Hey, Seeing Any Concerts This Summer?

bisco_ogden1

There’s lots of really great stuff that’s happened this summer so far – everything from a new year of the summer orchestra series in Columbus, OH to Phish’s run this June.  Lots of great design has taken place, and the rigs have been huge.  U2’s new gig in Europe has been getting so much press it’s ridiculous – it is ginormous, after all.

When you’re out this summer at whatever show you’re seeing, keep an eye out for what the lighting designer is doing with the music.  There are so many different design styles out there, it’s great to go to a show that I love and get visuals from a designer I respect.  Some lighting designers deliver a really sharp punch with colorful flavor, some designers light with such a deep sense of mindfulness to the lyrics and themes, and some designers just have so much experience and tricks up their sleeve that you just get your face torn off.  Those nights are always awesome.  I remember seeing Coldplay back in the days where they used to play two-thousand seat soft-seaters – and even though Brian Leitch brought up a whole bunch of moving heads in yellow when they played “Yellow,” it was absolutely perfect and rocked my face off.

When you’re at the show, pay particular attention to how the color of the light affects your eyes.  Color shifts from blue to green, from yellow to lavender, and red directly to blue or green are interesting combinations for the eye to decipher quickly.  I love seeing the ShowPix running a really fast red, blue, and green chase – the faster it goes, the crazier my primary color aftereffects get in my vision.  If you’re not familiar with the equipment used in concert production, watch how smoothly the fixtures change color, and how the beam gets altered by the use of a template in the fixture.  One of my favorite effects is a bunch of moving heads with circle gobos running a large bally.  Staring up at a circle gobo is one of the coolest things – you don’t see the source because it’s blocked by the inside of the circle, and it’s like looking up a tunnel of light.

Watch the structure of the show – between songs, you’ll probably see a consistently used color for the band while they’re not playing.  A majority of folks use a blue – what’s your favorite band’s in between song color?  Also try to observe color combinations – I’ve learned so much as a designer by watching the color combinations of people doing rock and roll.  You’ll notice lots of really grand aerial shapes made with the fixtures – I don’t think I’ve ever seen two that were the same.  Take a moment to appreciate the interconnected three dimensional pictures that the designers are creating for you to go along with the music – most of the time they’re outstanding!

One thing about after the shows – the lighting guys really appreciate your thanks after the show, and they are all really glad that you had a great time.  If you say hi and thanks and they don’t have a lot of time to chat with you, notice how quickly they’re moving to get their consoles packed up and get outta there.  Never take it personally if they can’t or won’t stop and chat – you’d be at exactly the same amount of get-up-and-go if you were in their positions, believe me.  Just remember that they appreciate your kind words, they work their butts off for you.

Enjoy yourself this summer!  I hope your summer show plans are excellent!

PechaKucha Night in Denver – July 21, 8pm

PechaKucha is a coming together of designers, not unlike the Ignite events where you’re asked to put together 20 slides, each for 20 seconds, and present a subject.  I wrote a bit about PechaKucha here, and the Denver PechaKucha meet is coming up on Tuesday, July 21 at 8:00pm.  Denver is full of very talented people, I think you’ll enjoy yourself.  Go be part of a collective brain for the evening!

Presenting this year:

Lawrence Argent: Artist & DU Professor, Argent Studios
Berger, Henry & Foehr: Design Team, cypher13
Charles Carpenter: Graphic Designer, EBD
Larabee & Thornton: Furniture Makers, DoubleButter
Scott Lary: Art Director & Sculpture Artist, Slary Design
Bruce Mau: Designer and Artistic Director, Bruce Mau Design Inc.
Ted Schultz: Architect, CTA Architects Engineers
Brandi Shigley: Dreamer & Doer, Fashion Denver
Ravi Zupa: Visual/Video Artist, Parts and Labor Union

From an email I got from Jaime and Angela, the PechaKucha Night Denver hosts:

Tuesday, July 21st, will be Denver’s 6th volume of PechaKucha Night. The line-up of presenters is amazing – from Big Blue Bears to Biennials, furniture design to fashion, this round includes some of Denver’s top local creatives along with a special guest presenter: Bruce Mau, Artistic Director for the 2010 Denver Biennial of the Americas.

Since it’s summer, we’re taking the show outside.  We’ll still be at Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St., we’re still asking for a $5 donation, and the show still begins at 8:20, but unlike PKN events in the past, this will be an OUTDOOR event.  Please bring your own blanket or low-slung chair – larger chairs will be asked to move towards the back.  Come at 8 and set up in the parking lot or grass outside the theater. Being outside will let us fit more folks than usual and you can camp out early to get a good spot. In the event of bad weather however, the event will be held indoors and seating will be limited, first come first served.

