This post is a little bit of a “back-in-time” post for me, since we did this one back in September of 2013, but it was one of our first major sets and served as the backbone for many of the sets that came afterward. First, a “before” picture:
The set above was our primary set before we began doing monthly set redesigns and admittedly, it was a pretty cool set. We changed it because this had been what the kids had seen week in and week out for the past three years. I’ll preface this set by saying we spent a good amount of money on this set, probably upwards of $1500, but that’s because we purchased projectors and came up with the backbone of what we use now, which is much more customizable.
First, we took down the LED curtain and the three TVs on the angled piece of trussing. Then, we took down all the lights off the rear truss and removed the angled piece of trussing and steel rods that held it in place so we had the ability to get behind the stage. We purchased five pieces of silver R-Matte Plus 3 R-5.0 3/4 in. 4 ft. x 8 ft. Foam Insulation-W-N5075X from Home Depot, and used gorilla tape (also from Home Depot) to tape the foam board to the truss and to itself. This created a frame around the screen (details on the screen below).
We projected a pattern onto the foam board and painted the design with regular black paint. The design we used was stock vector 1602091 from Depositphotos. The original plan was to use two identical projectors and blend them together to make one large image. This proved to be much more difficult that we’d anticipated, and because we didn’t have the ProPresenter edge blending module in the budget for this project, we later ended up switching to one projector instead of two. We purchased two InFocus IN124ST projectors and a 9′ x 21′ screen (blackout cloth). I think we purchased direct from carlofet.com but I’m not sure. I think it was Carl’s Blackout Cloth, 2.39:1, 9×21, Hanging DIY Projector Screen Kit, White, Gain 1.0. Once we got the screen, it came with detailed instructions on assembly and where to buy the steel pipe needed for the frame itself (sizing depended on the screen size). The instructions are also available on carlofet.com. We had to put the screen together inside the room because it couldn’t fit through the door once assembled. We used three threaded chain links (largest we could find) to anchor the screen to the rear trussing. In the pictures here, you’ll see a bit of a blending issue since we were using two projectors. Again, this was solved by just using once instead. It’s not as bright, but it works.
On the left side of the stage we purchased the cardboard dock, net, and S.O.S. sign from Oriental Trading. You need several people to assemble the dock…it was not intuitive or easy. We already had the thick rope, and we purchased the burlap fabric, moss, and leaf garland from various craft stores in the area (Jo-Ann’s, Michael’s, etc). We cut the slits in the burlap manually and used gorilla tape to tape it to the edge of the stage. The bamboo around the rolling cart was purchased at Party City.
On stage right, we have more moss and leaves (from craft stores) on the prize wheel stand and truss. The cardboard totem pole was from oriental trading. The little hut was cool-looking, but definitely not sturdy enough to use for anything besides decoration. The top of it was a tiki-hut umbrella top from Party City and we anchored it to a speaker stand. The “walls” of the tiki hut were luau table skirts from Party City. The tiki torches were in some sort of stand, but I can’t remember what we used.
We decided to do a team competition with the kids to go along with the Survivor theme (Red Volcanoes vs Blue Lightning). The original idea for making flags for both of the teams came from here, but let me just begin by saying, I definitely don’t sew! With that in mind, I’m sure there is a better way of doing this, but here is what I did. I bought some fabric at Jo-Ann’s and some pieces of PVC pipe (I got 2 longer pieces, 2 shorter pieces, and 2 t-connectors for connecting the long and short pieces together). I found a free Survivor font, (called SURVIVANT, from dafont.com), printed out the letters and logos for the flags on cardstock, and cut them out by hand. First, I assembled the PVC pieces. I simply glued and duct taped the pieces together (it wasn’t pretty but no one was going to see it, so it didn’t really matter). Once I had my “t-shaped” PVC pipe, I measured my fabric for the flags by laying it next to the pvc and cutting it, but leaving some excess fabric on the sides. Once I had my shape I used hot glue and fabric tape around all of the edges of the fabric, so the edges were clean (you could definitely sew this if you know how). I hot glued the finished flag-shaped fabric to the top of my “t” shaped pvc pipe and viola, a flag! To finish them off I simply hot glued the letters and logos onto the flags and they were complete. We anchored our flags to a couple of extra stanchions we had on hand and put them on either side of the stage for our teams.
The finished product is below. We put so much work into this one that we left it up for two months.