Current Issue - March 2015
Editor's Note

LD Software Helps Get the Job Done

Written by: Nook Schoenfeld

Nook Schoenfeld, editor of PLSN magazineAs a lighting designer, I just love my software. I know a lot of designers who whine about drawing plots and having to number things. They’d rather shout directions out to some assistant who can scribble notes now and transform that into 2D plots, 3D renderings and paperwork on how to make it all work. I get all that, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But I am not that guy. I am addicted to my software and would rather do it all myself.

On the Road

LD Max McDougall for Steve Aoki

Written by: Debi Moen

LD Max McDougall lit Steve Aoki’s Neon Future Experience tour. He’s pictured outside the Austin Music Hall in Austin, TX where the tour started on Feb. 13, 2015. Photo by Debi MoenTour: Steve Aoki Neon Future Experience tour

Dates: Feb. 13-March 21 (North America); festival dates follow


Kylie Minogue's "Kiss Me Once" Tour Heads to Australia

Written by: Nook Schoenfeld

LD Rob Sinclair included 120 Martin MAC Viper AirFX and a dozen Martin MAC Auras in the rig.Kylie Minogue’s Kiss Me Once tour, in support of her 2014 album release, moves to the artist’s native Australia with plans for five concerts in March 2015 before returning for another tour leg in Europe this summer. The 2015 shows follow the artist’s 2014 tour, with close to 30 shows in the U.K. and Europe. LD Rob Sinclair and lighting director Louisa Smurthwaite provided insight into the creative processes behind the tour’s extensive lighting design, which included fixtures from Harman’s Martin Professional.


In Memoriam: Bob See, 1947-2015

Written by: Kevin M. Mitchell

Bob SeeBob See, founder and CEO of See Factor Industry and one of the leading innovators in rock 'n' roll tour packaging, died Feb. 10, 2015. See Factor noted that he died peacefully in his sleep. He was 67.

Inside Theatre

Constellations on Broadway

Written by: Bryan Reesman

Constellations on Broadway photo by Joan MarcusThe recent Broadway production of Constellations, a two-person drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson, seems deceptively simple: a short 70-minute play in which the duo plays a couple that meets, falls in love, then copes with insecurities, infidelity, and illness. Above them hover a group of “balloons” of varying sizes that are omnipresent as the actors play out the scenes numerous times, reciting many of the same lines but offering multiple takes on the relationship based on a “what if” premise. What if one person had reacted to or acted differently in a certain situation?

Production Profile

Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show with Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott

Written by: Kevin M. Mitchell

The mostly-new production shared elements of the “Firework” performance from Perry’s Prismatic world tour.. Photo from Getty Images courtesy Strictly FX.“It’s the hardest show I do, but I love it because you’re working with the best of everybody,” Mark Grega of Strictly FX says of the Super Bowl.


Red Bull Crashed Ice Tour, St. Paul, MN

Written by: Nook Schoenfeld

Red Bull Crashed Ice came to St. Paul, MN on Jan. 24, 2015 and set up in front of the Cathedral of St. Paul. Photo courtesy of Red Bull Crashed Ice.What started out as a single event 15 years ago has blossomed into the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship Series. For the fourth year in a row, one of these sporting spectacles took place in downtown St. Paul, MN on Jan. 24, 2015, where an estimated 140,000 spectators got right into the up close action of this sport. A plethora of the worlds’ fastest skaters go head to head down a narrow track skating at speeds of 40 mph. While the races themselves were exciting, I couldn’t help wondering who and how a company can erect this gigantic structure along with all the lighting, video and audio it takes to put on a world televised event like this.

