VALENCIA, CA – Billing itself as a “church for people who don't like church,” Real Life Church didn't follow a conventional path when it built its own facility after nearly a decade of holding services in, first, a movie theater and, most recently, a high school auditorium. Everything about the Valencia, CA church's new 40,000 sq. ft. building was carefully planned to serve the “real life” needs of its congregants and the greater community -- from a coffeehouse in its basement, to its strategically centralized location for touring concerts, to the environmentally-friendly design of the structure itself, which sits largely underground to reduce energy requirements for heating and cooling.
At the hub of the building is Real Life Church's main sanctuary, an amphitheater-style auditorium that seats 1,200. In addition to accommodating worship services, the room was required to function as a cutting-edge video studio, as well as a venue where community musical and theatrical productions could be staged, said Richard Rutherford, Rutherford Design (Northridge, CA), designer/supplier of the building's audio, video and theatrical lighting systems.
“The church is very media savvy,” said Rutherford, who was involved in project from day one. “They shoot everything in hi-def video -- 16:9 widescreen ratio. Their media director really understands what it takes to create good quality video.” This meant lighting would take on supreme importance, Rutherford added. “It's like the old joke goes, â€˜There are only three important things for video – lighting, lighting and lighting.'”
Another consideration in the lighting design was the auditorium's intended use as a community concert and theater facility. “The church is quite aggressive musically,” Rutherford said. “Part of the premise of the building's design and geographical location was to be able to provide the community with an excellent facility that could be rented out for theatrical and musical performances. Because of the location, size and quality of the building, it also makes a great stopover point for touring Christian rock bands.”
Thus, the lighting system had to be able to handle professional stage shows and concerts as well. With so much emphasis on video, the church's media staff wanted to include conventional lights “to boost the horsepower” for TV production, said Rutherford. But other key components of Real Life Church's all-important stage lighting system include LED par cans and automated moving heads from Elation Professional.
Twenty Elation Opti RGBs, a color-mixing LED par can, form the basis of the stage's side and back lighting. Operating on 7 DMX channels, the Opti RGB is a high-output unit that contains 24 powerful 1-watt red, green and blue LEDs (8 of each color) and features full RGB mixing and dimming capabilities. Conventional lights notwithstanding, “what they really wanted was a theatrical look. And the most cost-effective way to do that powerfully was to use the Opti RGBs on the side lighting and all back positions,” explained Rutherford. “This allows us to flood the stage in any color we want really well.”
Because of the high vertical level of the seating in the amphitheater, barn doors are used on all the Opti RGBs. “If you're seated at the back of the house, you're just a few feet below the sight level of the fixtures. So we put barn doors on them to hide the color-mixing â€˜magic,' so to speak, so that people would just see the end result of the color on stage. The barn doors have worked really well,” said Rutherford. Another modification was to change the fixture profiles to all crossfade, which has resulted in “really smooth crossfades and transitions between the colors.”
In addition to the Opti RGB, Rutherford used four of Elation's Power Spot 575 DMX moving heads on the front of house truss to light up the many musical and theatrical performances held at Real Life Church. The Power Spot 575, a powerful 575-watt discharge fixture with color and gobo wheels and other effects, “works well where we want to use a spotlight-type look for live musical performances,” said Rutherford. “Even though it has more features than we need, it's got a really great light output and offers a super value for the dollar, which makes it an excellent choice for theatrical applications.”
Rutherford also chose an Elation product for controlling Real Life Church's stage lighting system: the Show Designer 2CF DMX controller. Featuring 2 DMX universe outputs with a total of 1024 DMX channels, the Show Designer 2CF can control up to 48 moving light fixtures of up to 32 channels each, and up to 1152 programmable chases, 4752 programmable scenes and 1152 programmable shows. It offers such user convenient features as a large built-in fixture library, 80-character backlit display for easy programming and Compact Flash Drive. Rutherford said he chose the Show Designer 2CF because “it's an easy controller to do fairly complex scene design with, and it's quite easy to train on. It's also a very cost-efficient controller that can do a great job with both conventional and intelligent lighting.”
The cost-efficiency of the Elation fixtures themselves was a big selling point with the church's media staff, Rutherford added. “They're young, smart and savvy, and had some really clear guidelines about what they wanted. So because we had well-defined parameters up front, every time we came up with an option the Elation products plugged in and worked well. While there's certainly more expensive stuff we could have used, we didn't need unusable features at an unusable price.”
For more information, call Elation Professional toll-free at 866-245-6726 or visit www.elationlighting.com
Rutherford Design can be reached at 818-775-0046 or visit www.rutherforddesign.com
Photo Credit: Brad Dupray