Set design can be a great avenue to serve your church. The atmosphere you can create and support with set design can help to instill the message being preached. There are a few great steps you can take to better your set designs and ease the workload associated with them.
Symmetry is key!
Stage sets using symmetry can be a huge time saver and are very visually appealing. The human brain is drawn to symmetry and order, and by including this in your stage design you can start off from an already comfortable space.
A symmetrical set build cuts down on the time that you need during the build as well. By copying elements that are already existing on one side, you can significantly decrease the time spent on figuring out the "how to" since you can just mirror what has been done on the other side. This also makes life easy, as you can duplicate set elements, making the process more streamlined.
One of the best ways to save time and create a beautiful set design is with duplication.
Furthermore, the symmetry makes lighting much easier. Again, every lighting element can be duplicated from the other side in a mirrored fashion. For larger lighting and set builds, this is a great thing! It enables one person to lead a group on one side of the build, while another person mirrors what has already been done on the other side.
Duplication makes for a quick set build.
One of the best ways to save time and create a beautiful set design is with duplication. If you can create a single (or a few) set elements that repeat multiple times, it saves vastly on the overall build time for that set. To keep the set interesting, you can vary the location, angle, rotation, and depth of those "assembly line" elements. Some of those elements can be purchased off the shelf as well, eliminating the need for a set build. If you are looking for pre-built options, good places to visit are ModScenes.com, Stretchshapes.com, and atomicdesign.tv, each of which offers pre-built repeatable elements.
Attention to detail leads to beauty.
In stage design, attention to detail is the difference between good and great sets. Details like seams that line up, ability to light the scene evenly, and materials that match and compliment are hugely important. It is important to focus on details that matter. One such detail that matters is direction. It is very important that if your set implies direction or movement, that it does not direct the eyes of the congregation to areas that could be a distraction. Details like finishing off the back of a scenic piece can be a quick time waster.
Distance is your friend!
Attention to detail is very important in set design. However, distance can save you a ton of fine detail work. The biggest key is that your set needs to look good from the congregation's perspective. Keep in mind the closest perspective may be the camera shot you are streaming online. Small textures and intricate hardware may be lost to your audience. It's best to create with a big visual paintbrush when doing set design. It will save valuable time that can be used to deepen the concept in other areas.
Depth is delightful.
Depth can create a sense of space and size. Adding depth to your set can also help direct your congregation's attention to a particular area. With the right amount of depth, you can have a much larger array of ways to light your set as well.
Lighting is just as important as the set!
Although many sets can visually stand on their own, when you introduce lighting, you get the best visual range. By embracing lighting, you can change the color, texture, and visual impact of your set. When utilizing separate lighting angles, you can get shadowing that will greatly increase the visual options for your set. The addition of a lighting texture to a flat scenic piece can change the visual of the set material. Furthermore, you can also use environment projection to light your scene. This can give you the added ability to add intricate textures and movement, along with even words (where appropriate).
In most cases, there should be at least the same amount of time spent on lighting a set, as there is on assembling it. With projection, even more time should be put into it.
These few notes should help you better your craft and serve your church visually. As with any creative element, it is important to know your congregation and what is appropriate in your space. See through their eyes, so you can serve your church in the best way possible. This will help us to serve our churches with a focus on supporting and not distracting.