Stage Lighting for Auditoriums, Churches and Larger Spaces



Whether you are lighting a stage for a church, school auditorium or a public gathering space there are some fundamentals to lighting that should be looked at.

Of course while there is a lot of choices with lighting like color, a nice white wash or moving lights the choices with lighting are endless.

In addition the entertainment industry and many of the larger church organizations are pushing lighting to new heights.   In fact really good lighting designers are in huge demand.

Lighting in these types of environments has become an art form. Here are some rules of thumb Excel AV Group uses when designing and installing new lighting systems.

• 3 Point Lighting – Essentially lighting a stage should be done similar to how lighting design is done by video professionals in many professions from photography to film to television broadcast. 3 point lighting essentially starts with a key light that picks up the majority position (in this case a stage) and in this case a zone on a stage because you can’t key light a stage with just one light. The next position is called the fill light and in the case of stage lighting we light each zone from a 45 degree angle coming from the left and right angle to the zone between the key light and end of the stage. The last position to the zone your lighting is back lighting and in stage lighting isn’t as necessary unless your video recording. Back-lighting does help however with foreground lighting and depth.

Backdrop – Typically the back of the stage area or foreground area of a stage is considered the back drop. The rule of thumb here is to light the back drop roughly at 50% of your 3 point lighting object or zone. Excel AV Group uses numerous types of lights to achieve this including some creative light battens as shown in this picture at New Hope Community Church in Cambridge MN that we designed in 2015.

School Theater Lighting System Excel designed in North Dakota

Color vs. White – In any good stage lighting system you should have both. However, a common mistake is to design with too much hard spot or Ellipsoidal lights (also called Leko) and not enough wash or Fresnel style lights. The overuse of Par style lights is also a mistake. At Excel AV Group we design with the idea that you should be able to achieve a nice even wash with white and color. If you are more of a theater application like the above pic we use more Ellipsoidal spots to achieve the ability to create zones for scenes.

Moving lights – Moving lights are great but require a good deal of budget and setup time although the prices are coming down and the consoles are getting easier to use. Moving lights should be used with haze to create depth.

Effects – The entertainment industry is paving the way with effects lighting of all types including LED walls for back drop and various LED products for effects.

House lighting integration– Each year Excel AV Group does systems where we are upgrading clients house lights to LED and new LED dimming. The costs to do these upgrades have been coming down. We also tie together control so that “scenes” can be created with both stage and house lights being recalled and controlled as one system.

Contact Excel AV Group today to discuss your next lighting project.


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