The original idea for this set was for the kids to feel like they were part of the studio audience for a new TV show called “Gen Kids in TV Land”. This set was also supposed to only last one theme day, but we went a little overboard in our production of it, so we turned it into our January set. When one of our leaders remarked, “This reminds me of the tour I took of NBC when I was in high school”, I knew we were on the right track!
As this set morphed into a bigger and bigger idea through talking with our leaders, we needed to make some service order changes. Probably most notably, our announcement time was removed and we created “commercial breaks” throughout the service with each individual announcement as its own commercial. The commercial breaks were done live, but by someone off stage and all the lights were down with only the announcement graphic on the screen.
Each service, we appointed someone to be the director. His or her job would be to sit in the director’s chair (shown above) and “direct” the service. The director had a clapperboard and megaphone, and anytime during the service, he or she could have us “cut” and “retake” a “scene”. I use these in quotes since it wasn’t really a scene, but that was what we were going for. Though we allowed the director to use their judgement for cuts and retakes, we also explained that we didn’t want the teaching (message) or slow worship interrupted. The director also assisted with prompting the audience for sound participation through the use of foam board signs (applause, laughter, silence, and aw are the ones we made). I don’t remember the foam board size, but they were medium sized black pieces that could be held in one hand. I used the gold metallic sharpies to write on the foam board so they could be seen from far away.
We already had the director’s chair in storage, but we found the cardboard camera (above), the cardboard clapper (below), and a pack of movie night cutouts on Oriental Trading. The light trees you see on either side of the stage were purchased from Cheap Lights in Dallas. We drove down to their showroom and picked them up there. We put them all on a power strip and connected them to our lighting system with an Elation Unibar so our lighting technician could dim them as needed. We also put up four audience-facing portable work lights on our front lighting truss. These were tied into our lighting system via a Unibar as well. We happened to have these on hand in storage as well, but they can be found at Lowes or Home Depot (Bayco 150-Watt Incandescent Portable Work Light).
As far as our projection goes, we (my husband) created a mask in photoshop of an old-fashioned black and white TV set and setup a template in ProPresenter so all our graphics and videos fit in the television screen (going for the idea that our screens were preview monitors for the show). We also setup a live camera feed through ProPresenter so whoever was on the stage also on the screens (in black and white, of course, for the true TV Land experience). On the first Sunday of this theme, we encouraged the kids to dress up as their favorite TV character, and I dressed up as Lucille Ball (Lucy from I Love Lucy)
I forgot to take closer pictures of our environmental side projection, but you can kind of see in the picture below where we used pictures of studio audiences to give the feel that the kids were with a big group of people in an actual audience.
For our background music during this set, we used various TV theme music (the Price is Right, Family Feud, I Love Lucy, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, etc). We also used sound effects during the service to add some extra dynamics (crowd laughing, a couple different applause clips, etc). The big points wheel on the right truss is not actually part of the set, but is used weekly for our team competitions- it just happened to fit perfectly in with this set. When the wheel was spun and stops on a wedge, we used the Wheel of Fortune “puzzle reveal” sound.
Overall, we put a ton more work into this set than we’d originally planned. In the future, we’ll probably use some of the concepts again. It could work really well as a general environmental theme for your Kid’s Church space instead of just a temporary theme set. I know our leaders and kids really had fun with it, and really hated to see it go!