Stage Designs

North Point Apps

The North Point Ministries team from North Point Community Church brings us this versatile, stacked set.

Here’s the rundown from the North Point team:

First off, parts of this set were the backbone of our stage design for the Drive Conference. The East auditorium had to have different structural elements for Drive that our West auditorium didn’t need so the two look a bit different. The series that overlapped Drive was called Life Apps, which dealt with the application of biblical teachings for our lives. Because of the strategic needs of the Drive set we decided that we would target the Life Apps series specifically instead of something generic. The Drive set needed a cube structure to allow 3 rows of people to climb into the structure for specific content. The problem was because of the height of our proscenium we would have had to limit those people to no more than 5’4.”

So we decided to raise our proscenium level 22” to allow for more space. We ended up with just over 6’ in each cube. The result of all this was a square set design that we had to work the Life Apps set into. We started looking at the current Apple designs for their Apps store advertising. Apple’s main add is a Macbook with Apps radiating out from it. We took this and came up with the design you see in the photos. Because of the needs of Drive vs. Life Apps the following took place in various steps spanning a month.

How we did the Drive Gridded Backbone:

This was the essential backbone of both designs. We took full lengths (21’) of schedule 40 pipe with a standard ID of 1.5” and threaded one side of each vertical pipe. To keep the space taken by the structure to a minimum, we bored holes into the pipes and bolted the sections together. We chose to make the structure out of steel rather then wood to give the structure strength and still have minimal structure. We used a drill press to bore the holes so that we could get a hole that was perfectly straight every time. Each vertical was bored every 6’5.” Twelve verticals were needed in all, six in the front and six in the back. We used a threaded flange to mount the pipes to the stage. Then we threaded one side of each of the horizontal pipes and bored holes every 7’4” across the space of our proscenium opening. We used a threaded pipe coupler to attach two horizontal pipe sections together and mounted them to the vertical pipes using Grade 8, 4.5” long 5/8” thick hex bolts. We then cut 65 pipe sections at 4’ 2.5” and bored 4 holes ½” & 2-7/8” from the ends of each side on every pipe. These holes allowed us to use a u-bolt to attach each pipe between the upstage set of horizontal pipes and the down stage set of horizontal pipes (the z-axis). This gave us the structure we needed for the decking. We took this entire structure and used pipe with cheeseboroughs to shore up the structure to our stage’s grid. An X pattern was created with steel cable off each side of the structure and attached to a roof I-beam to add additional stability.

We then took ¾” sheets of plywood and cut them down to 3’9” wide so that they would fit across the 4’2.5” sections of pipe. This ¾” ply served as the deck for the two layers that people would load into during Drive. We used a thinner 7/16” ply on the top of the structure as a roof to the top row. Two-inch conduit straps were used underneath each level to attach the ply to the z-axis pipe structure. We used scrap rolls of carpet, cut to size, and used crown staples to attach the carpet to the ¾” ply. The carpet made the structure more comfortable to stand on, but was primarily applied to cut down on the noise when people walked across it.

Coated Celtic Cloth from Dazian was attached to the back of the structure. We cut the fabric to the desired size (6’7” x 6’) and grommeted the fabric every foot around the perimeter. We then used a combination of zip ties and tie-line to attach it to the structure. We back-lit each section of fabric with a single Chauvet Colorado 1, allowing us to silhouette the App Icons or people and use two-tone colors in each cell when lighting the Icons.

How we did the Drive Shutters:

What I am referring to as the Drive shutters is the fabric that was pulled up for projection and then dropped in order to reveal actors & musicians during our Drive Conference. The fabric was Dasian Coated Celtic Cloth. We cut the fabric to size to fit horizontally within each cell of the Drive grid. The length was determined by the height of the cell plus 6” to give us enough extra fabric to sow a pocket for a 3/4” diameter pipe, slide it in at the top and attach the bottom to the wooden trough, via ½”screws and large washers. We also grommeted the sides of the fabric every 6” and ran a tight vertical cable from the top of one trough into the bottom of the other.

