Prestonwood Baptist Church is a dynamic and highly successful church in North Texas. The Christmas show event that Prestonwood produces each year at their Plano campus has become a popular highlight of the Christmas season, with more than 70,000 attendees purchasing tickets each year.
Combining a nearly 1,000-member strong cast and choir, live orchestra, flying angels and cutting-edge audio-visual technology, this visually stunning Christmas pageant offers both a chance to pause and reflect on the true meaning of the season and world class entertainment for the whole family. This year the show was presented 14 times over the course of two weeks, with tickets selling out for almost all shows. Each performance allowed an audience of up to 5,500 people to enjoy the production.
This year's "The Gift of Christmas" production was thematically structured in three parts, each creating and highlighting distinctly different moods. Act 1 featured traditional Christmas carols and a Christmas-themed story about a group of children discovering the North Pole. The second act follows with a focus on religious-themed choral music performed together with a large choir as well as additional ensemble and solo pieces. In the third and final act, the audience followed the New Testament story of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Prestonwood Baptist Church’s Andy Pearson took on the role of creative director, with Matt Webb of UVLD (Unlimited Visibility Lighting Design) as the production designer. UVLD’s Greg Norgeot completed the team as the overall technical director.
The carefully constructed stage itself was 170 feet wide by 100 feet deep and functioned on four different vertical levels, integrating six multi-axis flying tracks and nine vertical flying tracks. ZFX provides all the live performer flying as well as the scenic automation.
One of many impressive visual elements were 11 flying drummers with custom LED-mapped costumes and drums that appear in one scene.
In addition to the more than 750 lighting fixtures, various pyrotechnical effects and lasers, the audience is also bound to remember the live camels, zebras, donkeys, alpacas, peacocks and sheep which added realism to the spectacular scenery.
In terms of display technologies, the production required more than 4000 sq feet of ROE CB5 5MM LED tiles with Brompton processing, a 34-foot wide by 15-foot tall flying LED wall, and 14 tracking projection panels that were 10 feet wide by 34 feet tall.
Three Barco UHD 40K projectors were used to project the beautiful content created by Jordan Munk. A GrandMA3 lighting desk was employed for the general lighting control.
Thrasos Media Group (TMG) was in charge of all projection tracking, video playback and video engineering.
Cameron Yeary, TMG’s visual media developer, describes the complexities involved with realizing smooth video mapping and tracking for the monumental production: "The actual projection tracking part moves across a three-projector blend, but the 3D space is very narrow. When you have great height and width but little depth, the 3D calibration and lineup can be very tricky. Let's not forget that these panels move very quickly, so it takes incredible precision to ensure the tracking is smooth and precise over that many surfaces.”
In order to create a precise and reliable setup, the TMG crew chose to combine PIXERA real-time media server technology with Stage Precision’s software tool SP, a software solution that allows AV professionals to keep track of all position, control and camera data in a production. “The handshake between the two systems worked great, and we could combine all the PIXERA rendering and mapping power with Stage Precision to create a great performer and object tracking workflow that served us very well throughout this amazing production,” says Yeary.
TMG's PIXERA programmer Peter Shay and his media server tech and engineering colleague Chad Yeary also used PIXERA control to manage lighting control intensity with perfectly timed screen blackouts controlled by lighting and timecode.
Creative director: Andy Pearson, PBC
Technical director: Greg Norgeot
Production design: Matt Webb, UVLD
Lighting design: David Seitz, UVLD
Visual Media Developer: Cameron Yeary, TMG
Videocontentdesign: Jordan Munk
PIXERA Programmierer: Peter Shay, TMG
Medienserver-Technik: Chad Yeary: TMG
Automation und Flying: ZFX
Pyroeffekte und Laser: Pyrotechnico
Lichtequipment: Gemini Stage Lighting
LED und Projektoren: Fuse
Szenische Lichtausstattung: Communilux