Taking a break this year from the multi-million dollar Dallas Christmas Festival produced by Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, TX and drawing over 70,000 visitors a year, minister of music and worship, Todd Bell created a stunning, made-for-television choir and orchestra performance that will be seen all over the country.
Gloria, A thousand Voices Sing Christmas enjoyed three sold-out performances, featuring the 550 person Prestonwood Choir and 70 piece live orchestra with a 20 minute finale comprising over 500 youth choir members, totaling over 1,000 voices.
Prestonwood’s 7,000-seat worship center was converted into a performance hall with the three-day construction of a custom set and riser system designed, supplied and built by Communilux Productions in Dallas, TX. The set was designed to allow for a breakup of the choir to add dimension and depth to the look and pull it away from the traditional look of a large choir in standard choir risers. The set and lighting was also designed to be pulled forward and put the choir out front and in the faces of the crowd.
“The ‘V’ shaped, custom set was 145’ wide, over 11 rows deep and stood 18’ off of the stage floor and was treated with soft goods to match the interior of the worship center space,” says Joe Kaplor, scenic designer.
Lighting designer Donnie Brawner of Springfield, MO-based Brawner & Associates was brought in to accomplish two main objectives from a lighting standpoint, which was to light the show for television and build a lighting design that would match the strength, power, and magnitude of the production while creating multiple lighting moments throughout the show.
“Setup time was very limited and my schedule did not allow for any virtual work, so we worked to keep the house plot in tact as much as possible and lit the show with an intelligent system” says Brawner.
“The stage keys were Vari-Lite VL3500 units with VL3000 units providing color and texture on top of the 3500’s. We used Martin Mac 2K profiles as the over stage aerial units and Mac 600 units did all of the backlight. The conventionals consisted mainly of audience light, some upstage orchestra lighting, colored side light and a few specials. We shot it using the color temperature coming out of the movers and then corrected all of the conventionals to match. It always allows for the colors to read more true,” explains Brawner.
“The real challenge was the time crunch to put the programming together. We had the luxury of one big choir that did not move and a fairly simple set, but cueing it for TV and keeping the color palette in unison with video always takes a little more time. In addition the music is challenging. The musical arrangements created and produced by Prestonwood are hard to keep up with sometimes and you have to consider that in the design process. The music can be so over the top and climatic and I feel lighting is a big part of that. You have to pick and choose your moments,” Brawner adds.
Production Manager Cyndi Nines comments, “The magic of the moment was directly related to the beautiful display of color and movement of the lighting. We have worked with Brawner & Associates for many years and once again were blown away by the incredible pictures that were painted through lights. The depth of each song grew as it was enhanced by the myriad of lights encompassing the room. Anyone in attendance would have to acknowledge the genius creativity of lighting designer Donnie Brawner.”
All three shows were taped between two days with over 20,000 guests and will go into edit for a one-hour television special. The production will be aired over Christmas Eve and several times before and after on TBN, Daystar, Family Net, and local ABC affiliates in certain cities including Dallas & West Palm Beach FL.
In addition to the powerful music of the orchestra and incredible voices, the show featured several customized video elements and specialized lighting in addition to an aerial adage. “A variety of artistic creators, producers and directors allowed us a lot wonderful media to help expand and magnify what we tried to relay in the songs performed,” says Cyndi Nine, production manager. Several videos and graphics were produced that played along with or accompanied the live music.
Gloria Lighting Equipment List
13 ETC Source Four 5 Degree
18 ETC Source Four 10 Degree
75 ETC Source Four 19 – 50 Degree
192 Par 64 Cans
42 Single Cell Cyc Units
10 MR16 Strips
50 Fore Runner Scrollers
08 Martin Atomic Strobes
30 Martin Mac 2K Profile’s w/ Custom Gobo Loads
28 Martin Mac 600NT Units
22 Vari-Lite 3500
12 Vari-Lite 3000
14 High End Studio Colors
06 High End Cyberlight Turbo
04 Lycian 2K Followspots
03 DF50 Hazers
01 grandMA Console
Executive Producer: Todd Bell
Production Stage Manager: Cyndi Nine
Executive Director/PowerPoint Ministries Scott Seal
Producer/Director/Editor Tim Kelley
Director of Operations, PBC Bobby Reynolds
Chief Systems Engineer Chris Hinkle
Assistant Director Sam Goldsmith
Engineer: Randy Patrick
Technical Director: Craig Harper
Lighting Designer: Donnie Brawner
Assistant Designer/Programmer: Ron Robertson
PBC Lighting Director James Maddox
Master Electrician: Rodney Bailey
FOH Engineer: Randy Adams
Monitors: Tim Burdette
Lighting Equipment Rental: Christie Lites Dallas
Set Design, Construction Communilux Productions
Video Editors: Jackson Robinson, Trent Armstrong, Jim Zarbaugh, Bryan Wiliford,