I’ve been chatting to several groups recently who are interested in ‘upping their game’ in terms of the visual engagement of their stages.
I’m not going to go into any detail (in this post) around why this is an important thing to think about – suffice to say: if a person comes to your church once a year, and everything looks exactly the same as the last time they were there, they could reason that they haven’t missed anything…
Over the past 4 years we have learned a lot about set design, (or scenic design as its also known) and made a ton of mistakes along the way. Here are six things, practical things you need to think about to get your department off to a great start.
Practically any material you can imagine can end up as part of a set, but we have found that 80% of the time we are using the same ‘basics’. Fabric (Voile, Pongee and Cotton Lyra) Hung or stretched, gathered or draped. Great info on set fabrics here. Correx/Coroplast – Basically its plastic cardboard. This is the number-1 go-to set design material we are using at the moment. Dirt-cheap, lights well, and easy to bend/cut. I have yet to see the natural or transparent versions on South African shores – but plain white has done well for us so far. Pine (22×44 planks) – Building flats is one of the first things you’ll want to try. Use standard dimensions to keep them reusable.
Some basics make life a lot easier. Here are some tools I use practically every week.
Staple Gun, Rivet Gun, Glue Gun, Nylon Tieing Cord, Electric Jigsaw, Electric Drill, Spirit Level, Tape Measure
Lighting is such a fundamental part of set-design that the most experienced stage-guys, speak of light and scenic as one-and-the-same. A great set can look rubbish without decent lighting – and you’d be amazed how great a simple set can look when using dramatic colours and angles. More on lighting in this post.
Deadlines are deadlines, but I have found your stage design evolves the more time you give it. Typically, if I have to get a new set up for a Sunday, I aim to have the set built by the preceding Monday, and lit by Tuesday, that way I have 4 days to tweak it.
A free 3d modeling program from Google. Absolutely invaluable in the design process. Long before you pay for material, you can see what it’s going to look like, measure it up, check sight-lines – and sell the idea to your team!
The Internet is a goldmine of ‘how-tos’ but it’s also a great place to steal – I mean – ‘draw inspiration from others’ set ideas. Check out http://www.churchstagedesignideas.com/