March 19


Learn Stage Lighting Podcast

This week on the Podcast we have a special treat! We’re talking with Kevin Ward who originally started out as an audio guy that did recording, then became a church tech director, and is in charge of lighting for his church.

In this interview we will dive into how Kevin get started, his move into church production, and working with volunteers.

Main Segment (0:45)

David – Kevin why don’t you tell us how you got started in this industry and how can we find you online?

Kevin: I’ve always been fascinated with everything production. One of my favorites is Dancing with the Stars and Deal or No Deal because these shows are live because the crew running the show is at top of their game.

I started with mixing, producing, and writing songs. For a few years, I actually ran a record company in Nashville. Then, something change, I had a daughter and I wanted to be in her life by being able to be home more.

Someone I had worked with in the past had just moved out to California and offered me a job to work as a church tech director. After some consideration I decide to take the leap and moved my family to California.

When I had started with the church we had 3 volunteers. One ran audio, one ran pro-presenter, and the other ran lighting. I was offered the position there because the church was going from 350 seats to 1100 seats. Everything production wise for this church was going to be expanding, including online streaming for the services.

My website is and where I’ve been teaching others how to mix, produce records, and such for 8 years now. It’s built in my DNA to teach what I know to others.

David: Were you a volunteer church tech director before you got started?

Kevin: Actually, I’ve been everything but a church tech director in the past. My father was a pastor and my two grandfathers were pastors. I did use to volunteer with the church and worked with audio. But when I took this position in California it was the next and new frontier for me.

David: What does the lighting look like at your church? What’s the style and how much of lighting do you incorporate?

Kevin: Lighting is a big element for our church and it’s something we use every Sunday as well as events that take place their as well.

What I’ve found is that it can be a challenge to find someone who is very good with lighting and the technical aspect of it as well. I do have 3 lighting guys for the church as well as myself.

I’ve attended seminars for lighting, such as lighting for video, backlighting, color temperature. These were things that I had to learn the hard way and how to incorporate that with the lighting we had for the church. It’s difficult with video because you have to strike a balance between making it look good on stage as well as on video.

At our church, we have a ChamSys MQ80 which I’m loving. A volunteer had brought in a Roadhog Full Boar, and one of our campuses as a Hedge Hog 4 which is really cool. These are the three boards I have some experience with and I know the basics.

For lighting I have Colorado Tri Tour that we use to help wash the stage. We have 5 Rogue R2 that go above the singers and 3 of those that look up at the stage. We have 4 R2 Washes that we actually use for spotlights. Then, we have a Chauvet Ovation that also helps with washing the stage. With your tutorials in your Membership I had built some LED strips using pvc pipe which was a great resource.

What I am doing with lighting now is putting together a Master List since lighting people can be hard to find sometimes. I don’t feel that lighting has to change every week and that lighting has more seasons to it. So, I have programmed a cuelist that is a look for the first song, the host time, and so on. Those different looks are actually set up on a fader so that a volunteer can go right through it. I don’t have everything set but it gives my volunteer some creative control to run the lights during service.

The next step that I want to take is working towards automating some of the processes so it’s easier for the volunteers on Sundays.

David: It’s very interesting to hear about working with volunteers and wanting to automate it because you either have to train a volunteer or just do the programming yourself.

Kevin: We started with we had just 3 volunteers and now we have anywhere from 11 – 15 volunteers helping on Sunday. Our church has tried to build a very engaging culture and when you have people who love a church they want to serve.

In addition to lighting, I am also learning audio and video. So I try to not overwhelm myself and try not to fall into that cycle.

David: With my church, they are considering making some changes so I’ve been watching videos. But with volunteers, we have to be repeatable every week so I try to keep that in mind.

Kevin: Before I joined on as tech director I never even went near a lighting board. Something I’ve learned is that lighting guys have their own language. Just like we do in recording, we have our own language.

My biggest obstacle is trying to learn the different terms in lighting, audio, and video.

David: In lighting alone, in the last 10 year I’ve already seen it shift to not having to know the light fixture numbers and you don’t have to rely on knowing all of that now.

Kevin: We have a church campus where they have about 8 – 9 movers and they all are over the stage. They’ve started using some of the movers as a spotlight. Does that make sense?

What I’ve found is that when we use the ones we have is that we’re washing out the color and it’s spilling over on the walls. It tends to take away the cool colors for the blue and magenta wash. Do you find that it is a common thing to use those moving fixtures as a spotlight?

David: You can use those but the difficult part is trying to control those moving lights. But if it’s a certain zone and not using it as the following light it can definitely work as a spotlight.

A program you use on the Mac is a Follow-Me and it’s a fantastic program and system. You bring in a camera and you just use a mouse or trackball that keeps the X on the guy. It keeps the light on the guy.

I’m not sure exactly how much it costs, but it is pricey. But they did mention that they are trying to release a less expensive version.

I’ve mention ONYX a few times but in Onyx you can have a specific fader and you set two cues for a follow spot like a left and a right. Then you can follow someone by bringing a fader up and down.

Kevin: I only know what I have but tell me more about Onyx.

David: Martin was bought out by Elation and Onyx is a great software. It’s easy to use and great software that you can get at an affordable price. Unless you’re doing a production like the Olympics you can definitely use ONYX to create a great show.

Kevin: I’ll definitely have to check that out because I am starting work with different churches and having a software that is easier to train on. Especially for churches that may not have as many volunteers available to help.

Can I ask a novice question? How familair are you with the QLabs software? How much have you tried that?

David: I actually haven’t been able to work with it as much but I can definitely see myself getting more familiar with it in the near future. But QLab in a nutshell it is is designed to be a show automation software where it triggers a lighting console.

Kevin: Going back to ONYX, do you have experience from making the lighting consoles to respond to automations? I’m planning on using QLabs to trigger those.

David: Yes, ONYX does that.

Kevin: I’ll have to check out more on the ONYX and I just wanted to thank you for Learn Stage Lighting. It has really helped guys like me who are newer to this and it’s a great membership. I really appreciate you putting together these tutorials.

David: I really appreciate that! I thank you for coming on today and talking to us about how you got started. It’s been really great talking about lighting and working with volunteers, thanks again Kevin!

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