Stage Designs

Throwback: Project: Boxes

Paul Snyder from Fairfax Community Church in Fairfax, VA brings us this awesome piece of 3d projection and masking. (Originally from July 2012)

They wanted to create something unique on their stage for a new series called “Rescuing Ambition.” As they talked about the series, they liked the idea of portraying how we try to climb higher and higher towards success. They came up with the concept of cubes stacked on the stage with projection on it. So how to do it?

They researched various ways to build boxes on their own, using PVC and scrim or metal trusses. But they finally came to the solution of giant white boxes. They found 4x4ft shipping cartons and 2x2ft boxes. They had to paint the 4x4ft boxes with a glossy white paint that would be a good projection surface. Then they arranged them onstage and, with two projectors, masked the actual shape of the boxes. They took that into Photoshop to create their graphics. We used the same mask in their VJ equipment for motion.

At the end of the series, they repurposed the boxes for their next series, “Move.” They found a new arrangement for the boxes that looked fresh and created new masks.

Cross Hatched Design Line of Rays

18 responses to “Throwback: Project: Boxes”

  1. Stewart Linthicum says:

    Love the design. Where are the projectors located?

  2. T. Swinford says:

    What kind of projectors do you use?

  3. /theRVK says:

    This is awesome and has so much potential. I love the 3d effect of the projectors. Can you give a floor plan of where things are located, mainly the projectors in relation to the boxes and whether they are on the floor, stands or mounted? Keep up the good work.

  4. John Falke says:

    We used two Eiki LC-XT3 projectors (standard resolution, 10K lumens each) connected via a Dual Head to Go run off of a MacBook Pro running Arkaos Grand VJ. We made the mask in Photoshop using the Pen tool, while sitting on a rolling chair on the stage, then we generated custom still graphics to make certain scenes. Most of the video backgrounds were full resolution videos that had a PNG mask on top (in Grand VJ) so only the surfaces had projection on them. This is the inexpensive way to do what appears like complex 3D projection mapping :-)

    In the Rescuing Ambition set we had the projectors very wide on the outside corners of the stage on about 6′ tall stacks (to reduce the up angle of the projection and minimize shadows). For the Move set, since it was a symmetrical wall) we had the projectors on the floor level on the edge of the stage between the instrumentalists on either side of the two center singers.

    We put green tape lines down on the stage so the musicians and singers knew where they could/couldn’t go while their was projection on the boxes so there were never any shadows on the projection surface. It was so convincing, that dozens of people for the first few weeks of Rescuing Ambition thought we were rear projecting because they didn’t notice the projectors stacked on the outside (and even if they saw them they didn’t think they could possibly covering the entire surface) and they could never see any shadows. I will upload a few stage diagrams somewhere and post a link here shortly.

  5. Absolutely incredible. Boom. Roasted.

  6. Jeff T. says:

    This set is a total rip-off of MUTEMATH’s most recent tour set. Watch this and it’s obvious…

    Dont’ get me wrong, duplicating it is a huge accomplishment but let’s be honest about where our “inspiration” is coming from and give credit where credit is due…

  7. John Falke says:

    The second set design was based off of MuteMath that’s true. We were trying to get the most mileage off of our boxes after we had done the Rescuing Ambition set. Someone had showed it to us after we had done the first set and we realized we could re-arrange it to make that set as well.

  8. Jeff T. says:

    Thanks, John. I wasn’t trying to be a jerk or anything – I just think it’s real important to give props to the innovators who came up with MUTEMATH’s set (it was ridiculous!).

    The fact that you were able to recreate the concept means your team has to be incredibly good at what they do. Incredible work…

  9. Mike says:

    There is really nothing new under the sun. We were doing something very similar to this 10 years ago when I was an undergrad at UT Austin.

    If it is being done in houses of worship now, it has been done somewhere before.

  10. /theRVK says:

    Do you have any other videos of this stage in motion? I went to your vimeo and church website but only saw sermon footage. I’d love to see more of what it looks like with your worship team.

  11. Luke says:

    This is incredible! Where did you get content or was it all custom? How did you process this?

  12. John Falke says:

    Here are the two stage layouts we used:

    The content was a mix of custom content and video put under a mask. We used Arkaos Grand VJ with a PNG mask file on the top layer and whatever video content running underneath it.

    I will see if I can find some more worship footage of the set in action.

  13. John says:

    Any way you’d consider sharing the photoshop file with the mask?

    • John Falke says:

      Absolutely. I’ve posted them for free download from here:

      Scroll half way down and download the “Rescuing Ambition – Mask Files” zip file. You’ll need a free Open Resources account if you don’t already have one.

      FYI… I wouldn’t recommend using these exact masks, but rather setting up your projectors and re-creating masks based on this technique. Hope this helps.

  14. Kent Coleman says:

    Absolutely incredible job. Well done! The look is absolutely stunning. The wheels in my head are turning now!

  15. Steve says:

    As i understand, the costs for this set was very low? except the projectors their are only the boxes? who are very cheap? Did the glossy white paint costs much? Where can i find that? Link? thank you very much ! i like it !

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