Lighting Design: The Basics Behind Which Fixtures Support the Best Visuals

Among the different types of lights available to you, the most important aspect to nearly every design I complete is the back light.

Lighting Design: The Basics Behind Which Fixtures Support the Best Visuals
For most worship space setups, utilizing a mix of key lights, back lights and fill lights offers an intriguing lighting arrangement during worship services.

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Lighting Design: The Basics Behind Which Fixtures Support the Best Visuals

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Lighting Design: The Basics Behind Which Fixtures Support the Best Visuals

Technology Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, November-December 2017
The November-December 2017 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers a review of the 49 New Product Award entries this year, as well as those entries up for Solomon Awards in 2017.
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Lighting is an incredible way to support praise and worship in our congregations.

Each type of light holds a specific purpose, and is best suited for use in their particular ways.

A basic understanding of how positioning a light works can help us to support the visuals we desire to create.

Let’s start by exploring the types of light when lighting a subject.

Key light: This is the primary light used to light a subject.
Fill light: The secondary light that fills in shadows on the subject (typically of a lower intensity).
Back light: The light that illuminates the subject from the backdrop.
Side light: The light that creates additional shadows to show depth.
Foot light: The light located at the front edge of the stage to fill in shadows on the subject, particularly under their eyes.

Each of these lights holds a specific purpose, and is best suited for use in their particular ways. Even the simplest of systems should contain a key light and a back light. This will adequately light the subject and ensure the subject has enough depth to stand out from the back of the stage.

A key light is always located in front of the subject. Ideally, this light or lights is best hung at a 45 degree angle from the subject (both horizontally and vertically). This angle creates a great balance of shadows and creates an adequate front light for a subject. This light is typically used with no color.

Fill light should be a complement to the key light. It should be hung symmetrically to the key light on the opposing 45 degree angle. This light is typically a slight bit lower in intensity to create shadows, but I have used this at a similar intensity in some cases as well.

A fill light can also consist of fixtures that are hung at a lower angle to fill in shadows under the subjects eyes. There are many times, though, that a fill light will be hung at 20 degrees vertically from the subject to fill in shadows under the eyes, if foot lights are impractical. This light is typically used with no color as well.

A back light is imperative to creating good separation on your stage. A back light is the most important aspect in nearly every design I complete (only closely behind key light). A back light creates a glow around the hair line and shoulders, helping the subject appear three dimensional to the viewer or audience member. A back light can also be used well when colored. This colored back light can help to convey the emotion, mood, or energy.


More About Steven Hall
Steven Hall has served on staff at Journey Church in Norman, Okla., for more than three years. He has been involved in lighting design for 10 years. As the church's Technical Director, he oversees all aspects of production but is most involved with lighting and scenic design. Steven also recently started a church scenic company, www.modscenes.com. Steven is a graduate of Full Sail University. He lives in Norman, Okla. with his wife, Sara, and son, Dorian. You can reach Steven on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stevenhallav or by email at stevenhallav@gmail.com.
Get in Touch: stevenhallav@gmail.com    More by Steven Hall

Latest Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, November-December 2017
The November-December 2017 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers a review of the 49 New Product Award entries this year, as well as those entries up for Solomon Awards in 2017.


Article Topics

Technology · Lighting · Visual Arts · Lighting Design · Back Light · Fill Light · Foot Light · Key Light · Lighting Design · Scenic Lighting · All Topics

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Comments

By Tom Stanziano on May 20, 2017

Steven, great article thank you for sharing your experience. I would like to add a few things.
The key light positioning for churches using cameras needs to be at a lower angle otherwise “raccoon-eye” or dark eyes sockets gets created. I find that a 30 degree angle works best. The 45 degree angle works great for theatre to help create the dramatic shadows. For TV and imag we don’t want dramatic shadows.

Floor lights: you can add floor lights to help fill in your 45 degree angle key lights but if you have a pastor that likes to walk. Your face full light just became “shin busters”. Only affective if they stay in their zone. Also if you have lots of stage gack( mic stands, pulpits, flower arrangements), these are going to cause unwanted shadows.

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