How To Create The TEDxUGA Stage

We were tasked with creating an innovative and immersive stage design for this year’s TEDxUGA Spring 2020 event. Lightform, a projection mapping device, allows us to use light to create a brand new in-show experience for the audience. Working with the TEDxUGA team, we were able to create a physical stage design that works for both Lightform and the flow of the show itself.

Using foam core sheets, we mocked up a design that bodes a set of boxes/cubes on either side of the stage - framing the speaker. As well, the cheek walls of the theatre will be used as an accent to the props on the stage. From this, Lightform will scan the stage and the cheek walls and allow us to use its abilities to put on a show within a show.

STEP ONE

Get familiar with Lightform and the TEDxUGA stage! Head over to Lightform’s Website to download the software and play around with how it works. We are using the LFC Kit, so really dive deep into knowing the knicks and knacks of how it works. Ensure your computer/device is connected with its network. As well, familiarize yourself with the TEDxUGA stage and the Classic Center space. It’s much bigger than you realize!

STEP TWO

Start working on getting the foam core constructed. You will be making 4-5 cubes for each side of the stage. Use the pre-ordered, 36 foam core sheets (96”x48”x.5”) to make the cubes for the stage. The cubes should each be 4 sided: 2 side pieces, 1 front piece, 1 top piece. You can use either Gorilla double-sided tape, or Gorilla glue to adhere the foam pieces together. NOTE: Use fast-drying glue. Once you have gathered the materials, cut the sheets to the appropriate size for the respective cubes. There should be at least 1 large rectangular cube, 8ftx4ft (96”x48”), on each side of the stage. The rest of the cubes will be 3, 6ftx4ft (72”x48”) cubes and 3, 4ftx4ft (48”x48”) cubes. If you want to add more cubes to the set, construct whichever sizes you are able with the foam core remaining.

STEP THREE

Grab your foam cubes and place them on stage! At least 1 of each size cube should be placed on either side of the stage. 1 large rectangular cube (8ftx4ft, 96”x48”), 1 medium cube (6ftx4ft, 72”x48”), 1 small cube (4ftx4ft, 48”x48”) should be placed on the sides of the stage. After this, place offsetting cubes on whichever side of your choice, creating balance but not symmetry. If you choose to make an extra large rectangular cube, place it on one side of the stage, doubling up on the large cubes on one side - not both. Once it looks good, you’re set!

STEP FOUR

Lightform time! Work with the Classic Center technical directors and Chris to get the (huge, fancy) projector up into the light booth at the back of the theatre. Place the projector directly in front of the glass, centered on the stage. Once the projector is plugged in, and proved to work, start setting up your Lightform. Using as many extension cords as needed, snake the cords around to the outside of the glass, placing the Lightform camera just outside of where the projector lens sits. Ensure that it is snug and continue attaching it to the appropriate parts of the Lightform computer. Once this is done, go through the steps of connecting the Lightform to your computer using a portable network (such as the Nighthawk from Apple - ask Chris about using his!). Make sure your computer is paired with the Lightform’s network and scan! This can be tricky, and if the scan is bad, you will need to adjust the lights and/or use the tracing tool to get the software to see the materials you want to project onto. Once the scan is to your liking, choose the effects you want to use for the cheek walls (usually sweeping or tracing effects work best) and for the cubes on stage. Get it prepped to run and wait for the show to start!

STEP FIVE

Once everything is ready to go and people will begin to file in, run your effects! Loop your chosen effects for pre-show, during show, intermission, and post-show. A good tip for this is to create all your desired effects for the entire show before-hand on different slides. Then, you will manually click through the slides you want to loop for each appropriate section (i.e. Manually changing slides 1-3 as the pre-show slides, looping slide 4 for during speakers, manually changing slides 5-7 for intermission, looping slide 4 again for during speakers, manually changing slides 8-10 for post-show.) It will look awesome!