After a year and a half hiatus of doing original stage designs, I was blessed to have the opportunity to get back in the saddle and create a stage design for Saddleback Church Irvine South.
We heard that we would have the opportunity to display a large tapestry at our campus, created thousands of people who tied up strips of fabric to demonstrate that their lives were changed.
Using this tapestry as an inspiration, I used a screenshot of the stage set I had created in Google SketchUp and drew a fabric design on top using illustrator.
In order to calculate the amount of fabric needed, I rotated rectangles in SketchUp to recreate the design. This was a huge time saver later on because I could work out any issues with overlapping and sight lines directly in SketchUp.
SketchUp is so awesome because you can rotate everything around at any angle to check all the views.
Our seats curve around the stage a bit so it was important that people could still see the screens no matter where they sat.
This is the top view. I could use this view to figure out the distance of the foot of the fabric from the back curtain.
I added measurements to the diagram to save time during the installation.
- White numbers: length of fabric
- Pink numbers: distance apart on the top pipe
- Yellow numbers: distance from curtain
- Green numbers: distance from drum cage
On the day of the installation, we attached the fabric to the pipes above using griff clips and tie line, stretched the fabric down to the location on the stage that was determined by the measurements, and cut the fabric.
We used sandbags to weight down the fabric. Literally. Our purchased black sandbags did not arrive in time.
We used two kinds of fabric: a translucent voile fabric and a poly (opaque) fabric. In hindsight, the voile fabric worked better.
Finally it was done!
I drew up a lighting plot for all the different fixtures we were using. Most of them were instruments we already had. We got a few PAR40’s, but since we didn’t have the budget for more lights, we used whatever was on hand — SlimPARs and different kinds of strip lights.
The lights on the pipe above were aimed down the length of the fabric. The ones on the bottom either aimed up the length of the fabric or light the fabric from underneath, giving a translucent glow.
Since I took a theater lighting class last year, it was my dream to be able to program moving lights. I was so excited to program on our Martin M1 board some brand new looks and cuelists!
I created different color schemes. Here’s blue…
A red/pink one…
And one to match our Easter graphics!
Notice in the photo above how one of the diagonals on the right looks wrinkled. The sandbag we got was too light so every few weeks I have to go and stretch it back out again. I really should get some more sand bags.
The 3D nature of the set gives a multi-layered look.
I love how the fabric looks like it is glowing!
In the end, the tapestry ended up going to another campus. But it was a good inspiration for this set!
The installation itself took only two half-days, with 3-4 people each day. The first one we hung the fabric. The second one we did the lights. Programming lights was another day. Doing the pre-work in Illustrator and SketchUp saved us tons of time because most of the problems were worked out ahead of time. We had a few snags, like unexpected pipes hanging from the ceiling, but all in all it went quickly.
I’m so grateful God brought me to this campus. Before I came, I had had the opportunity to do lighting design for another church. It was an act of surrender to give that up and follow God’s leading to come to this campus. But since then I have realized that our campus has tons of lighting fixtures that the other location did not and the opportunity to be creative with an awesome team of people — Psalm 37:4 in real life!
Thank you to Caroline, Heidi, Eliud, Daniel, and Rob for making this set possible!
Angela Yee is a church leadership systems consultant as well as a professional designer. She helps church leaders “get it done” by assisting with vision implementation.
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