Article about the NewSpring Set Shop

The goal of NewSpring Church in Wichita, Kansas is for each service to be fun, creative and relevant to its members’ lives. Part of the NewSpring experience is producing sets that are both entertaining and help to reinforce the message of the sermon. The church has dramatically improved its capabilities to produce memorable sets by purchasing a computer numerical control (CNC) router and ArtCAM Pro software that gives it the capability to build sets made of foam and polyvinylchloride (PVC) sheet that provide a realistic representation of whatever the pastoral team can imagine.

3D Car created with CADCAM software, ArtCAM

For example, the church recently built a life-size foam model of a Corvette to reinforce a series of sermons with the theme “Road Trip”. The church also recently built a Christmas season set based on photos of New York City’s Central Park in the 1940s. “ArtCAM provides the perfect environment for quickly and easily turning our pastoral team’s concepts into realistic models that help to entertain our audience while at the same time reinforcing the message of the sermon,” said Dale Poore, Creative Space Designer for NewSpring Church.

NewSpring has an auditorium that seats 1,700 people and its five services each weekend are attended by an average of 6,000 people. Services begin with high energy worship and are followed by a message by Pastor Mark Hoover. The church strives to create a friendly, informal environment and members are urged to dress casually and comfortably. The church has programs for kids and students of all ages including a nursery for newborns through two-year-olds. Children’s services are high-energy experiences that include games, toys, prizes and multimedia. The church’s services are also broadcast on TV, radio and on the Internet.

Various stage scenes created with CADCAM software, ArtCAM by a church

Poore worked in the homebuilding industry for 30 years and originally built sets for the church by hand after hours. As the church expanded, the pastoral team wanted to increase both the scope and quality of sets used by the church. “It was clear to all of us that we needed to move to CNC,” Poore said. “But I had never worked with CNC and knew nothing about it. So I talked to one of our members that had considerable experience with CNC through his work in the aerospace industry. He told us that we needed a CNC router. He connected me with Gary Beckwith of Beckwith Décor Products who is an ArtCAM dealer. We talked to Gary and he helped us pick out an EZ Router Scorpion 3-axis router and ArtCAM Pro software. We took a three-day class in Gary’s shop that covered both the machine and the software and we were off and running.”

ArtCAM impressed us from the very beginning. It is extremely powerful, particularly in its ability to produce and generate 3D surfaces from 2D drawings or bitmaps. But the software is surprisingly easy to use, both because of its intuitive design and because of tutorials that make it very easy to take advantage of the many advanced features. We have also benefitted from the excellent support provided by its developer Delcam. It’s worth mentioning that Delcam listens to and implements user suggestions for improving the software and Gary Beckwith is always there to help out if we have any problems.

Front and interior views of the 3D car created with ArtCAM

One of the more interesting sets that Poore has designed and built with the software is built around a full-size model of a 1960 Corvette. Poore found 2D drawings of the automobile on the http://www.the-blueprints.com website. He used ArtCAM Pro to convert the 2D model to a surface model of the car. He primarily created the surfaces by using the cross-sections found in the drawings as the profile for ArtCAM’s two rail drive function. ArtCAM simplifies the process of developing 3D models by giving the user the ability to easily move back and forth between the 2D and the 3D images. ArtCAM also has a wide array of functions for extruding 3D shapes from 2D drawings. In this case, Poore and his CNC operator Nate Kubish used the two-rail extrude feature by creating two lines that intersect the cross-section and then extruding the cross-section along the path of the drive rails to sweep out the surface of the vehicle.

The model was divided into sections such as doors, front end, and wheels and tires that were each small enough to be produced on the CNC router. Kubish simulated the machining operations on the screen. The simulation showed the path of the cutting tool to be sure there were no collisions or gouges. The simulation also showed the exact geometry of the finished part, which they then compared to the 3D model. After making a few tweaks, Kubish then generated G-code for the router. They cut out each section on the router, glued the sections together, painted them and added a real windshield that they had purchased. The set, which also included road and Route 66 signs, was used for seven weeks in the auditorium of the church. Sometime in the future Poore hopes to suspend the vehicle above the entrance door to the room where children’s services are held.

Stage Scene of Central park in 1940s created with CADCAM software, ArtCAM

Poore also created a set based on a photograph of Central Park in the 1940s that was used during Christmas season services. The set included the famous Gapstow Bridge and the Plaza Hotel. Poore imported a sketch based on photos of the bridge into ArtCAM and traced the key figures in the set using the software’s vector drawing tools. He converted the vector model of the walls of the hotel into 2D programs for the individual walls and then cut the outline of the walls and the windows out of 1/8” thick PVC board on the router. Lights were placed inside the model of the hotel so that the rooms appear to be occupied.

Poore produced the bridge as a 3D model in a manner similar to the approach described above for the Corvette. He created a line drawing of the bridge by drawing over the sketch, then used the two rail sweep function to create a surface model. He then divided the model into sections and cut them out one at a time on the router and painted them. Reflection shapes were cut from 3” foam and painted like water. Lighting and clear plexiglass placed in front completed the illusion of water.

More and more churches are recognizing that dramatic sets help increase the impact of their Pastoral message. “It takes about five or six weeks to do each set and we try to do each one better than the last,” Poore concluded.

We are always pushing the envelope and we are using 3D more and more frequently. The feedback from the pastor and the members has been very positive. In fact, I have been overwhelmed by the support that we have received.

Stage Scene created with CADCAM software, ArtCAM

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