Showing all posts tagged #productiondesign:


Coaching Stage Design

Posted on September 3rd, 2020

So, I’m coaching a Worship Director friend in a consultation thread about the design updates they want to implement on their stage. Here’s a copy/paste of the last message I typed in the thread:

My encouragement to you in thinking about design is to build a mood board of things that you’d like. I can then help you in designing something that is true to your taste and feels current and that will look good for in the room as well as for the lens.
And I definitely encourage not gathering any more than 50% of your inspiration from HOW. Honestly, I recommend staying beneath 10 or even 5% if possible.
The "church scene" is sadly very derivative. Don’t make a copy of a copy of a copy. The best design in the world is inspired by nature and original eureka ideas. If choosing existing work to be inspired by, I suggest studying great architecture, flipping through an art history textbook, or watching a broadway show. Watch the Grammys or some top name as well as highly creative indie concerts if you want something that is more live production. Watching other churches is far too often simply copying people who have copied many people before.
Also, it’s never about specific gear. It’s about the feel that you want to have things look like and the budget and existing inventory that you have access to.


And then I just read this related thought in the book, Disrupt by Luke Williams.


Prototyping

Posted on October 18th, 2019

I was asked recently about what prototyping looks like in my design process. It varies. It depends a lot on the timeline of the project, but I really do love to bring both my team and the client along with the idea. Even if only for myself, I like to play with the idea in tangible space. Sometimes it’s as low-fi as a sketch and some card-stock that I cut out for shapes that I play around with in a scale model of a stage. Sometimes a 3D rendering is helpful. If possible (especially when designing for a build for multiple locations) it’s great to build as near to a actual size prototype that we can play with in the lighting and context of the actual stage

We wanted to see how the arches and ramps would let us see performers through and atop of the beauty; and get a sense of what the layers of design would feel like from various angles.

The pastors of this old church wanted a way to update the look of their space that for low cost could help give their congregation more than just a fresh coat of paint but see a vision for the future

We wanted to talk about a road into the mountains where the narrater could take the audience on a journey along a dusty road; but that on a cue, the mountains could literally move to reveal a live band that could add to the experience. I began with a sketch; I then moved to playing with the model. Then, we built prototype flats to test how the rolling worked. We learned that putting them on rails was key to the success of everything being in the same exact place for lighting and blocking every move. We also had a main campus to show how the texturing with paint as well as light was so crucial to realism. A bonus that you might notice in the bottom left image is that you can see how I even added a bit of screen material to show what a scrim might be placed in the mid depth to help add to the forced perspective and picturesque scene.

Invent the new, Break paradigms, Strive for magic

Posted on August 16th, 2019

A repost originally from 5 years ago:

Invent the new - artistically, with technology, and by helping people realize a better process.
Break paradigms - dare to bend the implications of what people think they know.
Strive for magic in relationship between technology and art.

(August 28, 2014)

Story Conference

Posted on July 19th, 2019

Revisiting one of my favorite Production Design memories - Story Conference 2012
This is from my Production Design Training slide deck. I ask questions like these when I’m designing:
  • What is the desired vibe?
  • What resources do I have in storage that I can reuse?
  • What can fit in my minivan to transport from Detroit to Chicago?
  • How can it look like it has more depth than the very shallow stage actually has?
  • Who is the crew? What are their skills and talents and passions? Do they want a challenge?
The journey to get to from concept to actual design (including materials list, rigging notes, lighting plot, setup checklist, and rendering of vision) took a lot of iteration. It required lots of emails including scanned sketches and study of blueprints of venue that I was out of town and not able to do an in-person site-survey. We also utilized video conferencing for "face-to-face collaboration between Executive Producer, Production Manager, and myself, the Production Designer) including screen-sharing and digital sketching. The most interesting development was the week-of donation of an LED screen that let us gain a lot of stage space because of the throw distance not being required; which was great for the final product, but required some last minute adaptability in redesign of all the rigging and the lighting plot. One of the key layers of this design that wasn’t there when I arrived at the venue was four lekos with abstract gobos. I pushed way hard for the day of rehearsal that our PM managed to find a way to procure the morning of the conference was some theatrical gobos to throw textural light at the curtains. Sometimes it's the simple, old-school, theatrical tricks that really create the mood and set the tone for the experience. When the team saw them turn on only minutes before doors opened, they realized why I was pushing so hard for such. Magical!*this post adapted from my post in September 2012. Feel free to look it up for greater detail and explanation of choices.


