Abner Torres steps up Brooklyn Tabernacle Productions with ChamSys MagicQ MQ500

by PLSN Staff • in
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• Created: June 19, 2019

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NEW YORK –  History and visionary inspiration converge at the stately building on 17 Smith Street that serves as home to the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Designed in 1918 by Thomas Lamb, the architect of the original Madison Square Garden across the East River in Manhattan, the red brick-and-limestone structure in the heart of downtown Brooklyn flourished for years as the Lowe’s Metropolitan, one of the leading vaudeville theatres of its day.

More details from Chamsys (www.chamsyslighting.com):

Today, after being rescued from disrepair by the church, the building resonates with the uplifting energy of Pastor Jim Cymbala’s Sunday services, special events throughout the week, and stirring performances by the six-time Grammy winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, which is directed by the pastor’s wife, Carol. Supporting these activities are beautifully immersive lighting and video displays that would have been impossible to imagine back in the building’s vaudeville theatre days.

Running the lighting and video system is a ChamSys MagicQ MQ500 Stadium, installed in early 2019 by lighting designer Abner Torres of Out of Darkness Designs.  Torres, who has done extensive work with Gospel groups and clubs throughout the New York area, became involved with Brooklyn Tabernacle through his work lighting the Christian Hip-Hop Kingdom Choice Awards.

“I met Raynard James, the very talented Audio Engineer from Brooklyn Tabernacle, when I was working on the awards show,” said Torres. “This led to me being invited by the church to light a large-scale musical production, The Story of Love, for Easter. Talking to the tech team, we developed a plan for upgrading the church’s lighting system, beginning with their aging desk. It would have been virtually impossible to run the kind of Easter production they envisioned with all its special effects, projection video and mapping without a new console.”

Based on his own experience, Torres recommended the MQ500 for the 4,000-seat church.

“ChamSys was the clear choice,” he said.  “For starters, it’s a very intuitive user-friendly desk, so this makes it easier for me to train the tech team.  The MQ500 also has the capacity to support 200 universes, which is essential for some of the church’s bigger productions.

“Another feature that was very important in this particular situation was the wireless control via an iPhone, so programming could be done walking around in the room,” continued Torres. “This space is quite large, and many fixtures are located in places not easy to see from the FOH position, so this wireless capability was invaluable.”

Once his Easter show was completed, and after fully integrating the ChamSys desk, Torres programmed a wide variety of pages for different uses, such as Sunday services, Tuesday Night Prayer, choir recitals and meetings. He also teaches the staff and volunteers how to make basic changes and updates to cues.

When programming shows at the church himself, he values features like the Group Based Effects, timecoded control, the 3D visualiser, which allows him to create new effects off line, and the large number of playbacks. For larger scale productions, he appreciates how easy it is to send multiple outputs to media servers.

The MQ500 also outputs sACN to control the architectural lighting throughout the building. ”Running the house lights from the desk has been a huge time saver, given the size of the church,” said Torres.

Based on the response to the initial lighting upgrade, Torres feels that Brooklyn Tabernacle will be moving even further into production in the future. “This has been a process,” he said. “Ricardo Lezama, the previous Tech Director, was instrumental in getting us started. Michael Archibald, the head of Production, Raynard James in audio, and John Tyberias in video and special effects have all been enthusiastic supporters. When we have a production here and you see the faces of kids light up in awe at what they’re seeing, I think it motivates us all to keep pushing the envelope.”

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