Stage Designs

Rock Boxes

Steven Hall from in Norman, OK brings us this really cool stage concept.

Here’s the info from Steven:

Our original concept for this set was to try and create a modern stained glass look. Over the design process, I simplified the set pieces some to ensure we had enough time to build them. What we ended up with is the cool multi triangle diamonds we call the Rock Boxes.

The rock boxes are an internally lit light box that has dividers to help segment the fixture into multiple smaller fixtures. We built our boxes in 2 sizes 4′ x 4′ and 2′ x 2′. We cut 3/4″ plywood into 2’x2′ and 4’x4′ squares as the bases for the boxes. We painted the backs black and covered the front in Aluminum foil. We used spray 77 glue to attach the foil to the plywood. Once cut and foiled, we used a plunge router and routed lines that intersected at the center of our boxes. We cut these lines on every corner and every 8 inches between corners.

Once our plywood was all routed, we repaired a lot of the aluminum foil. We found that covering the interior in foil maximized the reflectivity in the box. Much of the aluminum foil came off during the build process, and we found that aluminum foil tape worked better and tore of a lot less. We used a ton of it. You can find this at any Lowes or Home Depot, typically near the hvac stuff or insulation. As we repaired the aluminum foil plywood covering, we used razor knives to keep all of our grooves clean of excess aluminum and debris.

We built boxes from 1″x3″s to form the outer edges of our boxes. We painted these black before cutting and assembly to cut a step out of the painting process.

These outer edge boxes attached directly to the plywood with dry wall screws. We also pre-drilled a large hole that would allow the LED tape connectors to exit the box. While drilling, we pre-drilled for and installed 2 eye bolts to use has hang point for our boxes.

Next we installed the RGB LED pixel tape. The tape that GLP provide us was the SceneX 31.25mm pixel controlled LED tape. The individual pixel tape that they supplied was the reason this set worked out so amazingly! We did a pretty poor job of cleaning the surface as we installed the LED tape and had issues with it staying in place. Luckily our design helped us to overcome this slight challenge that we created for ourselves.

As we installed the LED tape we learned quite a few things that helped us along in the process. The quickest lesson we learned was how poor our entire team is at soldering. This was not a huge surprise, but of the dozen connections I soldered, only one of them worked correctly. As we wired the LED tape into the first box, we realized how much time (time we didn’t have) it was going to take to solder all the tape in the way we had planned. After the first few boxes, we decided to make some minor tweaks and cut the number of boxes. We did this in order to cut down the number of solders we would have to make by using the pre-existing connectors, and wasting a bit more tape than we had planned. With our revised plot we were able to cut out all but 24 solder joints. Our large boxes ended up taking 3 full strands of LED tape and a partial strand, while the smaller ones took 1 full strand and a partial.

We went ahead and wired all of our power supplies and decoders as we put the tape in. Although when we first started the project LED tape wiring was a bit unfamiliar to us, but by the time we finished this set we had a good grasp on it. Our wiring was as follows: We brought 208V into our power supplies on the back of each Rock Box. This power supply then stepped the voltage down to 5v that feed power to both our LED tape and DMX decoder. We then feed DMX into our decoder which sent it out as a signal the LEDs could understand over the clock and Data wires to our LED pixel tape. Since I’m a visual learner, I included a diagram of how we wired it.

Once the outer frame was built, routed plywood attached, and LED tape installed, we cut 2.75″ strips of coroplast that later became our dividers. We covered all of these dividers in foil tape as well. Although covering everything in foil tape took FOREVER! It was well worth it for the finished project. We built a prototype for this set before we started construction, and, as you can see below, the sections that had foil tape were twice as bright.

The foil taped dividers then were placed within its groove. We didn’t have pixel tape in most of the boxes yet. We ran into a shipping issue getting our LED tape and actually ended up cutting and installing most of our dividers before we installed the LED tape. Once we received the tape we took each of our dividers out in order, installed the tape, then re-installed all the dividers. It was a party to say the least!

Before we went any further, we tested the boxes. Once all of them were tested we cut natural (clear) coroplast to the size of the boxes. Once cut, we taped all the coroplast on as a facing using 3″ wide black gaff. We made sure to only cover the width of the 1″x 3″s on the coroplast to maintain our nice square look.

We used Madrix to control our rock boxes. Our Madrix computer connected via USB to a Madrix Luna 16, which output our needed 16 universes of control for the boxes. We could fit 1 large box or 2 small boxes per universe of DMX. Our Grand MA acted as a remote for the Madrix via a dmx signal to the Luna 16 dmx input.

For lighting we used Elation Platinum Beam 5rs that are a stark departure from our mostly soft edged fixtures. Also, our senior leadership asked us to implement a kabuki system that we could project on for an opener.

One of our biggest visual elements of Easter was the 110′ projection we did across the front of our stage. It was also one of the most challenging items during the setup.

Our most memorable visual element of the lighting is certainly the rock boxes though. They have a ton of flexibility and will be our existing set for the next few months.

Because of the donation of the LED tape our set ended up costing about $1200.

More specifics can be found on
























LED Wiring

Madrix Wiring

Fit Bits Pixel Dots

5 responses to “Rock Boxes”

  1. Chris Monson says:

    How does this have no comments?!? Very nice design guys. This is actually one of my favorite designs that I’ve seen on here.

  2. Dennis Kelly says:

    That is amazing work you all did there! GREAT JOB!

  3. Steven Hall says:

    Thanks guys! It was tons of fun!


  4. Chris Spotts says:

    Why not use high gloss silver spray paint instead of the foil?

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