Showing all posts tagged #story:


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...

Both Emotion and Perfection

Posted on January 25th, 2014

Strive for emotion and perfection, but allow imperfection if the emotion is there. #excellence #storytelling #productiondesign #producing #maximize

Thoughts on Telling Story with Live Video Capture or Be Visibly Engaged

Posted on January 22nd, 2014

On my way home from our Production Core retreat, our conversation turned to the topic of how we shoot for broadcast and IMAG. We were referencing a video link we saw on Twitter that a TD from another church had posted. They took a shot of the audience that struck us as odd. A perfect example of a distraction that pulls us out of a moment. It lead to us talking about how we shot our Christmas service; particularly our candle-lighting moment…

I said something at some point that struck a coworker in such a way as he finally caught a glimpse of what I mean when I say, "use production to help tell the story."

The short version of the conversation is, I think there can be a legitimate place for taking shots of the audience - at least for broadcast. If the audience is on the side screens, it can take them out of the moment (similar to the Heisenberg effect) - Anyway, I was saying how it would be better to live on (spend longer time with the same shot of) a well composed shot of the lead singer (or the guitar player if he's playing a lead line that is carrying the moment) then to show a shot of the audience or background vocal if they are not engaged in the music and having unexpressive smile to go along with their singing. If a backing musician or section of the crowd is visibly engaged in the moment, then take the shot; if not, then definitely don't.

Furthermore, I'd encourage our Producer and leadership to step in to the leadership moment with any person on stage who isn't practicing the discipline of being visibly engaged in the moment.

Story2012 ProductionDesign

Posted on September 25th, 2012

Our goal was to create a space where lush beauty, artistic rock n roll, cinematic storytelling, and spoken communication could challenge and inspire for a 2 day conference.
An original sponsor backed out shortly before the event. I was honored to get the call. Can I design something for this shallow stage that can carry all the unique elements planned (several keynote presentations, multiple live music performances, interviews, short films, etc.) with immersive depth and beauty? Can I create an inspiring design that can tie in to already created branding? Can we break the fourth wall into the room? Can I do it with zero purchase - using only donated/recycled material? Can I transport it from Detroit to Chicago in my minivan? Can I lead the setup and execution with a team of volunteers (most of whom are young college students with no experience) that I've never met before? Can the setup be completed in a single day?

This is the view of the room. It was actually a little bit of a bummer to cover up the windows where you could see the Chicago skyline out of the stage left window in the back depth. However, the theme was not Chicago, but rather Everywhere. We wanted to transport people to a place of imagination.

The journey to get to from concept to actual design (including materials list, rigging notes, lighting plot, setup checklist, and rendering of vision) took a lot of iteration. It required lots of emails including scanned sketches and study of blueprints of venue that I was out of town and not able to do an in-person site-survey. We also utilized video conferencing for "face-to-face collaboration between Executive Producer, Production Manager, and myself, the Production Designer) including screen-sharing and digital sketching. The most interesting development was the week-of donation of an LED screen that let us gain a lot of stage space because of the throw distance not being required; which was great for the final product, but required some last minute adaptability in redesign of all the rigging and the plot. One of the key layers of this design that wasn’t there when I arrived at the venue was four lekos with abstract gobos. I pushed way hard for the day of rehearsal that our PM managed to find a way to procure the morning of the conference was isome theatrical gobos to throw textural light at the curtains. Sometimes it's the simple, old-school, theatrical tricks that really create the mood and set the tone for the experience. When the team saw them turn on only minutes before doors opened, they realized why I was pushing so hard for such. Magical!

The following screenshots show the final design plot as well as the iteration sketches, blueprint, and in process diagrams:


Crushed Screen-door strips hung between black pipe as textured depth-of-field behind live art. Burgundy CommandoCloth (from Rose Brand) finessed into a House of Blues inspired "theatrical proscenium" finished with three cords to "tie it" into a reveal. Our center focal point is a large LED Wall. Throughout the room are 12 chandeliers. In addition to being beautiful, I wanted to include them in the design to communicate this year’s theme "Everywhere". We’re called as the Creative Class to be light to the world, the best way to go out into the world is in community; not as an individual light but as a beautiful community of oneness. Therefore I see the symbolism that each chandelier represents the 12 tribes of the historical scriptures into all the world…
Oh, and the piano, harp, and guitar in the mid-depth behind the SL interview area: I only placed that there because we had the equipment in the wings and I thought they’d look pretty.



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!