Showing all posts tagged #ideation:


My Production Design Algorithm

Posted on May 17th, 2015

A stream of thought listing things I consider with every design:

  • Context of organization
  • Context of event
  • What are the “budget" parameters?
    • Cost for the event?
    • Budget for series? for year?
  • Who is on stage?
    • who’s the teacher
    • who’s the worship leader
    • play to their style
  • Topic of the day…series
  • Branding...
    • How do the visuals identify with the mission?
    • Achieve continuity with the rest of communication
  • What are my resources?
    • existing materials?
    • budget for new?
      • I suppose I ought to ask about rental budget; however I’m rarely a fan of such...
    • lighting inventory?
  • What is the rep plot?
    • How do we play to the strengths of the lighting system?
    • A good rep plot is arguably the most important asset to your venue.
    • Certainly right up there with a good PA.
    • The good news is that that it costs way less...
  • What are video requirements?
    • IMAG
    • broadcast
    • camera positions
  • What are audio’s needs? What will help them succeed?
  • who is the producer?
    • What are their visual preferences?
    • what “lens" is the story told?
  • Who is on lights? Maximize their strengths...
  • What is the timeline for setup? for strike?
    • Is it a stage turn situation? If so, what is the design that precedes and follows?
    • How do you design in the timeline of multiple turns?
      • Hang the rig points 2 weeks out
      • hang the truss 1.5 weeks out
      • hang the lights 1 week out and use as backlight for the Midweek stage
      • Finally, hang hard goods and refocus lights in the turn for the target event
      • then hang a screen and soft goods from the same truss in an upcoming design.
  • What are transportation and storage logistical considerations?
  • Who is the crew? What are their strengths and experiences?
    • Artists vs. engineers
  • Materials
    • What materials have been used recently?
    • What materials will the upcoming holiday be using?
    • Use something different than either of these.
  • Mood
    • Honestly more important than materials is the mood.
    • It’s possible to create multiple moods with the same materials.
      • That’s what we do in a series: I brand a series with a palette of materials, and then craft the set for each day to support the unique story of that specific event...
  • Inspiration
    • What is inspiring me recently?
      • Architecture
      • Nature
      • Window displays
      • Trade magazines
      • Cinema
      • Renaissance paintings
      • Industrial dumpster
      • Pinterest
    • What's an archived idea that I might finally have the chance to try?
      • Evernote
        • Anything that inspires me tends to end up in Evernote
        • I use tags such as “design ideas"
    • I hate copying (plagiarism) and go to great lengths to make sure my art is authenticity mine. However, I think being inspired by other designers is completely appropriate.
    • Who can you connect with to bounce ideas off of one another? #ctln
  • Passion
    • I want people to pull their phones out.
    • I take pride in my discipline - the pursuit of creating something beautiful.
    • A design certainly should look good
      • Visual interest, shapes, patterns, textures, Layers, Depth behind every camera angle, etc.
      • However I suggest there are transcendent considerations that can be woven into the scene - metaphor, symbols, numerology, etc. Hide "Easter eggs" - it's fun and it will inspire someone, I promise.
        • break the 4th wall - immerse them in the story
        • target people’s subconscious

Danny Cox Album Release Concert

Posted on April 25th, 2015

It was such a privilege to be part of this event! My friend Danny released his recent album “Fighting for the Beauty" last night. I was honored to be asked to be Production Designer for it.

I reprised some of my favorite ingredients for this show:
  • Persian Rugs (various sizes and colors from (5’x7.5' all the way to 12’x23')
  • Gothic Chandeliers (custom made for Easter’15)
  • Gothic Lanterns (custom made for Easter’15) on the floor and atop our Iron Candle Stands (custom made many years ago for a Good Friday)
  • ADJ Z7s (LED zoom mover - I love the value of these instruments) atop our custom moving light cages (ask me about these cages sometime)
  • Black Tergalet and Silver Batiste (Rosebrand)
  • Elation 300s (profile mover) and 60s (LED wash mover)
  • And a very generous demo (thank you Advanced Lighting & Sound) of some ADJ beams

Here’s a phone pic of a nice moment near the end of the set. Hopefully I’ll add a few more from my real camera soon.

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.

The filtering process of creating

Posted on February 21st, 2015

I've been pondering creativity recently. I suggest that creativity is more than an act: Creativity is a process.

That statement made, creativity is more than useless imagination, it is something tangible. Something is new that was not realized before! Creativity is turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. It is the ability to perceive, the vision to find hidden patterns, the action of making connections between seemingly unrelated phenomenon, the capacity to generate solutions.

