Tag Archives: Lighting

Your Church PA (Pt2)

In ‘Your Church PA’ we get a peek into some of the audio/production setups at local churches in South Africa. We get to ogle over some photos of gear, share ideas, and learn from the wisdom and experience of those techs who keep the systems running week-to-week! For more detail look here.

This week – Dean Wilke from Olive Tree Church shares their setup with us.

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“Like most churches our system has evolved quite a lot over the years. This year saw a massive overhaul of our stage and drum booth.

At the moment we are running 4 QSC K12 speakers (2 downstairs and 2 for our balcony) and 2 K Subs mounted between the two K12s on each side. All of those are running through a DBX Driverack PX. We mix on a Presonus StudioLive 24.4.2 desk. Our stage and hall are too small for wedge monitors so we run an in-ear monitoring system. We recently upgraded for the Hearbacks to the Behringer Powerplay system. A Powerplay P16I rack by our desk and 7 Powerplay P16M mixing modules on stage running through CAT5 cables.

We moved and rebuilt our stage earlier this year and decided to use stage boxes at strategic points on the stage with XLR, Jack and CAT5 connections in them. We had these custom built and have proven to be one of best investments. Under the stage we are running Klotz microphone cable and Mogami instrument cable. The instrument cables are for electric guitars and go into an amp room to the side of our stage.

We also had a double-pane glass drum booth built after realising the Clearsonic one we had just wasn’t cutting it in our small hall. It has been amazing from a mixing point of view. It has given us way more control over the drums and has allowed us to get a much cleaner mix.

And that’s the gist of our setup. We’ve tried to keep it fairly simple while still aiming for great sound quality.”


Let there be light!

I think lighting is the most overlooked technical art in churches today.
Sound we get – because feedback is unbearable.Video we get – because between TV and YouTube we spend hours a day absorbing video. Even graphics we get – We all know what a bad PowerPoint looks like!

When it comes to lighting though, many churches I’ve worked with couldn’t possibly be less interested.

I am a huge fan of lighting in church work. And not just for your youth services either! Lighting has the power to do two critical things: 1. Focus peoples attention, and direct it where you want it, (minimizing other distractions) and 2. Control energy and atmosphere in your room. This is something that’s easier to demonstrate than to explain, but trust me, if you are interested in engaging your congregations attention, and/or creating environments that ‘feel’ conducive to worship – you need to be thinking about how you are using light.

Here’s the paradox of stage lighting in churches. Like most technical art in church arenas, a lighting system needs to exist to bring attention to something other than itself. Makes sense right? When it’s done right, you didn’t really notice it, sure it looked beautiful, but more than that – it just ‘felt right’. It ‘felt easy to worship’, the congregation was ‘into it’, and more people were engaging. The lighting has helped create an atmosphere conducive to worship – by focusing attention on where the worship leaders are taking the congregation, and using color, light and shade to complement and enhance the dynamics of that journey.

Again – this is easier to demonstrate than to explain, but like-it-or-not, music today is an audio-visual experience. As I described in a previous post – the ‘worship experience’ is as much about what you are seeing as what you are hearing.

Tech Workshop Dates are out!

Monday 9th May 2011, 6.30PM, Auditorium, Grace Family Church (Umhlanga Campus)

Audio Workshop:

“Fundamentals Of Sound Reinforcement”: The Principles of Sound Reinforcement; The Human Ear; Your Sound System; Basic Mixing Techniques; Dynamics; Advanced Mixing Techniques; FAQ.

This workshop also includes access to the “Open House” on the Thursday night, when you can come through to the Umhlanga Campus to observe a rehearsal, and ask audio or other production-related questions.

Note: This workshop is free and open to all. If you are interested please let me know! I can only confirm this workshop only once we have sufficient numbers!

Thursday 12th May 2011, 6.30PM, Grace Family Church (Umhlanga Campus)

Lighting Workshop & “Open House”

“The Language of Light”: Lighting Fixtures & Lighting Control Explained. Design, Programming, & Operation Discussion. Energy vs. Focus.

This workshop will include access to the “Open House” on the Thursday night at the Umhlanga Campus, when we will run lighting during a rehearsal, to get practical experience on the console.

