Our New Preach Block Walls

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More often than not our scenic design choices are driven by a specific need rather than just a desire to build something pretty. An example of this are our new scenic elements staged behind Pastor George during the message.

HERE WAS THE NEED: How do we get a better background on camera during the message without sacrificing our desired look for the music portion?

Designing is always easier when you know what your “box” is, so the first thing we did was establish the parameters of what we wanted to achieve.

• The new scenic elements needed to be mobile so they could be visible for the message portion but not the music.
• They needed to be able to be placed within 30 seconds using minimal stagehands.
• Any related lighting needed to be built in to the element.
• The look needed to fit Pastor George’s style.

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Style was the easy part. While searching for ideas I found a picture of a table made from wood blocks. These blocks had asymmetrical cuts that created an interesting pattern when viewing at the unit as a whole. Not only was it interesting to look at but the natural wood fit great with Pastor George’s style.

The other parameters required the involvement of our Production Manager Andrew and Set Carpenter Chico. Knowing exactly what resources they have to work with on a weekly basis, they were able to develop a structural design that allows the units to be set quickly with minimal crew. This includes a balanced internal frame that easily carries the 500lbs of wood and metal, integrated handles for leverage, and a single electrical plug that handles the two circuits of dimming for each unit.

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I won’t go into great detail about the construction for this reason: We develop construction methods based on the resources we have available. This includes the materials we can get locally, the budget we have to work with, and the specific skill sets of the team that will actually handle the building. I encourage you to approach projects the same way—get ideas from others but base your construction and implementation on what works best for you.

One of the more common mistakes I see made in lighting and scenic designs is the use of an element strictly because it’s what someone else did and not necessarily because it fills a need. There is nothing wrong with getting ideas from other designers, churches, concerts, etc. My best ideas started as someone else’s. Just make sure the idea you get inspiration from is going to address a need you have.

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