The International Space Station’s Touring Roadcase Toolbox

GIORGIO-ALIENS

Packing your touring toolkit is always a bit of a challenge — you almost have to have future vision to decide what is going to be needed, what little trinkets and wrenches will be most useful, and what not to pack.  Frankly, I love the job!

But…  can you imagine having to put together the roadcase of tools for use aboard the International Space Station?  Now THAT is a task suited for a rocket scientist!  (Or if you’re my old buddy Kirby Roberts, a rocket surgeon!)  The ultimate tour must have the most ultimate tool box…  right?

Check out these photos posted by UK astronaut Tim Peake posted these photos of the ISS’ road case toolbox for all of us to enjoy — or as happens in our industry, critique to the point of madness.  Come on, you know exactly what I’m talking about, I can even hear the snark from here — “He doesn’t have a single Crescent in there, this guy must be an amateur.”

Check it out!  I guess my first question would be which of the nut drivers they turned into a one hitter?

international-space-station-roadcase-8

international-space-station-roadcase-6

international-space-station-roadcase-5

international-space-station-roadcase-4

international-space-station-roadcase-3

international-space-station-roadcase-2

I’m guessing that the pry bars are for when the aliens can’t get the truss to line up correctly.  Remember NASA, make your “M”s and “W”s!  I mean, there’s a truss hammer in there, after all!

international-space-station-roadcase-1

Thanks to Tim Peake for posting these on his personal Flickr account!

How to Fold A Drawing Plate or Light Plot for Easy Shipping and Storage!

Whoa! It’s pre-tattoos JimOnLight!

jimonlight-howto-fold-a-drawing

When I first started up the JimOnLight YouTube Channel, I posted a video on how to fold a drawing — when I was in grad school, my mentor Mary Tarantino taught me perhaps one of the coolest skills in all of the world when dealing with paper plots and scenic or lighting drawings.  Check it out for yourself, you’ll never go back to shipping shit in a mailer tube again!

(unless of course you would rather spend the extra money, or you have a plate set that is more than 20 pages and you don’t want to fold them all…)

This method works on any type and any size of plate up to ARCH E, ANSI E, and A0, and will get your drawing small enough to fit in a manilla envelope or folder for transport and shipping!

Gaffers and Grips – DIY Gaff Tape Key Fob

gaff-tape-key-fob-3

Today must be DIY in my brain, all I can think of is making something!  Ah, I miss having a workspace.

I saw this great project on Strobist — it’s a blog geared towards photography and studio lighting, but if you’re a grip or gaffer on a smaller project, this is an awesome thing to have on you at all times!  If you work in Entertainment Lighting or Film Production, you already know this thing would have to be the thickness of your thigh to contain enough gaff tape to really make a difference.  Still, this is a wicked little tool for anybody in Lighting!

For this project, all you need is some rigid wire, a pencil, and some gaff tape — but I’ll let the great folks at Strobist do the talking.  Check out how to DIY your own Gaff Tape Key Fob!

gaff-tape-key-fob-1

gaff-tape-key-fob-2

The NIN/JA Tour and the Chamsis MagicQ

chamsis magicq

I just got a press release from PRG about the latest Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction tour – yes, they’re calling it the NIN/JA tour. Roy Bennet and Jason Bullock have decided to give the Chamsis MagicQ lighting console a go on the show – this is a console that I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on quite yet, but every single person who has had their hands on it says it’s fantastic. Check out the press release below, and check out the Chamsis products here.

ChamSys MagicQ takes control of the Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction summer tour

Las Vegas, NV—July 30, 2009—For the current Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction tour, NIN|JA Summer Tour 2009, lighting designer Roy Bennet and co-designer Jason Bullock, who is also the lighting director/programmer, chose the increasingly popular ChamSys MagicQ console.

