BEST LIGHTING SOFTWARE FOR CHURCHES | Lightkey Review

BEST LIGHTING SOFTWARE FOR CHURCHES | Lightkey Review


Are you looking for lighting software for
your church that’s budget friendly and easy to use without compromising on power and reliability? In this video, I’m gonna review Lightkey which
is a Mac based lighting software. I’ll unpack all the reasons I love this software
and why I think it might just be the best lighting software for churches. I’ll also walk you through what you need to
get this system set up at your church. Coming up. This video is brought to by Worship Leader
School where you’re gonna find all the essential training, advice and support you need to plan
and lead a worship. Visit worshipleaderschool.com, or click the
link in the description to learn more. My name is Jake Gosselin, I’m the creator
of Churchfront.com helping you lead gospel centered and tech-savvy worship. If you haven’t already, subscribe to the channel
so you can receive all our latest content to help you grow yourself, and grow your worship
ministry. Let’s talk about lighting control for churches. A few years ago, it was more common to use
an actual hardware controller to control the lights in your worship gathering. I’m talking about stage lights as well as
house lights so you can fade lights up or down, or create fancy light shows. Whatever suits your fancy at your church. But today, the world of lighting control has
evolved and rather than needing an actual hardware controller, you can run software
just on your computer. At our church, we have a computer that runs
Pro Presenter so why not put some lighting software on there as well that can control
all the lighting? We’re a portable church, and the less hardware
for us, the better. In my opinion, lighting software for churches
needs to meet certain criteria. Number one, it needs to be stable and reliable. We can’t have the software glitch in the middle
of a worship service and then have all the lighting scenes go haywire. The next piece of criteria is that the lighting
software needs to be budget friendly. When I say “budget friendly” I mean less than
a thousand dollars. Ideally, less than 500 dollars. I don’t think software needs to be free because
that means there’s no development and support actually going into it. I’m not a big fan of open source software
because often it’s confusing, just takes forever to figure out, and there’s lots of weird glitched
and bugs you have to deal with. I’m willing to pay at least a couple hundred
bucks if something is supported, and it’s reliable, and it’s just gonna work. Next, the lighting software needs to be user
friendly and intuitive. I don’t know what it is about lighting software
over the past years as I’ve been searching for different pieces of software, they all
seem really confusing when you look at the software and the user interface it just seems
like you’re staring at the cockpit of a jumbo jet or something like that. It’s just really, really frustrating and especially
in our church context when we have volunteers who aren’t professionally trained. We need it to just be super intuitive for
them, and we don’t want them to have to go get a professional lighting degree to be able
to run lights for our worship gathering. Being user friendly is incredibly important. Another important thing lighting software
needs to be able to do is it needs to have automation capability. At our church, we’re small, we don’t have
a huge tech team so we automate our lighting changes. This is really cool when you us Ableton Live
to send cues so I can automate light changes throughout our songs, and we can create seamless
transitions in the way that our light changes throughout the service. Finally, this is a more personal preference
piece of criteria for lighting software, and that is it needs to be Mac based software. I know, there’s a lot of great PC based software
out there, but I prefer for our context, we’re running all Macs. It’s just better to keep things all Macs all
the time, and often time there’s lighting software out there that’s developed for both
Mac and PC and what I feel like happens is when whenever companies try to develop for
both platforms, one of them usually gets the short end of the stick. The other reason it’s important for us to
have an all Mac ecosystem is for all the mini networking that we’re doing Mac has a really
powerful, stable midi network app that makes it easy to connect any Macs to set up all
this automation. That’s just another reason why it’s so important
for our software to be Mac based. For those of you who are PC users, I’ll link
some other lighting software below that I think could be great in a PC environment. I just can’t guarantee it’s gonna give you
great results. For the past couple years the lighting software
I had been using was myDMX 2.0 and then 3.0. This is a Mac and PC based software, it’s
easy to use, it’s budget friendly, it has automation features, but recently over the
past couple months, it has been glitching on us like crazy. The one main glitch that we continued to see
