Showing all posts tagged #process:


Algorithms and Intuition

Posted on October 22nd, 2019

A combination of strategies I choose to utilize in my work as a Creative Director is creating algorithms for human intuition to be maximized as I help coach and reveal beauty to enhance story and experience. This is a key part of the "process architecture" that I put in place for our teams to use in our planning process: A series of questions and process guides to begin with as well as a timeline with both back burner space for peace as well as checkpoints and prototyping deadlines that each can yield an "eureka idea" to add to the plan. It’s a magical thing when both both logic and instinct are allowed to team up as part of the creative process.

Progress Requires Disruption

Posted on July 14th, 2019

Creative disruption is a beautifully healthy thing. It freaks out the status quo folks, but we would wither without the artists and leaders.

"It is the business of the future to be dangerous. The major advances in civilization are processes that all but week the societies in which they occur."
-Alfred North Whitehead

Macro:Planning::Micro:Progress

Posted on July 5th, 2019

"When making plans, think big. When making progress, think small."
-James Clear

My Thoughts About Dropbox Paper

Posted on November 18th, 2018

Great tool for creating proposals and reports; for managing and delegation of tasks and projects; and for collaboration and ideation with live editing by multiple users both inline and with comments. It’s simple, clean, and intuitive. I love the assignable tasks. The mobile apps are good.

I wish it had a computer app instead of simply web app. I wish the filing structure was better. I wish there was a handwriting/drawing feature for note-taking, diagramming, and annotating. I wish to-dos integrated with Siri/Reminders.

Genius in Teamwork

Posted on November 5th, 2018

Be openhanded. Practice awareness and humility and know the one who knows. Such teamwork is where magical breakthrough and creativity occurs - at the nexus of conventionality and novelty.

My friend Michael shared this article. I find it both fascinating and encouraging.


Kiosk Product Design

Posted on May 19th, 2018

A number of years back, I was asked to design a stand to support the new system for parents to use to check their kids in. Design requirements:
  • clean & efficient
  • portable (so that the 16 stands could be arrayed by various entrances to best support traffic flow patterns)
  • cost effective - sized for current and possible future (as we had hypothesized, iPads have since been integrated) equipment
  • allow for ease of troubleshooting
  • carry a look maintaining aspirational design aesthetic of lobby and branding

My process began as I considered the pros and cons of a repurposed video conferencing stand that someone had wanted to use because it was all that was imagined up until I was asked. I quickly sketched a couple possible concepts that allowed us the freedom to take some time and research what we wanted to develop. We iterated through a number of options before sending the design to the manufacturer.

They remain in active use over 6 years later!


Teach Us To Pray - DigitalJournal

Posted on June 21st, 2016

It was a great experience to partner as Producer for the Teach Us To Pray series that we’re starting. I’m very proud of this Journal that we created instead of our regular programs. I’m hopeful for the fruit from these next seven weeks


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 good 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.


Lite Brite and Elf Houses

Posted on January 19th, 2016


There was a lot of prototyping and iteration as well as complexity in leadership of multiple departments to achieve the success in this Production Design.

The process was really fun to nerd out with research into classic toys and some surveying of people who grew up in that era. Along the way, we kept coming back to the movie Elf.

We began with an idea of what classic toys might bring nostalgia. The LiteBrite was a fun idea. I liked it for multiple reasons:
  • The chance to design with layers of texture in with the cups. The real magic for them came when we created a new template for all the video work flow to have to be inside a hexagon based grid rather than the typical square.
  • The build process of hot glue in sheets of PVC that were cut on a CNC machine was tedious, but proved to look great when the projection was focused correctly.
We design the Elf inspired Houses:
  • Minimal wooden frame
  • Cardboard and Paper
  • Visqueen and Lights

A problem became an opportunity when we figured out how to hide the set behind the main traveler and tell a prelude story based in Nepal and using chalk art to tell about partners all over the globe.Fun too, to coach blocking for a the broadcast into during the countdown. My friend snapped this photo of yours truly that he used to coach the crew in duplicating the shot composition.


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!


Eric Wolfe

Creative Director and Coach. Production Designer and Consultant. Developer of Ideas. Maximizer of Resources. Strategic Thinker. Creative Innovator. Visual Artist and Leader. Husband. Father. Philosopher. Photographer. Backpacker. Athlete. Cook. Artisan. Eric 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!