Hiring an AV company to come in and design or redesign your space is a huge decision. This decision deserves more attention than picking out the color of the carpet. The choices you make at this point will effect your church for years to come. Let me point out a few pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Don’t pick the all around best
Picking one company to do everything is a huge mistake. Every single AV company in the world specializes in one department. I have never met a company that was equally talented in the main three fields of Entertainment. They are either a Sound Company, Lighting Company, or Video Company, that can also do the other things. There are great companies who are very talented in all three areas, but at the end of the day, they still specialize in one area. Pick the companies that specialize in what you need to be done. No company specializes in everything.
Don’t hire a company to do something the staff can’t do
Only hire a company to do it faster. If the church staff can’t do it for themselves, the church as the wrong people doing the technical jobs. Church staff should be coming up with the design and system requirements for your AV install. Relying on the AV company to make suggestions about what gear to buy is a bad idea. All this does is allow the AV company to sell the church products that you don’t need and can’t operate. Staff needs to be educated enough in the field to spec out the system that will work best for your church. Staff members are the ones who see the service every day and know what is needed. The design or system requirements should be finalized by
Get competing bids
If you followed my suggestion above it will be really simple. By already having the design and system requirements in mind before calling the installer, you will able to quickly get multiple bids. If your system drawings and design specs are
Understand how the AV company is compensated
AV companies like other contractors typically operate on a cost-plus model. They sell you a product at cost plus their markup. The more expensive the product they sell you the more money they make. This incentivizes the AV company to sell you a $5,000 light when a $500 light would have done the job. Knowing that you need a 24 channel mixer upfront will prevent you from owning a 48 channel version that you don’t need.
Hire for the long term
Guess what? All AV companies want to come back and do round #2 and #3. For this reason they purposefully use tactics to keep you calling.
Tactic #1 sell product you can’t operate. This keeps you calling them back weeks and week after the install is done to “train” your team. This can create massive billings for the AV company. If your staff does not already know how to operate it, you can’t buy it.
Tactic #2 planed obsolescence. I can’t blame the AV companies completely here. Very often churches will agree to buy products that are at the end of their product life cycle simply because they are less expensive. Unfortunately, most of the time the church is unaware of this. AV companies often fail to talk about this.
Tactic #3 Not planning for expansion. Planning for the future is hard, but not planning is worse. Building in bullet proof infrastructure from phase one is 10x less expensive than redoing the infrastructure every time the wind blows. An AV company is there to make money and don’t be surprised if they only run the required lines to make a system work, and not all the lines for all the possible situations. But don’t worry they will come back for a fee.
To conclude, if the church staff can’t do the install expect to be taken advantage of. AV companies do great work, but just a like any other contractor they need to be watched and supervised by a knowledgeable staff. Lean on an AV company to do the job more efficiently and at
Thinking about upgrading your lighting package to a LED
ETC Source 4 LED
Light quality is the driving force behind ETC’s LED product development. Countless hours have gone into creating tools worthy of the most professional applications, and the Source Four® LED Series 2 luminaire is the result of that dedication. With the brightest output and the boldest rendering of the colors you use most, the Source Four LED Series 2 introduces a whole new level of LED lighting that can be used anywhere.
If you already have ETC source 4’s in your inventory this would be the fixture for you. Without a dought replacing your current units with these would be the way to go over buying a different brand. These units use all the same lens tubes and accessories. ECT also sells several versions of the LED source 4. From the top of the line product simply called the Source 4 LED series 2, which is a color changing unit with a 7 led color array to the S4WARD which is a retrofit LED for all existing Source 4’s.
Elation COLOUR 5 Profile
According to Elation the COLOUR 5 Profile™ Ellipsoidal features a 180W RGBAM (Red, Green, Blue, Amber, Mint) LED engine, >94CRI, 4,100 total lumens, with 19°, 26°, 36°, and 50° interchangeable lens options (sold separately), (4) blade manual framing shutters, manual focus, supports B size metal HT transparency gobos, DMX controlled electronic strobe, dimming, and dimming curves,
Chauvet Ovation E-930VW
Ovation E-930VW is a high-performance, variable white ellipsoidal style fixture that utilizes our unique 6-color LED system. This fixture projects a bright, beautifully flat field of light in nearly any temperature of white with high CRI and CQS. Each Color Temperature setting can be further adjusted for +/- green to perfect the field of light. For times when a splash of color is needed, the fixture can also give you full control of each color of LED as well. Also the WFX new product of the year 2018
Sorry, no video available at the time of this writing. Chauvet if you send me one and I will do a review.