time and time again is that when we’re running the software on our Mac, the CPU usage we
were seeing in our activity monitor was just skyrocketing. I tried to do a ton of research to figure
out how I could troubleshoot this problem. I think it had something to do with the midi
automation. Anyways, I couldn’t figure it out. If I can’t figure something out after a couple
hours of research, then it’s pretty hopeless. During our rehearsals, in worship services,
the computer running this software was starting to lag like crazy, and it was really frustrating
for the volunteers and for myself. That’s why I had to find a different solution. So, I sat down at Google, I searched “lighting
software for Mac,” and the first result I saw was the Light Key app. As I browsed their website, I was super impressed
with what I saw. You can even download the software for free. I’ll put a link in the description of this
video. I was able to try it out and see what the
user interface was like before even buying a license, and I was just super impressed. I also went to the worship ministry Facebook
group’s and I searched the Light Key app in those groups to see what type of experience
people were having. Everything I read was positive. People loved it. So, I was sold very quickly on this app, and
then I told our pastor about it, he approved it, we purchased a license for the app, we
purchased our USB to DMS dongle that’s compatible with the app to be able to plug it into our
lighting system, and we were up and running. So here’s what you need to buy to get this
system up and running. First, you need the Light Key software. I’m gonna link it in the description, and
like I already said, you can download the software for free, but you’ll have a very
limited version of the software, but you’ll be able to experience it enough to see whether
or not you like this type of user interface. When you’re ready, you need to buy a license
for the software. They have different tier licenses and the
way it works is it’s an annual subscription. So it starts at $69 for 256 channel of DMX. That actually may work for a lot of churches
with smaller lighting systems, but the more standard favorite selection for a lot of people
out there, this is one we bought, is the 512 DMX channels subscription. So that’s a $99 per year. That may seem a little bit pricey, it’s definitely
not free, but in my opinion it’s worth it because you’re investing into a software that’s
well supported, and it’s actually going to be continually updated and made better over
time. Once you purchase a license, you’re gonna
receive your license code. You just enter it into the software and it’s
ready to go. The cool part is that that license code can
be deactivated from a computer if you need to move it to another one. The next thing you’re gonna have to purchase
for this setup is a USB to DMX adapter. This makes it so that your computer can send
the DMX signal to all of your lighting fixtures. At our church, we purchased the DMX King Ultra
DMX Micro. It’s a super compact little interface with
USB on one side of the end and DMX on the other. Of course, for our MacBook Pro because it’s
a newer one, I had to get the USB C to USB adapter. The great part about this software is it’s
super efficient, doesn’t suck up a bunch of CPU power, or RAM, so you could run this lighting
software on the same computer you maybe have ProPresenter on. That’s exactly how we’re gonna run it at or
church. I’m gonna include links to the software and
all my recommended hardware down below in the description of this video. Setting up the software itself is really simple
and intuitive. The first step is to set up all your DMX patching. This is where you tell Light Key what light
fixtures map to which DMX addresses. The software already has a ton of lighting
fixture profiles built into it’s library so you can just search for whatever lighting
fixtures you have in your church and then drag those on to the patch bay. When I set this patching up at my office since
our church is a setup and tear down church, I simply just copy the patching assignments
that we had from my DMX 3.0, so it’s really easy to get up and running. The next step is to edit the visualizer that’s
built into this software. This is a great feature that allows you to
see your light scenes, and make edits, and design your lighting cues at home when you’re
not plugged into the lighting system at church. It took me just a couple minutes to add in
these trusses and this rectangle to symbolize our wide screen that we project our lyrics
and video on, but now when I’m in my office, because we’re setup and tear down church,
I can design all of our lighting cues and know exactly what it’s gonna look like when
Sunday comes. The next step is to start building your presets,
or lighting scenes. You click the little plus icon on the top
right of the software and I went through and I created lighting scenes for our house lights,
our stage spotlights, our different LED kind of backlighting, color combos that we have,
also we have some truss warmers, the lights the shoot straight up through the trusses,
