Stage Design: Tribe Talk Episode 4
It’s been a great month here at TripleWide Media. Hard to believe this is our last edition of Tribe Talk this year. Today, we’re talking all things Stage Design.
From best practices to biggest failures, Luke, Nick, and Jason talk about their experiences in creating stage designs that enhance environments and tell stories.
Video Recap – Stage Design:
Topic: Stage Design
Host: Luke McElroy – Founder, TripleWide Media
Guests: Nicholas Rivero (nicholasrivero.com) touring professional (purveyor of video awesomeness. Toured with acts such as Taylor Swift, Mumford and Sons, Hillsong, Passion Conferences etc.) and Jason Dyba (jasondyba.com) Creative Director – Long Hollow Baptist Church, Hendersonville, TN, songwriter, and much more.
Luke: We’ve had some fun conversations over the last couple of weeks about a wide array of topics on creativity. Welcome back Nick and Jason for our last Tribe Talk for this year. I wanted to start this one off, and we’re going to talk a little bit about stage design and stage layout and all that. You guys have each been around a wealth of stage designs or stage failures in your time. Can you quickly talk about something that just didn’t work? Or an idea that you wanted to work and it just never did?
Jason: We ran into this one problem every year at Christmas, it just haunts us. It’s this snow machine. One year, we hooked it up and it was at this really tender, emotional moment. All the music has come down and it was just ready for the snow to come falling. Then we kicked on the machine and it was just like a jet was flying through the room. Thankfully, this was during rehearsal, but it was like the day before. There was a bit of a crisis on our hands. Then the next year, we did it again and it was in this park scene. We had the sound under control and had some music to cover up the noise. But then when it came down on the vocalist, it just soaked her. So, that was a disaster. And another year, we had it up above the choir. We had it coming down; it was soaking them and wasn’t too loud, but it got into their heads where they thought they were choking on the snow. They weren’t, but they had convinced themselves that they were so we uh, we hate snow.
Luke: So, you just need to find a quiet, not too much snow machine and you’re good?
Jason: Yeah, and we’re probably going to try it again this year.
Luke: So stay tuned for Jason’s blog… Nick, have you been around any bad stage designs?
Nick: Yeah, I can’t say mine involve a snow machine, but one thing that comes to mind for me is a couple of years ago we did a big tour. We had worked on writing this big script. There were some theatrics involved, and we wrote this whole thing, designed this whole set, designed this whole show that was ready to go out on a couple month tour. I think about two, maybe three weeks before it left some people decided they didn’t like the script anymore and we ditched the entire script. It took months to write this whole multi-part script.
But the thing was, we still had this full set fabricated and there was no time to turn around and rebuild the set. So what we did is, we basically just crammed a bunch of other stuff on top of it. More technology, we did a big triplewide video wall. But the set was kind of this old, I don’t want to say medieval, but very bronze colored, rocky looking set. And we then had all these multi-screens and plasma tv’s all over. It just didn’t connect.
Luke: So, it obviously didn’t work, so did you ever have any trouble in the tour with where to put people or any of those issues?
Nick: Oh yeah, the set was massive; it took up all of our space. When you came in you just saw this massive set. We had a band involved, we had actors involved, we had speakers involved, and there was just no stage space at all.
Luke: So, really, great stage layout is less about filling void, well it seems like that was the failure there, filling too much hurt. Actually it’s more on how do we create design that may do something more than just decorate.
We’ve talked about this before Jason on this idea that great stage design really has to cause us to feel something.
Jason: Yeah. My team, none of us are actually stage designers, none of us have a background in this. But, that’s what we’re tasked to do still. So, we collaborate and try and ask this question of what emotion are we going for; what kind of vibe do we want in a set. A couple of weeks ago when we were talking about this, I mentioned we had done a series called “What is Love, baby don’t hurt me?” With the LED strip tape, and so we made these triangles to create the sense of neon. That was all about trying to get a certain vibe and emotion.
Really, I think it’s important too, as we talk about design and environment, cohesiveness, tension, and intentionality, that not only is our set design kind of cool looking in itself or have this certain emotion, but it ties in with the type of videos we make, the type of graphic print material, website… all these things, even the music selection. We want all these things to create a single environment and experience.
Luke: So set design is more than just elements, it’s all of the above.
Nick: Yeah, and I think that’s really huge, what you’re talking about because a lot in my mind is that set design is part of the overall experience. The experience is the key; that’s why people are there.They’re there to take it all in. The set places such a key piece in the experience, in the environment, like you’re saying. It shapes how people feel, what it looks like, what the vibe is in the room. It defines a huge element.
Luke: One of my favorite set designs that I’ve seen recently is the Michael Buble Christmas special from last year. If you look at the video. It’s a triplewide video screen. There’s a lot of just beautiful moments where just stock content exists but he incorporates it with both physical elements, what you talked about Nick; but he also lets them be digital at times. He also gets rid of it at times. It really did allow him, throughout the special to have a wide array of emotions he couple pull you to. His music has dynamics in that.
It really is an interesting question, and I think for us at TripleWide Media, our whole heartbeat is this idea of how do we help give you the resources to create an atmosphere. Because, at the end of the day, story exists when there is a cohesive setting and a cohesive setting allows characters in that story to feel like they have a place.