CMU School of Drama

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Next Steps in Church Lighting Design What do the Tony Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, Broadway and every popular late night talk show have in common? Your first guess might point to flamboyant personalities on stage and camera, the answer is a bit more subtle. It’s well-designed lighting on a quality set.


Delaney Johnson said...

Over the years, the biggest problem I have found with church lighting designs is a lack of understanding. Most large churches have the technology to produce amazing lighting designs. For example, my church at home has 6 movers. That is more than every school in the county. The problem occurs when the designers do not have the basic understanding of what a good design is or how light works. I have seen churches use their overs as just regular lighting, because they do not have the knowledge to program them. I have also seen beautiful LEDs wasted because designers don't understand basic color theatre. In most circumstances, there is no design at all. Lighting operators will simply flick a couple switches and call it a day. The way to combat this in churches is more education for production technology. Most people with the knowledge to accomplish a good lighting design pursue concerts and theatre and ignore the church community leaving us with a gap in talent.

Cosette Craig said...

If I can get 50 people to sign a petition to eliminate any and all articles from, could you please stop posting their content on this otherwise very high quality blog? So, first off, the Wizard of Oz connection this author tried to make was a little vague but maybe there’s a small nugget of info we can get from it: use light to set a scene and then change it. Now we get to depth/dimension. Before I even comment on the content, isn’t he/she, him/her and the like pretty old-fashioned and binary? So making a broad claim about lighting designers was a pretty stupid move because right off the top of my head, I can rattle of 10 designs that actually work against the size of a space to make it look smaller (and I’m not even a lighting designer). This article just continues to be more and more vague as we get further into it. This is the work of someone who has no idea what they’re doing. I would bet money that anyone interviewing for Carnegie Mellon that referred to lighting as “music for the eyes” would be immediately rejected.

GabeM said...

This article brings up an interesting point when it comes to worship areas and how they should be set up. Coming from an area that has quite a few "mega churches" with budgets in the millions of dollars, a standard sunday worship service does seem to be a full production. With that being said, these types of churches are only made possible with the knowledge of the people that run them, I know quite a few people who are resident light designers for churches in my area because those organizations have made the connection between lighting and the type of experience on sunday mornings. This article also makes the argument that you should always use lighting to make a space seem as big as possible which I must disagree with simply with the fact that occasionally, as a light designer, one may want to isolate a subject on stage, keeping with the church theme, the birth of the baby Jesus. That is a scene with one major focus, the baby, and you wouldn't want the moment to feel diminished with all of this depth on stage highlighting everyone else in this cast that isn't necessary to the birth of the baby Jesus. The headline of the article does also pose a few questions because it makes it seem that church lighting is somehow in a different world from stage lighting, which it isn't, you're still trying to achieve the goal of lighting a subject on a stage and potentially some sort of scenery assuming the walls surrounding aren't just bare and plain.