As I wandered the halls at 2015’s Prolight + Sound show in Frankfurt last month, I once again looked for the unusual items. I’ve come to expect the large manufacturers to show off some great stuff to augment their wide array of fixtures. But I am more impressed at these trade shows with the little things that are original. I’m talking about stuff so cool and simple that I have been wondering where this item has been my whole career. And it’s not necessarily something that everyone can use. I found three companies I was unfamiliar with, that showed me gear I can really use.
Design: “I’m working with Seth Jackson on the new tour starting in May. We are trying to come up with a nice little rig that will look good in amphitheaters, small fairs/festivals.”
The Prolight + Sound convention was held from April 15-18 along with the annual Musikmesse show for music instruments at one giant facility. The combined event drew more than 108,000 visitors from 146 countries to witness “a dazzling display of new products, stars and events presented by 2,257 exhibitors,” noted Detlef Braun, member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt. The PL+S exhibitor and attendee counts also showed strength, with a record 928 exhibitors and 43,054 attendees.
Derek McLane has traveled to many different places through his scenic design work for Broadway and beyond. As he takes PLSN on a tour of the Manhattan studio space that he shares with director Doug Hughes and costume designer Catherine Zuber, the charming Tony Award winner waxes enthusiastic about his work in the theater. He shows us his wall-length library of art and design books that stands in the common conference room as well as the gallery of quarter scale models lining the shelves and the perimeter of his main work space where the drafting and model crafting happens. From the gloomy, decaying theater of Follies to the bright and cheery steamship of Anything Goes, McLane knows how to fully flesh out a set and draw audiences into the world of each story he helps to tell.
"The whole idea of the show is essentially building from zero,” says lighting programmer Jason Baeri. “It begins without giving anything away — just a simple stage. Then as the show unfolds, there’s a little bit of Magic Blades, and then video, and then we lower the ‘V’ trussing, and then we push out to the B stage. It’s a linear progression upwards and forward, expanding in the space as the songs go by.”
Global pop star Pitbull is out on tour where we caught up with lighting designer & director Michael Smalley and Team Pitbull on the sold-out co-headline date with Enrique Iglesias. We got some background on Smalley who says “I was always playing with lighting and sound gear since I was a child.” He got involved in those aspects in school, and when he got to college, he pursued a degree in technical theatre. His focus quickly changed to concert lighting and set design after seeing a few notable concerts, such as Phish and Chris Kuroda’s lighting design. Smalley worked shows in local bars, and then, in early 2004, hit the road with a band called Moonshine Still.
Real World Lighting, Inc. was founded in 1989 when Bob Peterson shifted his energy from vending to design. His primary focus has been television lighting for music, comedy and special events, with clients including Garth Brooks, CMT Crossroads, a bevy of comedy specials for Showtime, HBO, Comedy Central and the POTUS [President of the United States]. Real World recently designed lighting for the concert segments of Pitch Perfect 2, the feature film, which gets released this month. Rascal Flatts and The Band Perry have also used Real World Lighting’s tour design consultation services.
Musique Xpress Lights
Ethan Weber is gearing up to start yet another Rolling Stones tour. This marks the 21st year he has been on the road with these guys, but in reality it’s only a fraction of his career in stage lighting. Along with designing some top-notch shows on his own for bands such as Green Day and Fall Out Boy, he is often entrusted with running larger-than-life productions, such as U2, for other designers. I caught up with Ethan to chat for a spell.
One thing you can say about gear: If it has value and is going on the road, it needs a case. And a good case can make a huge difference between a show going on or being cancelled. These days, there are dozens — if not hundreds — of companies building transport cases, and we decided to present a selection of them. Please note that many companies also provide custom foam cutting and most have case templates for common pieces of gear, so a “custom” design for your piece of gear may be fairly simple. And if you want custom colors or graphics, many companies can accommodate your request.
To download a PDF of the PLSN March 2015 Buyers Guide, CLICK HERE.
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” wrote Shakespeare in As You Like It. And there are few players in the staging business better known, even legendary, than Joe Gallagher. In 40 years, he has built a reputation as solid as his stages for working magic for bands, clubs, corporate and sports events, even churches, with everything done “as you like it.” Even during our phone interview, he was as busy as an air traffic controller, solving issues brought into his office, checking truck locations and tour schedules, taking other calls, getting ready for the next tour taking off in a week.
