Stage and Lighting Design Tips from Church of the Highlands’ Geoff Franklin

by | Case Studies, Lighting, Lighting Connections, Production

How do you create immersive worship experiences across 20-plus venues on a weekly basis?

It’s a question Geoff Franklin, production AVL engineer of the Church of the Highlands, and his teammates ask themselves often. But with Vectorworks Spotlight, the experienced designer has a quick answer; he‘s able to seamlessly integrate his technical talents with his creative flair.

Here’s three tips from the designer.


At the start of a new production, Franklin and the engineering team receive drawings from the Church’s construction department. These drawings are then imported to a dedicated layer in their shared Vectorworks template files.

This use of dedicated layers in a single Vectorworks file is made possible with Project Sharing. Project Sharing is Vectorworks’ multi-user environment that allows you and your teammates to work on the same file at the same time, no matter where you are in the world.

Once in the specified layer, basics such as walls, doors, windows, and other key components of the structure are added to the file.  Each of Franklin’s designers will then create a working file using Project Sharing to build out the production’s audio, lighting, stage, and video components for the worship services. 

Project Sharing, according to Franklin, helps him and his team make sure all the questions and potential hiccups of a production are figured out before it’s presented to the Church of the Highland’s leadership.

Project Sharing

And, with the recent release of Vectorworks 2024, you can take your collaborative workflows a step forward with Project Sharing +.

Project Sharing + ensures your file’s data and geometry are always up to date modernized change tracking system. The feature tracks every change every time, giving you and your team the confidence to deliver a production that will go off without a hitch.

project-sharing-plus-ent (1)


In addition to Project Sharing, Franklin and the team use Vectorworks Spotlight’s purpose-built tools to help create on the Church of the Highland’s immersive, distraction-free worship services.

The Align Plane and Mirror tools, for example, are maximized for lighting, audio, and stage design. Since the Church of the Highlands’ stages and rigs are symmetrical, the crew can save time by only designing half of the rig’s pipe grids and staging before mirroring them down the center cord to the other half of the design grid.

Mirror Tool

There’s also the Focus Point tool, which Franklin and the team use when setting up conventional fixtures for a render and with moving head fixtures over a stage when capturing design concepts.

Franklin also recommends using the “great” Focus Point tool to build solid front washes. “Placing points at vocal or speaking positions at head or chest height can help you find potential pockets or troublesome hot spots in your wash. Having that information in the back of your mind when it comes time to meter and set levels is very helpful,” the designer added.

Focus Tool


Lastly, Franklin suggests you track your productions’ equipment.

To keep all of the Church of the Highland’s gear organized, Franklin and the production team use an asset management system to generate barcodes and track their gear.

Franklin might be thrilled to take advantage of the new Equipment Lists in Vectorworks 2024, which will allow the team to take inventory without using a separate program.

With the Equipment Lists you’re able to consolidate and track all the Spotlight objects within your file. These objects are then tabulated in one (or multiple) report that can be taken and customized to your needs.

Plus, the new “Inventory” system helps you centralize equipment owned by you or your vendors, creating a digital inventory right inside Vectorworks Spotlight.

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As the founder and Executive Director of ShareBuilt, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting construction professionals with charitable groups in need, I am driven by a profound desire to make a meaningful impact on communities. The inception of ShareBuilt...