It is not a single magical moment (though there are wonderfully encouraging moments of revelation along the journey) but rather the commitment to the process that is what defines the genius of the artisan who gifts us with her prose, his construction, their song, etc.

The creative doesn't start with nothing however. Usually (speaking for myself and for many of my friends) "writer's block" is the cause of to much "cluster" and a lack of focus for where to begin. Narrowing down the perameters is often the best way to begin. What are the core themes to be played with?

The process of creativity is a "filtering process" that begins with everything. Whittle away at the whole to focus in on the core beauty to be revealed. Then, when the creation begins to take shape, refine, refine, refine...

Hands Head and Heart

Posted on October 27th, 2014

He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
-St. Francis of Assisi

Thoughts to Remember When Creating a Space for Worship

Posted on September 30th, 2014

I rattled off a stream of thought in response to my friend asking me what things I think about when designing. He took that email and compiled it into this list; which his organization now uses this as part of their planing meetings. Perhaps it is a helpful guide for you to consider as well...


Thoughts to Remember When Creating a Space for Worship

  • The end goal of the services that happens in the space.
  • The vibe/feeling you want to help communicate.
  • Who is the target demographic?
  • Who in the audience will be reached regardless of the branding, environment, and artistry? These are not people to design for. Do not be influenced by them.
  • Who might only be opened up to the communication by the environment you present? This is who you must go after.
  • How might you use resources you already have available to support your vision?
  • What alternative ideas might convey such themes with increased beauty/power/depth?
  • What ideas might work well because of how clear the symbolism might be?
  • What of those ideas would be so cliché that it would actually turn off the artist in the audience?
  • What metaphors can you weave into the design to add depth of beauty (and meaning) ...even if only for you?
  • How long do you want to live in the look? A series? A season? A weekend? Indefinitely?
  • How will you light the set? How will you light the art and communication? Will the lighting on both feel unified?
  • Make sure to design scenic elements that will be enhanced with the lighting tools available. Also, design scenic with consideration of who is designing/operating lights. Try to play to their strengths.
  • It needs to look good in the room, to be certain. Are you broadcasting ever - stream, IMAG, record for later release?
  • Lighting for video requires thinking beyond what looks good to the naked eye; and lighting for both video and still having everything look good in the room requires some real finesse…
  • Think through positioning of each person who will be on stage. Where they stand/sit/dance should feel like it connects with the scenic elements and help visually connect the guests with the communication on stage. Break the 4th wall.
  • What scenic and/or lighting might be considered in the room? In the lobby? Before and after the event with advertising, social media, etc. How does the branding transcend the stage experience?
  • Think through everything that people might see. Certainly do not let anything be a distraction; also push into every opportunity to help enhance the story...

A Challenge to Myself

Posted on July 23rd, 2014

We artists are responsible for being the spark of hope that will change futures.

Eliminate everything that makes you less than the best reflection of your humanity. It is your responsibility is to be a good steward of every opportunity.

Own your contribution. Do not allow cynicism to “protect" you from having to try. Cynicism and hope cannot coexist. Embrace the new present and pursue the future without fear.

If you complain about something (especially more than once) you’re allowing it to continue. Instead, look for how you can solve the “problem" and lead into a new future… Future based language changes present results.

Do not be lulled into accepting the good. Instead, search out the hidden potential for greatness. Greatness is revealed by the discipline of whittling away at the idea and not settling for the first draft.

Tell a story. Be an artisan. Craft the magical.

Give good notes; be a good coach. Do not "play small." Give the gift of honest and constructive criticism - it is a real gift if your team trusts that you are for them.

Strive to do what only you can do. Gather and invest in great teammates. They too are creative and uniquely gifted. Be intentional and mine it out of them.

Being full of hope, bring your full self to any and every situation. Know your unique talents and steward them well.

Use your creative mind as a gift to the team. When at your best, you'll ask helpful, focusing questions that will guide us toward a better future.

Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening. Break paradigms - dare to bend the implications of what people think they know.

Ideate where we might go as we consider "hopeful, unknown, future possibilities."

Tomorrow is not rooted in the past unless you are lazy in your vision. May we call each other to the higher standard. Let us reach for the stars.

May we be known by love. May ours be a collective voice of hope. May we realize our potential to create a beautiful future.

Do not hesitate to step up where others shrink in fear. Charge as a warrior in the service of joy. Never cease speaking up and offering your very best work. Be relentless in generously sharing the gift you uniquely can be - to your ecclesial community and the world beyond.

You are designed to imagine and create the future.

You are not your idea. Be openhanded with everything. You are not what you do. Do not forget that the Work of God is to believe in the one who was sent.

