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Cover Feature: Lessons & Carols for Christmas

Cover Feature: Lessons & Carols for Christmas
Photo courtesy of Hayden Antal

Cover Feature: Lessons & Carols for Christmas

A trio of Knoxville churches banded together last year for a concert that retold the story of Christmas. James Cooke discusses the technical setup with Harmonic Production Services

Shoreline Church in Knoxville, Tennessee partnered with Hope Fellowship Church and City Church in 2018 to stage the inaugural Lessons & Carols event in the city’s Bijou Theatre. Described as a special night of scripture and song, Lessons & Carols was conceived by Shoreline’s worship pastor, Chuck Hooten, to deliver the story of Christmas and its message through music.

Harmonic Production Services was brought in to deliver the sound and lighting equipment. The company is based around 100 miles away in Chattanooga and has an established relationship with Shoreline.

Photo courtesy of Hayden Antal
Photo courtesy of Hayden Antal

‘We have a great partnership with Shoreline,’ explains Drew Hornback, Harmonic’s production designer for the event. ‘Their tech director, Collin O'Neil, is one of the best out there and has really utilised our services over the years to help the ministry grow.

‘We are a turnkey production house that loves partnering with ministries. Our ministry clients are our biggest joy and allow us to do what we love: to partner with churches, like Shoreline, to support their production needs.’

While Harmonic works on non-church related projects, such as the recent Riverbend Music Festival in Chattanooga, headlined by Lionel Richie, Keith Urban and Macklemore, ministry work is the company’s bread and butter given the backgrounds of the staff and the relationships it is able to develop with churches such as Shoreline.

Photo courtesy of Hayden Antal
Photo courtesy of Hayden Antal

‘Most of us have worked within the church previously,’ says Ryan Coffey, owner of Harmonic Production Services. ‘I used to work at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga. Our lighting technician and general manager Max was at a large church in South Carolina, and Drew has been with a few churches down in Houston and in Knoxville.’

For Lessons & Carols, Coffey served as audio system designer. He was joined by Ricky Ashford on monitors and backline manager Johnny Smith. ‘We used 12 L-Acoustics Kara modular line array speakers with four SB28 subwoofers and an LA-RAK modular touring rack,’ says Coffey. ‘For microphones, we used Sennheiser 2000 Series Wireless and performers wore Shure PSM 900 in-ear monitors, supplemented by Adamson M212 stage monitors.’ The monitor setup was powered by Lab.gruppen PLM 10k amplifiers.

A Midas PRO2C digital mixing console was employed at FOH, while a PRO6 handled monitors. Harmonic used a Klark Teknik DN9650 Dante network bridge to connect the Midas consoles to the network. Multiple Focusrite RedNet AM2 stereo analogue output devices were also connected to the Dante audio-over-IP network for hardwired in-ear systems. ‘We had something like 48 tracks of Dante for recording,’ recalls Hornback.

Loading in through the snow
Loading in through the snow

While the sound setup was required to reinforce and faithfully reproduce the songs and lessons vocalised during the evening, the lighting rig needed to set the tone visually, capturing the right mood at the right time. Hornback was the lighting programmer for the event, on top of his role as overall production designer. The aforementioned Max – Daniel Maxwell – was the lighting technician, and Brandon Smith took on the role of show producer.

‘We turned to our Elation lights to accent what the churches were doing,’ says Hornback. Harmonic is an Elation Lighting dealer and has a range of the manufacturer’s fixtures within its rental inventory. Lessons & Carols provided Harmonic with its first opportunity to use Elation’s zoomable Artiste DaVinci LED moving heads.

‘They wanted an immersive design, so we designed a rig that highlighted the Artiste DaVinci as our profile with Fuze Wash Z350s adding colour,’ Hornback explains. ‘The DaVinci was the right fixture for the job. The CMY colour mixing and the gobos provided incredible texture to the stage.’

In total, a dozen Artiste DaVincis were used with an equal number of Fuze Wash Z350s. Eight of the DaVincis were flown in the rig and the remaining four were positioned on the floor. The Elation setup also included four DTW Blinder 350 IP fixtures and was supported by an eNode8 Pro eight-universe Ethernet-DMX node. A pair of Antari F-4D fazers were employed to add atmosphere.

Photo courtesy of Alaina Williams
Photo courtesy of Alaina Williams

‘Another thing we did was to incorporate lasers,’ Hornback says. 'Max and I work with a company called X-Laser, a manufacturer in Laurel, Maryland. We were able to add their lasers to really enhance what we were doing with the lighting. Instead of having to add beam fixtures like you would normally do on a lighting rig, we went ahead and implemented six Skywriter M-5s. The “M” stands for Mercury Laser Control System. Mercury allows us to completely control the laser from our lighting consoles. So, I didn't need to use any external software. It meant I could run them just like a moving light. The M-5 has over 400 gobos, nine prisms, and has multiple wave and motion effects built into the system.’

The X-Laser systems provide other benefits too. ‘They’re a really instrumental part of what we do with our clients because we're able to create some unique environments. Whether it's a liquid sky across the room, or creating the impression that we’ve lowered the ceiling to make people think that they're in a much smaller, more intimate setting. During Lessons & Carols, we had lasers pointed down at the stage to give us some really cool backdrop colour.

‘Our partnership with X-Laser has really been instrumental in what we do at Harmonic. For example, we've done some work at a student camp this year where we used lasers instead of beams and profiles, which is much more cost-effective for our clients.’

Photo courtesy of Alaina Williams
Photo courtesy of Alaina Williams

With the first Lessons & Carols event having gone without a hitch, the Harmonic team has been invited back again to provide the technical setup for the second edition, this December. ‘We have grown our inventory drastically in the last year,’ says Hornback. ‘In fact, Harmonic itself has grown to almost double from what it was last December. Whereas we used to have 12 Kara speakers in our inventory, we’re now up to 30. We’ll be able to provide everything we did last year and build on it.’

‘We hope to provide a video setup this year too, and incorporate some scenic ideas,’ adds Coffey. ‘In addition to the audio and lighting setup.’

Following a successful Christmas Past and amid work on Christmas Present, it appears as if the relationship between Harmonic and Shoreline Church will also have its Christmas Future.

This article first appeared in the November-December 2019 edition of Worship AVL. Subscribe at www.proavl-central.com/subscribe/worship.



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