NEO Church

So much of what we do is from relationships formed from one project to the next. I once worked with a church that had a group formed of young adults meeting on Sunday nights, with a dynamic worship format and lots of technology. The group was a phenomenal success and in less than a year grew from a startup team of less than 20, to over 1,000 meeting in two services, and offshoots starting up in different parts of the city on other nights.

Eventually the Pastor of that group moved on, and a few years later contacted me because he was starting a new church with the same type of format. Much of the sound system was in place, but a donation of a substantial number of intelligent lights offered opportunities for a significant lighting rig. But they were still less than half way to a finished product. A temporary location had been selected in a local school auditorium, but there was one catch, the room had to be cleared during the week for school programs.

The Pastor reached out to me for help with finishing out the video and lighting rigs, determining the best design to employ for the donated equipment, and to come up with a video rig that could fit his budget, impact the audience, and yet be easy enough to remove every week for the school. Knowing that volunteers tend to wain after the first few months, we needed to make this as low on labor demands as possible. After some negotiations with the school we were able to work out a deal that was beneficial to both the church and the school. During the week we could leave most of the lighting in place, and allow the school to have use of it for their programs. We were also allotted some storage leeway on the stage for screens, that would be quite labor intensive to remove.

After finding the right video system to fit their needs and budget, we began to lay out the rigging and lighting on AutoCad. Not only did we need to hang a majority of the lights, but also the projectors. With two side screens and a three projector blend across the center of the stage, every square foot of truss became essential. The center screen was rigged from motors hung on the high steel so that it could be flown out during the week. Sounds simple enough, but when you are working on a small stage with existing lighting as well as the lighting that we would be adding, real estate becomes very tight. Add to the mix a somewhat fragile screen in motion and clearances also have to fit into the mix.  The side screens were ground supported, but designed with the right dimensions to  allow them to be easily carried to the back of the stage and hidden behind the school’s drapes. Much of the upstage lighting was designed to fly out on batons, while the remaining set piece and ground lighting were planned for packing quickly into road cases. The Front of House Truss would remain in place, but all of the metrics for the projectors had to be just right in order to fit the blend when the screed was lowered, and allow clearance during the week for the school. Every detail and measurement was planned carefully. In the end, the 50+ fixtures that had been donated became overwhelming for the lighting plot, so some were added to the lobby for walk-in effect, along with additional set pieces.

Like most good shows, the proof is in how the show appears to the audience. If it comes together seamlessly, then we hit the target. Years later the rig is still running well and the church has had steady growth from day one, when things were standing room only. Watch the video above to see how the system performs…

Oklahoma City Olympic Time Trials Course

This was a somewhat unique project, which makes it all the more fun! Oklahoma City made a decision to commit a substantial portion of the river to be developed into an Olympic time trials location for crew, canoeing, whitewater and other sports. Joining the project in the early stages of developing the lighting system, the existing design was for controlling the light towers covering more than a mile of river front, on both sides of the river. The concept was to be able to control them by remote to activate any tower individually, in small groups or all of them together. Although the original plan looked good on paper, the realities required a redesign of certain aspects of the Crestron system and the DMX transmission being sent over radio tower to each of the light towers, in order for all of the systems to communicate with one another. After much time spent in re-configuring program code as well as some of the finer physical aspects, the system was ready  for the mayor to stand on a barge in the middle of the river and turn everything on from an I-phone on opening day.

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Then came the real challenge. The city had put numbers to a plan to set up timing towers down the South side of the river, connected by multiple fiber optic networks spanning the length of the course. Each tower contains intelligent lighting, a full audio network, hazers, compressors for starting gates, broadcast cameras for production trucks to access, security cameras, timing cameras for the time trials and two separate wireless networks. On the North side of the river the light towers were to be outfitted with Meyer steerable line array speakers so that coverage could be adjusted based on the needs of a particular event. This was another plan that had a concept, but not a complete plan. After much time in discussions and development the result was a complete package, including miles and miles of fiber optic run on both sides of the river, and under the river. All in all a challenging project, but a great opportunity to stretch technical skills for everyone involved.

The Family Church


This project is a good example of long term planning and involvement with a church, in order to bring about long term growth. When we first met up with TFC, they were outgrowing the building that they had been in for quite some time. This was not their first building, in fact the property sported some of their previous buildings that were now being used for youth and other purposes. But the planning that they were doing at this point was to increase the size of their current building by more than double, and turn the sanctuary 90 degrees in order to accommodate a closer environment. We started working with them a few years before construction by developing a game plan that did not just involve this step of growth, but where to go next. We took into account the current equipment that the church owned and planned out for the development of the new space, keeping in the plans the longer term goal of going to a multi-site configuration. Once the plan was in place it allowed the church to move forward with budgeting and fund raising so that a year later we could begin work on the building.


The systems were designed for versatility. The lighting system was planned to allow for additions and changes without a lot of effort since power and control were distributed throughout the stage area. Any fixture could be placed anywhere with simple connections. Several permanent truss positions were built in above the stage and around the front of house, with nearly 40 moving heads as well as a range of conventional and LED fixtures. The sound system was just as versatile, designed similar to how we have designed theaters. Floor pockets dotted the stage, each with isolated power and audio connections in stage boxes that could connect in the floor box, or be pulled out and moved to allow 8 inputs and 8 outputs anywhere on the stage with only a length of CAT6 Cable. Although much of the system was planned to be wireless with microphones and in-ear monitors, several floor pockets also included connections for monitor speakers, should the need arise. The video system was also designed with future planning in mind, knowing that certain camera positions would highly benefit future plans for a multi-site church. Outside of the main room we also had to take into consideration the recording studio and internet broadcasts, which needed separate mixes of their own. All of the inputs were split between the front of house, studio mix and the internet mixer. Video feeds were planned in the same consideration since they were feeding both the Image Magnification screens and the Internet broadcast, not to mention the future campuses off site. To top it off, the stage drapes were also planned out to allow for set changes and a theatrical feel when needed.


During the year of planning we continued to work with them on smaller steps that helped to move them forward toward the long term goals. By the time we reached final steps before install, technology had changed a little and we worked with the sound manufacturer to redesign their main sound system, improving the coverage and providing substantial savings over what the original design would have cost. Other adjustments were made along the way as well in order to provide the best bang for the buck, on time and under budget. The change in style was somewhat significant for this community, and word had gotten around town about the new facilities and systems. On opening day we were there to make sure that everything went smoothly. It was a sight to behold! A church that had moved from an auditorium that could seat less than 500 was opening a room that would fit nearly 1,400, so you would expect to have lots of breathing room on opening day, but that could not have been further from the truth. Two services packed out with standing room only!

We focused a lot of this discussion on the main room, but the fact is that we don’t just look at the main room, but the entire building. From the kids spaces to the lobby to the classrooms, offices and parking lots…we see this all as one project and strive for unified success all around.


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But this was not the end of the story. Less than two years later we helped them open their first off-site location, which is now growing rapidly as well. If you are looking for someone who wants to stick with you through the ups and downs, ins and outs and changes along the way, let us know right away. We love to partner with churches in helping to grow their ministries!

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