What do you see when you look at your particular sanctuary, room or venue?  Does it need lighting, visuals, scenic elements or stage design to create the atmosphere you want or does the room speak for itself?  Creating atmosphere can be tricky.  Do you start with the lighting, the set design, video or maybe the music?  These are all valid beginning points, but let me start by recommending you begin with a color palette that you want to work with.  This will help guide the rest.

Easter is a time when churches want to tell a story and to tell a great story it is important to create the right setting and creating an environment that is inviting.  There was a time I was working an event and we had a few complaints about the room feeling “stuffy.”  Instead of changing the thermostat we made a decision to change the color of the lights.  We went from warm orange tones to a cooler blue.  Everyone was happy.  So, in this discussion I want to share with you 3 things to think about when creating atmosphere.

1. Video

Video is a great place to start when creating atmosphere for your church.  Video incorporates color, motion, story, and creativity all in one package. There are countless options for video and they can play a big roll in your set design which we will touch on next.  From environmental projection, to multiscreen setups, to projection mapping, or even using single screens with b-roll, video is an integral part of events today.

In the world we live in, visuals matter.  From the moment we wake up till our phones are put down at the end of the day visuals are constantly bombarding our senses.  It’s natural in this day and age to play into this and use visuals in a powerful way.

With the tools at our disposal, it’s easier than ever to create a powerful immersive environment. If you’re using environmental projection and want to keep using it, consider incorporating some scenic elements to create focus and depth.  It can be as easy as having trees on your stage and projecting a forest of similar trees to create depth.

2. Set Design

Set design is more than just placing musicians and a backdrop on stage. As mentioned above, video can mix in with set design quite well. The first “event” you may think of when creating atmosphere is during Christmas or Easter.  You can find a host of pictures where churches have incorporated Christmas trees on stage and did projection behind to make it feel like you were on a mountain in Colorado.  However, as you take a look at the story you are trying to tell (anytime of the year), see what elements would be good to incorporate with your setup.  It could be something as simple as telling a story using large screens that look like picture frames and changing the images with projection.

Visuals are important in story-telling and taking those visuals to a place of depth creates a more immersive experience.

3. Lighting

As much as we love and talk about video, creating an atmosphere must include lighting. Lighting is what ties everything together.  Using too much light you wash everything out, too little…well it just feels awkward….like a mistake.  I have been witness to many productions that started out amazing and came crashing down once the lighting was fired up.  It takes planning, preparation and communication.

I’m not a lighting guy, but I know when lighting isn’t done well.  Planning is your friend… and by not planning, your set design can result in hot spots, inconsistencies, lack of focal points, and video and scenic elements that get completely washed out.  Walking through cues and scenes will give you and the team the opportunity to make sure everything matches. It is best to make sure your lighting colors don’t work against each other, so remember to match your lighting colors.

To sum this up, creating atmosphere isn’t just using one element.  It is the way we use all of the elements that we have at our disposal.  By planning, you can create an experience, no matter how big or small, that will speak to your congregation and tell a great story.