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From Prominent Theatre to Place of Worship: The Lighting Transformation of Palmetto Pointe Church

view of stage and close up of lighting fixtures

Music in some form has long been a draw at this building located in the Fantasy Harbour area of Mrytle Beach, South Carolina. As the Gatlin Brothers Theatre in the 1990s, hosting Broadway productions such as Les Misérables and Damn Yankees, the building later served as the stage for the Crook and Chase variety talk show featuring country music stars when it operated as the Crook and Chase Theatre.

Music is still a centerpiece at the building, now the location of the Palmetto Pointe Church. Its 2,000-seat auditorium hosts Sunday services by Pastor Jamie Barfield as well as occasional concerts by musical artists such as GRAMMY®-nominated Tauren Wells and American Idol finalist Danny Gokey.

As the building evolved with each new use, the lighting plan also needed to change. In 2024, the venue is illuminated with a lighting rig that features 30 newly installed elektraLite Stingray Profile Cast RGBW 350-watt ellipsoidal fixtures. Distributed by Group One Ltd, the elektraLite fixture arrays were designed and installed by lighting designer Paul D. Sweetman of nearby Sweetman Designs, who worked with audio specialists MC Sound Consultants to completely renovate the space’s audio and lighting, a project that began last summer.

A closeup view of some of PPC’s new Stingray Profile Cast RGBW 350-watt ellipsoidal fixtures seen from the catwalk

“This was an old lighting design that was installed in late 1990s and everything really needed to be updated,” explains Sweetman. “The previous ellipsoidals were worn out and a lot of the moving lights were shot; they just needed to do a refresh. They needed to enhance the production values there, since this is also their broadcast location. Plus, they also host a lot of concerts these days.”

Sweetman hung 16 of the elektraLite Stingray Profile Cast RGBW fixtures at a 19-degree angle from the main catwalk and 14 more at 10 degrees from a second catwalk. “The 19-degree fixtures were only about a 30- to 35-foot throw, but the second catwalk was probably closer to an almost 60-foot throw and needed a lot more horsepower and a much tighter beam,” he states. “The Stingray was the perfect choice for all of that.”

Sweetman cites the Stingray’s power efficiency as especially important for cost-conscious churches. “We were able to exchange 1,000-watt ellipsoidals for the Stingray’s 350 watts without losing any illumination and while saving a ton of energy,” he notes. “Also, they do television production there, so we needed to do some color-matching for their cameras. They were all using Blackmagic Designs studio cameras and they need a little more horsepower than some of the broadcast-level video cameras, so we needed to get that up. And then we also wanted to be able to create even color washes when there were no key lights needed. The Stingray was the perfect situation for all of that. We had the flexibility to light everybody in white light or in color — a full stage wash of color, if necessary. They wanted the ability to be able to go to any color. In fact, I originally lit the stage for 30 2K fixtures and then realized later on that all of their cameras were color-temperatured to 56K. So we were immediately able to adjust the color temperature and bring everything up to 56K. The Stingray really checked a lot of boxes here.”

Palmetto Pointe Church’s lighting team (left to right) in their main auditorium: Associate Pastor Tony Bashor (who oversees production), Lighting Operators Angel Avalos and Zachary Redwine, and Production Director Clint Redwine (Lighting Operator/Team Leader Mark Rissler not pictured)

The Stingray Profile Cast RGBW boasts a powerful 350-watt COB LED with high CRI, delivering deep primary colors and even color mixing. It offers variable white temperature and precise beam control with interchangeable lenses. Controllable via DMX for ease of use, the Stingray utilizes Chip on Board (COB) technology, which is more efficient due to its higher density of light output and the fact that it uses fewer components.

“I call them our Lamborghini lights!” gushes Clint Redwine, Palmetto Pointe Church’s Production Director, who adds that when touring artists come to the church to perform, they’re delighted to find a world-class lighting package there. “We’re a church that likes to stay close to the leading edge of technology without being flashy, and the Stingrays are that: state-of-the-art, but part of the larger picture. What I tell people is that we have a Lamborghini that we drive in second gear most of the time, but it’s always good to know that fifth gear is there when we need it.”

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