Celebration Of Hope Scenic Design 2011
As a scenic designer, it’s always exciting to be involved in creating a beautiful set that is new and significant for a series.Recently, I had the opportunity to design and construct a scenic set for a “three week series” called Celebration of Hope. During this series, attention was focused on the compassion and justice needs of the poverty stricken in the community and through out the third world with shelter being a key focus.The challenge in creating this set was showing a representation toward the need for shelter but also create an environment for celebration. In the past several months, thousands of Willow families, staff and volunteers have given countless hours toward serving the needy and had given enormous amounts of financial assistance to help eradicate poverty. Designing a set that was both abstract and surrealistic helped us to achieve the proper balance.The set materials were made from thin cedar wood siding, red corrugated vinyl, weathered wood from old storage pallets, bamboo poles, rope and 1” pink foam. The entire set was rigged from line sets and supported with 1/16” aircraft cables and gliders.To create the “third world feel” and “representation of shelter” there were several techniques involved. The cedar siding was left unpainted, ripped apart and randomly placed in a vertical line. The corrugated red vinyl was lightly sprayed with watered down gray paint to resemble rusty tin and were randomly cut and assembled. The weather boards were randomly attached to the back side of the vinyl to protrude out. The use of two inch diameter rope was a notable addition and was placed above each element to give the impression that it was holding it up. 160 one inch bamboo poles were assembled to form three back wall layers. The foam was painted brown, cut eight inch widths and hot glued together to form the upper appearance of roof lines.Once the scenic elements where in place it became the lighting designers project to enhance the texture and dimension of materials with help from a pallet of gobos, effects and color. The conventional rig comprised of SGM Giotto 400 washes, Martin 2k’s, Vari-Lite 3000 spots and floor support from the Robes LT Series, swaths of saturated color made the larger-than scale scenic environment exceedingly warm and significant. There were times it only took a gesture of light at a side angle or steep angle that made the difference in the world turning the stage into an art form.The use of video was an excellent addition that helped foster more possibilities toward creativity instead of just static scenery for three weeks. Two 162”x 95” screens allowed for a 16 x 9 video format and two 12k Barco projectors showed the audience the quality and quantity of large-scale color photographs so believable that the screen seemed to disappear.Strategically placing scenery for several different camera angles can be a challenge. Several layers of scenery were purposely place to add depth and dimension. Captured by camera for IMAG it created a realistic visual experience for 25,000 individuals that attended each weekend..Scenic design is a powerful tool that can change the way we view things. It’s essential to spend valuable time on things that will have a redeeming experience. In summary, the key to any successful scenic project is to know the content, uncompromising attention to detail, careful preparation, staying within budget and keeping on schedule for execution. This project followed those guidelines and delivered an unmatched quality, consistency and value that provided a visual cohesion and framed an experience that many will remember. It’s a pretty cool moment when you create a meaningful design that comes to life for the first time knowing it will impact many individuals. A gift offered to God.
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