The Katharinenkirche (St. Catherine’s church) in the small German village of Oppenheim is regarded as one of the most important examples of Gothic church architecture in the country. While continuing to serve the local United Protestant congregation as an active church, the imposing structure is a popular tourist attraction for visitors from across Germany and even further afield. It is also the town’s most recognisable landmark and its grand towers can be seen from a considerable distance in every direction. Since COVID-19 put restrictions on the church’s usual Christmas celebrations, they decided this year to illuminate the building throughout the holiday season as a symbol of the festive light of Christmas joy that could be enjoyed by local people from a safe distance. The lighting project ran continuously from the beginning of advent in late November through to Epiphany on the 6th of January.
Based in the neighbouring town of Nierstein, Full House Eventtechnik was the company responsible for designing the lighting for the project and supplying the ADJ fixtures. Owned and operated by young and aspiring event technician, Kjell Raaz, it offers audio, video, lighting and also DJ services to private events, as well as concerts and productions. Kjell set up the company in 2017 when he began training as an Event Technician and ran it part-time as a way of funding his education and putting the skills he learnt into practice on real-world projects. Having completed his training in early 2020, he dedicated himself to the business full-time. After a busy start to the year, COVID-19 hit and impacted Kjell’s business severely – as it did all event production companies – however, he has still managed to secure some contracts and is in a positive position for when the coronavirus pandemic finally passes.
Kjell first worked at the Katharinenkirche back in 2019 when he was commissioned to light a fabric art installation that was temporarily on display in the church. This led to a project illuminating the outside of the building for the church’s Whitsun (Pentecost) celebration earlier in 2020, which was very well received and provided the inspiration for the Christmas project. Full House Eventtechnik has invested in 26 of ADJ’s 12P HEX IP and 18P HEX IP LED wash fixtures, 21 of which were used to light the Katharinenkirche for Christmas.
Part of ADJ’s extensive range of IP65-rated ‘weatherproof’ lighting fixtures, the 12P HEX IP and 18P HEX IP are both extremely rugged units that are specifically designed for the demanding worlds of event production and equipment rental. Both feature configurations of potent 12-Watt HEX (6-in-1 RGBAW+UV) LEDs which allow for the creation of a huge gamut of colors ranging from vibrant primaries to subtle pastels. The 12P HEX IP model features 12 LEDs (144W total power), while the 18P HEX IP has 18 LEDs (216W total power). They both offer a 30º beam angle, which is suitable for a variety of applications, including stage washing, dancefloor illumination and architectural up-lighting and down-lighting, and also have a versatile dual yoke bracket that can be used for either variable-angle hanging or floor-standing.
“I really like the 12P HEX IP and 18P HEX IP fixtures,” commented Kjell, “they are great lights. The output is really good, the colours are very vibrant and the colour mixing is fantastic. Of course, they are also waterproof, so you can just throw them wherever you want and don’t have to worry about water or dirt getting in them. They were outside for six weeks straight in Oppenheim, with the temperatures going down as low as -5ºC (23ºF), and they all worked with absolutely no issues. After the project I just sprayed some water over them, and they were clean and ready to be used again. I also really like that they don’t have trailing cables, like many other IP65-rated fixtures. I much prefer the locking power and DMX sockets located on the back of the fixtures themselves.”
For the Katharinenkirche project, Kjell used eleven 12P HEX IP and ten 18P HEX IP fixtures to illuminate the entire exterior of the ornate building. Chosen to reflect the liturgical colours used by the church, the colour scheme of the lighting changed on Christmas day. During advent the building was lit in violet and blue and then from Christmas day until the end of the run the palette was switched to golden amber and cool white. The colours alternated between adjacent fixtures and Kjell programmed slow odd/even colour fades for each of the two different looks to animate the display in a subtle way. In addition, at the start of the project the lights were divided into four groups. Initially only one group was illuminated, with additional groups added each week throughout advent to serve as a visual countdown to Christmas inspired by the advent candles lit progressively throughout the season inside the church.
For a fledgling production company, making the right equipment investments is essential and Kjell is confident that he made the right decision by choosing ADJ. “The quality you get from ADJ fixtures for the price is quite impressive,” he explained. “They are affordable, which is obviously important for a small company like mine, but they are also very well made, versatile and reliable. I am very pleased with my purchase of ADJ fixtures, and plan to invest in more – hopefully Focus Spot 6Z moving heads – when things get back to normal after the COVID-19 situation is resolved.”
Through effective placement of the lighting fixtures, as well as imaginative programming, Kjell was able to lift the Christmas illumination of the Katharinenkirche from a simple exterior lighting project into a truly artistic endeavour. His work was not only appreciated by the church’s staff but it also caught the attention of the media, featuring on a local news broadcast during the holiday season. Most importantly, it achieved its goal of shining out a beacon of hope to the local community who were reminded of the church’s presence at the heart of their town, even if they couldn’t attend Christmas services in person.