made some scenes for those. Then, I also made som scenes that include
some movement. I even added some of the crazy scenes that
they have built into the software. Then once you’re done building out all of
your presets, you’re gonna create your control panel. This is the interface that you or your lighting
volunteers, or your tech team are actually gonna use to control the lights during the
service. What’s really cool about this control panel
is that it gives you the ability to create buttons, and faders, and it’s all virtual. Then you can assign whatever presets you want
to those buttons or faders. It’s a little bit hard to describe and it
is something that you’re just going to want to play with yourself, but let me show you
how I have the cue set up for our church. So, on the far left we have the master fader. That just brings all the lights up or down. We don’t really ever touch that one. Then we have a collection of house lighting
cues. We have our house blackout cue, our house
full cue, our house pre-service cue, worship cue, and message cue. Next to that, we have our collection of spotlight
cues. This is just our front-lighting onstage that
control two ellipsoidal lights that light both the band members and our pastor. We don’t have many scenes for this, really
just our band settings, our speaker settings, and a blackout. The next bank of cues is a fun one. This is where we control all of our LED lighting
that we have. So we have eight LED wash lights that are
mounted on the top of the trusses, and then we have four of them that are truss warmers
shooting light up through the trusses. So I went through and I created all these
different buttons that you simply click on, now cue up the appropriate LED lights. The way I have all my LED light cues set up
in this software is that only one of those cues is gonna be enabled at a time. This prevents any weird overlapping of colors
and it just makes it really, really simple for operation whether we are operating it
manually from the computer or if I’m cueing these scenes from Ableton Live. On the far right we have two little faders
that control the fan and the amount of haze for our haze machine. What’s cool about the different groups of
lighting cues that we’ve created in this control panel is that they can be layered on top of
one another. That means our house lights and then our front
lighting and our LED backlighting they can all be controlled independently, so we don’t
have scenes that necessarily control all of them at once. Instead, we send separate cues to our LED
lights, or separate cues to our front lighting or separate cues to our house lighting. This work flow worked really well for the
way that we cue lights throughout our worship gathering. The final step in my setup process with this
lighting software is automation. They’ve made it incredibly easy to set up
lighting automation if you’re using software like Ableton Live to cue your lights and lyrics,
and other production elements in worship. Setting this up is really easy. First, all you have to do is make sure Light
Key is receiving midi cues from the network session that you’re sending midi cues to from
your Ableton Live computer. Then, when that midi mapping is set up, you
go to the different cues you’ve created in the control panel, you right click on a cue,
you go down to external control, and then you just simply click the add trigger button. The software will then start listening for
midi trigger and as soon as you send over that midi note, it’s gonna map it. There’s so much more that Light Key can do
that I don’t have time to cover in this video, but I hope this gives you a really full understanding
and a great look at what it could do for your worship ministry. If you have any questions about this setup,
let me know below in the comments, and also, head on over to the website. I’ll put a link in the description of this
video where you can download the software for free and try it yourself, and then if
you do pull the trigger on the license, you can get the USB dongle from Amazon. I’ll link that below, as well. I really think you’re gonna enjoy this software
for your worship ministry, and I will let you know if anything changes with it. So, make sure to subscribe to the channel,
but so far my experience with this is awesome, I highly recommend it. This gets Jake’s stamp of approval. To learn more about implementing the latest
technology for your worship ministry, check out Worship Leader School where you’re gonna
find in-depth, step-by-step courses to walk you through all of this stuff that I showed
you here including this software as well as, how to use Ableton Live in worship. Visit worshipleaderschool.com, or click the
link in the description to learn more. Thanks so much for watching. If you found this video helpful, hit that
thumbs up button and share it with your friends in ministry. You can find some related videos right over
here, and don’t forget to subscribe to the churchfront channel so you can receive all
of our latest content to help you grow yourself, and grow your church.