Designer Insights

Butch Allen and Rob Koenig on Eric Church's "The Outsiders" Tour

Written by: Steve Jennings (Photos and Text)

Eric Church The Outsiders tour photo by Steve JennignsWe caught up with the Eric Church tour in February and spoke with Butch Allen (lighting, set and production designer) and Rob Koenig (associate lighting designer, programmer and director) about the tour, which has exploded along with Eric’s popularity. Eric’s devoted fans in Salt Lake City got something extra when both band and crew got a bad case of the stomach flu. Instead of canceling the gig, Eric went on with the show solo, playing 19 songs with no fancy lights, video or stage production, just spotlights for a rare performance. He also told the crowd that they would get a free makeup show later in the tour.


Sam Smith 2015 Tour

Written by: Steve Jennings (Photos and Text)

Sam Smith tour photo by Steve JenningsWill Potts has been working professionally in the industry since graduating from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) in 2006 with a BA in Technical Production Arts, although his first paid jobs specifically in lighting were in 2003 at The Arches, a multipurpose arts venue in Glasgow, Scotland. Here he was given the opportunity to light concerts, clubs and theatre, gaining valuable creative experience while working closely with all sorts of artists in different genres of performance.


ESPN’s Night of Champions

Written by: PLSN Staff

ESPN’s Night of Champions photo courtesy TLS Productions Inc.Lighting Co
TLS Productions Inc.

Centennial Hall
Dallas, TX


AT&T Playoff Playlist Live

Written by: PLSN Staff

AT&T Playoff Playlist Live, photo courtesy Solomon GroupLighting Co
Solomon Group

American Airlines Center
Dallas TX


Primus "Wonka" Tour

Written by: Steve Jennings (Photos and Text)

Primus Wonka Tour tour photo by Steve JenningsLighting Co
Theatrical Media Services (TMS)

Various (Tour)


Lily Allen "Sheezus" Tour

Written by: Steve Jennings (Photos and Text)

Lily Allen tour photo by Steve JenningsLighting Co
Christie Lites

Various (Tour)


Miranda Lambert

Written by: PLSN Staff

Miranda Lambert tour photo by Ben Dickman courtesy Bandit LitesLighting Co
Bandit Lites

Various (Tour)


Journey to Christmas

Written by: PLSN Staff

Journey to Christmas at Eastside Christian Church, Anaheim, CA, lit by Visions LightingLighting Co
Visions Lighting

Eastside Christian Church
Anaheim, CA

Safety Factor

Weather vs. Lighting Designer

Written by: John Featherstone

Having a weather emergency plan in place helped the author and others evacuate this Mojave Desert gig before gale force winds brought the structure crashing down.Even if Oscar Wilde did once say “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative,” we all still love to talk about the weather. And, sooner or later, we will all have to do a show outside, or at the very least in a tent.

PLSN Interview

Strictly FX's Reid Nofsinger

Written by: Nook Schoenfeld

Reid Nofsinger, Strictly FXThey ought to put Reid’s picture in the dictionary under “pyro technician.” Take one look at him, and you know he’s the type of guy you would expect to drive fast cars, own his own custom fit Storm Trooper suit and blow up stuff for a living. He’s been the lead engineer and technician at Strictly FX, Chicago’s premier special effects vendor for the entertainment biz, for more than 15 years. PLSN sat down to chat with how he and Strictly got to where they are today.

Buyer's Guide

Software for Lighting Designers

Written by: Nook Schoenfeld

PLSN Buyers Guide - Software for Lighting DesignersWhat do lighting designers need software for, you ask? Different lighting people need different software. Some need to draw basic 2D plots for lighting companies to build their rigs. Some need to be able to make 3D photorealistic renderings to pitch ideas to their clients. Of course, some of us just care about the paperwork so we can prep the doggone lighting system.

To download a PDF of the PLSN March 2015 Buyers Guide, CLICK HERE.

Road Tests

Vaddio RoboSHOT Cameras

Written by: Nook Schoenfeld

Vaddio RoboSHOT 30 and 12 CamerasVaddio has been around for more than 10 years now, supplying the world with robotic cameras. Yesterday I made a trip out to their Minnetonka, MN office space to find a pretty massive office and warehouse where the employees numbered over a hundred. Everything made by the company is built in America, assembled right here at their sparkling clean facility. That was just the first thing to impress me.