Please contact me to confirm your attendance, or for any other quires.

Kind Regards


In a Rut?

One of our audio guys at Grace reminded me this week, that we learn something new every time we get behind an audio console. And really – how true is this!?

If you aren’t learning something new, or trying something different with your audio mixes, or your lighting design, or your worship leading on a week-to-week basis, you are missing out on half the fun of this ministry we have been called to…

Don’t be afraid to experiment and learn – your church needs you to be all you can be!

Skinning Cats and Micing Drums

I won’t lie to you. I’m not a drummer, and I’m not a drum guru either. Which is tricky for me as an audio guy, cos lets be honest, the foundation of a mix is won or lost in the drum and bass relationship. And we weren’t happy with ours…

*aside* In my travels I’ve discovered many church audio guys who think their work begins and ends at the sound desk. Live audio starts at the source (the stage), and if you aren’t spending SIGNIFICANT time there, I would argue you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance of creating a good mix! 

Up until very recently, we have been micing up our Pacific Drums CX Series Kit with Shure A98Ds on the toms, a beta57A on the snare, a Beta52 in the kick, with a KSM32 on overheads, and an sm81 on the hats.

I started researching and experimenting with different combinations over the course of about 3 or 4 months (inspired in part by Dave Stagl at Northpoint – who says he doesn’t feel like he is doing his job right if the drum mic setup isn’t always changing!)

I realized that trying different combinations/positions doesn’t cost anything, (especially if you have friends or vendors who will let you demo mics) and the results can be surprising. Seriously – moving a mic an inch away or towards a drum can mean the difference between a great sound, and a RUBBISH sound. There are LOTS of ways to mic a kit, and a lot of good info available online.

I discovered I’M NOT A FAN of the A98Ds, as acclaimed as they are. I found them to be poorly designed (plugs always coming loose, even when GLUED on – and being phantom-powered they make a massive noise when loose) AND they didn’t sound all that great on toms. Move those large diaphragm KSM 32s to the toms though, and you kits sounds like its twice as expensive!

There are lots of opinions around micing snares. I’ve had lots of success with the beta57 on the top, and the A98D on the bottom. (Top gives you that great tone and crack, bottom gives more crack and sizzle). I must add though, having tried half a dozen snares – a snare drum has a personality – you will have to find the one that best fits your style of music, your drummers, your drum mics, and your room.

We added a second kick mic the Beta 91, inside the kick, giving us the kick attack, and tone, leaving the beta 52 free to capture the beef of the kick.

I decided to move the hi-hat mic up to the overhead position – and I haven’t missed it! Hats can be tricky – I for one find ‘splashy hats’ to be one of the most obnoxious sounds on the stage, and although we had a mic on them, we seldom used it in the mix. For the most part now I pick up a drum mix, with crispy cymbals and hats through the overhead very successfully.

Watch out for phase issues when under-micing drums and using open overheads, flip those phase switches and have a listen!

Ok this post is waaaay to long, and I have a lot more to say…  (I’d love to post on drum mic compression and gating someday) but for now I’ll just finish by encouraging you to experiment more with your drum mics and micing techniques! You’d be amazed what a difference it makes, not just to the drum sound, but to the entire mix.

P.S. Just a few weeks ago I got to switch the toms over to Senhiesser MD421s. What a difference. I couldn’t possibly say enough nice things about these brilliant, classic mics!


Hey Guys

Just a quick one – but I wanted to let you know as early as possible.

I’m going to be running two technical arts workshops early in May. One on audio, and one on lighting. They were originally specifically for Grace people, but I’ve decided to widen the scope a little cos I’m convinced that churches can learn from each other!

I’m also hoping to include an ‘open house’ night as part of the workshop, so you can sit-in on a Grace rehearsal and see us do what we do.

Spread the word. The workshops are free, and I’d love to see as many churches represented as possible.

Dates to follow shortly.
Exciting stuff guys! Looking forward to seeing you!



Well its been more than 3 weeks since I got back to a very busy season at Grace. I got to attend the “Gurus of Tech” technical arts conference in Chicago, as well as spend a couple of days with the team at Lakepointe Church in Dallas, and a few more days at Willowcreek, South Barrington.

