The multi-generational Northwest Bible Church in Dallas, Texas, ramped up atmospheric looks and festive lighting effects for a series of concerts in December, rigging Vari-Lite VL1600 Profile luminaires from Signify.
The church’s lighting director Matthew Hughes worked with Tyler Gannaway, Vari-Lite Business Development Manager Central and Eastern Rental & Touring at Signify, to source the VL1600 fixtures. Hughes’ aim was to utilize the VL1600’s VL*FX wheel to add movement to the textures projected on the walls, and the tunable white engine and wide colour range to create the perfect atmosphere for the concerts.
“I wanted the service to have a delicate feel, as Advent services are often full of reflection and preparation and require a bit of theatrical finesse to pull off in a tasteful manner,” says Hughes. “Many of the songs we did were very slow, so it was important that the transitions moved seamlessly from one moment to the next.”
The concert opened with a modernized rendition of the Christmas classic, Little Drummer Boy, which included percussive and rock elements. “The VL1600s provided strong backlight and texture that really helped pull the look together,” said Hughes. “They made a significant difference in the overall look of the service and allowed me to achieve exactly the mood and atmosphere for each moment that was needed. These fixtures were a great fit for us because they worked within the power constraints of our space and at the same time provided enough punch to render clear images even after layering multiple gobos with deep colours.”
Hughes and the team rigged the VL1600 Profiles at balcony level, at the front of house position and on the stage behind the concert vocalists.
“This was my first experience with a tunable source and it’s my favourite part of the fixture,” Hughes continued. “Vari-Lite makes it extremely easy to navigate between the two temperatures. Often times when using a CTO flag you can lose output or it won’t quite match the rest of the fixtures on stage but that wasn’t the case here. Being able to manipulate color temperature at the source of the fixture allowed me to approach each scene with a greater level of control and precision. There’s also a sweet spot in between the cold and warm sources that can give you a noticeable boost in output when you need it.”
Hughes’ design primarily focused on using the VL1600 fixtures to render texture on the walls and ceiling, creating magical effects. He used the on-stage VL1600s to add backlight for the vocalists. Hughes also took advantage of the framing shutters, using them to frame walls on the stage to create modular looks. “They were very effective and essential to the design of the service. The edge of the frame never lost its focus, specifically when focusing between two gobos the shutters never had to be corrected,” he said.
“I also often found myself using the VL*FX wheel to add movement to the texture projected on the walls. It’s a very innovative effect. Having five beautifully designed patterns to choose from is fantastic. The replication of organic elements in the wheel and the ‘endless’ movement is what makes it fun to use.”
Noise within the space during the sermon elements of the service required quiet operation and control. “The fan control was a huge win, there are some very quiet moments in the service and having the option to sacrifice a little output to significantly reduce the room noise made my directors really happy,” he said.
“Vari-Lite has a track record of making industry staple luminaries that push the boundaries of automated lighting and they’ve done just that with the VL1600 Profile.”