NorthRidge Church Raises the Bar with Lighting, Rigging and Video

in Installations

The new video system gets used for weekend services as well as holiday shows, such as the Plus/Minus series with senior pastor Brad Powell.When you’ve got thousands of seats, dozens of moving lights, hundreds of conventional fixtures and a Christmas production seen by more than 30,000 people each year, what do you do to raise your production bar to the next level? IS there a next level? If you’re NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, MI, the answer is a resounding “yes!” The 3,300-seat facility just west of Detroit has wowed audiences for almost 20 years with its production values, not just at Christmas and Easter, but every Sunday.

A Year of Advances

Late last year, just before Christmas, the church’s lighting capabilities went up a notch with new LED moving lights, followspots and rigging automation, giving technical directors Jason Horn and Luke DeMoss even more choices to work with.

The toolbox had already included Martin MAC 2000 and MAC 250 moving heads, Martin Stagebar LED striplights, ETC SmartBars and Atomic strobes, with Jem Haze and Glaciator for atmosphere and a Jands Vista T2 for control.

Glory of Christmas in 2011 featured a live singer flying on a ZFX system.For the annual Christmas show, NorthRidge Church added MAC 101s — with a combination of “speed, color mixing and brightness” that “really blew us away,”  DeMoss says — along with MAC 700 Profiles and Lycian 1290 XLT followspots, bright enough to “punch through all this light on stage,” notes Horn. “These things are bright,” DeMoss agrees. “We have no shortage of light on the actors now.”

Automation and Video

Branson, MO-based Steinas Systems, which has worked with NorthRidge Church on its technical production systems for years, help steer the church toward the 2000W Lycian 1290 XLT followspots and also installed a rigging automation system centered on more than 30 half-ton and 1-ton Stagemaker chain motors, with a Niscon Raynok motor control system.

Josh HolowickiJosh Holowicki, an LD who had worked with the church and Steinas Systems on a consulting basis before joining Steinas full-time last year, helped NorthRidge take another giant step forward — just before Easter 2012 — by becoming the first U.S.  house of worship to install Martin’s EC-20 LED video panels.

As Holowicki notes, the 64 EC-20 LED video panels, with content fed via a Martin Maxedia Broadcast media server, was “a big add-on to an already-complex video and lighting system,” especially within a tight pre-Easter timeframe. With impressive support from both the church’s leadership and Martin, the new LED video display panels made a huge contribution to a “very successful Easter weekend.”

These Martin EC-20 LED panels flanked by Stagebar 54Ls with pixel mapping animated a Wednesday service.Light, Bright, Flexible

The new 480-by-720mm panels are both light (just 29.1 pounds each) and bright. “We typically run them during service at a brightness setting of only 10 percent to avoid showing up our MAC 2000s,” Horn says. “The highest we have ever used them is at 30 percent.”

Along with their ability to command attention as a conventional video wall, the 64 EC-20 panels can be arranged in multiple configurations — square, horizontal, vertical or curved — and NorthRidge usually reconfigures the look every four to six weeks to keep the stage design fresh.

“It takes seconds to connect one panel to another,” Holowicki says. “You don’t even need to connect a power or data cable between the panels — all of that is contained in the quick connect at the top and bottom of the panels. So when you lock them together, power and data are instantly connected. You can build a 64 panel video wall and have content running on it in less than 30 minutes.”

Video content is handled by a Martin Maxedia Broadcast media server, which integrates with a P3 Processor and gets used in conjunction with the Jands Vista T2 for lighting and automation cues.

“Programming and recording cues is as easy as drag and drop, and it can be controlled from any lighting console for triggering and even programming,” says Holowicki, crediting the Maxedia GUI for ease of use.

User Friendly

While “extremely capable” for seasoned users, Holowicki also notes that the Maxedia interface is also “simple enough” for novices to use — an important consideration, given the role that volunteers play in creating and staging NorthRidge’s big holiday productions.

For the church’s annual Christmas show, for example, the total number of cast and crew members involved can exceed 500.

Although the shows are seen by tens of thousands, the church doesn’t broadcast their services. But they do record video for web and DVD, so the EC-20 panel’s flicker-free characteristics are proving to be another bonus.

Also included in NorthRidge Church’s video and projection setup are four Barco projectors — one pair of FLM HD 20s and another pair of HD 14s, a Sony DVS 9000 4 ME switcher, five Sony cameras and ProPresenter 5 on Mac Pro for lyrics and side screen video processing.

With plenty of light on the actors, tons of flexibility in their lighting rig over the stage, three dozen motors to make everything move smoothly and a super-configurable video wall that’s the envy of many rock tours, NorthRidge Baptist Church and Steinas Systems are poised to raise the bar even higher with this year’s Christmas show.

“We are very happy about our excellent relationship with Martin and Steinas, and look forward to continuing to grow with them in the future,” Horn concludes.