SOUTHLAKE -- The Cine Capri at Harkins Theatre in Town Square is billed as having one of the biggest movie screens in the Metroplex.
A church just down the street can now also make that claim.
White's Chapel United Methodist Church has transformed the front of its building into a massive screen of sorts, using it as the backdrop for an elaborate video light show this holiday season.
Hundreds of spectators are crowding onto the church lawn and parking lots to see images of falling snow, bouncing red bubbles and twirling Christmas trees beamed onto the church facade.
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The show, "Celebrate the Light: A White's Chapel Outdoor 3D Christmas Celebration," uses state-of-the-art technology to project lights and special effects.
The six-minute show runs every 20 minutes over two hours each night through Christmas Eve.
"You can watch it two or three different times and catch it doing different things," said Laura Russell of Roanoke, who recently watched the show with her two sons. "We think it's amazing and it's very unique."
Officials say the light show is a visual representation of the church's Advent theme of Jesus as the light of the world.
"The idea is to share the light. It's not just a flashy laser light show. It's a cool reason to get together and fellowship, providing an opportunity to be comfortable talking about Jesus," said Kyle Austin, White's Chapel's director of evangelism and outreach.
Similar technology is used regularly at Disney World and is being showcased on the facade of Saks Fifth Avenue department store in New York.
The project was the idea of White's Chapel's creative arts director Tim Georgeff, who spent about six weeks working with an expert in animation and graphic arts to create the show.
First, the building's dimensions were mapped into a computer and then loaded into a media server to create 3D video effects visible without special glasses. Three high-definition projectors beam the video from the top of 22-foot structures on the church grounds.
"It's not just making a movie and blasting it on the side of the building. It's creating content that fits the architecture of the building," Georgeff said.
During the show, the church's huge stained glass window is a backdrop for an image of a burning fireplace, complete with red stockings that drop into place.
Special effects make it appear as if the church is being covered in wrapping paper, which is then ripped away.
During a tropical part of the show, clownfish swim across a blue background. A waterfall appears to fill the church and the water freezes over, forming icicles on the window.
Holiday music performed by the church's praise band, orchestra and choir accompanies the video.
'Like a fireworks show'
The equipment and programming were donated by a Coppell event technology company headed by church member Steve Alford, who said it would cost about $100,000 to put on a similar four-week production.
The show uses no extra electricity because for the two hours each night, lights in the parking lot and on the grounds are turned off to make the show more visible, Georgeff said.
Nearly 5,000 people saw the show's debut Nov. 30, and it has drawn about 350 people per night since then. A YouTube clip has generated more than 10,000 hits, and in coming days, the church plans to post a behind-the-scenes video on how the show was put together. Each night, nearly 20 volunteers from the congregation and staffers help put on the show, directing traffic, greeting visitors and handing out hot chocolate.
Spectators say the show is more impressive than a typical Christmas display.
"It is like a fireworks show, with the 'oohs' and 'ahhs,'" said Fred Halfpap, a church member who saw the production on opening night. "I was blown away just standing there."
Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326