“Both shows were originally written on a single desk,” said Bullock. “It was around 900 cue stacks before they were separated.” Bullock had used other consoles on previous NIN tours but this was his first experience with the ChamSys. “I’d been looking for a new console that could combine the attributes of other desks. After some investigating, the ChamSys looked the most promising. I downloaded the offline version and got a general feel for syntax. The intuitive way the syntax is constructed made me confident that this was a risk I felt comfortable taking.”

PRG Distribution North America sold the two ChamSys MagicQ+300 consoles and wings to Upstaging, Inc., who provided the lighting for the tour. “When I opened the road case at the shop and actually was able to map out all of the things that I had created in the MagicQ offline editor, I knew that I had made a good decision,” commented Bullock. “Within an hour I had built new fixture profiles, patched the desk and begun to build palettes. For a system with 1,850 different heads, that was impressive.”

The MagicQ console continues to find favor with Bullock. “I still find new things I like about this desk everyday. Just a few of my favorites include Live Timing when using the programmer; Live FX manipulation, I can’t state how great this feature is, you are able to tweak all functions of FX during show without entering into edit mode. Plus the familiar cue structure let’s you walk up to this desk and immediately begin to work in a style you are accustomed to.”

For Bullock the pixel mapper in the MagicQ is one of its key features. “This console is a generation ahead of all the others in dealing with the growing amount of media that lighting is now controlling. This includes media servers and large configurations of LED fixtures. I really like the fact that the desk can create an entire media server-type control interface for any fixture in the system, while still retaining the light as a light. The two don’t interfere.”

Chuck Spector, tour support for Upstaging, believes the ChamSys is an ideal touring console, especially for Bullock. “Jason is very cue intensive; he puts a lot of information into the desks,” Spector said. “Also, his style often puts a lot of wear and tear on a desk because of the way he programs. He runs through so many cues—that for a desk to keep up with the way he runs a show—it’s really put through its paces.”

Spector is pleased with the addition of the ChamSys consoles to the shop noting, “The product is pretty damn solid so far. And the support from PRG Distribution was great, particularly product specialist Esteban Caracciolo. It’s a pleasure to be doing business with people who understand the importance of supporting shows.”

For more information on PRG Distribution, please visit www.prgdistribution.com.

WYSIWYG R24 COMES OUT NEXT WEEK!!!!

wysiwyg r24

The makers of my favorite lighting design software, WYSIWYG, are releasing a new build to members this coming Tuesday, August 4, 2009.  If you’ve never tried WYSIWYG for anything, I highly recommend just giving it a go for a week.  Richard Cadena, who we all know and love, says that R24’s new features are “amazingly responsive.”  Hell, R23’s features are still amazingly responsive!

Some notes on the new features that are included in R24:

  • LED: New LED models use a point source to better represent a diode for LED fixtures and LED walls that look better and enhance overall efficiency and performance when dealing with all LEDs. New LED light sources and LED flare capability offer better representation in Shaded Views.
  • Improvements in visualization: including enhanced beams, improved beam footprints and shadows.
  • Inverse Square Law: A new upgrade in R24, it calculates accurate beam drop-off in visualization calculations.
  • Colour temperature: Information from wysiwyg Libraries includes different bulb wattages to more accurately display the photometrics of different bulbs.
  • Hot Spots: Hot spots add another aspect of realism to wysiwyg visualization. Formerly, uniform footprints are now distributed based on the photometric data of the fixture.
  • For outdoor events: R24 introduces a time-of-day capability in Shaded Views. Use climatic or environmental conditions specific to the time, place and even weather, specific to an event’s geographical location anywhere around the world to test ideas and demonstrate work.
  • Geometry Smoothing in OpenGL: This new shading technique delivers better-looking sets and people, plus a performance boost.
  • CITP Protocol for Video: The new feature allows consoles supporting this protocol to stream video content across a network into wysiwyg to be displayed on a video screen or DL fixture.
  • R24 also has more intuitive and logical Design Tools and an Improved Dongle Security System.

wysiwyg r24

Go check out WYSIWYG Release 23, and read up on R24 as well.  You won’t be disappointed.  It’s been one of the best things that’s ever happened to my pre-viz work, ever.

