Lights, Cameras, Tracking at Trinity Fellowship Church

© Trinity Fellowship Church
(© Trinity Fellowship Church)

The defining feature of TFC's main campus is its worship center, a 3,750-seat auditorium set up as the-theater-in-the-round featuring a 46-foot-diameter circular stage & four 32-foot HD projection screens.

Lighting & filming in-the-round posed a number of challenges in terms of stage real-estate & camera angles. It was crucial that pastors establish a connection with each audience member through eye-to-eye contact & large-scale video projection in the auditorium, through video in the satellite campus content, or streaming on the Internet.

In the early design phase, TFC brought in The Lighting Design Group & after consultation it was agreed that 10 manually operated spot-light positions were not an option architecturally nor was the volunteer team of ten spotlight operators. LDG suggested using automated spot/beam fixtures & a tracking system for tighter control on lights to produce an extremely soft, smooth key light effect that mimicked the look of uplighting whilst at the same time not having high-sensitivity to ambient noise, signal interference a limited number tracking receivers that the older outdated system had.

TFC looked to BlackTrax and after an initial survey by the BlackTrax Expert team, a 3D CAD drawing of the space with rigging and lighting set up showed how the tracking would work. This included the positions of the BTCameras & their coverage of the space where people & objects are tracked when tagged with the BTBeacon. BlackTrax tracks positional information in realtime & streams it to downstream technologies such as a lighting console where the LD can determine which lighting will follow the performer.

TFC Technical Lighting Director Russell Kollaja said: "We had the cabling in place ahead of time. BlackTrax was brought in, installed, calibrated & tested in about 3 hours."

The system is in place to handle the multitude of services & productions that the church holds. Because the Saturday service caters to a smaller crowd, the 46-foot diameter stage is draped off halfway – BlackTrax is programmed to have limits set in place for lighting, video or cameras.

TFC Executive Director of Operations Michael Wells said: "BlackTrax not only allows us to track more performers – we typically use up to 8 BTBeacons – but we have the possibility to track far more. We couldn't possibly accommodate & manage more than 12 follow spot operators in the auditorium but with BlackTrax, we can conceivably use every automated light in the rig as a follow spot. For example, if we have a procession down one of the aisles, we can use over 200 lights and track subjects over the entire main floor. BlackTrax also allows us to be specific about the boundaries of what we want to light."

For the first Christmas production in-the-round, TFC didn't need any stage markings since the actors were being tracked simply by wearing the small tracking beacon cutting down on rehearsal time.

TFC relies on a team of experienced production personnel including engineers, technicians, directors, designers, editors and production managers.

Project design team

Michael Wells, Executive Director of Operations, Trinity Fellowship Church

Russell Kollaja, Technical Lighting Director, Trinity Fellowship Church

Kevin Penrod, Lighting Designer and Programmer

Lighting Design Group, NYC, Lighting Design

CAST BlackTrax Experts, motion control system & consultancy

Key equipment used

  • CAST BlackTrax motion tracking system
  • wysiwyg lighting design software from CAST Software
  • 12 cameras
  • ETC EOS consoles
  • 2 ELC nodes (for merging information downstream into BlackTrax from the ETC consoles)
  • CAST BlackTrax server
  • 8 BlackTrax Beacons
  • 8 BlackTrax Cameras
  • 2 ELO touchscreens for use with BlackTrax server
  • 26 Martin Mac 2000E Profile
  • 8 High End X-spot Xtreme
  • 16 (soon to be 24) Coemar I-spot Flex
  • 164 intelligent moving lights
  • 164 static LED lights


© Trinity Fellowship Church,

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