Sprayed Designs for Hessian Banners

The Journey live event

We recently had a special little event in my lounge.

We’d been planning for a couple of years to do something that mixed music with video, and late 2015 we finally got proper plans together to do this as a live event. We invited about 40 people over (plus crew) and on 19th March recorded a three and a half hour event featuring stories and songs, together making an autobiographical lounge gig-ish thing. We’re calling it ‘The Journey’.

I’ll write another post about the whole thing once we’ve published a few of the songs for you, but this post is about the decor.

Problem Solving

Every design decision should solve a problem and I had two problems to solve: sound reflections and aesthetics.

As we were recording with speakers in the room we needed to minimise the sound reflecting off floors and walls back into microphones. We fixed the floor issue by putting rugs on the floor and closing the curtains helped a bit, but needed something extra.


An early idea for sound barriers: rolls of foam stapled to mobile frames

Early on I’d planned to create some freestanding foam sound barriers, but in the end the hassle of making them all and the visual appeal of hessian changed my mind. I know hessian isn’t the softest, most absorbent material, but hopefully it made some difference stretched from floor to ceiling.

Aesthetically speaking, we had a few pictures up on the walls that we didn’t want to draw attention away from what was going on in the room, but taking them down left big blank walls. I’m a fan of well placed space in a scene, but this blankness would have looked odd in that context.

The room is split into three sections by pillars at the walls with beams along the ceiling, so I opted to fill in the outer two-thirds with wall hanging banners, stapled to frames. A simple, interesting but not too obtrusive design seemed appropriate.

The Design

I wanted a pattern with interesting variation that would be easy to apply. Inspired by the angular lines of this wallpaper (much like the Beijing National Stadium) I decided to go for a similar effect. Initially I wanted the lines on all the banners to line up but in the end this was more faff than it was worth.


20m of high quality hessian cut into eight 2.5m strips
Two rolls of 50mm masking tape
Two 400ml cans of satin wine red spray, to match the curtains
Lengths of lath, screws, tape, drill, saw, mugs of tea…


One of the banners

After spraying up the first few banners I refined my method. I’d start with a few longer bold, angular lines of tape, then fill in with smaller lines, occasionally stopping them when they met the first pieces of tape at various places. I’d then spray the whole thing with heavier spray nearer the top of the banner (holding the can closer and using slightly slower motions), lessening the spray as I went further down the banner.

Then I’d peel off a few of the shorter lines of tape I added last and respray touches near the points they’d crossed over the tape that remained. This created depth as it added shadows around some of the lines, giving a bit of “pop”.

It was surprisingly easy.

The frame for holding the banners

One of the frames. Wasn’t as wobbly as it looks, that’s just funny pano stitching software.

As I needed to dismantle the whole thing after the event I didn’t want to screw the frame into the wall or damage the paintwork, so it took a bit of work making the frames wedge into the gaps well enough to hold themselves in place.

Sprayed hessian banners on the wall

The last job was to simply staple the banners to the frame.

Panorama view of the room during setup

The final look during setup, with the hanging banners lit by some bright diffused lamps

All in all I think the event was a hit. It just goes to show it’s quite easy to make attractive decor for filming at low cost.

You can expect to see videos of the songs and stories being released gradually over the coming months on our YouTube channel. If you’d like to see them as they’re released click here to subscribe to the channel.

Hanging Banners Stage Design – Alive Festival 2013

Church Stage design - projecting onto bannersAs winter was still upon us with freezing temperatures, snow, and polar bears, the venue for the “Alive Festival” was changed to the warm and cosy Northampton Jesus Centre. For many this could have been a disappointment, as the giant marquee we usually use adds a unique flavour to our large events. So between Tim Tecno and myself we decided to change the look of the Jesus Centre stage, and add some symmetrical hanging banners (3 either side of the main screen) which we then projected onto. The image above was taken during the song “Deliverer come set me free”.

Forgiven-editedWe also tried live video onto the banners, using a Blackmagic Intensity Pro card (HDMI in from the video mixer), and routing the feed through Resolume Arena, with some outline effects added.
IMAG Resolume capture effectsIMAG effectsWe also created some footage to project before each event to set the scene, and to showcase one of the amazing aspects of our church – its people! Made by Aidan in Cinema 4D the clip below was projected so that each photo section lined up with a banner.