100 thoughts on “BEST LIGHTING SOFTWARE FOR CHURCHES | Lightkey Review

  1. our lighting program died beginning of December and I switched to lightly as well. it is absolutely awesome and super easy to use

  2. So I've been using Lightkey for the past year, and just started using Ableton for Automation. I've discovered that there's an issue with sending multiple midi notes to Lightkey from Ableton, especially via a midi Network. Have you noticed that issue at all? Also having issues with setting the midi clock from Ableton via the wireless network (although it works when running Ableton and Lightkey on the same Mac), if you have any ideas for how to make that work properly? Thanks!

  3. Hey Jake! Could you do a rundown of your entire lighting rig? We are a small mobile church looking enhance our worship service with better lighting. We just invested in 4 ADJ led PARS and I want to know how to best use them.

  4. I do have a question: I am using Proclaim presentation and am able to use MIDI cues. I was able to set it up to where I could cue a set of lights when selecting a song. However, when using lightkey i have to click off the previous lighting cue make sure the next cue is solely cued. Not sure if this makes sense. What I am curious about is how do i use the midi functions to not only cue the next lighting cue but also turn off the previous one?

  5. Wow, wow, wow….. hold up…. how did you connect or how did you manage to control your house lights through the software? Am I confusing the term ‘house lights’? Im thinking of the actual built in lights you’d normally turn on with a regular light switch on a wall.

  6. Martin offers their software that is in their consoles as a Win PC app for up to 2 universes FREE! You should check it out!

  7. I was literally just about to buy my DMX3.0 – like, had it in my Amazon cart…Lightkey seems to be a better route?

  8. We use Luminair 3, $99 one time app, as well for a 512 dmx system (+dmxKing to WiFi router to iPad). No annual fee and super robust and easier user interface. Limited to 1 – 512 universe tho. More than enough for church.

  9. Hey Jake! Thanks for the video.. could you not just use your mydmx controller to run lightkey instead of having to buy the usb to dmx cable? Or was it not compatible with lightkey?

  10. This is awesome! Our church really needs a new modern lighting setup! We'll be looking back to this video when were ready to invest in that for sure!

  11. I personally use Lightkey as a wedding DJ! I love it, as I can send my MIDI clock out from VirtualDJ into lightkey, and all my effects match the beat of every song! It's super user friendly, especially for movement patterns with moving head fixtures!

  12. We are a church that is barely looking into all of the lighting DMC systems, how do you connect all of your lights from the stage to the Mac? Or what do you connect the DMX cable going out of your mac into? Is there any “getting started with lights” videos you recommend?

  13. Can you pre-program a group of scenes for a particular song, and then send a midi cue to cue that group of scenes?

  14. This is awesome! Thanks Jake! We've been using one of those clunkier lighting programs you mentioned and this just looks 1000 times nicer to use. I'm going to try it out!

  15. I decided to switch our church lighting software to lightkey last year. We run numerous LED and Par lights for our worship services and the ease of use is key for me. From the user interface to linking it to pro presenter, it has been great for our church and volunteers. Definitely worth the purchase if you want simplicity with elegance and some great transitions! Plus it's made for MAC so it looks great (user interface).

  16. We've been using Lightkey for 2 years now…we LOVE IT!! See one of our Christmas Eve services. http://yourstreamlive.com/events/1039128

  17. Love this video! Thanks for the tips. We use MyDMX3 as well and we had the same CPU usage problem as well. We use MainStage on the same computer as MyDMX so it was crashing MainStage. I found out that if I shrunk the window of the MyDMX app, it DRASTICALLY dropped the CPU usage. So. Weird. Not crazy about the solution but it's working for now. Will be looking at Lightkey for sure! Thanks Jake.

  18. This setup is almost exactly the same setup our church uses but with QLC+ instead… QLC is free, works with Midi Cues from ProPresenter, and works with the same DMX dongle. The older version we use may not be quite as pretty as that but it works exactly the same way…. but free. 🙂 If your considering this type setup, you should try both apps before buying. https://www.qlcplus.org

    Once I set it up, It’s been super stable and super reliable and no one complains about it at all. I even have the person who puts our ProPresenter files together design the lighting based on the stuff I preset up and I’ve barely had to do anything further. High praises from me. Would recommend it.

  19. Great video Jake but you missed LightKey's biggest feature. You should redo the automation section. Lightkey auto creates ableton live clips which magically appear in ableton for you to drag into your sessions. You don't need to create midi clips and map them – So good

  20. Hi Jake! Great video. I bought Lightkey as a Christmas present for my church a few weeks ago! It's really helped my credibility when the worship leader saw you post this. (Though he asked if I paid you to make this video… LOL!)

    Would you be comfortable running Ableton Live, ProPresenter6, and Lightkey all on the same Mac if it's a beefy (16GB i7) system?