Volunteer Celebration

Posted on May 29th, 2019

Event Producing
The request was to find a way to show appreciation to >900 volunteers. I was offered the support of the other directors on the staff and a budget of $10,000. At first glance that sounds like a lot of money, but I had to use that for catering for dinner and desert, decorations, entertainment, awards...as well as invitations, childcare, photography, table hosting, setup, strike, dishwashing; also what presenters and MCs would be responsible for what communication...

I took survey of all the stakeholders - directors and key leaders. I learned what worked well with similar events in the past. I assembled a team of key partners whom I could brainstorm with and develop concepts. We did research to figure out what our ideas might cost. We met again and leaned into what had good value and scrapped what didn’t. We surveyed and used statistics to determine how many we thought would actually show up; and how many might. We put it on the calendar and after figuring out a brand for the night we sent out invitations. We worked through details with the caterer and the band. We made certain sacrifices from our ideal hopes, but ended up with remarkably clever innovations to our plan. We created a signup sheet for directors to own delegated chores and presented the vision to the staff with the request for ownership… In addition to my team of co-leaders, our whole staff stepped up and helped make a really special evening. The video above shows a few of the highlights.Download PDFDownload PDF


20 Front Street

Posted on October 17th, 2018

Venue Creation and Lighting Design

A few years ago a friend came to me with a dream of creating a space for artists to present their music in an unique, distraction-free, beauty-filled, environment. He took me to a run down old building that literally had dirt floors and birds living in the rafters. It was freezing and dirty. All I could envision was the magic that would be. We began ideating out loud. We walked the space, and in the actual space we paced out where we would put the stage, and have people sit and enter, and where the green room for the artists would be. We used our hands to visualize what our design aesthetic would be.

I napkin sketched some ideation and kept the dream simmering in the back burner of my mind. Months passed before I got a call that the venue was approved and that we would get to take our dreams forward with reality. We put on some temporary concerts in the dirt and construction zone along the way. This was great for us as we got to braintrust our concepts by interviewing people who would be customers and investors. After many months, we finally got to integrate our V1.0 design. We were remarkably frugal with our choices so that we could open up; and at some point, we’ll upgrade to our dreams of 2.0, but it feels so great now, that we may just live with the budget version…

You should really take in a show there. It’s an unique experience found no other venue in the world! We’re really proud of it.


Leadership Gathering January 2018

Posted on January 26th, 2018


Design alternative to truss

Posted on May 25th, 2017

I was asked for my consult on what other options I could recommend besides truss to hang a banner for an event. This was my reply:

I’m always a fan of pipe-and-base. It certainly takes up less space in a vehicle and is quicker to set up. It’s not a design on its own (you can’t put an LED inside to make it pretty colors) but it certainly is a bang-for-the-buck way to have some banners or whatever have something to tie to…

Create something beautiful today

Posted on March 20th, 2017

Create something beautiful today. Whether a photograph, a spreadsheet, performance art, or leadership moment. Make sure to care...

Diagrams and Branding Documents

Posted on February 19th, 2017



This slide is from my Production Design Training slide deck. It illustrates the importance of a diagram and checklist in ensuring a design being accurately setup with excellence in multiple venues; as well as the benefit of a Branding Document for continuity of design with lighting design and graphics - colors, textures, typography.


Eric G Wolfe

Process Architect. Design Strategist. Leadership Coach.