ADJ LED-Powered Fixtures Transform Historic Church for Live Stream

Photo: Daniëlle van der Veeken

As with many events last year, the annual Nuland Verlicht community celebration in the Netherlands had to transition to a virtual format in 2020. However, instead of scaling back,  Lighting Designer Bart Stofmeel instead used this as an opportunity to create a truly awe-inspiring light show in the large and atmospheric church that hosted the recording. Using hundreds of fixtures, including ADJ 7P HEX IP and 32 HEX Panel IP washes and Vizi CMY300 moving heads, he created a stunning backdrop to the evening of performances that was enjoyed by thousands of people from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Nuland Verlicht (which translates to ‘Nuland Illuminated’) is an annual community event held around the village of Nuland in the Dutch province of North Brabant. Established by a group of local friends in 2016, it is designed to bring light to the darkness of winter, raise money for charity, and to give sick and disabled children (the event’s VIPs) an experience they will never forget. Nuland Verlicht usually consists of two parts: a parade of illuminated vehicles, each hosting a VIP guest, which travels through the streets of the community, and a party evening that brings together people of all ages.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 edition of the event wasn’t able to take place in the usual way. However, determined not to let the year pass by without some kind of celebration, one of the team behind the event, Bart Stofmeel, came up with the idea of hosting the party element of Nuland Verlicht virtually in the form of an online video stream. Viewed live by over 2600 people, Nuland Verlicht 2020 featured performances and DJ sets by a variety of popular artists from the Brabant area: De Jongens van de Draaimolen, Rudy de Wit, Lekker Origineel, Robby Lee and DJ Menno.

The venue chosen for the recording was Nuland’s picturesque village church, H. Johannes’ Onthoofding, which is more than 150 years old. This grand structure was completely transformed – both inside and out – with lighting production for the Nuland Verlight recording. Bart’s goal in designing the lighting setup was not only to create the atmosphere of a festival stage, but to highlight the ornate architecture of the building. This was achieved by utilizing a significant number of moving head and static wash fixtures, primarily from the ADJ product line, to create midair beam effects and also to color wash both the inside and outside walls of the church.

The primary moving head fixture used for the lighting rig was ADJ’s VIZI CMY300, a versatile unit which functions interchangeably as a beam, spot or wash. Harnessing the power of a 300W LED engine, this lighting workhorse offers an expansive set of beam-shaping tools led by its signature feature of full CMY color mixing. Bart featured 15 units in his design, positioning them across the stage area, with some standing on the floor in front of the DJ booth and others mounted to truss plinths of various heights towards the rear of the stage. This gave a feeling of depth to the performance space and allowed the beams from the fixtures to completely surround the artists on all sides.

“As a hybrid fixture, the Vizi CMY300 is very versatile and its output is very good,” enthuses Bart. “But what I really like the most about it is the speed of its motors. Not only is it capable of fast movement, but the internal motors are quick too! The zoom is fast, the CMY color flags are fast, which is great for a lighting designer. The movement is nice and smooth too, so I can use it both for slow-moving subtle looks and very fast energic effects.”

To ensure that the performers themselves were illuminated clearly on the video stream, Bart made use of ADJ’s popular Encore FR150Z LED-powered stage lights. Each of these fixtures combines a large 8-inch Fresnel lens with a powerful LED engine to generate a soft-edged output. This can be directed using bar doors and a manual zoom mechanism offering a beam angle of between 15 and 38-degrees. The fixture’s warm white LED source has a color temperature of 3000K and offers a high CRI of 95, making it ideal for illuminating theatre stages and conference sets as well as video live streams.

“I really like the color temperature of the FR150Z’s output,” explains Bart. “It emulates the light generated by a traditional tungsten lamp very well. It is also an extremely bright fixture; for this project we only needed to have the four units set to around 10% and that was more than enough to ensure the performers could be seen very clearly on the video recordings. Finally, it also runs very quietly, which is always welcome!”

To augment the front light, Bart also made use of four of ADJ’s versatile 32 HEX Panel IP LED wash fixtures to illuminate the performers with side and rear color fills. Throughout the shoot these units were repositioned between the DJ booth area and the a performance space in front of it used by the vocal performers. In addition, six further fixtures were used to illuminate the rear wall of the performance space, which incorporated intricate stone carvings.

“The 32 HEX Panel IP is a small, compact fixture which delivers a lot of output,” states Bart. “I really like the wide range of colors that can be created using the HEX LEDs; it doesn’t matter if I want bold primary colors or subtle pastels, this fixture delivers them with punch. It also uses LEDs that are calibrated in exactly the same way as ADJ’s other IP-rated LED fixtures, for example the 7P HEX IP, which we also used on this show. I like having just one consistent color palette across all the fixtures, and these units also share a menu structure which makes life easier during setup.”

As well as lighting the stage area, Bart also chose to illuminate the main body of the church. 63 of ADJ’s 7P HEX IP LED wash fixtures were used to individually light every pillar, arch and wall, which allowed for the inclusion of atmospheric wide shots into the live stream. Meanwhile, a further 69 of these fixtures, together with 16 additional 32 HEX Panel IP units, were used to illuminate the outside of the venue. This included every side of the church, it’s large bell tower and the trees that surround it. Finally, a further Vizi CMY300 fixture was used to project a custom ‘Nuland Verlicht’ logo onto the front of the bell tower.

This striking exterior illumination ensured that the church could be seen from a great distance, which gave the local community a feeling of involvement with the event even though they couldn’t gather in person. A drone was also used to capture aerial exterior shots that were combined with the footage shot inside the venue, which further added to grand scale of the livestream broadcast. The stream then ended with a finale featuring local singer Robby Lee who performed ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, live from the top of the church’s bell tower.

Commenting on his experience of using ADJ fixtures, in significant quantities, both on this and previous productions, Bart says: “When working on big shows, with many fixtures, reliability is one of the most important concerns. I need the lights to work right, every time, and that is what I get from ADJ products. The build quality is very good and I have a lot of confidence in them performing as they should when I need them.”

Despite not being able to go ahead in the same format as past years, 2020’s Nuland Verlicht proved to be just as successful. Thanks to Bart’s drive and determination, combined with his creative vision – not to mention a team effort from multiple local media and production companies, as well as the DJs and artists who performed – the event provided a much-needed evening of entertainment for local people. Not only were they treated to a diverse line-up of musical performances, but also a truly epic lighting production that delivered the vibrant atmosphere of a festival stage while also highlighting the architectural beauty of a local landmark. The project pushed the envelope of what can be achieved technically by a live stream, but also retained a distinctive local focus that brought the local community together; an achievement of which everyone involved can be rightly proud.