Lee Coate from The Crossing in Las Vegas, NV brings us Christmas crate design.
From Lee: The crates would give us the feel we were looking for, but we obviously needed them on a massive scale. We began with a mockup, design and layout. We purchased 10 crates and played around with the stacking and the lighting effects we would need. Convinced it would work on a large scale, we began the design.
The Design: After two additional gatherings of the minds, our stage designer went to work laying out our plans in AutoCad. Here’s a few of the drawings. Keep in mind that we did not pay attention to the needed gaps and reversals of crates. We decided to do that on the fly based on the eye test.
Chasing of Crates: Then the chasing of crates began. Calls were made. In the end we ordered nearly 500 crates from Home Depot (Model) and had them delivered to our campus on the first day of stage construction. (We may have bought every crate available in the Las Vegas valley). Be aware there may be some flawed crates when you buy in bulk. And also, 500 crates were equal to 6 pallets that were delivered to our loading ramp. The set is not a small scale operation. We had to buy additional crates later to supplement.
Walls of Crates: The crates were screwed together using 1″ black drywall screws. We also used small 1″ x 8″ blocks to fill in the spaces where we left a crate out. We also learned that if we wanted to create a gap, we merely removed the slats on the crate and created the desired hole. All of it was built in sections by teams on different parts of the stage simultaneously.
Longer Than You Think: We had 12 people (staff and volunteers) over the course of 8 hours assembling the various crate walls. In addition, our rigging team was standing by to begin the tying off and the lifting of the center rear wall. The size of this piece meant we had to build it from the top down and using our motors, lift each section and then insert the next underneath. We repeated this four times to complete the back wall.
In addition, we wanted to create a lyric screen center. A basic charcoal grey stretch muslin from Joann’s Fabric as our surface. It is dimmer than we would prefer, but the lyrics are used as an auxiliary and we did not want the bright white effect in that position. By the end of day one, all the walls were in place and rigged for safety and stability. Kickers were added to the back walls with sandbags.
In addition, as the walls were going up, we had 2-3 volunteers who were randomly staining various fronts of the crates. This was done to add a bit of a color contrast when they were washed with color and add the desired depth.
It’s All In The Lights: Day Two was spent placing and wiring over 70 Edison bulbs. We used Hemma Cords from IKEA and ordered 4 different type LED Edison bulbs from Amazon. It was important to us that the LED Edison lights were able to be dimmed and we ordered accordingly. It did become a bit of a cable jungle behind the walls, but we spent time cable tying and crimping the cables to the rear of the crates.
Final Touches: Day 3 was a lighting day including positioning our LED pars and Colorblast. By the end of day 3 we were able to complete the stage, adding some twinkling trees (Amazon) to give it a Christmas vibe.
Here’s some truths:
- This set is a bit more expensive than we would normally spend. However, it will be used for the month of December through our Christmas services and then continue to be used (minus the twinkling trees) through February. We were able to spread out budget for stage design out over both our Christmas budget and normal stage design.
- The construction of set required “all hands on deck”. We had a tremendous volunteer and staff team that were necessary to make it happen. It was not difficult to make the walls happen, but time consuming.
- We flipped the crates and left crates out in order to create dimension. We did not feel a solid crate wall would have the same effect.
- The addition of the Edison bulbs was huge win.
- The staining of of select crate fronts was crucial to the overall look.
Some Added Notes:
- We added crate formations throughout our campus and lobby, some in the form of trees.
- We are using the crates and adding screen lids (available at Home Depot) to create a mapping projection surface. Going to introduce this during our Christmas services.