PechaKucha FAQ:
What is PechaKucha Night? start here: www.pecha-kucha.org/
What’s it doing in Denver? www.pechakuchanightdenver.com/about/
Who has presented in the past? we name-drop for each volume here: www.pechakuchanightdenver.com/
What about online social networking? totally. flickr / twitter / facebook
Please check it out – I wanted so badly to present this year, but we ended up moving back to Dallas.  Go support design!
pechakucha denver

Tel Aviv Tunnels, Meet Bar & Shay

Israel’s second largest city Tel Aviv has a series of underground walking tunnels that were a great place for artists Bar & Shay to unleash their latest work.  The artists altered the public lighting  in the tunnels to something a little more colorful.  From Wooster Collective, the tunnels with their normal lighting:

tel aviv tunnel

Now, the Bar & Shay alterations, which they stated were inspired by Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz:

bar and shay tel aviv

tel aviv bar and shay

Not a lot of info is available about this installation (yet), but the images are stunning!  This makes me want to start altering stuff around here!

Toyo Ito and the Za-Koenji Public Theatre in Tokyo

Toyo in Tokyo – has no one else seen that?  Come on, people.  We can’t let little obvious bits of comedy escape like that!  That’s really where it ends though, because Toyo Ito and his work are both pretty awesome.  He just designed that beautiful fully powered solar stadium for the World Games 2009, and now he’s done a public theatre in Tokyo.  Meet the Za-Koenji Public Theatre:

koenji theatre toyo ito

From the Za-Koenji Theatre website:

ZA-KOENJI Public Theatre is a theatre for contemporary performing arts. The theatre is funded by the city of Suginami in Tokyo and managed by Creative Theatre Network (CTN), a non-profit organization led by president Ren Saito. The theatre produces, presents and supports a wide range of cultural activities for the community of Suginami, enabling people of all ages to see and take part in many art forms from drama and dance to music and storytelling.Director and playwright Makoto Sato, is the Artistic Director. His vision is for ZA-KOENJI to become a forum or Agora; a meeting point where the communities of Suginami can come together with local, national and international artists.

That daylighting shot in there is amazing to me. Using the available resources (ie, THE SUN) as an architectural and artistic form is exactly what we should be doing.  More pics:

koenji toyo ito

koenji toyo ito tokyo

koenji theatre tokyo toyo ito

Check out the Za-Koenji Public Theatre’s website.

Thanks, Coolboom!

Concert Sized XBox 360 Playing

Steve Fatone, the video director for the latest Jonas Brothers tour, played some Gears of War on the oh-my-GOD-that-thing’s-huge video screen at the new Cowboys Stadium.  That screen?  160 feet long, and 72 feet tall.  Check out some video:

Thanks, Engadget!

PRG’s Bad Boy Is Hitting the Road with U2

u2 bad boy prg

Willie Williams is going to be rocking a hundred and ninety six of PRG’s Bad Boy fixture!  I just got a press release from Anne over at PRG – check it out!

Media Contact:
Anne Johnston
845-567-5871
ajohnston@prg.com
PRG’s Bad Boy surrounds U2

New Windsor, NY—July 10, 2009—Immediately upon entering the venue, audiences attending U2’s 360° Tour will realize that they are about to experience a truly unique event. “The goal always for me is when the fans come into the stadium they see something the like of which they have never seen before,” explained Willie Williams, Show Designer & Director. Working closely with Architect Mark Fisher and Production Director Jake Berry, Williams has realized that goal and created a structure that is the largest ever designed for a concert tour. The sheer size of the set created a challenge, in that the fixture positions were a significant distance from the stage. So, Williams turned to the PRG Bad Boy™.

“The throw distances that we are dealing with are much longer then you would normally ever deal with for all the lighting positions, never mind the lights around the stadium,” said Williams. “Even the closest lights to the stage are an 80-foot throw and the ones on the legs are nearer a 100-foot throw. There is no way you could use old school moving lights, plus I needed a light that would not just reach and wash but would be able to have texture.”

In December, PRG arranged a fixture demonstration at Wembley Stadium so that Williams could evaluate the Bad Boy and other lights in a real world environment. “What I found interesting about the light is that PRG started with the application in their fixture design, which was to create a light for large scale shows, arenas, stadiums,” said Williams. “That has been their master stroke, to start with what the light is intended to do and really work towards that particular goal. When you are at the back of Wembley Stadium, you need a light with the gas to get to the stage.”

Williams decided to use the Bad Boy as his only automated light for illumination, with his final design calling for 196 fixtures. The Bad Boy easily handles distances from 80-feet to 400-feet. It was a bold choice to base an entire design around only the Bad Boy and Williams had to wait until the lighting system was powered up for the first time at the Barcelona rehearsal venue to know for certain that his idea would work. “Even when I got here, we still had a few days before the system was turned on where I was biding my time. I was a little antsy waiting to see what these things would do under show conditions. I think it is fair to say they are absolutely remarkable.”

Lighting Director Ethan Weber understood Williams’ initial concern. “There is nothing else—spot, wash lights—everything you do is with the Bad Boy and coming into rehearsals it was a light none of us had ever used before,” said Weber. “When we turned them on it was pretty obvious it was the right way to go. We have all been very impressed. Many of the fixtures are a few hundred feet from the stage and not only are they very bright but their zoom allow us to go from pinspotting the band to lighting a stadium audience with relatively few fixtures. I don’t know of any other light that can do this. So far they’ve been very reliable—impressive, considering we’ve had them on for long hours in the Barcelona sun.”