Strand SPX LED WW
Its beam is crisp and precise, directing light only where it is intended: thanks to the SPX filter frame system there is zero light leakage, so no additional masking is required. With reduced fan noise, the SPX LED WW is also quieter in operation than comparable LED fixtures. Ideal for applications such as education, houses of worship and themed environments.
The SPX LED WW uses the same proven, high-precision, high-performance gate and lens sets as the renowned Selecon SPX Profile fixtures, with secure locking shutters, while other lens sets can be used with the universal lens tube adapter.
With the ability to be dimmed either via DMX or from a conventional forward phase dimmer, the SPX LED WW provides a smooth,
Again no video, how will we ever see the product. Come on strand send us a demo.
If you made it this far it is probably because you don’t have many Lekos. If you do the choice is most likely already made for you. Buying any of these units
If you are really open to going a new directions there are a few things to think about. First LED units are a lot more expensive. A lot of what we do for churches is light the pastor. 99% of the time in white. Lights doing that job don’t need to be able to change colors. Those you want to be constant. You want to be able to lock them down both in regarding position and intensity, but also with color.
While is is great that some of these LED units can do any color that comes at a cost. First, over time LED’s do burn in and give up intensity over time. This could lead to your white not looking white very long. Also they change colors as they dim. Most manufactures have worked very hard to make LED’s look like incandescents when they dim. Which means adding in more red as the light dims.
There are uses for each and every one of these fixtures. If I was buying new LED fixtures I would be buying the majority of them with a fixed white and color the light with GEL if I needed to. A few places I can see the need for color changing Lekos, but I mostly use them for front light, so for
I hope this helps. Please leave your comments below. Tell me what you have in your church.
Buying new lights is a big deal for churches. Lights can get really expensive and if you don’t make good decisions now you will be paying for those bad decisions for years to come. Let us take a look at the top three things you should consider before buying new lights for your church. Here is what you should really be asking
- What types of lights you really need?
- What is the cost to maintain the lights?
- How to buy lights we can grow with
What type of light do you need?
You may not need LED or intelligent lighting to get the job done. I can argue that conventional lighting is 90% of what a church needs to get there message across. Or at least that is where you should start.
If you don’t already have 40-60 conventional lights I would argue that you are not ready to jump into more automated rigs. I say this for a few reasons.
First, LED fixtures and automated lights are often 5-10 times more expensive than a par can or ellipsoidal. Any lights source that is repeatedly used as a front wash for a pastor or singer key light should just be a par or ellipsoidal. Only the constantly changing key light and effects lights should be automated.
Second, it is unlikely that you are going to buy enough LED’s or moving lights to really do anything interesting. 4 or 6 lights is not really interesting unless your stage is about 10 feet wide. Just think about the coolest lighting looks you have seen. Count the fixtures. I bet it is 20-30 maybe 50-60 in the scene.
Third, LED’s and automated lights introduce a huge conflict in color temperature that you need to handle for the camera. Which is a huge pain and unless you are buying really expensive LED units they don’t look great on people’s faces.
Forth, the cost of a lighting desk to handle automated lights vs conventional lights is 5-10 time more expensive. And 10 times more work to program these lights.
For the money, conventional lighting is going to take you further, last longer, and be much more stable. Conventional lights done well are by far the easiest thing to do in the long run. The only thing to worry about is changing lamps and gel repointing fixtures every once in a while. Which is not a big deal because you should be
What is the cost to maintain the lights?
Maintenance, what is that? Yep, you are going to need to pay attention to your lights. No matter what you buy you need to be able to get to them to work on them. Changing the lamp, cleaning the lenses, or getting them repaired should be considered before purchase. Plan to work on the lights. If that means renting a lift or scaffolding, you need to budget that cost into the maintenance plan. Expect to touch each light once or twice a year.
Speaking of lamps, Automated lights are great, but the need new lamps as well. Those lamps can cost up to $250 each and only have an expected life of 2000 hours. That is a high price to pay compared to conventional lamps that are $16 each.
And what happens when the inexpensive LED pars burn out. Typically you will only lose one or two LED’s but you can’t fix that. So you just end up throwing them away. What is more expensive a $200 light you replace every 2 year or a $600 light that last 10. Sometimes buying more expensive fixtures is cheaper in the end.
Buy lights you can grow with
It is almost certain that the lights you are thinking about buying right now are not the only lights you are ever going to buy. So let’s take a moment and figure out how they will fit into a larger system.
Some times we look to buy the light we need right now and don’t think about how that light could be reused down the road. I am sure that your church will not throw the light away when the current design changes, so what makes a light able to be used in many roles.