Elation Sniper 2R

Written by: Nook Schoenfeld

Elation Sniper 2RIn a world where every manufacturer is chasing the next great LED configured fixture or inventing their version of a hybrid luminaire, it is pretty exciting to see a light come out that isn’t competing with anything else in the market. Elation’s design team has once again raised the bar by unleashing their Sniper 2R. This award-winning fixture was released last year at the PLASA show in London, and its laser simulation capabilities and high speed scanning mirror system made it the talk of the show floor.


Clay Paky Mythos

Written by: Brandon Creel

Clay Paky MythosItalian lighting manufacturer Clay Paky has brought the industry something much more than its series of Sharpy fixtures. Although it looks almost identical to a SuperSharpy from the outside, let’s have a look on the inside to see what the Mythos is all about.

Company 411

Chauvet Celebrates 25 Years by Looking Forward, Not Back

Written by: Kevin M. Mitchell

Albert and Berenice Chauvet (center) with staff members in Europe It’s 9:40 a.m. on a warm January South Florida morning, and gathered around a conference table are three lighting professionals who have been brought to Chauvet’s HQ for a visit. Typical of lighting guys, they are sharing war stories on the challenges of providing lighting and video (in this instance, as it relates to the house of worship market).

Video World

So, You Want to be a Video Editor

Written by: Paul Berliner

Steve Shlisky at KTVU in Oakland, CAEverything you watch on television is edited — every program, commercial, promo, news story, every clip on the LED wall at a concert, you name it. Every scene is meticulously edited in order to move the story line along and create the program’s drama, comedy or excitement. Think about it — even live events are edited in realtime by the director (with each and every camera cut)for the very same reason — to move the story along.

Feeding the Machines

Would You Survive?

Written by: Brad Schiller

Automated lighting programmers operate in a world of extreme danger. We are often put into situations that require us to make immediate decisions and take action. Lack of success in these endeavors can lead to loss of work, unimaginable stress, and even financial loss. By studying actual situations, you can determine if you would respond accordingly and survive the most treacherous of programming moments. Listed below are some of the most hazardous programming moments I have personally encountered. After reading each setup, ask yourself if you would survive before you read the actions.

Focus on Fundamentals

The Dark Side of Visualizers

Written by: Michael Graham

Michael Graham offers tips on conquering the dark side of visualizers.Visualizers are awesome. Doesn’t matter which one you use, Vectorworks, Martin Show Designer, ESP, or Capture, or the myriad of other selections out there, they are indeed cool. Visualizers are designed to save us time in crating shows, and also give us some pretty powerful renderings to blow our clients minds and convince them that our vision is indeed amazing, and worth buying. Visualizers can make your design much more clear to your client than just having a set of blueprints or pencil drawings.

Designer Watch

Lighting The Tragically Hip, Neil Diamond, Rush, Steve Aoki and Cars in Qatar

Written by: Debi Moen

The Tragically Hip photo by Brent ClarkLD Brent Clark operated his design for The Tragically Hip’s Fully and Completely tour through mid-February in Canadian arenas. He then returned to Sarah McLachlan’s U.S. run Feb. 27-April 1. Describing The Hip’s design, Clark explained: “Our main focus was to create two distinct shows. The main part of the show was the band playing the album Fully Completely in its entirety, which they had never done before, and then book end that set with five songs. So those five songs had to look and feel entirely different. We did this by using only black and white I-Mag side screens and straight up rock and roll lighting with no video content. So when Fully Completely started, all the video elements rolled into play and the side screens sprang into color. It was quite a fun project to work on.”

LD at Large

Crossfading Industry Scenes

Written by: Jess Baker

Illustration by Andy AuWhether you’re staring at the same walls deciding if you are going to leave that full time job to go on tour, or sitting in the back lounge of a bus trying to figure out how to “come off the road” and still support your family, making the decision to take that huge leap of faith can leave even the most confident person full of conflict.