned on overhead truss, provided fill lighting and accented moments during the Easter service with special effects Adding to the overall impact of the service were the synced choir videos on the center stage wall.
“We added more creative elements then we normally do,” said Clark. “For Easter, we did things like leaning into the “zoom call” to have a virtual choir full of tons of zoom call recordings. So, did we have to make changes? Yes, but that’s been a good thing. A lot of church LDs and techs have been through the ringer during this season; and they’ve had to rebuild and equip their church rig in new ways. My advice to them is remember your worth. Identity isn’t wrapped up in some lamps and a hazy room, your identity is being used to help convey Christ. Keep fighting the good fight!”