Time to Focus – The Realization of A Little Dark and Quiet

An excellent lighting discussion took place a few days ago on The Light Network about “focus time” for lighting designers and how it gets squandered by other departments – occasionally you just get whined at the entire time, if not bombarded by 120db of pink noise while you have people climbing around truss.  This specific conversation discusses entertainment lighting, but architectural lighting also has situations where dark and quiet are needed.  If you’ve been on the road and/or done lots of one-offs, you probably know the wonderment of trying to get dark time to either focus conventionals or update moving light focus palettes before the show whilst load-in is occurring.  You know, vital, aesthetic changing lighting production elements that need to be given time to be performed.  It’s not without resistance though – from being blasted by the PA while trying to communicate with electricians to people complaining about having work light.  Dark and quiet are our friends – but we’re the only ones.

Now don’t get me wrong – no matter what the genre of lighting design, when you have to interrupt the work or change the method of getting something done with darkness and noise suppression, it’s not always going to be a popular thing.  I do get a kick out of those touring situations where at 2 PM (or whenever PM) the lighting department gets dark and quiet onstage every day, yet people still bitch about it.

Tim Olson, a user at The Light Network, had a great comment about this very subject during the conversation.  I’ve pasted it below.  Thanks for letting me post this again, Tim!

I try to be accommodating during loadin when I can. I frequently do a focus with full house lights blasting away at me, but that only roughs things in and requires tweaking after you do get darkness, especially when you’re close to vid screens.

that being said, if you’re a stagehand and not used to having a flashlight and working in the dark, what world have you been in?

things that do matter: safety. if heavy stuff is being built on stage, they need to be able to see for safety reasons. practical: if full overheads will allow the work to be done in 15 minutes, and darkness would make it 2 hours – blast away w/the overheads, and go get a cup of coffee, or work on something else for a while.

audio – it NEVER FAILS, no matter how early or late I am, as SOON as I start focusing and need to be able to speak to the person in the lift or across the room, it’s time for the audio FOH engineer to put 120DB of pink noise in the room. maybe this is my own personal karma, maybe not. I will get in the engineers face if me or someone that works for me gets nailed when they are working in front of the PA. this can have long-term effects on personal health and is not acceptable in any way shape or form. Production Mgt has always backed me up in this.

I understand that MY attitude can set the tone of the room, therefore I always approach other departments with humor and respect, the same way I want to be approached. it’s a guarantee, if you come at someone with a full head of steam, defensive walls pop up and even if they listen and do what you want, they won’t like it and will find ways to mess with you. If my way of being promotes teamwork then that attitude is “catching”. if my attitude is “F U” than THAT is catching as well.

give it a test for yourself: the next time you find yourself thinking “that guy is a jerk” (which can happen in the first 2 seconds of a gig), try adjusting the way you think about someone. Recognize the power you have to set the atmosphere of the gig, and that if you start actively thinking that someone’s a jerk, you are re-inforcing THAT atmosphere all day. if you like working in a war zone, go right ahead.

when I catch myself going in the “he’s such a jerk” direction, I immediately start thinking things like,

“I bet he really wants to do a good job”
“I bet he really has some good skills”

that small of a shift in your thinking can change the entire room. give it a shot next time and see what happens.

The Light Network is a great place to belong if you’re a lighting professional.  LN folk are good folk!

Wybron’s CXI IT Scrollers at Le Poisson Rouge

poncho sanchez

I just got a press release from Jennifer at Wybron – check out this article about the old famous Village Gate Club, now called Le Poisson Rouge:

WYBRON CXI SCROLLERS COLOR NYC CLUB

Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison – some of the world’s most legendary artists performed at The Village Gate during its nearly 40-year run in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

The Bleecker Street venue closed in 1993, but today it’s alive again in the form of an eclectic club called Le Poisson Rouge (in English, “Red Fish”). As a “multimedia art cabaret,” according to club’s Web site, LPR strives to highlight a variety of musical and artistic styles.