  21. I'd be more interested if it wasn't a subscription based license. I'm all for paying a craftsman their dues for creating a good piece of software, but continuing to pay for it over and over indefinitely has always rubbed me the wrong way. I'd rather pay up front and "own" it, then be able to upgrade to the next major release at a reduced price later when it comes out if I decide the new features are worth it. That's the model most of the major DAWs seem to use.

  22. Jake, great stuff! Wow this is what I have been looking for. How long does it take to midi map a whole service for you?

  23. Hey Jake, glad to see a video about Lightkey! Reading thru the comments I guess we ought to make the feature about grouping/attaching live buttons more obvious one day. 😉

    Regards from the Lightkey team

  24. How do you balance programing/automating your lights and lyrics while still utilizing volunteers? In other words, what do the volunteers do if the songs are automated with ableton live?

  25. This is an excellent video! We began using Lightkey a few months ago and it's set up very similar to this. This enabled us to start sending MIDI cues via ProPresenter and cue all lights in that way. By eliminating a position in the Production Booth completely, we've been able to take those volunteers and train them in a completely new role!

  26. Awesome video, I’m new to all of this, would this work with Ableton Live wirelessly sending the midis from one computer the other thanks.

  27. So the DMX king just goes straight from the dmx cable from the lights to your computer? you don't need anything in between the dmx light cable to the DMX king?

  28. This isn’t super budget friendly, but my church uses MALighting. The MALightingonpc software itself is free, but the physical board is $5,000 for the command wing and $3,000 for a fader wing. It is also only compatible with windows.

  29. Truth be told…. the majority of 'churches' that use all of these tools are dead. All you need is an anointed… God fearing man who spends the majority of his time in the word and alone with Christ to expound the word and a congregation that is truly seeking Christ and the Holy Spirit will show up. When will you realize that the purpose of the true Church is to feed the sheep… and not to entertain the goats.

    I understand that this is a 'technical how-to' video… but you never used the term God… Jesus… or Holy Spirit. At the very least I would hope that you are seeking Gods will for your production.

  30. I saw that you use the amhaze stadium, I’m curious how thin the haze is, and how well it’s worked for you? Have you had issues with it setting the fire alarm off?

  31. I got the midi working! However, when it activates a cue it does not fade on. It just activates the lights without using the built in fade. Any ideas on how I can make it so midi activates the cue with the included fade?

  32. Hey Jake, my church is willing to invest 30k to 35k on lighting and console, but I wanted to know what are some good lights to get, and what console or software would be better. We need the best moving lights and other camera lights. Because the church is on T.V. I really need your advice. Because we’re spending a lot of money. Thank you.

  33. Not going to lie, My church got Light Key for our students areas a few years ago and I never could stand it. For me it crashed way to often, was not as easy to make changes on the fly/busk. And we always had one of our moving LED washes facing the wrong way no matter how may times we fixed it. All to the point I came to realize I rather a console over computer software for lighting any day.

  34. This review makes me nervous:

    https://lumeninsight.com/reviews/light-key-review/

    I like the look of Lightkey. Do any of the comments in this review hold up based on your experience?

  35. Hey jake quick question it’s great to see the lighting software and things like that but what kind of lights would best work for the software?

  36. Hey jake you talked about really stable midi network app You guys use.
    What is that app, and what exactly is the use?

  37. Hey Jake, we recently set up this software at our church. In the live presets how do you tell the program to only run one preset at a time. Such as when you turn on one button preset and then the next, both are lit up. How do you tell it when one is clicked the other one shuts off? Have you run into this?

  38. Hey Jake! Awesome video, I have a quick question. What if some of your lights/haze machine isn't one of the pre-recognized fixtures in the software, will I still be able to have control through the computer to the fixtures? Thanks for your help man!

  39. Hello Jake could you pls give me a very simple and very affordable light system that I can start we ate a very small church without big money but I would like to have a decent light

  40. Hello I’m having some problem with this program my lights don’t obey my Mac 🖥 went I want to change something I have to reset the output everything I want to do something different I hop you can help me thanks.

  41. Hey Jake, thanks for all that you do.
    Quick question for you,
    Do you run the lightkey software and pro presenter from the same MacBook Pro?
    Can you run them both simultaneously ?
    Thanks in advance.

