Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Summer Series Stage Design 2010….and a reminder…..

original post August 2, 2010

One area of responsibility that falls under my position as Technical Arts Director at The Crossing is stage design.  I have a love/hate relationship with stage design.  The final product is the sweet aroma of a velvety rose petal that lures me, but the process is the thorn that causes pain.  Well, maybe it’s not that poetic.  But dealing with that uniqueness of our main auditorium and the ‘scalability’ that we need to transfer to our other venue and campus and all the logistics and ideas in between, my attention and sanity can be consumed with this area alone.   
Because of that, I am constantly looking for ideas and inspiration that could work for us.  One afternoon while flipping through the higher end of the channels on my Dish network, I came across something that caught my eye.  It was the church service of a large Texas church.  The design popped.  It was the stained glass pieces framed and sitting on the stage and flown on the sides.  They used LED curtain behind the layer of stained glass frames which I knew we wouldn’t have available but brought great lighting effects to mind.  The feel of the ‘ancient’ church yet it was contained would mix well with some ideas of the ‘future’ that we could assimilate into the design.  I got excited!   
I really liked the design and had a bunch of ideas of how to implement it in our main auditorium and other venues.  I knew this would be the design for our Summer Series at The Crossing.  I just had to figure out how they had actually done it.  So I did some investigative work and found the video of the service online and took some screen captures.  My lighting guy and I spent about two weeks trying to figure out how they accomplished the design and how we could mimic it.  
Then came an aha moment!  I remembered that one of our staff members use to serve at this church before he joined The Crossing.  My ‘in’!  He was totally willing to call and introduce me to the TD of the church.  A few emails later we actually received the artwork that they had used and told us how they had executed the design.  It was simple!  They were awesome for letting us use their art.  I so appreciate how the Technical ministries of churches are open to sharing and supporting each other.  That is become so evident with resources like and
While doing our investigating work we visited and came across this  I know.  ‘But you already have that design idea’  Yes, we did.  But what we didn’t have nailed down was exactly how we were going to produce the stained glass graphics.  A post at introduced us to Backlit paper.  We have a 42” color plotter in the office that we will often utilize for design ideas typically on plotter paper of clear vellum.  We’ve never used this stuff.  I had no idea what the result would be.  But we took the risk.  The Backlit paper took the ink color so well and help create vivid reproduction of the stained glass art images and the light looked amazing on them. 
It all had come together. Almost. We were about done printing the stained glass images.  The frames were about to be delivered and it was about two hours before the design team was arrive to execute the design and wrap it up the prep for the weekend services.  Then I saw the artwork for the weekend message graphics.  Wow. The stained glass images would have the bold blues, reds, purples and ambers as you would imagine stained glass would be.  The message graphics were more muted earthtones.  They clashed – big time.    
I made the call to our Programming Director in hopes we could tweak the message graphics to match better with the stained glass images…that were already printed and ready for the team to put in place.  What I found through a series of phone calls and texts was that I had missed a  conversation about ensuring the stained glass frame design not looking to ‘churchy’.   Now I had to meet with our graphic designer to incorporate color and texture into these stained glass images pieces.  To say that I was not totally shaken about this turn of events would be a huge lie.  Not only had we finished printing all of these in original color and I had a team coming in to execute the design… but the design and potential design ideas for these flew out the window.    
I typically can shake tweaks and changes as they come knowing the big picture and how they affect the overall outcome.  For some reason I could not get it out of my system this time.  The first round of modified stained glass we printed didn’t look that good.  Which was just fanning the flame.  I knew what we needed to do – well, I knew what I thought I wanted to do and it wasn’t the direction the team was wanting to go in.  I kept pushing.  I meet in the auditorium with our Programming Director the day before the weekend services.  While she was doing her best to convince me they looked good – and would be better with some tweaking – I still wasn’t buying it.  But the boss was happy – so I was happy…well, not really happy –just ready to put this one behind me.   
We went back to printing the last few we need to finish up this phase of the design for the week after we walked through the tweaks with our graphic artist.  They actually came out looking good….yea, I said it, good.  Once we had them tweaked as we liked, printed and in place with some great light on them – they actually looked really good.  And all I heard all weekend, and even on Monday in debrief, was how good they looked.  Yea, Yea, Yea…. I know… and they were all right.   
I learned a lesson last week.  I wasn’t really hoping to with it being summer and all.  But I got schooled by God.  You see, the most beautiful design happens when done together.  This guy in Texas, the Technical Director, his name is Dave Marks and serves at Fellowship of the Woodlands.  He took time out to help build the Kingdom. Simple act of attaching a few files to an email, but it came with a huge impression of building unity in the body of Christ.   The amount of time our graphic designer put in to this design to make it look perfect and the skill and expertise the entire team contributed to pull out an amazing stage design is humbling.  Humbling because we all add value to the process – as a team – those inside and outside our organization and in the end we created an engaging environment. 
Those ‘stained glass frames’ will be a part of our summer message series for the next ten weeks.  I think they are perfect



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