And to create the perfect atmosphere on stage, LPR Head Lighting Designer Ethan Kaplan brought Wybron along for the ride.

Eighteen Wybron CXI IT color-mixing scrollers provide vibrant hues for the intimate stage that’s hosted Paul Simon, Mos Def, Andrew WK, Salman Rushdie, and many more (and the eclectic calendar continues).

Fixed on Source 4 PARS, the CXIs feature two overlapping gelstrings with frames of cyan, magenta, and yellow, which mix together to create an almost limitless color palette.  Kaplan likes having the flexibility to tweak colors on the fly.

“The CXI’s color mixing allows me to make subtle live color changes during the show without upstaging the performers,” he said. Ten downlights and eight frontlights ensure the performers never wander into the dark.  Kaplan especially likes the CXI’s blues and magentas.

“As far as durability goes, these units get scrolled back and forth seven days a week,” Kaplan said.  “They have been exposed to dust (they were installed while the venue was still under construction), severe vibrations (nightly DJ parties on the weekends), and showers of fake blood (Mini-Gene Simmons, don’t ask). In the last 10 months since the venue opened, only one out of our 18 scrollers has required maintenance.”

And in this color-rich environment, creativity reigns night after night.

Check out Wybron’s website for more info on the CXI scrollers – I’ve used them, I would vouch for them.

metropolis

Wybron Is Releasing Something Awesome for iPhone

img_0003

Okay, I’m in Seattle.  I land on the tarmac at SeaTac, I fire up my iPhone, and I get an email from someone telling me about a cool new iPhone app from Wybron that *could possibly be* released this next coming week.  Maybe.  Perhaps.  Or so I heard…

So instead of getting a nap like my adorable snoring wife who’s asleep here next to me – we went to bed at 2:30am and got up at 4am to fly to Seattle – I am more interested in sharing the news of this new iPhone bit of coolness.  This new application from Wybron appears as if it’s going to be a visual reference for gobos – variable spin and focus parameters is all I know of right now, but as soon as I get more info, you can guarantee I’ll share it with you!

img_0002

The US Deep Caving Team Chooses Underwater Kinetics

superqled

I just read a story that made me ask two questions – what is an eLED, and we have a United States Deep Caving Team?

First, what is an eLED?

In the case of this flashlight, eLED is essentially referring to the technology behind their power circuit; as the battery life decreases, the lumens and color temperature stay constant.  I certainly thought they were talking about edge-emitting LEDs, which are in the same vein as injection laser diodes – they produce a narrow, high optical power beam.

A company called Underwater Kinetics developed a high impact resistant, high output LED flashlight that is good for 90 lumens in a narrow, tightly focused beam with little abberation.  Underwater Kinetics has chosen a compound path optical system for the light, and the United States Deep Caving Team has chosen the Super Q eLED flashlight for use in their sport.

Underwater Kinetics gives a list of benefits of their Super Q flashlight on their website:

  • Propietary compound paths optics permit high efficency and compact size
  • Beam produces a bright spot with almost no peripheral light for improved visibility in murky water
  • Powered by rechargeable lithium ion battery or in an emergency 2 optional 123-type lithium batteries
  • Universal 90-240 VAC, 50-60 Hz charger included
  • Energy conservation design transfers heat back into batteries for longer burn time and improved cold weather performance
  • Lightweight- 4.1oz
  • High impact ABS, LEXAN®, polyurethane rubber, and stainless steel construction for durability
  • Underwater Kinetics Warranty
  • Made in USA

Hey, did you know we have a US Deep Caving Team?

Thanks to Flashlight News!