Rig Blueprint: Basic Drama Lighting Rig

I really love LED lighting.

As we continue to move forward in time, LED lights just keep getting better and better.

They can make your life so much easier because they don’t consume tons of power, and they don’t get very hot either!  Plus, they can change color.

It’s a lighting designers dream.  But it’s not a one-size fits all answer.

In fact, LED’s are not always the answer.

I recently heard via email from Kenneth, and he asked me for my recommendation for his church.  And for once, it’s NOT LED!

I want to share with you our conversation below and the rig that I end up recommending.  It’s a little controversial for those who believe LED’s are everything, but I think it illustrates a good point.

In lighting, every situation is different, and there are no “one-size-fits-all” lighting rigs.

What Lights Should I Buy For Our Church Drama?

“My name is Kenneth and I live in The Bahamas.

I am not a lighting technician but I am very interested in lighting. I recently subscribed to your site (January 2015) because I was involved to producing a drama for a church which had no lights other than the regular ceiling lights.

Church Drama Lighting
Kenneth’s Church – Before Lighting

The building is approximately 60ft wide, 100ft long with the ceiling being approximately 25ft high. The pulpit (stage) area is about 20ft deep (60ft wide) and they have a balcony at the back of the sanctuary.

I would say that the front of the balcony is approximately 50ft – 60ft from the front of the stage and approximately 15ft above the floor.

The church has recently started a Drama Ministry as a means of attracting new members and plans to host one to two drama productions per year. I have been asked to assist in suggesting and sourcing a full lighting system in order to accommodate this venture.

They have not given me a specific budget but I need an good system that will provide a semi or professional effect at the best price.

Can you assist me with a suggestion of a full system, lights, consoles, dimmers, cables, etc, that will work under these conditions.

I am attaching a photo of the stage area taken at the last drama so that you may get a better idea of what I am trying to accomplish.

Thank you in advance for any assistance that you may be able to offer.”

What Do I Recommend and Why?

Stage LightingWhen I read Kenneth’s words, there are a few key indicators that really stick out to me and really shape my lighting recommendations.

“I am not a lighting technician but I am very interested in lighting…no lights other than the regular ceiling lights.”

This first statement lets me know that a) even a small lighting system will make a huge impact and b) there’s no need to get super-complicated for a starter lighting system.

“…one to two drama productions per year…  They have not given me a specific budget but I need an good system that will provide a semi or professional effect at the best price.”

This keys me into the fact that they’re not going to get the full long-term benefits of a LED lighting system.  They’re just looking to cover the basics for a reasonable price and they’re not going to be changing lamps (bulbs) very often – it may be years!

Since they can get in the game with an 8-fixture conventional system for under $1500, it makes sense to go that way because of how infrequently they use it.  If it was a full-time use system, we’d consider LED’s, but the cost would be many times higher!

Because of this, here’s what I recommended to them to get started:

“Here is what I would suggest for your dramas – a basic, conventional lighting rig.  This will give you the ability to wash the stage in white, and you can color additional fixtures with lighting gel to get a color or 2 on stage.
Lights (Hang off Your Balcony Rail or under balcony):

8 x Par 56 Can Lights

Dimmers: 2 x DMX Dimmers
Console: 1 x DMX Elation Stage-Setter 8 console

OR – if you desire room for future expansion, check out the Enttec DMXIS PC console (requires a PC as well).

Cables – You will need 3 x 3 pin DMX cables to connect it all together.They will run from the console to the first dimmer, and from the first dimmer to the 2nd dimmer.
I also suggest buying a spare to have around just in case!  Since I don’t know your cable lengths, I’ll leave that part up to you 🙂
Let me know if that helps or if you have any other questions!

Are you starting from zero experience in lighting?  Click here to get my “getting started” guide!

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