How Do I Create Good Front Lighting for My Church’s Stage?

Ever been to a performance or church service where it was difficult to see the person on stage?

Front light is the single most important angle of light on your church’s stage.

Front light allows us to clearly see the people on stage, and understand what they are physically communicating…So it’s really important to get right!

The first time I really messed up a church’s front lighting, I was a senior in high school.

The intern.

And yes, my boss at the church pretty much gave me free reign of the lighting, whether for good or for bad.

The lighting rig had pretty much stayed untouched since it was installed 4 years earlier, and it was time for a change.

We wanted to move around some things on stage, most notably the choir, and I had to figure out how to light it.

Ever been up in a catwalk, lights on bright, and have NO CLUE what you’re going to do? That pretty much summed up where I was at in the moment where I began focusing lights that day.

When I finished, I had a lot of dark spots, and not a lot of wash! Over time, I tweaked it in and got it right.

Here’s what you need to do so you don’t end up like me!

Church Lighting ConsoleStep 1: Select Your Fixtures

It’s a lot easier when it comes time to focus if you do a good job selecting the right fixtures.

For a stage wash, I generally like to stick with softer lighting, constrained when needed by barndoors. Soft lighting is going to look best on the faces of the people on stage, and will read best on camera.

Unless you’ve got a long throw(over 50′), par cans or fresnels work great as a stage wash. I like to save my leko’s for specials and gobos.  You can use lekos, however, if you’ve got a set design that requires you to keep the lighting very tight – like a low-hanging projection screen behind the stage.

Step 2: Lay it All Out

Church Stage LightingUse a calculator app like Stage Lighting Store (Web), or find one for your phone or tablet, to calculate how many lights you will need to wash your stage.

Try to break up your stage into “acting areas” that are 8′-10′ wide and tall, and figure out how many of those you’ve got.

You’ll want to have each area lit by 2 lights, hitting the person from 45 degrees off center.

Read more here about how to create a great wash on your stage!

You can use the same fixtures to make both your “band wash” and “preaching wash” as long as they’re over the same space!

Step 3: Make It Happen

Once you’ve got a solid plan, it’s time to re-arrange your lighting to make your awesome wash happen.

What else is necessary to begin with church lighting?

Click here to get my free guide and begin making your church’s lighting amazing!

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