The Anatomy of a Set #2

6 04 2008

So here we are again – a new month, a new set. The concept stage began the end of february/first week of march with several concept drawings which I took into my concept meeting with our production director Chris. Some of them are complete thoughts and others are more bits of ideas that have been floating around in my head for a while. These meetings are usually really cool because I tend to be more abstract while Chris tends towards concrete, so usually I can come in with and idea and Chris will have an amazing way of implementing it.

Here’s what we left with (4) weeks out:

For the most part, I didn’t want to do anything with aspect ratio video for a while, so I wanted to do something with a versa-tube look and was really inspired by the form-factor of Coldplay’s XY cd. Obviously this much versa-tube (250 tubes) would cost upwards of $60,000 and could cost as much as $20,000-$30,000 just to RENT for the 9 weeks that we want to have this set up for (a couple one-offs, a short series and a long Buckhead capture series), so we turned to an idea that we used for our set last easter and decided to use projection for these panels instead. The object on which we would project? What’s round, white and about 2″ in diameter – that’s right – PVC…1,000 linear feet of it. As you can see from the above sketch, we built 4’x4′ frames, painted them black, and screwed 8 PVC tubes to each frame (it’s funny that this one sentence in actuality took almost 2 full work days to complete). I wanted to build them modular for a couple reasons.

1. We could change the design if we needed to really easily simply by moving squares around

2. We could have more people working on more projects at the same time and have more of an assembly line set up

3. I had no idea how we were going to get it all in the air if we built the whole structure on the ground first

Once we got everything built, the panels went together rather quickly, but this was an incredibly long process.

The other big piece of this design puzzle was the American Idolesque towers that line our proscenium and sit dead center in the camera 1/2 shot. Honestly, I had no idea how we were going to build these and it would have taken us forever, but God definitely knows what He is doing and one of my volunteers, Mickey, has a guy who does high-spec welding for gasoline tankers. I drew up some specs and sent them his way and the welders pulled it off to perfection! We started talking to them about it on last wednesday, had specs to them on thursday, they had materials monday, welded it tuesday and delivered it wednesday…amazing! The columns are made out of 1/4″ aluminum and lined with velum paper. I lit each of the columns with 3 Coemar ParLite LEDs and lit the wall behind the column instead of the actual column so that the column would light evenly without any hotspots. I did the same thing with the center, but use left over foam that we had used for a previous set as the reflector.

We also planned on doing a lighting change, but thankfully, we decided to push it back to this coming week to save our team from killing themselves with another 20 hours of work. I’ll post more pictures when we are done with that.

The video portion of the set is done with (2) Christie S9 projectors with .8 lenses controlled by PVP at front of house. We are using (2) mac minis as slave nodes so that we can have one image stretched across both screens instead of the same image repeated on both panels. The secret is using high contrast loops.

Here are some photos that Tyler snapped quickly this morning:

Whew…that was a brain workout. I hope you enjoy! What do you think?




17 responses

7 04 2008

So who handles running the loops at FOH? Does the lighting operator or is that a separate volunteer position?

7 04 2008

For the most part, my lighting volunteers run lights every week. I have three of them and I like to keep them fresh. I actually am running loops for this set, sitting right next to lighting world so we can coordinate as much as possible on timing. For the most part loops is a staff position.

7 04 2008
Ryan Fitzgerald {Catalyst SPD}

dude BJ… when you told me about this a while back i thought it was awesome… i had no idea… way to go bro! i need to come down and check it out in the next few weeks…

7 04 2008

So the projection is from the rear on the PVC pipes, right? I’m trying to figure out why it wraps around the pipes so well rather than just hitting the back side and not doing much to the front. Or are they sort of translucent pipes?

7 04 2008
Clint Singleton

Bj, I don’t know if you remember me I’m John Dunahoo’s best friend…I just found the blog and wanted to say the set looks great…awesome job….i’m at Wiregrass Church right now. Just relly wanted to say hey. Give me a shout on Myspace.

7 04 2008
Clint Singleton

Bj, I don’t know if you remember me I’m John Dunahoo’s best friend…I just found the blog and wanted to say the set looks great…awesome job….i’m at Wiregrass Church right now. Just really wanted to say hey. Give me a shout on Myspace.

7 04 2008
Darin (strategic partner set designer)


7 04 2008
Anna Martin

BJ, this set is freaking awesome! Way to go, friend!

8 04 2008

The panels are actually front projected and the PVC is normal white PVC. We have the projectors hung behind the proscenium right behind our hi-def screen, so you can’t really see them unless you are looking for them. The lens shift allows us to have it this high and still hit the whole panel.

9 04 2008
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16 04 2008
Ron Gehrke II

This is a great looking set.

For those of us on the more low rent side. What do you think the effect would be with a less powerful projector? Or what if you used colored leds?

16 04 2008

Honestly, even with a 8,500 lumen projector on each side, I still wished it popped more. I think you could do it effectively if it were a bit smaller surface area (ours is a 16’x20′ projection…we have also thrown around the idea of painting them to see if we can get them to pop more. The problem with LEDs is that they are so expensive, this ended up being a cool way to get that look for 1/100 the price.

17 05 2008

Just wondering what you use to draw out all of your set designs. Keep up the good work. Everything you do looks awesome!

19 05 2008

I usually do concept sketches by hand and use word for quick blocking, but I am trying to start using VectorWorks a lot more for my design, but when i am just throwing out ideas, it usually just involves me and a drafting table.

19 05 2008

Very cool. I was just wondering because your sketch up top looks so neat

25 05 2008
Joel Caron

ill be honest…at first sight, i thought those were versatubes…and i have used them before. Great Idea!!!

6 02 2009
Tony LaMarca

Just one question… how did you “hang” the pvc pannels?

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