When Technical Directors or Creative Directors think about how they can make a bigger impact on the worship service, their mind naturally jumps to bigger/better sound systems, bigger/better lighting systems, moving lights, LED curtains, etc. While all of those things make a big impact, they are all REALLY expensive, and not attainable for a lot of churches. Here is one practical step we took towards making our stage look and feel completely different and for a fraction of the cost of a single moving light.
When we moved into our current facility in 2008, the plans called for a grey carpet to cover the stage. For a while, we actually enjoyed the lighter color stage top, as it accepted tons of color. As our production needs grew, as cables and equipment accumulated on stage, and as we looked toward cleaning up our stage for video, the lighter color stage top just wasn’t cutting it. So we set out to find a good affordable dark stage top. We looked at true tech tops, black carpet, dark wood, dark tile, hybrids, and everything in between. After months of searching, talking to countless sales reps, and banging our head on the wall to find something that looked sharp and was affordable, we ended up with a dark, slightly textured vinyl tile. Both extremely affordable, extremely durable, and had a slight texture to give the stage a tiny bit of life when hit with light.
The tile measures in 18×18″ squares. And when placed in the right light, looks pretty much black on stage with a little life. We couldn’t be more happy. Here’s a couple of pictures of the install process.
Here’s what a darker stage enables you to accomplish (besides just looking awesome):
1. Hides cables, equpiment, and clutter. As video distribution and video in service becomes more important, the way your stage looks on camera becomes very important. Your stage looking good is not an ego thing. It’s a distraction thing. The cleaner and sharper you stage looks, the more it should fade away, leaving the speaker the main focus.
2. Gives life to your lights and color. The darker your stage gets, the more contrast it creates with your bright and colorful lights. In our own experience, we found that our lights all of a sudden felt much brighter and more colorful. This helps your lighting designer or creative director to easily create moods with colors, lights, gobos, etc.
One thing to note is that it is a change that most people won’t notice. They’ll notice that something looks really good, but they won’t be able to put their finger on it. That’s a good thing. It’s a subtle change that makes a big difference. With the flooring material that we went with, it’s also much cheaper than investing in even one moving light.
When contemplating investing in large pieces of equipment, first consider your atmosphere and setting. Look to see what can be improved there first. Odds are it will make a huge difference and cost much less than you think.