How to Trigger Your Church’s Lighting from Stage

How to Trigger Your Church's Lighting from Stage

To trigger your church lighting from the stage, we’re going to start with two different programs that I like to use, ENTTEC’s DMXis and LightKey.

Each has it’s own strengths and abilities, and these are my top picks for running church lighting from stage.

ENTTEC DMXis is fairly simple to get started with while LightKey does involve more setup time to get it going, but can also do more.

Triggering your lighting from the stage can really be a life-saver if you’re short on volunteers, or simply want to simplify your lighting control at the worship leader position. In this tutorial, we’re going to walk through setting up and using both DMXIS and LightKey.

Getting Started with DMXIS

DMXIS is definitely a program that is fairly simple to set up and learn how to use. To get started with DMXIS, once you launch the program, you will be able to bring in the fixures by “right-clicking”, select “Fixture Library”, and select your lights.

Once you bring in, label, and set up your fixtures you should see them all labeled within DMXIS. Then, by simply using the faders you can bring your lights and colors to set a scene.

On the top of the screen, you can go to “Preset Manager” and you’ll have two different sections: Bank and Preset. Using the Bank section you can set up your different songs.

To create Presets, just click the “New” below the Preset section, title it, and click “Enter”. From there, you have the ability to set fade times, effects, and tempos.

Using a FootSwitch

One of my personal favorites of working with DMXIS is that you have the option to set up a footswitch on stage. This way, as the band is playing, a member can use the footswitch to toggle through the different presets that were created for the songs.

This would also work if you use a MIDI Switch instead. To set this up, just go to “File”, select “Preferences”, and then select “Audio/MIDI Settings” to set up your MIDI Pedal. Then, go back to the Preset section, “right-click” and select “Learn”.

Automating via MIDI Trigger

Another great way to use DMXIS is to set it up to automatically trigger your lights via MIDI Trigger. To do this, you would set 2 MIDI tracks using banks 15 and 16. Then to assign the MIDI Notes, starting at the very bottom note you’ll select the bank on channel 15 and the preset on channel 16.

Depending on the MID program you’re using, such as Ableton or Pro-Presenter, and assign those different MIDI notes so that it automatically triggers the lights.

Downside of DMXIS

The downside to using DMXIS is that you’re not able to go over 1 Universe of DMX. If you need to re-program your lights often then it may actually be more time consuming if working with DMXIS.

DMXIS works well for smaller and even more consistent setups that don’t require a lot of re-programming the lights. If you are able to keep your lights and set up simple then DMXIS would be a great fit. It also runs well with just about any PC or Mac and is very inexpensive considering you get the DMX output box with the price.

Getting Started with LightKey

To get started with LightKey, there may be a bit more setup time when adding your fixtures and stage but overall LightKey is another program that’s easy to learn.

You can read more on my full review here: Full Review on LightKey

Assigning Lights via MIDI

When you want to assign your lights via MIDI using a program such as Pro-Presentor just go to the “Live” tab, “right-click” and select “External Control”. From there you can set up your MIDI controller.

If you’re using Ableton Live, you would first launch Ableton and then by going to the “External Control” you’ll be able to sync LightKey and Ableton together.

Once you get Ableton Live set up with LightKey, you’re going to set up just one MIDI channel. On the top menu click “Live” and select “Preferences”. Then, go to “Link MIDI” and set it to channel 16.

Select “MIDI” and then set it to channel 16. Once you do this, you can then hit “Tab” and this will set a different view of the tracks. This will take you to the user library and the LightKey Live Triggers so that you can bring in some different scenes. Something to remember is you can only bring in one scene at a time, so program accordingly!

My Conclusion

Working with LightKey can definitely have it benefits especially if your church or team prefers to use Apple products. The downside to LightKey is that there is more time involved with setting up and it is more expensive than DMXIS.

Overall, both products can work really well if you want to take the route of firing your lights from the stage. As a church team, you definitely want to discuss with your team members the different options and amount of control to make sure you find the right fit for your church.

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