Are you LOOKing for an atmospheric effect machine? What do you need? A hazer, fogger, low fog generator, battery powered fogger, or miniature fogger? Whatever your needs are, Look Solutions has it covered. Let’s take a quick look at three of the 10 units available from Look Solutions.
With the popularity of LEDs on the rise and the increasing need for better tools to program them, the boundaries of existing software solutions is constantly being tested. Take, for instance, the world of pixel mapping. Once upon a time, pixel mapping more or less was confined to a 2D flat plane on which an image would be displayed. That has changed in the last several years. With products like Pixel Tubes (Eurolite) and LT 100/200 3D Graphic Tubes (SGM) being used to create three-dimensional structures of pixels, traditional 2D pixel mapping software quickly falls short of the task.
Let it be known that a manufacturer has finally built a hard edge moving light with an LED source that’s brighter than the 1200W discharge fixtures now on the market. Barco-owned High End Systems has proven that their SolaSpot Pro 1500 fixture has the horsepower to outshine most of the top selling fixtures others offer while only using a 400-watt white LED light source.
Last fall at LDI, I was privileged to walk past the Lightwave International booth and see their new fixture, the Phenom, a moving-head RGB laser that combines the best parts of a moving head fixture with the power and visuals of a laser, offering LDs a brand new, previously-unseen effect for their toolkit.
At a concert, the director controls what the audience sees on the I-Mag. At a professional sports event, the director controls the visual story that’s seen on television, or on a stadium’s huge video screen. Here, we’re talking about directing for live events, with multiple cameras, media servers and various other video sources at the director’s fingertips. There are certainly other types of directors, such as the Kubricks and the Coppolas — but that’s a different breed of cat entirely.
It seems the designers of the new water-based Han Show, in Wuhan, China, have things a bit backwards. Instead of brainstorming on the conceptual basics of a theatrical show and securing the proper venue for it, the leading designers of the production have gotten support from Dalian Wanda Group, a large Chinese commercial property developer and cinema operator that constructed an entire theater for the specific purpose of housing The Han Show..
Costs for "Venue Exclusive" Production Services Can Add Up Quickly
Sometimes it’s what you don’t see that can sink your ship. Planning and executing successful meetings for your organization can be an undertaking of a Titanic proportion. For every decision you make that shapes the meeting, there will be other issues that lurk beneath the surface and which are not readily apparent. These hidden hazards can easily put a big hole in your budget.
To quote Nickleback, “We all just wanna be big rock stars, live in hilltop houses, drivin’ 15 cars….” Or, more to the point, our clients do. Over the past 25 years, we’ve seen corporate shows change in dramatic and unexpected ways, the most profound being the energy level and aesthetic of the productions.
Every Broadway production is unique, with its own engaging story to tell. But, whether it’s a comedy or a tragedy, a musical or a drama, there is one thing that four separate productions opening this month on Broadway have in common: Every one of them is using RC4 Wireless products to untether their props, costumes, and set pieces, creating the magic of theatre.
If you have ever watched any of the reality TV shows about emergency rooms, you have probably noticed how well the staff works together to help the patient. I find it a striking resemblance to the way that an automated lighting programmer must relate to others on his/her team. A programmer must work well with each team member to ensure a healthy lighting contribution to the production. By studying this relation in comparison to an emergency trauma team, one can easily see the responsibilities that a programmer has with the production team.
Production designer Marc Janowitz devised a design in early April for singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell tour in support of the March 31, 2015 album release named for the singer’s mother, Carrie — who died in 2012 after suffering from mental illness — and his stepfather. Stevens channeled his grief into his most personal, intimate songs. To present them on the road, he eschewed the props and gimmicks for which he’s known, and Janowitz sets the stage for a more melancholy mood.
I am blessed to work with some of the greatest scenic designers on the planet. They seem to have endless veins of creativity and come from all sorts of backgrounds and educations. However, it never ceases to amaze me how often they design with the most impractical scenic elements. Well, at least from this lighting designer’s point of view.