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:

Painting During Worship

Recently I had the privilege of going to Switzerland to visit the Basivilla community where we co-hosted a Christian conference over there. During my time there Mark Fels (the leader of the motley crew) asked if I would paint something during the worship time.  Feeling slightly nervous of the fact that a room full of people could see what I was doing I tried to position my self nearer the back of the room so I could just get on…

The main theme of the whole conference was all about fellowship, brotherhood, community and deep relationships. Having heard people’s longings for community I heard Gods word about needing unity to produce community, otherwise it really doesn’t work… and this is where this painting springs from.

It was painted with acrylics and was slightly difficult to do as there were only massive paint brushes! However, considering the circumstances and the pressure I don’t think it came out to bad 🙂

Does anyone actually want live worship?

For many years as a church we ONLY produced “live” tracks. Everything that came out the studio was basically taken from one or other of the many events we do, given a lick of paint and sent on it’s merry way to a CD…..cue various comments from our muso’s about silk purses and pigs ears or polishing certain stuff (though Mythbuster’s have dispproved said myth)….that said it is often a fair point. Maybe I just speak for myself but when us amateurs are not paying fine attention to the details of the song and our playing we’re often not that great. So this begs the question in a world where everyone is listening to polished, tidy and click track tight music does the traditional live Christian worship recording have place?

This months song (albeit now out for a couple of weeks) was a real quandary to me. I like the song, and I wanted to do it justice. That means I’m gonna do what I think is right with it. I don’t really like recorded worship and generally I just don’t listen to it. I don’t mind watching it on the God channel for a bit (shhhh don’t tell our leaders – they don’t seem like the God channel) but in a pure listening environment I’ll skip to the next track thanks……so surely I get the boys into the studio to record it?

But here’s the rub, when I listened to the live recording of this track it was good…..oh finkle dinkle! Not musically particularly good – sure, there was some nice bits but with all the normal flaws like out of time playing, some dodgy singing and a random person in the congregation clapping out of time (fortunately we appear to have shot anyone holding a tambourine so there was none of that). Ok maybe I was there at the time so I remember the moment but even listening to this in the studio I felt there was a real atmosphere about the recording that I couldn’t replicate in the studio.

So whilst I might manage to get it note perfect, in time and add some interesting sparkle, maybe some clever vocal harmonies etc etc. I’m not convinced the singer would sing with such passion and emotion as he did on the day and despite the odd clapping man in the ambient mics I would certainly never have managed to replicate what congregation singing gave the song……So I took the plunge.

Here is probably the first real “live” recording since I started here in the studio some 18 months ago, and my conclusion on live worship music…..well I still don’t really like it that much and I doubt I’ll make a habit of this unforced. It might not be musically perfect, the bass player is bumbling away to himself (probably texting!) at the start and the piano player gets a bit excited at one point and forgets about the drummer , but in this situation I’m not sure that matters – you can’t deny (well I don’t think you can anyway) that it carries something a studio recording never can.