A New Look Without a Big Price Tag

With the economy taking a toll on every church’s giving, changing up how the platform looks isn’t the biggest spending priority. But, we had some pieces of gear laying around, and put our minds to changing up the look. This was a collaboration between lighting, music, video, and print. The result you see here:


Every space is different, and not everyone is as blessed as we are in regard to gear and available personnel. But the basic process we went through should work in any setting.

What’s the goal?
Our goal was simple: change up the look of the space in a way that accentuates the new sermon series, but costs very little. Our desire was to use existing gear. We knew that the art design for the series would include shattered glass breaking away from a view of the cross. This would be a prime opportunity to take the image content and move it outside the screen area.

Evaluate the space:
Our main Worship Center has had very little change over the last couple of years. We have a massive screen that renders what could be a large fly space virtually useless, because when you hang things in there you block IMAG. The fan shape requires consideration to be given to sight lines. People need to be able to see from all areas.

Evaluate your circumstances:
We have 3 distinct worship services that meet in the Worship Center. Any new look has to take those varying styles and traditions. In our case, we had to be able to move things out of the way of the choir. Anything we do has to be palatable to all three services. We have the gear to make the look very much like a rock concert, but that would not work for most of our services. But we also wanted to push the edge of what we had done a little bit.

Evaluate your resources:
As I said before, we are blessed. We thought this would be a great time time to delve into architectural video, and happened to have a couple of projectors we had previously used in a different venue. But 2 projectors doesn’t cover the space we have, and even if it did, there’s the massive organ to think about. We didn’t have enough to cover the choir wall and the space next to the screen. Luckily, we do our own poster printing in house, so we have a plotter than can do great quality imagery. The creative/graphic design guys came to the table, and we talked about how long the strips can be, and how we could use print to accomplish the design idea. And lighting dug out truss, and looked at what motors and points we had available.

Looking at what’s available, and what your limitations are, what can you do?

We wanted to take the image on the screen and extend it across the wall. As people encounter the cross, their perspective is changed, shattered. And we reflect that encounter in our own testimony. We also wanted to move away from a flat lighting grid to give some depth.

Test the concept:
There were some new things were were trying. Before got beyond the point of no return, we tested the video projection and the print look. The video had to be bright enough, and couldn’t look like a big square projection on part of the wall/organ pipes. The print material had to look good, and be able to hang.

Do it:
We had a pretty tight schedule to get the conversion done. We started on Monday and finished on Friday. As always, we were flexible. We tried several configurations. At one point we had the front edge covered in the printed paper as well. It was difficult to keep it up, and that close the fact it was paper was very noticeable. Plus, once it was all together, we felt that it might be a little too much for one of our services, so we scaled back.

The result? It cost us time and ink. The reaction has so far been very good, but at this point I’m inside of 30 hours since it was first seen. Time will tell.

A bit of tech about how we did it:
The truss hanging down can be raise up almost completely behind the audio “boxcar” for 2 of our services. The back wall is 2 vector images repeated across the wall in an AA, AB, BB, BA pattern, printed on panels about 3’x12′, held up by staples and tape. An iMac running ProPresenter feeds the same image to the 2 projectors, and one is set to “rear” project, which gives us the mirror image. The image was created in AfterEffects, a 30-second loop with slight motion. The pieces are from the main graphic for the series, and had to have a very high contrast in order to be seen well. It’s not everything we wanted to do, but it worked.

You may be saying, I don’t have a plotter, spare truss, or projectors. Sure, but you probably have something you’ve used in the past. How could what you have now be used to help enhance and communicate in your service?