The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, which opened in 1910, was updated with the opening of a new visitor center earlier this year for the 725,000 people who tour the 52 acres of artfully-arranged horticultural beauty every year. Designed by Weiss/Manfredi with a 10,000-square-foot “living roof” covered with grass and plants, the center also includes large glass windows that let natural daylight stream in. To deal with the constantly-changing levels of ambient light, the pavilion and exhibition areas, which were designed by Thinc Design and Hadley Exhibits with support from Electrosonic, feature Samsung’s DX series of monitors, which are equipped with sensors that automatically adjust to different light levels, according to Bryan Abelowitz, Electrosonic account manager.
—From “Projection Connection,” PLSN, Sept. 2012
Global Creatures, the masterminds behind one of the highest-grossing tours of 2010, Walking with Dinosaurs, are once again amazing audiences and pushing the entertainment technology envelope. Having teamed up with DreamWorks Animation, they are now sending dragons soaring through arena skies and immersing audiences in the mythical Viking world of DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular... There are two rigging systems on Dragons. For the animatronic dragons themselves, there’s the first-ever touring flight track system, which weighs over 28 tons. The other rig is a static conventional truss system with stage right and stage left truss that extends the entire length of the show floor, with a cross run of truss at mid-arena that runs between them. “The rigging required a lot of focus at the start,” says production manager David Wright. “PRG’s first task was the rigging and they delivered a system that has really worked for all the departments; it is the building block for the whole show. They then integrated all the lights, sound, video, and special effects packages.”
—From “Production Profile” by Michael S. Eddy, PLSN, Sept. 2012
“There’s something enchanting about the forest, and that’s part of why we picked this site,” says Andy Carroll of Synergy Event Production Inc., who handled lighting and video duties for the main stage and Sherwood Forest areas of the four-day Electric Forest Festival, staged at the Double JJ Ranch & Golf Resort in Rothbury, MI. “The forest is one of the headliners of the event,” agreed event producer Jeremy Stein, who calls the LED-uplit and laser-animated surroundings “zones of experience,” not just stage areas. “There’s a sense of mystery, where lighting unveils different parts of the forest at different times to you. Remember, the forest is 14 acres. There’s a lot to explore in there.”
—From “Production Profile” by Will Romano, PLSN, Sept. 2012
As more and more movies are being created in 3D, and 3D is beginning to make its way into the home theatre market as well, I thought I would take the pulse of where media servers geared for live entertainment stand in this area of digital content… Media Servers with 3D stereoscopy playback capability include Watchout from Dataton (dataton.com/watchout) and Pandoras Box by coolux (coolux.de). Both have full DMX control capability and stand-alone interfaces... Playing a 3D stereoscopic movie within Watchout requires that two video files specially created using a stereoscopic camera (or even two cameras) are played back simultaneously while overlapping to create the 3D image. Pandoras Box from coolux also allows S3D content to be played using both outputs from the media server. Like Watchout, the appropriately rendered content as well as polarized filters on the projection devices and glasses are required for viewing.
—From “Video Digerati” by Vickie Claiborne, PLSN, Sept. 2012
In December, Coachella, the festival, also becomes S.S. Coachella, climbing aboard the Celebrity Silhouette, a 1,000-foot, 122,000-ton ship with room for 2,800 fans who will sway to the beats of Pulp, Hot Chip, Girl Talk, Yeasayer, Sleigh Bells, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and about 15 other acts on two cruises leaving from Fort Lauderdale, FL. The cruise-music-show production connection, building for years, now includes themed cruises such as the Rock Boat, an alt-themed cruise with Sister Hazel, A Rocket to the Moon, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Junior Doctor, Ponderosa and Saints of Valor, and the all-Weezer-all-the-time Weezer Cruise. Coachella is a logical extension of this trend, as are the EDM events that are also migrating to cruise ships. They’re also priced in line with the upper-end land-based festivals, with four-to-a-cabin for Coachella at sea costing $500 per person for the backpack set and Sky suites available for high-rollers starting at $9,000 per person…The latest wrinkle is themed cruises that have their performances both on the ship and on land, often on private Caribbean islands the ship operator contracts with. That’s changing the logistics of the business: for the Kid Rock cruise, for instance, Stammel had to have an entire stage, sound system, lights, video and backline flown in from Miami and waiting for the ship when it docked in the Bahamas.
