Lighting Good Friday & Easter 2014

For Coast Hills, Good Friday and Easter are probably our two largest productions of the year. A normal weekend doesn’t have a ton in the way of big production; just simple, solid and good. But for Easter, well that’s another story. We tend to pull out all the stops and go big. This year was no exception. We’ve forged a good relationship with a new rental vendor, Pacific Coast Entertainment, and they provided us with quite a few fixtures for the week. 

Rather than me trying to tell you how we lit the services, I enlisted the help of my LD, Thomas Pendergrass to write most of this article. Thomas has been working closely with me for the last four years, though he’s been around a few years longer. As you can see from the gallery of pictures, the looks were pretty great, and added tremendously to the feel of the service. But enough from me. I’ll let Thomas fill you in.


I was privileged to design and program the lighting for the 2014 Easter services at Coast Hills Church. Since most of what I do is corporate lighting programming, I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to design for the church for these special events.

Our Easter weekend consists of seven services total. The first two are Good Friday services which are almost the exact opposite of our Easter services.  

The Good Friday service is a very dark, dramatic, and contemplative service without a single spoken word. Everything is communicated through video, music, and lighting. There is no front light on anyone throughout the entire service; everyone is backlit in silhouette.

Our Easter Services are not a lot different from our normal services, just a more “up tempo” music style and song selection with lighting to complement it. Since there is less than twenty-two hours between the last Good Friday service and the first Easter Service, very minimal changes to the rig occur.

In the past we have used a lot of drapery and scenic pieces for our Easter set. This year we decided to go with a more modern design and light the air instead of using any set pieces or fabric. Since there was no physical set, I focused on designing a lighting rig that would fill the air nicely and provide a lot of flexibility to create a variety of big beam looks. We ended up going with eighteen movers on the back wall with twelve LEDs in-between. The rest of the lighting was unchanged from our normal house plot so it made the install very easy and fast. The entire install only took about six hours with two-four guys working on it.

I spent a lot of time building and tweaking position palates for the movers. I made several positions that were just basic fan outs, fan ins, etc, which can be made very easily by adjusting fan and grouping settings (or whatever your console of choice calls it). I also made a few “organic” beam looks which took a lot of time to build. In these positions I try to make the beam looks “balanced” but asymmetrical, with no detectable pattern. As a more left-brained person, this is not something that comes very naturally to me and so it takes time, work, and more tweaking. Another thing to consider is where your movers are hitting. You may have an awesome looking beam look but if it’s abusing half the crowd, most of the time that's not acceptable.

Many people have asked me what fixtures are in our rig. I prefer not to dwell too much on fixture makes/models/specs since our fixture choice really depends mostly on what our vendors have available and what we can get good pricing on. The design would look generally the same using VL2500s or Mac 700s or many other fixtures. Also, fixture choice depends a lot on the size of the stage and room—you don’t need VL3ks in a 300 seat room. But for all of you gear heads, here is a general equipment list of all the big items you see in this design.

  • (18) Platinum spot 5r Pros (rented)
  • (12) Colorblast 12s
  • (6) HES studio colors
  • (6) Martin Roboscan 518s
  • (12) GLP Impression 90s
  • (10) ADJ Flat Par tri 18x
  • (24) ADJ Flat Par tri 7x
  • (10) source four Parnels
  • (6) source four Pars
  • (30) source four Lekos
  • (8) “Connells"

Mike again here. The Connells are our name for the pars on all-thread we modeled after Daniel Connell’s Dewey’s. It’s basically an old aluminum PAR64 can that we mounted on black-painted pieces of 5/8” all-thread.

One thing we did for both Good Friday and Easter that we normally don’t do on weekends is use haze. We used haze for two reasons. First, it really was the set. To light the air, we need something for the light to interact with. For us that’s our DF-50 hazer, which got a real workout last week. Second, we are given a little more leeway for Good Friday/Easter. We normally don’t run haze on the weekend because we haven’t been able to control it to acceptable levels for our leadership. However, after seeing how well it worked for Easter, that may change.  

I’ve said this many times on Twitter, but Thomas knocked it out of the park with lighting this year. I had more people than ever tell me this was the best looking Easter service they’ve ever seen at Coast Hills. Everything fit together well and it simply looked fantastic. You can get a bit of a glimpse of the lighting on the video, though we didn’t get many wide shots.

Roland