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LXQ: Easy & Inexpensive Environmental Lighting For a Portable Church

By David / 4 years ago

Lighting Questions are sent in from readers of our FREE email newsletter, or via our contact page.  With the permission of the writers, we share the Q&A’s here so that we can help others who have the same questions!

Today, Jeremiah writes in asking specifically about environmental lighting.  His church wants to be able to do without the fluorescent lighting in the worship space that they rent, and it must setup and teardown weekly.

We go back and forth about how DMX works, wireless DMX, and what would be the best option for his church.  Check it out below!

Question & Answer

Hi,

First, thanks for your posts, they’re great resources and information for beginners like me.  I serve at a portable church and we have no lighting system thus far.

Wall Uplighting

Photo From Hasn on Flickr.

The lighting in the building we rent is basically some fan-light fixtures and a lot of fluorescent lighting.

I’d like to wash our walls and stage a bit with some LED color bars but other than that idea I’m stuck as to where to go from there.

What other pieces do I need to make it work with the least amount of setup time?

Would wireless be the way to go?

I appreciate any advice.

—-

Hi Jeremiah,

Are you looking to just simply wash your walls, or are you also looking to light your stage? If you’re looking to wash your walls, do you need the fixtures to change color, or would it be okay if you just set them to one color per fixture and just left them there?

I ask that because most LED fixtures have a “stand-alone” mode where you can just dial in a color and not need to run data cable or have a console, which means a quicker, easier setup. Let me know what exactly you’re looking to do, and I can offer some more in depth recommendations

If you’re looking for a portable lighting system for your stage, check out this page on Learn Stage Lighting.

This page shows you how to setup a small lighting system, so you can understand the parts and pieces better. And then reply back with any questions you have so I can help you further!

Thanks so much!

-David

—-

Wall LightingDavid,

In theory I would think would like to wash our east and west walls enough so that we can completely eliminate using the fluorescent lights in our building.

And for our north wall where the stage is it’d be great if we could at least get the wash to change color. We project on a single screen right there in the center of our north wall.

I like the LED bars because of their inconspicuous size.

I wouldn’t mind setting the east and west walls to the “stand alone” setting, but with all things I would eventually like to be able to control everything whether it be to dim or change colors.

As for the north (stage) wall my only concern with leaving those in stand alone are the lights not working well with projection during worship (colors clashing) or they’re set too dim/too bright for the service. Does that make sense? I appreciate any ideas for a better setup you’ve seen work.

Thanks,

Jeremiah

—-

Hi Jeremiah,

I think you’ve got some great ideas that will really add to the worship environment. I would suggest you go with LED strip lights as planned and be sure to have DMX control for the stage fixtures.

Ideally, though, I’d just go ahead and wire up all the fixtures with DMX, because it will really help you help the worship leader shape the environment.

Cheap LED Lighting

Photo from Roberto Verzo on Flickr

I  don’t know what your budget looks like, so I want to first go over some blanket suggestions.

1. If you shoot video, or plan to, buy LED’s that are flicker free. (More on that here)

2. As for wireless DMX, I just want to prep you with realistic expectations on how well the cheap stuff works. I have used both inexpensive wireless DMX (Chauvet Freedom) and expensive (City Theatrical ShowDMX).

If you need it to look “perfect”, with transitions all precisely in sync, no flickering on transitions, etc, you’ve got to go expensive, or better yet, just wire up DMX.

I have used the Chauvet Freedom wireless for some corporate parties I’ve lit, and they are acceptable for a party, but I think they would be distracting on transitions in the worship environment.

Generally, with wireless DMX, it is best to try not to use it!  Running a physical wire will always be more reliable!

Jeremiah, I’m not sure how much you know about DMX and lighting, so I’m including some other links on LSL here about what pieces you need to make a DMX system work.

What Are The Basic Parts of a Stage Lighting System?
Stage Lighting Basics + Q&A For the Church
How Can I Speed Up LED Programming?
How Do I Convert, Split or Merge DMX?
What is a Lighting Console?

Thanks so much! – let me know if you have any other questions, or if there is anything I can go more in depth on for you!

-David

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

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