Showing all posts tagged #process:


FILO 2016 Production Design

Posted on May 23rd, 2016

One week ago, we were finishing load in and initial programming for 2016’s edition of the FILO Conference. It was an honor and privilege to be the Production Designer (responsible for Scenic and Lighting Design) for the conference. It was a scurry of a few days so I never really had time to post anything. Here are a few of my favorite moments from the event:


Some of you took my Scenic Design Concepts breakout class. For the rest of you, here’s the story behind how I landed on the final version of the design. These are the notes from the slide where I talked about "Branding (and the iterative process of design) …and Metaphor"

The O in FILO seemed to be the best part of the brand to play off of…
PlexiDiscs (something that I have in storage that’s not being used)
They set up easily enough (tie-line and zip-ties)
They can give depth to a shallow stage
They easily fit in my hatchback!
We concept designed about building a pretty cool set piece that we chose to say no to. (the builder, time, money, space on stage, etc.)
The iterative process - never settle for the first idea, if you stay disciplined to the process, the best idea will eventually be revealed. (certainly the idea at the greatest intersection of creativity and stewardship)
Metaphor
The 40 O’s represents each of us who are FILOs. Some of us are lone guys, some of us are part of teams. Coming together we can encourage each other with our beauty as we come together. Together we can find a chorus of a “new song" (Psalm 40) to carry with us as we go back to support and enhance the sharing of the good news that Jesus loves us.

The lights, I selected for a few reasons.
First, the B-EYEs are a light that every church tech nerd has seen the videos of and dreamt about having in their venue. I thought that giving a chance to see could be beneficial.
The opportunity to have access to the use some great hybrid fixtures in the Mythos was an amazing bonus.
Finally, the Aura XBs had a primary use of lighting the scenic. However the bonus of such a great light is that we created a number of presets to give us several bonus looks!

For the whole design I played with clusters that followed the Fibonacci sequence. I wanted to have the thought of each part of the design to have a beauty on its own and contribute to the beauty of the whole in a way that felt like it fit...

Thank you to Ryan and ILC for providing the amazing lighting gear. Thanks Jeff and Brian CCC for being perhaps the most hospitable hosts an any venue I’ve ever had the chance to work with. Thanks Nate and Chelsea for the logistics, leadership, and vision. Thanks to Michael and Nic for helping us set it all up, troubleshoot issues, and Nic especially for that great catch with the B-EYEs' profile issue. Thanks Alex (whom I met as we were both on the LD panel discussion breakout) for guest designing Session 3 as I was putting finishing touches on the Keynote presentation for my breakout.

Special thanks to Patrick for being my partner in the project. Having a guy on the console who knows how to interpret the ideas of my mind almost even before I say them is the dream for an LD. A best friend with me for the journey to and from Chicago is a bonus.

Thanks most of all to Todd for inviting me to play a small role in your vision. It was a privilege and an honor.


a note to producers about the lighting cue sheet

Posted on August 30th, 2015


I've had multiple conversations with worship arts directors in the past few months where I've shared some of my thoughts on this subject. As a designer and live production artist, my personal preference loves to create "live," "Spirit led," and "in the moment." I usually do at least some amount of live busking when I operate; some shows more than others. For theatrical productions that repeat a linear story multiple shows I live in a single fully mapped timeline; a worship concert I am almost fully live. Regardless, I always have a road map sketched out (at least in napkin sketch format - see image below) if not fully built in Excel (see other image below) in some format or another. Even if I audible live, at least I'm making a change from something.

Anyway, the thoughts here were built from a copy/pasted note to one of the artistic producers I was consulting with recently. The thread had included his question of if a cue-to-cue would be something I'd recommend to their process. My answer to these questions are about finding best practices for being one in vision and trusting each other to bring the best thing we each can do to create a moving experience.

A cue-to-cue might prove to be beneficial to your process and your product. However, remember that without the context of the live music being played and the musicians on stage in their light, it’s very difficult for someone besides an experienced lighting designer to accurately know how to interpret what they see. I’ve experienced numerous cue-to-cues with producers where they make changes to what the LD designed and then later they ask for follow up changes during the dress rehearsal that end up very close to what was originally created. If doing a cue-to-cue, make sure you know what you're reviewing.