  42. I have used QLC+ and it's the most simple to use of the free ones I have found. We are a small church of approx 80 each Sunday. Pitching 500 to our church board for lighting software is a little more than we could swing.

    Nice video, thanks for posting. Looks like a good value if you can swing it.

  43. Hi Jake, I was just curious if I could build out a full cuelist for volunteers to run just by clicking a "go to next" type of button? Just for the volunteers who are brand new to lighting. Then that way I can pre-program cues that are song specific and then just let the volunteers run through on Sunday

  44. the DMX King adapter is no longer available on Amazon. Any ideas where I can get it, or something that works like it?

  45. So if you're running ProPresenter and Lightkey on the same computer, which is taking precedence with respect to user control? In other words, do you let PP6 run in the back and control the advancement through the slides using MIDI controls while Lightkey is primarily up and controlled by the operator?

  46. Have you tried using the ProPresenter 6 midi module to send midi out to Lightkey running on the same computer? We switched to using the Prime app instead of Ableton, and don't use tracks for all songs. Would be nice for our PP/Lighting techs (not trained in lighting stuff at all) to not have to switch between screens and have to learn how to use a new bit of software. Also don't want to have to get ANOTHER computer for the desk.

  47. Anyone know if there is a work around in Lightkey and ableton to not have the light scene change (resort back to default) when the ableton playhead stops? For example, I create song cues in lightkey and drop those into my ableton timeline for each song. However, when we have a break in the set and I stop the ableton playhead, the lights change from the cue used for the song, back to whatever light scene was being used prior to starting our set. I find this distracting sometimes. I wish that I could stop the playhead and not have the lighting look change to the default. Anyone have any pro-tips or encounter what I'm 'splaining?

  48. Lighting consoles arent confusing they just have alot or buttons. If your not willing to learn then dont.

  49. Spread the word,^ Jesus didn’t need a light show ! Waist of people’s money … use that money for giving back to the ones who need !

  50. Hey Jake! My Church recently looked into this program. We've been looking ableton live as well but at the moment we use Mainstage 3. I was if there is a way to send the same Midi signals with mainstage to control the lights like with ableton?

  51. QLC+ doens't glithc. Its open source though and demands that you read a couple of lines of text or watch a tutorial. Without that universe hostage situation.

  52. I've been using mydmx for a while now but i'm just tired of the problems especially with 3.0. I just started learning about Lightkey

  53. It scares me that you have pro presenter and your lighting software on the same Mac. Always scared if the mac goes down you lose video and lights.

  54. Do you think you could do a quick video showing how to run Lightkey from a separate iPad? I have my sound board on one iPad and would like to control lighting on a separate one

  55. Jake, will you make a video showing how you use it and examples of presets and integration with Ableton?

  56. Hey, we just bought moving head lights and was wondering if we can place our lights above the projector screen facing down? Would that effect the way the projector hits the screen?

  57. Do you have a video of light suggestions, if we are just getting started in church lighting (affordable lights, and stands for a start up)?

  58. Great video, like all your videos. We just invested in DMXIS (enttec controller) running with Logic prox to control the automation of our stage lights. DMXIS isn't the most user friendly software, to say the least, and takes a lot of time to program our lights. Do you know if lightkey could replace DMXIS and integrate into logic pro to have full automation of lights to our songs for live performances? We also use wireless donners for our lights, how would lightkey/DMXking communicate wirelessly lights? Thanks!

  59. I really like the lightkey dmx controller software which is very easy to use and fast configuration but its only run in iOS not on Windows which kinda "feelsbadman". Thats why I only use Sunlite Suite by nicolaudie its a really good dmx software/hardware, up to 1024 dmx channel plus no monthly/yearly subscription btw.

  60. Hog4 PC is also a good PC alternative. The software itself is free, but you'll have to buy a USB widget to actually output DMX

  61. m-pc is better, actively developed, more reliable, more powerful, more budget friendly(free), and not to hard to use.

  62. Hello! Is there a way to have light key and ableton on two separate macs but still have ableton control light key via midi cues? (Kind of like pro presenter receives cues from ableton)

  63. Jake, are you guys still using this software??? If so, is it still solid??? Thanks again for all of the great content for A/V minded church people.

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