A Wall of Colour: Bringing A Church Stage Design To Life

A Wall of Colour
Once a year the Jesus Army holds a national event in the north of England called “Sheffield Praise Day”, which as the name suggests is held in Sheffield. We hire out a sports hall and this gives us some flexibility with the layout. A team gets together to design the stage and then implement it, and after seeing a CSDI post about video mapping onto boxes I thought it would be interesting to try it out.

The design
After scribbling some initial ideas onto paper I handed it over to the experts to improve – Tim, Sam, and Josh, and they worked on making the panels and designing the stage. The theme for this event was “Crossing the Line”, so Josh incorporated a walkway that enabled people to go through a door in the middle of the wall, and down to the stage.

The ideas come to life in Sketchup

The ideas come to life in Sketchup

Capture Polar software

Capture Polar software was used to pre-program the lighting

Panels for the video wall
Material: correx (a coroplast equivalent) – 8’x4′ (1200 x 2400mm) sheets cut down to 4 foot squares, 4mm thick, with a bevelled edge so the squares stand out.
2″x1″ (50 x 25mm) timber on vertical sides of each panel. Panels all held together by a metal hinge to join 4 of them together in each corner.
Attached to the main top truss by velcro straps – 10m drops 50mm wide velcro. Loops on panels stuck to strap, and screw put through strap into the wood.

The panels being made in the workshop

The panels being made in the workshop

The panels are scored along the bevel lines, and then folded back

The back of the panel – each one is scored 50mm in, and then folded back into the score so that the panel slightly protrudes

Setting up

Testing the panels at our local church

Testing the panels and fixings in our local church auditorium


The usual discussion about replacing most of the PA with moving lights


Lighting Fixtures

  • 6x ADJ ViziBeam 5R
  • 8x Martin Mac 101
  • 6x Showtec ArcBar3
  • 1x 8cell Molefay
  • 2x 4-bar ACL
  • 6x Showtec Sunstrips
  • 2x Robe 148LT & 6-Bar Par for stage wash
  • 4x StudioDuo LED600 & 6no. CYClite for audience wash

I’m part of a team that creates visuals for events, and this year as we had a big screen to project onto we made some videos to play before and during each meeting.

The event ident video playing while the congregation gathers

The event ident video playing while the congregation crosses the line

I was particularly keen to show something of the city of Sheffield, as some people travel hundreds of miles to sit in a hall for the day which doesn’t seem very fair. So the week before I went round the city with Viv, and made a short video which encapsulates a little of what Sheffield is like.

As the panels were square and we knew their layout it meant we could map our content accurately.

Editing knowing where each of the panels would be

Editing knowing where each of the panels would be

Voilà! It fits! Peoples happy faces mapped to each panel

Voilà! It fits! People’s happy faces mapped to each panel

We used two Barco FLM-HD20 projectors at the back of the hall behind the congregation. These are full HD 20,000 lumens beasts, and made a big difference to the brightness and clarity of video on the wall. Supplied by XL video.

The projectors double stacked for extra brightness on the panels

The projectors double stacked for extra brightness on the panels, due to the width they had to cover

Resolume Arena 4 was used to map the video accurately on each panel.

Crossing the Line
small 1

A family goes through the door holding one of the pieces that made up a long line for people to step over

A family goes through the door holding one of the pieces that made up a long line for people to step over

Perhaps the most powerful moment in the evening, as we remembered the martyrs

Perhaps the most powerful moment in the evening, as we remembered the martyrs

A short video of a couple of songs from the event and showing the church stage design:

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)

Sheffield 2012 – Lighting & Rigging

Lighting at RaW12

Here we are. The last major event of 2012 completed.

Sam, our main “rigger”, wrote a few weeks ago about last years event, which had been a real success and a breakthrough in technical/creative innovation for us.

The challenge this year was to maintain the standard set by last year’s event. It’s probably fair to say that in some ways we did this & in others we fell short. This blog covers the lighting and rig design, which is more my specialty. Jimmy, our video man, talked about the visual FX side of things last week in this post here.


In the beginning was the Sketch, and the Sketch was with Tim, and the Sketch was Tim… Anyway, as always, the design idea began with a sketch from our main designer, which I then played around with a bit, transferred to Sketchup & later into our lighting design software – Capture Vision (which can be seen in action later on in this post).