—From “The Biz” by Dan Daley, PLSN, Sept. 2012
As I am sure most of you reading this are aware, all too often, cues and looks get programmed and never used. Hours of programming time go unseen by audiences, producers, artists and even LDs… Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to stop the devastation. As professionals, we must remember that these lost cues are part of the process and should not be look upon as a waste of time. We must keep in check with our emotions and realize that the removal of some programming is usually done in the best interest of the overall production. With this understanding, you too can come to terms with the loss of hours of work and continue on to craft more creative and productive programming.
—From “Feeding the Machines,” by Brad Schiller, PLSN, Sept. 2012
Boston is bringing back memories in concert this summer on their U.S./Canada tour with “More Than a Feeling,” “Peace of Mind,” “Long Time,” “Amanda” and other classic. Though one song advises “Don’t Look Back,” LD Gregg Maltby can’t help but do so. He’s been with the band since 1995, and this is his sixth tour with them. This year’s tour is simpler than the stage shows featuring the band’s trademark spaceship hovering above, with a lighting rig attached. “The space ship would land on top of the band, and it would scare me to death,” Maltby recalls. Now they’re using a 12-by-48-foot, 18mm video wall to display content instead. “The video wall kicks butt,” he says. He’s got content master/programmer Seth Rappaport (programmer for Neil Diamond) and Mike Hall (programmer for the B-52s) on the creative team with lighting tech BJ Smith.
—From “Designer Watch” with Debi Moen, PLSN, Aug. 2012
Lighting and production designer Alex Reardon’s concept for a DJ Avicii’s LE7ELS tour starts with a 17.5-foot-high “head,” but doesn’t end there. Among many other innovations, Reardon also wanted to give Avicii control over the pacing of each track, and have the visuals still match the beat. To achieve this, instead of timecode, the show runs completely off of MIDI Beat Clock (MBC). Although some thought that idea was “bonkers,” he insists that, “if the interface is simple enough, our backup system is strong enough, and the complexity is deep enough, then you can actually let the DJ control the show.”
—For the full story on how this was achieved, see “Video Production Profile” by Vickie Claiborne, PLSN, Aug. 2012, page 36.
Welcome to the newest service in the lighting industry: meet-hot-fixtures.com. Much like arranged marriages in various cultures, often your LD and/or the lighting vendor will make the initial selection of fixtures that you will be working with. When you read over the list of new companions and find new mates, you should begin by “Googling” them to learn more. Much like a profile on a dating site, the fixture’s data sheet should give you all the specifics of the fixture’s operations. Here you can determine the total number of gobos, method of color (mixing or fixed), zoom range, other effects, as well as DMX channels and modes. Be sure to read over this carefully so that you can fully understand the capabilities and characteristics of this new companion. You may even want to watch a video of the product in action or read about it from previous suitors on other websites. The more information you can gain about a fixture before your first date, the better the programming session.
—Brad Schiller, from “Feeding the Machines,” PLSN, August 2012
Certain lighting rental houses are huge, as they always acquire new acts and more gear. They are great places to try and get your foot in the door. But you may be the low man on the totem pole for quite some time until you work your way up. I am a big fan of the little guys. I mean those regional lighting companies that excel in their particular part of the States. Inevitably, these companies will find themselves shorthanded, and young techs will be “thrown into the fire” by necessity. And the faster you figure out how to squelch that fire and do something new, the more valuable you become to everyone. These companies may not be able to pay you what you wish to start, but they can give you a faster way to work yourself up in the biz.
—Nook Schoenfeld, from “LD-at-Large,” PLSN, August 2012