Who Needs Trees? Print More Paper.

So holding the mantle high of being a production control freak with a mild obsessive/compulsive characteristic here and there—I’ve always appreciated the finer points of how to clearly communicate production information. Prior to an event—I can prattle on about all the cues and details as much as anyone but in just a moment’s time most of my crew will be glazed over wondering about what really goes into a hot dog or something. On the other hand, I COULD choose to completely nail the thing and figure out how best to articulate only the pertinent info through nothing more than a stageplot and a runsheet. I choose the latter.

Over the years I’ve found that the less information I allow myself to give to someone—the more I can get to what is most important... Sometimes too much information just amounts to confusion—less info can lead to clarity—especially regarding logistical production info.

Check out the following runsheet for Easter weekend: (click for larger version)

This runsheet layout is common for us—it has just enough production info for the crew to know what’s happening but not so much that the pastors, musicians, and other stage talent glaze up when they give it a glance. Worst case scenario if we magically didn’t have any rehearsal time, everyone could glean enough info from this runsheet to actually pull off the event to an acceptable degree. Understandably, some areas may require some more work (such as training our scrim crew on the actual mechanics of the scrim system) but it doesn’t need to be reflected in the runsheet.

All of this is fairly self-explanatory but a few things to note regarding the various designations of CG-VIDEO, CG-Sidebar, CG-Title and CG-Slide. All of this comes from the same CG (computer graphics or character generator) computer but it helps designate what the actual display or playback element is: straight video, lower 1/3 title bar, sidebar-style slide or a full-screen slide. A perfect example of how the CG Op and Video Director can stay in sync—all without uttering a word.

Had been creating this type of layout using FileMaker Pro for the last 15 years or so but since discovering Planning Center a few years ago—it’s been a great way to keep the personnel and event information organized while serving our staff and volunteers to a much higher degree. If you haven’t checked them out—do yourself a favor and click here. The cool thing about this product is it allows you to make custom templates for anything you need to print—this layout was made to emulate the look of my original FileMaker Pro files.

Here are the two stageplots we’re using for this weekend: (click for larger versions)

These plots are all created in Illustrator and utilize the same premise as the runsheet—only the most pertinent info is included. Here’s the real beauty—more often than not, there is no added explanation from me to anyone else regarding the stage layout—everything the production crew and musicians need is on here. Admittedly, this layout is fairly intense but that’s mainly due to the complexity of the current stage set.

I could go on and on discussing the finer points of all of this but to accurately put into practice the less is more mantra—I will stand down. Andrew out!

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Andrew Stone
Production Manager
Andrew Stone is the Production Manager and Audio Director at Church on the Move in Tulsa, OK. His 27 years of touring experience have brought a unique, and sometimes unorthodox, perspective to his approach towards production in the church. He has been a key part of changing the culture behind COTM's live events and he loves sharing his knowledge with other churches. He's been married for 20 years, rarely wears anything but black, and genuinely loves to rock. You can find him on Twitter (@stone_rocks), Instagram (stone.rocks), and is a blog contributor on Seeds, COTM's free resource site.