I suggest what is more beneficial is to spend the time making sure that you’re clear in the vision that you have for each moment of the service. Communicate that to the SM and LD. If they understand your vision, they’ll support/enhance the moment visually. Again, a cue-to-cue walk-through isn’t bad - the dialogue to check in and make sure you’re on the same page is really important. Simply heed my caution to not to make changes out of context. Make sense?

The greater importance is trusting each other to all be on the same page. Have you communicated vision for the story clearly? Does your LD have a plan for how to support and enhance? I suggest a meeting to talk through a cue sheet is the better use of everyone's energy. After knowing that you're on the same page, then you can each work on the tasks that you're best at.

Unless you see a specific vision for mapping out the details of an element, I don’t recommend going into detail of builds and changes in each song. Aside from the potential build (referenced with an ellipse) it simply shows the base cue guide for each moment. Feel in the room can and should lead to adjustment in each nuanced moment. Trust the LD to design beauty and magic that supports and enhances the experience.

At Kensington, we use Planning Center Online as our hub for every production we do. It’s great for scheduling teams and making sure that everyone is on the same page. I can give coaching in another post about how I suggest it might be a useful platform to incorporate into your process. Anyway, it’s a very useful tool for us in laying out the flow of elements in a service. As a PM, I love being able to think through what each discipline (Audio, Lighting, Multimedia, etc.) needs to be doing at each moment of the service.

In each cue the notes in the lighting column give the road map for what lights will be doing in the format of:
"SUBJECT LIGHT | SCENIC LIGHT | HOUSE LIGHT"
Subject - the communicators and artists on stage
Scenic - everything behind and around the people - soft goods, lights through haze, etc.
House - as simple as basic intensity, but often can include environmental lighting

As an LD, I map out the visual story pretty intentionally. Sometimes a show calls for a fully detailed cue sheet with specific intensities and focus patterns for each instrument along with fade times for each transition. A cue sheet can also be as simple as a napkin sketch. Having these notes shared with the Stage Manager is really important as they're the hub for helping everyone stay true to common vision. Again, I suggest using PCO (or another cloud based service) to make sure everyone can stay updated with any changes along the way...

Do these thoughts make sense? Do you have ideas grow in how you might evolve your process? Please let me know!


Create something beautiful today

Posted on March 27th, 2015

Create something beautiful today.
Whether a photograph, a spreadsheet, performance art, or leadership moment.
Make sure to care...

a journey in pursuit of the higher standard

Posted on February 27th, 2015

Sometimes the best path is nonlinear. Process matters. Effective is more important than efficient.

Life is too short to allow people to cherish the lesser. Break paradigms. Call people to the higher standard.

Use Evernote for everything

Posted on January 15th, 2014

I continue to have conversations with friends who ask me to teach them how I use Evernote. I'm certainly glad to; however I realize I should share the following (my endorsement of my friend Sandi's post about how she uses Evernote) that I copy/pasted from my facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/egwolfe/posts/10202889927640229

I wholeheartedly endorse Evernote as the #1 must-use (as opposed to just must-have) productivity tool. Sandi is right on when she says you can't overuse it. My exact workflow is different than hers, but general thought process is quite similar... Tags are great, text recognition is the jam - one of my favorite tips: take a photo at the at the end of your meeting - search by any word written on the board and the note will be recalled!

To start this year well, watch the #GTD video I posted last week; then start using Evernote. It is your catch-all file-cabinet that you take with you everywhere...and then some!

*Make sure to give it the time it deserves during your weekly review. This summer, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Evernote is one of those programs that is weird to get the hang of, but once you do, it will change your life. The secret is to use it for everything. If you use it only for this or that, it will never really make sense for you. I’ve been using it for 5+ years and let me tell you, I hyperventilate a little bit without it. It’s the VERY FIRST THING I load onto a new computer. Over a better browser, over mail, over a calendar. The very first thing.

It took me a while to really hone my method - I tried various things and then discarded them like outgrown shoes. Occasionally I’d abandon it for something newer and shinier, but I always come back. And in the last two years, I’ve discovered a groove that is absolutely life changing. I hope that something here will resonate with you and make your life easier. Here’s how I use it.

