Passing The Learning Torch at Impact Christian Fellowship

Well known for its annual folk music festival, Kerrville, Texas is also home to Impact Christian Fellowship. A growing, non-denominational house of worship, Impact’s services stand out for their message and their worship music. Weekly services, their ‘kids church’, and annual Vacation Bible School all keep the energy and production level high.

Bryon Lavin gets to wear numerous hats at the young church; along with his wife Courtney, Bryon programs the lighting and works in the AV booth during services. A carpenter by trade, his introduction to AV came through professional audio, a hat he still wears. He explains, “Twenty years ago I got a temp job at a performing arts theater in Vail, CO. I had a knack for audio and started learning there, plus I grew up around this - my dad worked for Willie Nelson. After a few years, I worked with small bands and various gigs in Vail, way back in the analog days. After a ten year hiatus from the industry, I got in with Impact Christian Fellowship and put my hat in the ring to run sound.”

2 bryonA few years later, Bryon’s interest in lighting was piqued by the church’s installation of a lighting system – one that no parishioner knew how to operate. He says, “I saw a window of opportunity, so I jumped in and started learning how to make the lights work and move. Now my wife and I work for Impact full time; we got married a few years ago and I started training her on how to run the board. I’d program it, and she’d run lighting while I run sound – and she’s taken off with it too! We’re kind of a pair when it comes to our church’s production.”

When Bryon took over, the lighting system consisted of a Road Hog 4 console and various leko and wash fixtures. “All the house lights were on switch dimmers in the back, and the board cues were just 25/50/100%. They really didn’t have a clue of what the board was capable of. Basically, I had to start learning Hog 4 from scratch.”

When newer lighting fixtures were installed, Bryon says he really needed to learn how to flex his programming muscles. For this, he relied solely on the Learn Hog 4 video series and hasn’t looked back since. “We moved the old system over to the kids church, which is now run on Hog 4 PC. The new system had already been programmed and patched, so I had a decent starting point. I began watching the Learn Hog 4 tutorials right at Lesson 1.1 – Hardware and Patching, and I’ve been through the first two seasons many times for reference. The ‘Help’ feature lives up to its name – it’s super helpful! While programming, I’d often put a lesson up on my other screen to explain what I was trying to do. It’s incredibly handy to be able to quickly find the tutorial I need; I still watch them all the time, as does my wife … I kind of make her!”

More advanced Learn Hog 4 courses have allowed Bryon to take his programming to the next level. He comments, “Over the last 18 months I’ve really worked on building effects, pixel mapping, and plot design. We never had a plot designed into our system, so the ‘Introducing Plots’ tutorial was an eye opener.”

Impact uses a revolving set of volunteers to assist with AV. “We do have one other person that can run it when Courtney and I are not available. For those services I created a five cue list per song – as simple as possible. If we need somebody else to fill in, they often don’t know anything about lighting, so they’re able to hit the play button.”

impact_1_72A typical service at Impact is high energy and 103db, but the church’s Vacation Bible School is where Bryon really gets to use his chops. “VBS is our Super Bowl,” he laughs, “because in church you can’t shine lights in your congregation’s faces. But VBS is an entire week with 600 kids and 400 volunteers – I get to do whatever I want with the lights. We spend about 120 hours programming 20 songs or so, and we just go crazy on it – so much fun!”

The kids church uses a computer running Hog 4 PC with dual touch screens. “We’re trying to train the kids to run audio and lighting, so when they’re teenagers they can do the main service. I feel we should try to train them up young and see if they’re interested; they’re far more capable at younger ages than we imagine.”

The Learn Hog 4 tutorials have enabled Bryon to get Hog 4 programming work on the side at local venues and beyond. He’s learned volumes with ETC’s online learning resources, but his next goal is to take an advanced Hog 4 Training in the Austin location, within striking distance at around 200 miles away. Bryon studied Learn Hog 4 video tutorials to get up to speed, but users can also learn Eos, ColorSource, and other ETC products on the ETC Video Tutorials Page or by joining an in-person training session.

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Bruce Jordahl
Bruce joined the ETC family in 2017. A former magazine editor and journalist, Bruce also worked in marketing at High End Systems throughout the 1990’s, returning as a consultant in 2012. At ETC he covers marketing for the High End Systems product range, and pinch hits on projects for other company departments. Based in Austin, Bruce is a musician and budding record producer, and was nicknamed ‘the ETC musical director’ at Workshop 2018, a moniker he is now comfortable with. He has enjoyed a long side career performing at lighting industry events, loves to talk about his amazing grandchildren, and gets occasional points for sending banana nut bread to his co-workers.