Many people have asked how the trip was, and its really hard to quantify the experience into a sentence – other than to say it was game-changing.

To sit in a room with 500 other church technical artists, and to learn from them, to hear about their struggles, and to bask in the presence of like-minded people was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

To see the excellence, the intentionality, and the dedication these churches put into their work is inspiring. It turns the “anything-will-do” attitude on its head, and really forces you to go back and grapple with the ‘why we do” questions.

I have started and restarted this specific post for weeks, trying to summuries what I learned, and I’ve realized that it’s not going to happen in a paragraph. So I’m going to crack-on and keep the posts coming, hopefully ill get to expand on one facet at a time, and share what I learned in a way that you guys will find useful!

Have any of you visited a church recently that challenged you to think about how church could be done better?
I’d love to hear about it!

Awesome resources part 3…

www.goingto11.com – Dave Stagl’s blog. FOH guy at Northpoint. You can learn tons from this blog whether you’ve been working in audio for 10 mins or 10 years!

www.creationswap.com – formally creative cmyk. Lots of free and paid Christian design material. Often the first stop for our DTP people.

www.churchmarketingsucks.com – Sad but true. Check out the site to see what you can do about it!

www.productionmusings.com – Stunning stage design and audio blog. Only just getting into it. Thanks to Grant Leonard for the link!

Awesome resources part 2…

www.stufficanuse.com – the creative guys at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville make a bunch of their beautiful bumpers/video loops/photoshop graphics available for free download.

www.sermonspice.com – a huge resource for creative video. Be prepared to spend some money here.

www.alreadybeenchewed.net – graphic design blog. Inspiring. Beautiful. So good it’s depressing!

www.willowproduction.org – the willowcreek production blog. Another church who are honoring God and inspiring people though excellence in technical/performing arts. Take a look – you’ll see what I mean. (also check out their youtube channel)

www.churchmediadesign.tv – a ton of resource mostly around graphic design, motion graphics, video and 3d animation. Freebies include brilliant video loops.

No church tech guy is an island…

In many ways one of the most defining elements of last year was realizing that I’m not alone as a church technical director. I discovered I’m part of an international community of tech guys who are facing the same challenges I am week after week.

They understand the exhausting and often thankless work, the huge expectations, tight (or non-existent) budgets, and the imminence of yet another Sunday service. They understand RTA, SDI, SPL, DMX, PFL, ADC and DVI – and they want to talk about it! There are church tech guys with invaluable advice, who have just finished dealing with technical challenges we are just about to confront at Grace Family Church. At the same time, there are churches who are just starting projects that we have finished, and could benefit from hearing about where we succeeded, and where we went wrong.

I can’t overstate the fundamental way this realization changed the way I look at the work I’m called to. It opened me to more collaborative thinking, and the benefit in the sharing of creative and technical resources, from audio and lighting to stage set/scenic and graphic design. There are people who can help you where you’re at – and there are people who desperately need your help.

I am convinced that together, not only we can be more effective in our individual ministries, but we can further the cause of the big ‘C’ church.

I have included some of the most useful resources I’ve come across, (I’ll put up a few more everyday this week) and if they are even half as useful to you as they were to me, it’s well worth the time of checking them out! I have to give a special thanks to the ChurchTechTalk guys, who, in my opinion really embody the idea of reaching out to engage church tech guys around them.

www.churchtechtalk.com – a team of great guys who podcast weekly around church tech and whatever else pops into their minds. They give away tons of free media and a ‘creative kick in the pants.’

www.npccproduction.org – awesome blog run by the production team at North Point. So encouraging seeing guys pushing the tech boundaries for the glory of God.  So much info to be gleaned from their experiences/systems.

www.churchstagedesignideas.com – churches from all over the world send their set design ideas/photos/plans in to share on this site. Almost limitless inspiration here.

www.churchcrunch.com – no matter what field of tech/creative arts you’re into, there is something here that will blow your hair back.

http://open.lifechurch.tv/ – amazing resource from an amazing church who make their video/graphic/creative elements available for free download.

If you have any of your own to add, comment, or drop me a mail – I’d love to hear from you!