And in case people wandered into the venue not having a clue what was going on (which probably accounted for half the audience congregation) then this ident made by Gideon in After Effects helped:

Comp 1 (0-00-02-06) Comp 1 (0-00-03-24) Comp 1 (0-00-04-11) Comp 1 (0-00-08-02) Comp 1 (0-00-10-12) Comp 1 (0-00-10-19)

The festival was brilliant, and all the hard work by the lighting, rigging, PA, and video crews backed up the message and the Holy Spirit’s presence.
WorshipTechnical info:
2x Christie LX605 projectors
Drapes: 5 foot wide. 22, 16, 10 foot high
Resolume Arena software (with masking and keystoning on a 2160 x 1152 composition)
Blackmagic Intensity Pro card for HDMI in
Content created in After Effects CS6, Premiere Pro CS6, and Cinema 4D (R13)

Behind the scenes – London Jesus Day 2012

Each year the Jesus Army marches through the centre of London in a colourful display to demonstrate Jesus’ message of love for all. There are two stand-out events – the march, and then a gospel focused gathering on Trafalgar Square. This is a snapshot of the day:

There have been continual improvements to make the day as colourful and spectacular as it is now, and I’ll touch on some of the areas below.

March Music / Band Truck

This year saw the introduction on the march of live electronic music rather than just a band playing, positioned on a curtain sider (posh name for a truck with open sides) which was driven by the one and only Clive Strudwick.

Jonny and Nayf created various upbeat backing tracks using software called Ableton to carry the march along – two of which are on Soundcloud for you to listen to.

As often with creative efforts if you’re having fun making it then that reflects positively on what is made – perfect for London Day.

Yes it is late… but that’s when the real creativity starts

LED screen

It was this big – honest!

The LED screen above stage was first introduced in 2010, which felt like a bit of a trial run as it was nothing any of us had any experience in. This year we had knowledge of what worked well, and the big bonus of squeezing the 20 foot screen in the video studio to work on content the week before.

The Jesus Army logo in 3D for the LED screen

The result was the set-up went remarkably well compared to the previous year, as we pre-configured it with how it would be put together on Trafalgar Square.

Testing the screen once it had been rigged

The feedback on the screen was overwhelmingly positive, and many commented that it helped add to stage items when viewing from the back of the square by the gallery. There are still some improvements to make – like making the screen display without flickering when being filmed, but after speaking to the guys that we hire it from we should be able to fix it.

In full flow during the event (picture distorted due to how the LED panels work)

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of preparing for an event you get 5 minutes to ponder and reflect on the deeper meanings of life…

Hard at work


Streaming. Not as easy as it looks. We wanted to have a go and broadcast the Trafalgar Square event to people that couldn’t get down for the day, and any others that were interested. As we hadn’t done anything like it before there was a fair bit of playing around and we used the June marquee weekend to test the kit.

Testing streaming at the marquee weekend in June

That seemed to work quite well, even though we were in a field in the middle of the countryside. We then had a last minute idea to try broadcasting the march as well – which resulted in a camera being fixed to the top of the band truck looking back across the whole march. This also made for some great footage for the highlights video.

Late the night before and still working out how to broadcast the march

On the square itself we used a Sony PD150 video camera firewired into a laptop, which was connected to the internet with a 3G router (Orange SIM). The connection to uStream which was doing the streaming was temperamental (and that’s being kind) due to the Orange mobile network being congested. Understandable though as 1,000 people all on Orange just turned up on the square!

The kit on the square: first laptop for song words, second laptop for: streaming (PD150 via firewire), LED screen videos (Resolume), audio in, and audio playback

There were 128 unique viewers, which was quite impressive considering it wasn’t advertised till the last minute. Now that we know what is involved we’ll try and work on some technical fixes to ensure a consistent connection.

Gaffa tape. The saviour of the world (heresy litigation pending).

Rigging (and banners)

There was a big effort this year to add more colour, rather the black and red banners we used to have. So the march band truck was draped all over, and the stage had some bright banners covering the truss.

So to sum up all of the above it felt like everyone had improved what they were doing, and that teamwork was a vital. A satisfying result of people’s many, many hours of hard work, and their desire to make a positive impression for Jesus in the capital. To cap it off here is a little video of some of what went on behind the scenes. Enjoy.