Helping to create an environment where people can connect with their spiritual side is challenging, especially across 12 campuses — each of which is large enough to be called a “megachurch” — but this scenario is just another day at the office for Church of the Highlands' Lighting Director Brian Worster.
“Everything we do is to empower the people of the church to do ministry,” Worster says. “We have a lot of lighting elements you’d find in a concert, like Martin MAC Vipers, 250 Washes, and Auras, but if you aren’t careful, the lights can be distracting rather than complementary. We work to make sure that we don’t overpower the message of the service by being too flashy.”
The lighting design itself is just one facet of Worster’s work. Ensuring consistency across multiple services at all 12 campuses is one of the trickiest parts of his job. While Church of the Highlands has a team of three full-time lighting designers at the main campus in Birmingham, much of the real-time lighting is done by a group of over 60 trained volunteers from the congregation known as the “Dream Team.”
“We teach them the technical stuff of course,” Worster says. “But we also share our philosophy about lighting during a worship service — creating an environment that doesn’t distract from the main event. However, once they know our style, individual designers have a certain level of freedom to adjust things based on their venue and the style of their Campus Pastors. I could program the lighting for everyone every week and it would be technically perfect, but it’s much more rewarding to give them the information and watch them do it for themselves.”
As many of the volunteers, as well as the church’s leadership, aren’t trained lighting designers or technicians, Vectorworks Spotlight software plays a critical role in helping Worster to communicate his creative visions. Spotlight's ability to take detailed 2D plans, quickly produce 3D renderings, and share PDFs from the view of the actual camera positions in the model helps everyone to understand Worster’s ideas and ensures that the heart of the services are consistent no matter where or when they’re seen.
Another important part of Worster’s workflow is using Vectorworks partner products from Landru Design. Since most of the songs played during the services have corresponding video components, the VideoScreen tools are integral to many of his designs. The SoftGoods 2 plug-in objects also helps him communicate where all of the pipe-and-drape runs need to be positioned to give churchgoers the best experience.
“Andy Dunning over at Landru Designs is like my Yoda,” Worster says. “He has been an incredible resource, friend, and mentor. I grew up going to concerts that he designed, so it’s really cool that I get to call him up now with questions.”