First, we should consider weight and power. With newer LED fixtures coming on the market the weight has come way down. It is still something you have to consider when hanging the fixture overhead. Also, some of the fixtures like LED pixel tape need special power requirements which may be limiting. Larger moving lights require 208 or 220 volts of power. If you don’t already have these different voltages widely distributed you may want to stick with 120-volt fixtures.
Second, while wash lights are less expensive, all they do is a wash the can’t project gobos or do aerial effects. But on the other hand spot or profile fixtures can project gobos and when frosted out they make a great wash fixture. Personally, I would always spend the money to get a spot or profile fixture even if you use them as a wash from time to time. For a small upfront
Third, we should consider a fixtures zoom and output. When buying a fixture for a specific look you will probably make sure that the fixtures have enough output and the correct beam angle for that look. But what if you move it to a new location? Because of that you always want to buy fixtures with a zoom or easily changeable lenses. Otherwise, you will be stuck with a very limiting fixture. I connect output with the zoom because when you zoom out the fixture you give up output. So you want to always buy more output than you think you need. Dimming a fixture is possible, but doubling the output is not.
Lastly, but popular fixtures. Buying fixtures that everyone else has and that you can find locally for rent. If you have a fixture go down or want to rent more for a special event it pays to have a local vendor with the same type. It makes swapping out or adding to your show a lot simpler. Buying used fixtures is fine, you don’t want to buy a model that has been in the market for more than a few years. Especially in the automated department. If you are buying a new type of fixture to add to
Just like Vince Lombardi would introduce a football to his players at the start of every season we are going to start with the most basic of basic lighting related topics. Plugs! or Connectors. Stagepin, Edison, Powercon,
Since we are dealing with electricity please make sure you call in an electrician if you are uncomfortable with this topic.
Each type of connector has very specific uses and limitations which you should consider before using. As we will see in a moment there is not one connector or plug you can use in all applications. But by using the correct plugs you will greatly reduce the risk of shock. Let us look at each type.
The good old Edison plugs. Everyone in the United States has used one of these. It is the most common plug we have in this country. And I assume the most widely thought of power source at any church. The Edison plug is fine for a lot of things, but one thing to watch out for is the amp rating. 9 times out of 10 the Edison connector for sale it will be a 15 amp variety. I tried to find one to link to on Amazon but I don’t see any that are 20amp.
This is ok except for building jumpers or stingers. (extension cords) The power rating of most breakers is 20 amps, it is important to keep everything in line rated at 20 amps. That means all cable and connectors need to be fully rated at 20 amps. Also, Edison plugs get really loose over time and have a tendency to disconnect easily.
The next most common power connector in the lighting world is the Stage Pin. Loved and used by most theaters around the world. This comes in a few sizes, 20, 60, and 100 amp varieties. 60 and 100 amp versions are used on TV and film sets. These connectors rated correctly for the power and hard to break. The flat style makes it easy to write on for keeping track of which circuit is which. The pin’s on the Stage Pin connectors are split down the middle allowing them to be pushed part. This helps create a tighter connection and keep the connectors from pulling apart. You can buy these connectors for about $6 each if you know where to look. Amazon sells them here. https://amzn.to/2VjgwfD
If you need to keep connectors together the locking twist lock is a great connector. These come in several varieties and it is important to make sure that you are buying the correct model for the amperage and voltage required for the circuit. These are very common with touring lighting companies that don’t want to deal with cables coming apart in the truss. The most common types are L620 and L520. These are used for 120
Powercon and True1
Powercon and True1 are both very common connectors. They are both made by Neutrik who is a leader in the connector industry. The True1 connector was developed as a replacement to the Powercon connector. Powercon is very popular. Powercon does have a small problem with what is called breaking capacity. Which means that technically you should not plug or unplug a Powercon under load. You are required to turn the power off at the other end before you can disconnect the Powercon from the fixture. This is actually really dangerous and bad for the fixtures. Which is why the True1 connector was created. True1 is a replacement for the Powercon but it does have breaking capacity which it needs to be a safe connector.
Socopex is a great connector which is very widely used when multiple circuits are needed. Soco can run 6 circuits of power or dimming. Each end can be fitted with a fan out or into a panel mount. Great way to send lots of power.
In summary, there is not one plug you can use in all situations. But keeping things consistent will help greatly whenever you go to change your design. Planning in advance to keep everything to one or two connectors is really helpful in those pressure cooker weeks right before Easter and Christmas. Knowing what connectors you use and having extras on hand going into these weeks is really helpful.