The cable ran through the grommets so that when the fabric was lowered on this cable the grommets would cause the fabric to force fold itself with 3” of overlap on each side. The bar caring the fabric had to have a ½” hole drilled straight through to allow the folding cable to pass through. A half-inch from the center of that hole, towards the outside of the pipe, we also drilled a smaller hole (1/8”) halfway through to allow the pulling cable to be attached via a wire sleeve crimped to the end of the cable. All cable was 1/16” zinc platted aircraft cable.

The trough was designed so that the bottom would conceal the pulley system and the top would conceal the fabric when it was down. The trough was made of 7/16” plywood. The front and back were cut at 5.5” with a ½” wide and 1/8” deep groove routed down the middle. This groove allowed us to easily affix a 3.5” wide piece of 7/16” ply in the middle, creating the shelf for two of our pulleys to sit on. This structure looked much like an I-beam, except that the front piece was 1” longer on each side of the structure. This was what was needed for attaching the trough to the Drive pipe grid.

The outside two pulleys were screwed into the horizontal piece so that the cable would run from the pipe, up through the pulleys and horizontally through the underside of the trough to another central double pulley. That pulley redirected the force of each cable back through the grid structure. We drilled two ½” holes in the back of the trough so that the cables could pass through. The two cables were joined via a carabineer about 2’ from the trough (when the shutter was in the down position). We then ran a single cable straight back through our stage’s foe wall to a pulley that we mounted on a 2×4 attached to the studs in the wall.

This pulley redirected the cable down the wall. Finally, the pulley was attached to another carabineer, which we used as a handle. This carabineer was slid over one of two L-brackets that we mounted on the wall via dry-wall anchors. The top L-bracket was mounted so that the carabineer would rest on it holding the cable taut when the fabric shade was down. The bottom L-bracket was mounted so that the carabineer was resting on it when the shade was up. There were 15 different shades, therefore there were 15 different lines with 2 L-brackets needed for each line. So that the cables came straight back and didn’t land on top of each other or on top of a pre-existing structure like a conduit or stage doors, we had to adjust the mounting of the double pulley within the structure of the trough. Because of this the cables weren’t able to fall in a specific order so we labeled everything with a color-coded numbering system to make operation as easy as possible. To operate all 15 shades at once took eight people.

Fifteen full troughs were made and mounted at the top of each cell. There were also an additional five half troughs made just for fabric to sit in on the bottom sections. The real quandary of this entire process was how to attach the wooden troughs to the steel structure. The solution was to use 2×2’s as a spacer and attach them to the vertical sections of the pipes via 2” conduit hangers. This gave us a wooden structure to drill the overlapping 1” section of the troughs into. We then cut 5.5” foe vertical sections to sit between the troughs to make the spacing even between all the gridded cells.

How we did other Drive Add-ons:

In each of the 15 sections of the gridded structure we also added two floodlights so the people on the structure could be lit evenly. The 25Watt floodlights were extremely small, about 2” squared, and mounted to a socket that was screwed into the wooden trough. The two floodlights in each section were tied together and run to a stage pin socket on our electrics above the stage. This allowed all 15 sections to be lit individually with white light.

We also had to build two ladders, one on each side of the structure. We built them from 2x4x16’ and 2x4x8’s cut down to 2’ lengths. We glued and screwed the 2’ lengths every foot onto the front side of the 2x4x16’s. Then we took the ladder and cheeseboroughed it to the horizontal pipe structure of the grid because we had 2’ of extra pipe on the outside of level of the structure (blind luck).

The projection itself was primarily provided by our BARCO HD30 which outputs at 30,000 lumens. It is primarily used for our Sunday morning center screen projection when we do not have a live speaker. For the bottom 3 sections of the grid we also added a Christy projector (8,000 lumens) that we hung from our roof above the stage. This made it possible for the band to be in front of the screens without getting hit by the projection.

