Church Stage Lighting 101

Church Stage Lighting 101 – The Basics Of Lighting A Church Stage

Most churches are on a budget, but if you still need amazing stage lighting for your worship hall, the good news is that you can usually get just what you need without going over your budget. Rather than rushing out and buying tons of expensive lighting right away, you can first familiarize yourself with some basic equipment so you can decide exactly what you need, then you can go out and buy just what you need to start with, adding items later on when the need arises.

Church Stage Lighting 101

How Do You Light up a Church Stage?

Regardless of the size of your church, you need lighting for your stage if you want parishioners to see you and if you want to see them. The right lighting is important for many reasons, and the good news is that even small churches can afford to have some type of professional lighting system. As a general rule, there are three main types of lighting systems, and they are:

  • Beam lights. These give off a very tight beam of light and include moving head beams and pin spots.
  • Hard-edged lights. Called “spots,” these lights give you hard, crisp shadows and are very easy to control. They include the moving head spot, follow-spot, and ellipsoidal.
  • Soft-edged lights. These give you smooth fields of light but aren’t that easy to mask off of screens and curtains. Common soft-edged lights include par cans, strip lights, blinders, and scoops.

These are the types of lights, but you also need to determine the source for the lights. For this, most people choose either LED lights, which are bright and can even create lots of colors; and conventional lights, for which you should have a dimmer pack for the best results. Of course, you have to complete the ensemble by adding lighting consoles and other control equipment, such as DMX splitters and power cables.

As you can see, lighting up a stage is more than just placing a few light fixtures in the right spots and expecting everything to look perfect from there. Ideally, you’ll work closely with a lighting expert so that you can get your questions answered and purchase everything you need to allow the stage to look phenomenal every Sunday morning.

What Are the Six Functions of Stage Lighting?

If you keep in mind the six main reasons for having stage lighting, you can make the right decisions when it comes to the equipment you’ll need. The six main functions of stage lighting are:

  • To make things more visible.
  • To bring out the quality of the 3D images of people, props, and so on.
  • To keep the audience focused on the stage.
  • To create time frames, for example, when you’re trying to recreate and highlight nighttime, daytime, and so on.
  • To augment emotion and the “mood” of what’s going on onstage.
  • To paint a certain picture of what’s going on.

In other words, the right lighting can help audience members determine whether the song you’re singing or the play you’re acting out is supposed to be lighthearted, serious and somber, funny, or thought-provoking if you have the right lighting on and around your stage.

Why Is Stage Lighting Important?

Without the right stage lighting, any production you put on can be virtually ruined. Lighting is more important than most people realize because it affects every member of the audience whether they realize it or not. Here are just a handful of the reasons why stage lighting is so important regardless of what you are doing onstage:

  • It creates the effect you’re going for. You can’t very well have fire, rain, or snow on your stage, but you can certainly use the right type of lighting to create that effect so people will know what’s supposed to be taking place.
  • It can enhance the impact of the music on stage. For things such as lightning, for example, it’s great when the music and lighting work together to create a powerful effect.
  • Spotlights can give audience members even more. When someone is singing a solo or is the star of a scene, the spotlight makes sure that all members of the audience can see that person more clearly. Without a spotlight, many audience members will miss out on some of the best parts of the production.
  • Even dim lighting is important. When it comes to professional lighting, dim lighting can have just as important of an effect as bright lighting. In most productions, it takes all types of lighting to create the ambiance that that particular stage performance is trying to portray.

What Are the Five Qualities of Light?

Now that you know the main functions of the right lighting system, let’s look at the basic qualities of light. This is important to know because not all light is the same. Once you start working with the experts who are helping you install all of your lighting, these qualities can help you understand why they are doing what they’re doing. The qualities are:

  • Color. This includes factors such as hue, or whether the color is red, green, and so on; chroma, or the saturation of the color; and value, which means the lightness or darkness of a color.
  • Direction. This essentially refers to the direction the light goes in once it’s reflected somewhere.
  • Distribution and form. These have to do with the eye’s ability to see the shape, size, and position of different objects.
  • Intensity and brightness. Intensity is the strength of a light source, whereas brightness refers to the visual sensation that happens when it interacts with a light source then reflects back to the eye.
  • Movement. This is actually the combination of color, form, intensity, and direction.

All of these things working together enable the lighting to do what it does best – present the best image of whatever or whoever is on stage so that the audience can experience the emotions that those on the stage are trying to project. Whether you’re singing a hymn or putting on a play about a religious holiday, the lighting on the stage is important, and now that you know a bit more about this important function, you’ll be able to decide on the right lighting for your own church.