Good Friday Set & Lighting

At Coast Hills, we've been doing a no-spoken-word Good Friday service for about seven years now. It's grown and morphed a bit since the original, but the service still consists of three basic movements that walk the congregation through the events of that fateful day in a very powerful manner. It's one of our most creative services of the year, and a great time to be on the tech team. Though it will be impossible to convey the true power of the service through pictures alone, I wanted to show you a little bit of what we did. 

First, we'll take a look at the set with just work lights. It doesn't look like much under this light, but it shows you what we did. The big white piece of fabric hanging upstage is a white scrim. I say "white" but we joked all week that it kind of looks like it may have been white at one time, but like white curtains hung in an apartment of a guy who smokes 3 packs a day, it's a little more beige now. In this first photo, if you look closely, you can see the outlines of a steel-framed cross in the middle. That comes into play later in the service.

The swagged fabric is a very lightweight chiffon-like material. Each piece is something like 60' long, so we just hang it everywhere. There is also a white fishnet piece running back down to the drum riser. The caution tape is not part of the set; we just painted the decks just in front of the stage.

As you can see, we had lots of chiffon. The look we're going for is ancient, and when the lights go up, it actually works. We use the scrim as both a projection surface, and a tool for selectively hiding and revealing the cross behind. A scrim is cool that way; when you light it from the front, it appears to be opaque. But if you light something behind it (with no front light on the scrim), it almost disappears. 

The scrim was heavily lit from the front with a series of ColorBlast 12s. Also on deck were six Mac 700s (two more hung in the truss), and we also had our six Martin 518's in the truss. The guys scattered another dozen or so ColorBlasts around the stage to light the rest of the fabric. One of the key features of this service is that there is no front light on anyone. The singers on the platform are backlit only, as are all the musicians who are on stage left and right platforms. More than any other service of the year, we want to convey that this is not about the band. 

Also on the floor, you can see two sets of six pinspots clamped to a pipe. I was a little dubious of those when the guys put them out, but once they had them focued (in a cool fan pattern) and the haze was on, they looked very cool, as you'll see in a moment. They functioned almost like blinders, though we have a very specific mandate to not shine lights in the eyes of the audience. Since the beam angle is so small on those fixtures, they set them up to hit the front of the balcony wall, and used them to create powerful beam effects.

This is the start of the service (which is close to walk-in look). All you see are silhouettes, and of course, the text on the screen. Note too, that you don't really see the cross behind the scrim at all. 

I mentioned the beam effects by the little pin spots, and now you can see them. We ran the DF-50 hazer pretty much continually that day to make sure we had an even and dense amount of haze in the entire room. We rarely get to do that, so it's fun to have beam effects running all the way to the back of the house. One of the things we love about the oil-based DF-50 is that when the lights aren't going through it, you don't see haze. But turn on some focused beams, and you see shafts of light everywhere. 

Now you can see how the scrim works. We remove the front light, and light the objects behind and suddenly, the cross is revealed. Our communications director, Ken, cut out a life-sized representation of Jesus from black foamcore. Our pastor has a crown of thorns that we set on top of the cutout's head. When lit with a Parnell fitted with a color scroller and a single pin-spot focused on the thorns, it's a very powerful effect.

The cool thing is, even with some front light, when backlit, the cross still becomes visible. In this way, we were able to both reveal it and project in front of it.

We have a team of high-school girls who have been dancing at the services for several years now. I'm normally not a huge fan of dance during a service, but in this moving rendition of Lead Me To The Cross it works. In addition to the oil-based haze that filled the room, we also set up our water-based Unique 2 under the vocal platforms upstage. The guys rigged up a piece of 4" PVC pipe that ran out to a Y-fitting that dumped the haze under the circular Steeldeck platform. We left the skirting off the platform this year, so in the moments before the dance started, the guys fired up the Unique. Because it's significantly more dense than oil-based haze, it created a smokey effect, that poured out from around the platform. 

I have to say, the guys doing the lighting, Thomas and Daniel (high school students, both) did a great job. Isaiah, my ATD, also did amazing work leading them and working heavily on the set build and lighting look. This was perfect as it freed me up to be the audio director and focus pretty much exlusively on the sound of the day. It's good to have a solid team.