How we did the East Apps:

A computerized machine called a CNC router cut the App Icons out of 4’ x 8’ sheets of 3172 White Plexiglas Frosted material. The East stage was made up of 15 different sizes. Because of the predetermined size of the areas that the Icons would be placed in, we discovered that it would be best to start with the largest Icon at 23” squared. We then took 75% of that dimension to figure out the top, bottom, left, & right pieces, 1’ 5 1/4”. The next Dimension radiating out was 85% of the original 23”, or 1’ 7 9/16.” From this second number we then took 75% and again 85% to arrive at the next two sizes. We continued this math until the structure was filled in. Once we had these 15 sizes equated we decided that black chain would give us the most flexibility when trying to evenly balance them.

We also discovered that in order to keep straight hanging lines we would need to either go with a very small hole spacing on the icons or we would have to adjust the hole spacing according to the cell the icon was in. A very small spacing might allow the larger icons to spin or at least torque under the amount of air that our AC units push. So a more complicated cell alignment would work better. The icon cuts went from 15 sizes to 23 different icons due to the hole spacing. The Icons were front-lit from above with Chauvet Tri-colors. There was one fixture per cell, 15 in all.

For the moving lights, a truss rig was built above the stage and laid out in four rectangles. Originally we planned to do a flying rig, meaning the trusses would have flown in and out on computerized motor control. We hung the rig tight while the trusses were stacked on top of each other using cheeseboroughs rather than corner blocks to minimize the amount of the IMAG screens blocked when flying in and out. Three of the rectangles were the same size and on the same line, while the larger fourth set of truss surrounded the smaller one in the middle. It would have been a cool thing to see these moving up and down throughout a show, but because of all the front projection that the Drive set needed it was decided that this wasn’t a cost efficient add-on. The truss was rigged with steel cable basket-folded off the I-beams.

Six plasmas were mounted with 3 on each side of the stage. We screwed a pipe flange on to each door cart and mounted the plasmas vertically on a 4’ long pipe. All plasma content was fed from our Arkos system.

How we did the West:

The West was a bit different due to the lack of lights available to effectively light the icons and light a white backdrop. This was acceptable or perhaps preferable because of the weekly use of the room for our High School environment. We had no need of a structure for people to climb in so we created a one dimensional pipe structure. The white backdrop was replaced with a black backdrop. The lights were hung low to lend the set to a rock-n-roll type environment. The four central vertical pipes of the structure were created with pipes threaded on both sides. These pipes measured 9’, 4’, 4’ and 2’ so that a T-joint at each juncture, turned sideways, joined the pipes together. This allowed for an additional 22” pipe to protrude down stage at three separate junctions on each of the four central pipes.

We hung 12 moving lights from the pipes. The four jointed pipes and two additional full size pipes were drilled at the set distances just like the East stage, so that the horizontal pipes could be attached via hex bolts. The verticals were attached to the stage via flange plates like those in the East and cheesebouroughed to our stage grid at the top. We added 24 Chauvet Rain LEDs to the design between the moving lights for eye candy. A cluster of three ETC Pars with ultra narrow glass were added low on each vertical pipe to fill space and add additional beams in the air.

Four vertical columns were removed from the outsides of the App design because of the limited horizontal space from having the moving lights hanging on the structure. This left us with 17 columns. Only 13 different size Apps were needed, but the spacing shifted the Apps to different cells changing the hole spacing needed and effecting our routing process. We up-lit all the icons from the back on the West with 13 Chauvet Colorado Battens.


  • Over 1,000 linear feet of 1.5” ID pipe.
    • East: 777’
    • West: 234’
  • 75’ of ¾” ID pipe
  • 2500 cubic feet of coated Celtic Cloth
  • 13 sheets of 7/16” plywood
  • 10 sheets of ¾” plywood
  • 45 single pulleys and 15 double pulleys
  • 15 sheets of 3172 White Plexiglas Frosted cut into 342 App Icons (6”-23”)
    • East: 189 Apps
    • West: 153 Apps









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