1. Put EVERYTHING in it. You cannot overuse Evernote.

  • My daughter is at a swim meet. I open a note and call it “Waterford Swim Meet". It auto tags the date and location. I jot down which events she’s in. I take a photograph of the program. I take a handful of photos of her at the meet (terrible photos, I’m far far away) and one of the score board with her time on it when she broke a personal record. All go in the note. As she swims, I jot down her times for each race. On the way out, I throw away the program (no more, “where should I put this, maybe I’ll make a scrapbook someday") and can tell her what she placed, what her times were. I tag the note with three tags: “Leslie", “8th grade" & “swim".
  • I just acquired a microwave for over the stove. I open a note and call it “Microwave". I take a photo of the sticker with the model and serial number. I do a quick google search for that model + manual, download the manual and add it to the note. Finally, I photograph the receipt and add it to the note. Done. I throw away box, manual & receipt, knowing I’ll always have them if I need them.
  • I’m at Supercuts with my son and I open a note and title it “Boy haircut". In it I jot down which blade he likes for the sides and the top. We stop at the shoe store and buy sneakers. I take a quick photo of the label on the box. I label it shoes and tag it with his name.
  • I’m at the doctor with my daughter. I open a note and label it “Dr Adams". I jot down her height and weight, prescriptions and anything else valuable (shots, tests, etc). I tag it “Leslie" “Dr". Later when the bill and the EOB from the insurance company come in, I attach those to this entry.

2. Tag with three things: Who, When, What

  • You can get (and I have) crazy elaborate with tags but I’ve found that in order for them to be most useful, you only need those three pieces of info. The’ve never failed me. Who? What? When? I don’t always use tags and I don’t always use them all. But all my tags are one or more of those items.

3. Search here first

  • I get a phone call during rehearsal and the daughter says the director doesn’t want her to wear boots on stage, she needs flats, can I get her some black ones real quick? I head to Old Navy, pull up Evernote and search “shoes" and boom, there I’ve got her most recent size.
  • I’m filling out paperwork at the high school info night and need to know when a tetanus shot was. I pull up EN and search “tetanus" and get three entries - one for each of us. I grab the one tagged with the right kid, look at the date, and there you go.
  • I’m at Lowe’s and shopping for the little bulb in the microwave that illuminates the stovetop. Holy moly, there’s like a million sizes, what? I pull open EN, search for “microwave" and right there on my phone, boom, owners manual for my microwave that I can search through and find the secret code for the right bulb.
  • I’m talking to another swim mom about how the kids qualify for certain events and she tells me the time cut off. I pull out EN to see what my child got in that event with a 5 second search of “swim" and “50 back". There’s my answer.
  • I’m on the phone with student loan people and they need to know my AGI from line whatever in my taxes last year. Open EN, search for “Taxes" choose the right one and 20 seconds later, I have my answer.
  • I’m trying to find a new recipe for couscous and remember that I saw one in the magazine at the drs office a month ago. I open EN and search for “couscous" and there it is. I took a picture of it and EN found the word IN THE PHOTO.
  • What’s the name of that orthopedist I saw one time in Myrtle Beach? Open up EN and search for “orth" because I can never spell that word. Luckily, I only get hits for him and Collin’s orthodontist so we’re all good. I simply took a photo of his business card and then threw it away.
  • I’m talking to a friend who’s visiting Galveston and can’t remember the name of the pirate that we found who is buried there. Open EN, search for “pirate" and it finds the photograph of my kids standing next to the monument from the word “pirate’ engraved in the marble.

Evernote has replaced my recipe book, my filing cabinet and my filofax. It’s replaced 3 boxes of kid memorabilia in the garage. If I want a timeline, I put “leslie" 1st grade" and automagically I have samples of her work, her art, her schedule, her report cards, name and numbers of her teachers and photos of her…all in a neat timeline.

Because Evernote lives in the cloud, it doesn’t matter if my phone breaks or my house burns down, I’ll always have access. And I’ll always be able to find what I need quickly and not have a home cluttered with “I better not throw this away". It’s absolutely priceless.

Eric Wolfe

Visual Artist. Production Designer and Consultant. Developer of Ideas. Maximizer of Resources. Strategic Thinker. Creative Innovator. Husband. Father. Philosopher. Photographer. Backpacker. Athlete. Cook. Artisan. Catch Eric’s sporadic musings at egwolfe.com or follow him on social media platforms as @egwolfe