One of my early sketch concepts, complete with anorexic Mick

Initial ideas included moving trusses, tipping circles & three sets of collapsing drapes. These, in the end, had to be sacrificed for the sake of budget & time. Furthermore, in order to free up space for the planned video content we abandoned the versions of the plan that involved things cluttering up the backdrop, like the bits in the sketch below.

Sketchup render of the near-final design


Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Pitifully Poor Performance…apparently. This event included a few things we’d never done before. Most of them were in the video department, but there was a two-part challenge for us to deal with. The first part of the challenge was to unroll a drape on cue for video to be projected onto, the second was orchestrating a kabuki drop (where magnetic releases drop the drape on cue). To do this we had to call on the expertise of one of our older engineers, who modified an old theatre curtain winch that would unwind and lower the curtain.

Testing the system before we arrive on site! What a novelty.

With this winch assembled and tested, we hired the Kabuki release system from Hawthorns Theatrical in Leicester (thanks to Caleb & Karen for picking it up) and then started the wait to see if it would work, or if we’d just end up looking rather foolish.

Winch & kabuki systems in place on the rig, complete with integrated line array

Test unwind of the winch, with commentary from Chris Hunt:

Whilst the guys in Northampton were working on the hardware for the show, I was in Sheffield frantically programming looks and chases for the show. A combination of caffeine, David Guetta & multiple lists (I’m a list freak when it comes to trying to get myself organised) meant that by the time we arrived at Ponds Forge I had almost everything we needed to run the show already programmed. This was my first real forray into using the Avolites Titan Mobile (the baby sister desk of the Avolites Expert that we use to run the live show) to pre-program a show. It can be seen in the picture below. There was a learning curve, but I really enjoyed making it work, although a large chunk of it did have to be re-done once on site due to some orientation issues.

Workstation…yes, I really do need all these screens.

Rigging & Showtime

I think the best thing to do at this point, as with all great Hollywood compositions, is to have a video montage of the key moments in the somewhat potted storyline. Unfortunately, due to copyright reasons we couldn’t use any Celine Dion tracks, but we do have Artemis & the Beta Band’s latest offering, so that will have to do.

Overall, as a rig, it was a simple & clean design with the video team providing the main eye candy. Some ideas worked and a few bits really didn’t, however they are all valuable lessons learned for next time:

Lighting at SPD12

Lighting at SPD12

Lighting at SPD12

Lighting at SPD12

Lighting at SPD12

Lighting at SPD12

I cannot big up our team enough. Every one a volunteer, most with a full-time job, all working flat-out to make sure that our offering that we bring is an excellent one. As Jimmy said, we do often get it wrong or overdo it, but I enjoy being part of a church where these aspects of practical outworked worship are encouraged and made use of. Times spent on these rigs are where some of the deepest friendships I have are made and maintained & without these guys and this focus I simply would have no reason to still be here.

Kit used

For lighting we have been using the Martin Mac 101’s a lot and definitely wanted to include these. Also we decided to hire some American DJ Vizibeam 5R’s, alongside their inspiration, the ClayPaky Sharpy. This was our first time to see them up against each other, which was of interest to us especially given that the price difference is considerable. However, probably the most unexpected discovery was that the most effective fixtures were the cheap Showtec ones; Sunstrips (the blinders that ran along the lower circle) & ArcBars (LED lights behind the band). They really helped to give depth and warmth to the whole rig & when they were turned off the rig looked 2D and a bit needy, despite the more powerful lights trying to do their thing.

The final kit list ran as follows:

  • 4x Clay PakySharpy
  • 4x ADJ Vizibeam 5R
  • 8x Martin Mac 101’s
  • 4x Showtec Arcbar3
  • 7x Showtec Sunstrips
  • 2x Clay Paky Stage Zooms
  • 2x Clay Paky Stage Scans
  • Many 4 Cell Cycs and Par64’s for washing the stage and audience

These were all pre-programmed using Avolites Titan Mobile, the show was run on a Avo Pearl Expert with the generics powered from Art2000 T4 dimmer rack.