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“Gloria, A Thousand Voices Sing Christmas”


Its an off year for Prestonwood Baptist Church from their typical Dallas Christmas Festival production which is a two hour secular Christmas performance combined with a choir concert and a theatrical story of Christ played out in a massive stage show for over 70,000 guests each year. While an all new show is being created for 2007, Prestonwood’s Minister of music & worship, Todd Bell created a stunning, made for television choir and orchestra performance that will be seen all over the country.

Todd Bell explained “Gloria, A thousand Voices Sing Christmas” was an attempt by our church to lend an atmosphere of worship to the Christmas Season. The central message of the evening is that the birth of Christ is not a “fairy tale”, but something we wholeheartedly believe happened. This was not meant to entertain people, but to draw them emotionally into the true meaning of Christmas. We wanted our audience to see and share the glory of the birth of Christ and the love He extends to each of us.”

Three sold out performances featured the 550 person Prestonwood Choir and 70 piece live orchestra through half of the performance leading up to a Christmas message from Pastor Jack Graham. For a 20 minute conclusion to the performance the adult choir and orchestra is joined by over 500 children & youth choirs totaling over 1,000 voices in a breathtaking performance.

Prestonwood’s 7,000 seat worship center was converted into a performance hall with the three day construction of a custom set & 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 to 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. The 200 some odd load rated deck units all had custom legs to fit over the existing house risers, flooring and half walls” says Joe Kaplor, Scenic Designer. The various backdrops included a cyc, a 100’ special effects sharkstooth scrim for amplified projection of light and a white light LED curtain.

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 such as, pencil sketch animations to the music of Glorious Impossible, outlining the songs meaning throughout the number or words to the Lord’s Prayer projected magically into the middle of the scrim surrounded by lighting. A custom video was produced for “I believe” walking through the lyrics and reinforcing the true meaning of Christmas. Multiple children’s drawings were part of a video collage for the song, children go where I send thee.


Lighting designer Donnie Brawner of Springfield MO based Brawner & Associates was brought in to accomplish two main objectives from a lighting stand point 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. “I challenged Donnie to work in unison with our video team to create some special moments in the show and work to tie the lighting and video together as a cohesive package. Not only did we create an overwhelming live experience, we captured this for television for thousands of others to experience” says Todd Bell.

“Due to the limited setup time for this production which all happened inside of a week and my schedule which did not allow for virtual pre-programming, we worked to keep the house plot in tact as much as possible and decided to light the show with an intelligent system” says Donnie Brawner. A rental package was brought in from Christie Lites in Dallas which when mixed with the house equipment totaled over 350 conventionals and 112 moving lights. “We lit the stage with VL3500 as key light units with VL3000 units providing color and texture on top of the 3500’s. We used Mac 2K profiles as the over stage aerial units and Mac 600 units as the workhorse for all of the backlight. The conventionals consisted mainly of audience light, upstage orchestra lighting, colored side light and a few specials. We corrected all of the conventionals to the CTB that we get out of the moving lights and shot the whole show that way. This allows our colors to read much more true on tape” explains Donnie Brawner.

“The time frame for building the cueing was certainly tight. We built over 300 cues in a couple days but those cues had to be specific in that they were tied to the color palette coming off the screens and they had to be appropriate for the camera angles being used and obviously tied to the music. What saved us was that we were not necessarily lighting dancers and performers coming on and off the stage and following people around with light and constantly lighting a new drop or scenic element. We had a general setup for the choir and then worked with positions and color over the top of them as the changing elements. The key however, is to over exaggerate the lighting to keep up with the power of the music. 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” says Donnie Brawner.

“The key to making all of this happen was having programmer Ron Robertson sitting at the GrandMA. He and I work together all of the time and that relationship between programmer and designer can make or break a deal of this size” explains Donnie Brawner. “Programming a show of this size, in this time frame with all of the parameters at hand takes a real professional who does this daily and Ron is an ace” says Donnie Brawner.

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 and 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 and his programmer, Ron Robertson.”

All three shows were taped between two days with over 20,000 guests and will go into edit for a one hour television special. Front of house cameras were combined with floor level cameras down front, handheld cameras roaming the room and boom cameras sweeping the air. 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. See for a complete listing as it gets updated.

“In the end, the lights, the cameras, the videos and the grand stage were merely backdrops surrounding the powerful message that flowed from our hearts to the people that walked through our doors and the thousands that will watch this on television. We believe in the cross and what better time to share that with the world than at Christmas” states Todd Bell.

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

Production Staff
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, Chris LeRoux

Web Links
Prestonwood Baptist Church

Brawner & Associates

Communilux Productions

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