As a creative who seeks to live life to the fullest, you must always pay attention to the world. See the big picture. Never cease to to be awestruck at the beauty of nature. Practice gratefulness; recognize gifts even and especially in the midst of chaos. Share in the celtic tradition as you journey.

Be not prideful; be courageous. Live unhindered. Your life is art.

Continue dying to yourself and live every new day in a posture of surrender.

Keep your integrity bounded and your imagination boundless. May your dreams be big - rooted in not in your past but in the One who was and is and most importantly who is to come.

Love with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.



*The above is curated from my various journal entries, notebooks, and underlined passages from books I've been reading. Along with a few "original" thoughts of my own, much of the above is derived with paraphrasing (and a few direct quotes) from some people who have been inspiring me over the past few months. Thanks in particular to Oswald Chambers, Seth Godin, Erwin McManus, Ann Voscamp, Ed Catmull, Aaron Sorkin, Marcus Buckingham, Michael Dauphinee, Jason Jaggard, Jessica Wolfe, and Jesus of Nazareth.


Live Production and Landscape Photography Similarities to Study and Apply

Posted on March 10th, 2014

Last night, I watched a video presentation* about landscape photography. There were many great thoughts that I certainly consider beneficial for me to consider as a photographer. Some is a little boring with how basic it is - but always good to remind myself of the fundamentals. Some I knew (and can actually say that I've been attempting to apply) intuitively and is encouraging to me that I've been on the right track. Other ideas totally make sense as I think about them; and leave me itching to test them out...

One of the greatest takeaways is something that I can't help but doing in any field of my artistry: Never settle for a good shot; a great shot is there if you look for it. I know I often can drive my friends and colleagues nuts with my constant unrest as I search for the greatest degree of beauty. It's inherent to my personality and strength mix I think - an "unconscious competency" is a term that may be applied. Well, the presenter spent some time in the middle of the presentation discussing shot composition and I couldn't help but hear brilliant articulation of what I strive for in every artistic discipline I am involved in. Never settle for a good [mix or lighting look, or typeface, or whatever] but keep experimenting through rehearsal and find the great.

I'm often asked (actually more and more, I am blessed to be hired as a consultant for) my thoughts for how I approach production design. If you have been around me for a while, you have probably heard me talk about the "2° and the 2%". I am most concerned with the beginning of an idea - where there's the opportunity to point the concept in the exact direction where I see it having the greatest opportunity of becoming something amazing. This is the vision and the design stage. If you start the project in the right direction, you'll succeed more often than not. 2° of difference in compass bearing may not seem like much in the short term, but it can be miles away from the ideal finish line when it's time to open doors...

I also am charged up by the opportunity to finesse the final tweaks that give the magical touch. This is the 2%. It's the difference between good enough and inspiring; the difference between bland and profound. I'm often cited as having the eye for it. Perhaps I do have a special aptitude for the artistry of seeing what works and where an improvement could be made. However, I believe most of it is my work ethic. I hate settling for less than excellent. Excellence is making the most of our resources. If we have more time to give, we should use it to make the product better.

The analogys of "taking in the scene" and "seeing the light" are so great. We all have the potential to create something amazing. What resources do we have? How can they be focused on to help tell the story that is there? See the potential and figure out the best strategy for highlighting it. Then, never settle for a good [mix or lighting look, or typeface, or whatever] but keep experimenting through rehearsal and find the great.

I was actually running sound last night and one of my students asked me during run-through, "it sounds amazing, why are you continuing to make adjustments?" Two reasons: First, it's live audio; therefore the variables are always changing. The mix engineer has to constantly stay focused on how to best reinforce what's coming from stage. Second, if I'm going to be in the chair during a rehearsal regardless, why settle for a B+ when I could find the tweak that takes it to an A- or perhaps even an A? To me, the idea of settling for mediocrity is detestable. If you're going to be involved, be all there... Anyway, the difference between some of the really good photos and their amazing counterparts are the patience and persistence exhibited by the photographer who is disciplined enough to pursue capturing the epic image that we want to hang on our walls.


*The entire video was really good:
http://www.picturecorrect.com/tips/how-to-take-dynamic-landscape-photographs/
40-45min is the location that inspired this post.

Eric Wolfe

Visual Artist and Leader. Production Designer and Consultant. Developer of Ideas. Maximizer of Resources. Strategic Thinker. Creative Innovator. Husband. Father. Philosopher. Photographer. Backpacker. Athlete. Cook. Artisan. He shares thoughts here about all of the above. He would love to connect to partner in coaching and revealing beauty to enhance story and experience. Please do reach out!