Hometown Heroes

The 2014 Hometown Hero Finalists

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2014 Hometown Hero Finalists AnnouncedCompanies driven by people doing what they love to do most are what make a “hometown hero.” There’s a lot of passion in this eclectic collection chosen by the readers of PLSN. And while this can be, as one honoree described it, a “dog eat dog” world, there’s a lot of good people doing good work out there. Here are the six best lighting companies in North America for 2014. One of these companies will be honored with a Parnelli Award for Hometown Hero Lighting Company of the Year at the annual awards ceremony, set this year for Nov. 22 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

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Company 411

Pyrotecnico FX: The Special Effects Dynasty Continues

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Pyro at Ultimate Music Experience 2014, South Padre Island, TX. Photo by Drew Ressler - Rukes.comHistorians believe fireworks first exploded onto the scene in seventh century China and reached widespread use during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). A new dynasty began in 1889 when Constantino Vitale founded his fireworks company in Pietramelara, Italy. In 1920, he moved his firm and family to New Castle, PA, whose official slogan would become “The Fireworks Capital of America.” In its first century, the business that would emerge as Pyrotecnico grew to become one of the country’s largest fireworks companies. It now creates many of the world’s most dazzling displays.

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Video World

The Next Evolution in Presentation Switching

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This 4K blend, presented at InfoComm 2014, used E2 and two Barco HDQ-4K35 projectors.Over the last few years, I’ve written several columns on the subject of 4K, and the message in the consumer marketplace remains unchanged: the big television manufacturers need shiny new toys to sell, and 4K gets the nod. Granted, the pictures are stunning, the resolution is remarkable, the price point is way higher than HD, and 4K content is very scarce.

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Feeding the Machines

Random Thoughts

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Many elements of lighting design are built using symmetry; however for every symmetrical system an asymmetrical system is also conceived.  Automated lighting programmers are given the power to create randomness and chaos out of any lighting rig by simply using the tools at hand.  One of the best tools for doing so is working with random values.  Whether contained within the fixtures themselves or a product of the console, random abilities add dynamic excitement to any production such as a color chase or lightning effect. Add a comment

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Feeding the Machines

The Good Ol' Disco Days

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Marsha Stern at the Pines Pavilion back in the late 1980s. Photo by Bob HowardI have been programming automated lighting since the late 1980s and have seen many things change and grow. However, most of today’s programming has its roots in a time even before I started programming. The disco era of the 1970s and 1980s was filled with many different types of fixtures and control. Automated lighting desks did not exist, yet complex lighting sequences had to be produced and recalled. Lighting designer Marsha Stern was lucky enough to have been a pioneer at the time, controlling lighting in some of the New York City’s most iconic discos. I sat down with her to better understand the tools available at the time and their influences on today’s automated lighting concepts. Add a comment

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Focus on Fundamentals

Building the Art-Net(work)

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Building the Art-Net(work)Who doesn’t appreciate the power of Art-Net?  Art-Net gives us the ability to manage massive amounts of DMX over a single cable with one controller?  In turn, we can control a ton of fixtures easily from one place which makes programming shows much easier.  However, while Art-Net is an amazingly cool method of control, it adds another hat to the lighting designer — Information technology administrator.  Now, we not only need to think about which gobos overlap best, but also how to make sure that our network of fixtures is running smoothly.

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Focus on Fundamentals

Picking Up Tricks from Others

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Did you go to school? Did you feel that was the end of your education? Lies, I tell you — all lies. I am a firm believer that you never stop your education. Now does that mean that you should be constantly in school or some sort of continuing education system? Hell no. Look at all the veterans in the industry. Many of them never went past high school. What they learned about our industry, they did on the road and on the job. Add a comment

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Designer Watch

Quick Cues: X Japan, Charli XCX, Bassnectar, Saturday Takeaway and More

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The lighting setup for X Japan at Madison Square GardenX Japan, billed as “the most successful rock band in the history of Japan,” performed a one-off at Madison Square Garden in New York City. LD Peter Morse designed the set and the lighting for the Oct. 11 show, working with production manager Phay MacMahon. “I designed a smaller show for their warm-up concerts in Yokohama, which took place one week prior to the show at the Garden,” said Morse. “The MSG show was shot for DVD, and consisted of 600-plus fixtures, ably programmed via ESP previz by Troy Eckerman and Craig Caserta. We only had one actual day — show day — with the entire rig! So previz was an absolute necessity.”

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Designer Watch

Designing for the MDA Telethon; Gambling on Casino LDs; Quick Cues

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ABC’s MDA Show of Strength aired as a two-hour special Aug. 31. Photo by Design PartnersChildren in wheelchairs not only have special needs, they need special design consideration when they’re part of a show. Getting them in and out of the audience, getting them onto the stage requires ramps, elevators and other accessibility features. While the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has recently swept social media to raise funds for ALS, the MDA Telethon has been raising money for ALS, muscular dystrophy and other neuro-related diseases since 1966, traditionally during Labor Day weekend.

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LD at Large

Boss or Leader?

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Illustration by Andy AuI had a lighting tech walk up to me one day and ask for some help. He couldn’t find a couple of gel frames that had fallen out of some PARs since the previous evenings’ performance. I asked him if he had any spare gel and frames in the work trunk. “Sure,” he responded. “But my boss will not let me have them because he thinks it’s my fault they disappeared, and he wants me to spend all morning looking for them. That’s why your light rig is still on the ground.” Not wanting to stir up any internal crew conflict, I told him that I wasn’t his boss. He replied, “You may not be the boss, but you’re our leader. Please intervene here.” Add a comment

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