VARI*LITE Joins Mariners Church
Published Thursday, January 19, 2006
by Bryan Matthews

In early 2003, Mariners Church in Irvine, CA, began construction on a new multi-purpose worship facility. As the facility was being built, a new lighting system was also being installed. The new system consists of 40 VL1000TS™ luminaires, 12 VL2000™ Spot luminaires, and eight VL2000™ Wash luminaires, plus conventional lighting fixtures to be used as backup elements for the lighting rig.

"Anything that we do in the worship center, we use the VARI*LITE fixtures on," stated Ken Robertson, Mariners Church Technical Arts Director. "We chose them because of their ease of operation and their flexibility. We use the conventional fixtures to supplement the automated lights in fail safe positions, but so far we have not needed them. It’s amazing how the VL1000 luminaires are so versatile in what they can do."

California Stage & Lighting, in Santa Ana, CA, supplied the new lighting fixtures for Mariners Church. As a supplier to the entertainment industry, Cal Stage & Lighting provides the sale and rental of quality lighting equipment as well as many expendable supplies. "Cal Stage & Lighting was honored to be able to supply the lighting gear for Mariners Church," stated Joe Forehand, Project Manager for California Stage & Lighting. "They are truly a unique congregation and we were pleased to be able to assist them in their new construction."

As with many houses of worship, a full-time technical crew is not a luxury that Robertson has been afforded. He often relies upon volunteer technicians from the congregation to assist in the lighting design and operation during the worship services. In order for this to be a possibility the lighting instruments need to be reliable and responsive in their capabilities.

"We generally program on the weekends with an independent contractor, and then will have one of our volunteers run the cues for the worship services," said Robertson. "With no catwalks for the lighting rig, we don’t have the time to be doing a lot of manual labor in order to refocus the light plot. If we weren’t utilizing the automated fixtures, it would require moving seats and going up and down a ladder each time you wanted to refocus one light. With the VARI*LITE fixtures we can simply sit back at the console and move them anywhere we want. And since the VL1000 can operate as a spot or a wash, I always have the right light where I need it."

As the weeks pass, the lighting design changes with each service and the subsequent message being taught. A good lighting design can serve to heighten every aspect of a worship service by creating different moods and scenes to compliment the atmosphere. But conversely, doing too much with the lighting may divert attention from the worship leader and end up diminishing the service. It is a fine line that a lighting designer must walk, but one that should not be crossed.

"Each service will have a different color scheme to it," started Robertson. "We may change the lighting colors and gobos 20 times during a service by using nicely timed cross fades, but very seldom will we actually move the lights once the service has started. We do not want to distract from the pastor, or the music service, instead we only want to enhance it."

When video elements are brought into a worship service, the lighting must also coordinate with the color theme of the set so that the two blend seamlessly once projected on the video screen. The ability to have color correction capabilities in the luminaires is a necessity.

"In order to make the lighting work with the video, the color theme we tend to stick with consistently is using medium to dark blue, with a de-focused gobo, behind the pastor as he gives the message. Sometimes we'll mix in a bit of burnt amber. With video, those are the colors that work best with skin tones."

In September 2005, Mariners Church premiered their new lighting system to their congregation in a magnificent worship service that was attended by hundreds, and the lighting rig was ready.

"We could not do this nearly as easily with conventional lighting," concluded Robertson. "The flexibility of control with little staff time involved makes the VARI*LITE fixtures a wonderful choice."

The VARI*LITE® VL1000™ ERS luminaire combines the functionality of one of the most popular conventional lighting tools - the ellipsoidal reflector spotlight - with the versatility of an automated luminaire. Automated functions include CYM color mixing, rotating gobos, variable diffusion, and a zoom lens that ranges from 19° to 36° for normal imaging and a super zoom function that ranges to 70°. The VL1000TS model includes an automated, four-blade shutter mechanism that provides control of all shutter functions popular in conventional ellipsoidal reflector spotlights. The VL1000 ERS luminaires are available with either a tungsten or an arc source lamp.

The VARI*LITE® VL2000™ Spot luminaire is based on the groundbreaking technology used in some of the most popular and innovative spotlights in the history of automated lighting. The VL2000 Spot luminaire features a 700-watt short arc lamp, a zoom lens system, and rotating gobos. The luminaire is small, lightweight, and virtually silent, while accepting a wide variety of colors and gobos.

The VARI*LITE® VL2000™ Wash luminaire set the standard for the combination of brightness, beam control and physical size for wash luminaires. The VL2000 Wash luminaire features a 700-watt short arc lamp, zoomable beam spreader optics, CYM color mixing, a separate fixed color wheel, and a high performance dimmer/strobe mechanism.

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