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Creative Stage Design Fundamentals

Creative Stage Design Fundamentals

Similar to a Broadway show or a music tour, worship stage design can help tell the story or set the tone of what you are trying to communicate within your worship space.

Stage design has become very popular in worship environments over the past 10 years.

Much of worship stage design has evolved from theater settings and music tours. Similar to a Broadway show or a music tour, worship stage design can help tell the story or set the tone of what you are trying to communicate within your worship space.

With right-sized expectations and a few fundamentals, you can find yourself well on your way to visually enhancing your worship environment.
We've all seen grand stage designs, like one at a large church or on a big budget tour that gives us great inspiration. It causes you to get excited, to where you look to try to recreate this experience in your space, only to learn that your resources can't meet your newfound vision. The natural thing to do is to give up out of frustration about having that fantastic set design for your space. But with right-sized expectations and a few fundamentals, you can find yourself well on your way to visually enhancing your worship environment.

Light the way

Choosing the right lighting can go a long way in creating a compelling stage design. By using different lighting fixtures, positions, and colors, you can draw a congregation's attention to the design. It's key to choose the right fixture based on the desired effect. Ellipsoidal and intelligent profile lights will have narrow beam angles, and can be used to focus light directly on an area or design element. Fresnel or LED wash fixtures will have a wider and softer beam angles that you can use to paint large areas with light or color.

Using different lighting positions will help to create contrast in your design. Simply pointing a light directly at an object will often create a very flat and often dull look. But by using different lighting angles, you can use shadows to add separation between the design elements and the artists on stage.

Being able to dim and control your lighting is very helpful as well. The benefit that comes with controlling your lighting is that you will not be stuck with just one look. With a wide array of looks, you can drastically change the mood of your set design.

Think in 3D

How and where you place things on your stage is just as important to what you put on your stage. Because we experience things in a three-dimensional space, you have to think beyond the straight lines of your stage and walls. Consider how you can place different props and design elements at different heights and depths on your set to give your stage more dimension. Also, don't forget about the floor and ceiling, as they can be great canvases for your design.

It's a material world

When deciding on different materials, whether it be fabric, metal, plastic, cardboard, or something else, think about it from a creative angle. What can be done with it? Can each of these materials be painted, stained, or distressed? Can any of them be stretched, molded, or broken into smaller pieces? Can any of the materials be flown from the ceiling, or be used as a texture on a wall? Are any of them reflective or opaque? Visualize how you can transform different materials into something new.

When in need of inspiration, I will often browse IKEA, various large home improvement stores, and fabric shops. By being able to handle different materials and to see them up close, I'm then able to imagine how they could be manipulated and used as part of a stage design.

What's the purpose?

Before you start building your sets, it's best to ask the question, "What's the purpose?" You should have a reason for your design. It should serve a purpose for your environment and the people you are trying to communicate to. Your stage design should go beyond looking beautiful; to helping others experience a message of hope in compelling and creative ways.

I feel that if God was obsessed with environments to communicate His message, then maybe we should be too.

Tony Staires currently works at Granger Community Church in Granger, Ind., as the Production Audio Coordinator. He's worked in production and AVL integration over the past 16 years, and has worked with several Grammy and Dove Award winning artists. To see more articles like this go to another Worship Facilities Network website WorshipTechDirector.com

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