The Church of the Highlands Motion 23 Conference
USA - The Legacy Arena in Birmingham AL stands 10 stories tall. It’s also spacious, with an oval floor that measures 24,200 sq.ft, but earlier this summer, the big venue, which has hosted concerts by Grammy-winners, the Davis Cup, and other marquee events, took on the aura of a warm, soul-enriching space, when it served as the site of Church of the Highlands Motion 23 Conference.
An immersive and inviting production design by the church’s creative director, Brian Worster, and broadcast-lighting director Griffin McCravy, along with the rest of their team, set the stage for this intimate setting in the 17,000-seat arena.
“This is a student conference born out of our local church’s youth ministry,” said McCravy. “Although the conference has grown over the years to become an arena event, we always want it to reflect this vision. With this goal in mind, we built a rig and design that could be big and impactful; but we also made things feel incredibly small at times. The design of this year’s flown rig was essentially the same linear design of truss as in the past, but at multiple heights.
This allowed us to make a lighting design look a certain way, but then we also added the higher elevation trusses, so could make the design look larger and smaller, as needed.”
McCravy and the lighting team accomplished this with the help of over 145 Chauvet Professional fixtures, including 82 Maverick MK3 Profiles, 36 Color Strike M motorised strobes, eight Maverick Storm 2 BeamWashes, eight Maverick Storm 3 BeamWashes and 12 Rogue R2X Washes.
This rig helped the design team meet some distinct challenges, including creating depth and texture on a 270-degree stage, without interfering with sightlines. “Trying to fit as many attendees into the space as possible without being in full circle, presented some issues,” said McCravy. “Luckily, Brian Worster was able to position curve LED points in a way that resulted in very little sight-line blockages, even for attendees seated beside and slightly behind the rig.
“On top of that, we also had rear-facing delay IMAG screens that allowed those seated behind the front of the stage to still have a great camera angle to see what was happening.”
Adroit positioning of the Color Strike M fixtures was critical in maintaining clean sightlines and camera-friendly looks. McCravy positioned four of the fixtures on either side of the stage to provide low side light on band members and singers. This made them clearly visible to attendees as well as on camera, without the need to run traditional front light for the entire event.
The remaining Color Strike M units were front mounted on the flown lighting trusses at a 90-degree angle. This allowed the design team to “pan” left to right, as opposed to having the fixtures tilt in their normal orientation. There were also times when Color Strike M units were used to create truss-warmer type of effects, which enhanced the intimate aura of the conference.
Adding to this embracive mood was McCravy’s well-timed use of dark space. “I live by the phrase, ‘just because the light is there, doesn’t mean it has to be on all the time,’” he commented. “This is especially true when you get into arena sized rigs with hundreds of individual fixtures, but it applies even in smaller spaces as well. In many cases, actually turning off some fixtures will help make the picture you are trying to paint much clearer and more concise.”
When the lights were turned up, the rig’s Maverick MK3 Profile fixtures often did the heavy lifting. “It was an absolute workhorse in this year’s design,” McCravy said of the 820-watt LED fixture. “I had seen the MK3 profile on several shows but hadn’t had a chance to use it myself. I was thoroughly impressed with it at Motion. With the design aspiration to be an all-profile rig
McCravy conjured up some big wow-factor looks with pyro and confetti and other effects during the show, but these were mere accents. The overall tone of the event’s lighting remained tightly focused on the worship experience.
“Often in the house of worship world, we, as designers, must walk the line,” he said. “We need to make a moment and a space impactful, while not over-doing it, and distracting from what the event is truly about: students having an opportunity to worship God surrounded by thousands of other students wanting the same thing. We always want to keep this sense of togetherness in focus at the Motion Conference.”

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