Williams’ lighting design is fairly straightforward, considering the complexity of the overall production design. While Weber handles all the automated fixtures, lighting associate Alex Murphy calls all the followspot cues for the 25 spots, and controls the LEDs in the set with the PRG Mbox™ Extreme Media Server. PRG’s Concert Touring group supplied the entire lighting package for the tour, which also included the PRG Series 400™ Power and Data Distribution System. The S400 combines power, DMX and Ethernet data through a single custom-designed trunk cable. The data system includes Ethernet switches with the ability to route any DMX universe to any DMX output connector in the system, along with complete electrical isolation. As a result, lighting systems can better accommodate the growing need for data and use less cable and technicians can re-route signals from the user menus without making physical changes to the system.

The power and data system for the U2 Tour was designed by System Crew Chief Craig Hancock, who worked closely with Jeremy Lloyd and Nick Evans of Fisher’s Stufish studio integrating the lighting system into the actual structural system. Chris Conti, PRG product manager, also worked closely with Hancock on the layout. Conti explained, “All together we have a total of 24 universes of DMX. We have S400 racks at the bottom of each leg of the structure, which are in custom dimmer carts that Craig designed. They also contain S400 main breaker racks, dimmer and relay racks, strobe distribution racks, communications, etc. There are two carts of S400 and two dimmer carts up on catwalks in the roof structure that handle the power and data for the pylon.”

That balance between complexity and simplicity is the key to Williams’ sophisticated designs success. To maintain that balance, everyone needed to be on the same page, working towards the same result. Tim Murch, PRG account executive, noted, “They really have brought together wonderfully qualified people, starting with the incredible Jake Berry and of course Willie and Mark. It is incredibly well organized; thanks in large part to them. It is a very heads up situation with coordination between every single department.”

Williams is very pleased with PRGs efforts on behalf of the tour. “At the end of the day it is about people and if you don’t have the right people it is just not going to happen,” he stated. “I am absolutely delighted. They have been really good. Both Tim Murch and Robin Wain (PRG account executive) have been fantastic. You can’t do this by second guessing; I just have to have complete faith that people are doing what they are supposed to be doing. You really have to trust.”

For more information on PRG, please visit www.prg.com.

u2 bad boy prg

A Lamp So Dynamic, It’s The Dynamic Lamp

Karin Johansson invented a lamp that includes a dynamo inside of the emitting surface – it resembles a globe, but is not.  As one spins the globe part of the non-globe, kinetic energy is stored, and the lamp is illuminated.  From the Konstfack website in Sweden, Karin talks about the Dynamic Lamp:

“My ‘Dynamic Lamp’ is a part of the wireless society. It doesn’t need any power supply or batteries, it just works with your own energy. It is based on the idea of producing your energy where you are, instead of transporting it in all directions across the earth. The sole by-product is exercise.”

Check out a video on the Dynamic Lamp – that thing looks cool! I’m going to study in the land of people who invent stuff like this!

dynamic lamp

dynamic lamp

Thanks, iGreenSpot!

The MF/V (MF/5) from Main Light

Marcel over at The Captain’s Blog (the Gearsource blog) posted an article about the Main Light MF/V LED panel moving head back in the first third of June.  For some reason I’m just now reading it – moving across the coutry does a number on your Firefox tabs, doesn’t it?

Main Light’s LED panel head looks pretty cool – seems to have fast pan and tilt, reasonable output, and decent video processing.  Check out this video:

Main Light’s page on MF/V is here – and thanks, Marcel!

MF/V

MF/V

I’m Sorry to Hear About Michael Jackson, Patrick Woodroffe and Crew

Yes, Michael Jackson passed away this last week.  The CNN gang refused to let us know about that little fact (I’m a CNN watcher, it’s true) and by day three I was pretty sure that Michael Jackson had still departed this Earth.

What no one is talking about, however, is the fact that in addition to the rental costs that the supply companies (PRG) are going to lose, the MJ crew and designers are now out of work.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re all seasoned professionals, and I bet they will still all have work.  What I am most bummed about is that now we don’t get to see the wonderment, high production and design values, and overall art that the team had almost created.  Unless the “King of Pop” is planning a publicity stunt and we’re all about to be totally duped, these folks are out of a gig – and we all miss out on the excellent work, reviews, trade publications, and other cool stuff that happens when a huge show hits the papers.  Patrick Woodroffe, I was looking forward to reviewing your work.  I’ll just catch the next one.

I really hope that the networks at least spend 15 seconds talking about the production.  From what I am hearing, it was huge, and pretty beautiful.  I’m sorry to Michael Jackson’s family, friends, and fans about his passing, as it blows to lose a friend – but I’m also sorry that the people who make him look and sound so good are now out of work.  I hope you folks all find new work, and in short order.

Debi Moen is Leaving High End

debi moen

I want to extend my gratitude to a strong member of the High End/Barco team that is leaving to pursue other ventures – Debi Moen, a 15 year veteran at High End Systems as a Marketing Communications Specialist, is onward and upward.  Thanks for always being so nice to me, Debi!

From JimOnLight.com, good luck in your next thing!