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Another Structure Falls – Stage Roof Made from Genie Towers Collapses in North Carolina

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos (click for larger view)

UPDATE, Tuesday, August 13, 2013:
I have received some information that directly contradicts what the promoters of the American Legion event have publicly stated, which was covered in the news yesterday.  What I think sucks is that no outlets of mainstream identity will pick up the other side of this story, which is that professionals in the field who have years of experience and training have contradictory information that negates their weather claims.  Here’s what the promoters have stated – from an article at the Charlotte Observer, posted Sunday, August 11, 2013 – bolding is mine for informational emphasis:

The weather, not faulty construction, caused a stage to collapse at the Cleveland County fairgrounds on Saturday, an official with the American Legion, which was sponsoring the event, said Sunday.

MercyMe, a popular Christian band, was expected to perform in front of more than 10,000 fans Saturday night as part of American Legion’s World Series concerts, which lead up to the tournament that runs Aug. 16-20 in Shelby.

But the temporary stage collapsed about 4 p.m. during the band’s sound check. The audience had not begun to arrive, and no one was injured, said Eddie Holbrook, co-chair of the local American Legion World Series committee.

“We knew we were going to get what looked like scattered showers and nothing real bad,” Holbrook said. “Then all of a sudden, within a five-minute span, the winds shifted and immediately there was a severe weather storm alert.”

He added that the company that built the stage, L&N Productions, is “extremely reputable” and has worked on concerts for national artists across the Southeast.

“We didn’t have any concern whether these people had taken any shortcuts,” he said. “We’re attributing it all to the weather.”

Fans were not inside the fairgrounds at the time of the collapse because the gate and ticket sales office weren’t scheduled to open for another 30 minutes.

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos (click for larger view)

It should be painfully obvious in looking at those photos that weather was a minor (if not a negligable factor) in that stage coming down.

From an official who spoke with JimOnLight.com and was not authorized to speak publicly on the collapse, a touring professional involved with production and NOT associated with L&N Productions:

“The stage was down well before those alleged ’70 mph winds’ hit.  It didn’t take much to knock that thing over.  The roof was picked with spansets…not properly.  The up and down stage double hung was with what looked like truck straps.  The genies didn’t have outriggers – but just the stabilizers.  And the straps they had ‘holding it down’ didn’t make sense.  And, for the record, the seats they had set up were for about 2000-2500 tops. Not the 10,000 the news was reporting.”

The news will never tell you that the stage should never have been built outside with Genie towers.  The news will also never tell you that L&N Productions IS STILL DOING SHOWS, and has another one “just down the road from Shelby.”  Somehow I hope the entire production world learns to stay away from this company’s shows.  They have proven they have no respect for the safety of the crews, musical acts, and audience members.

Please, share the heck out of this, it’s important to get this contradicting information out there to counter the information being put out there.  The promoter may believe that L&N is “reputable,” but they are simply lucky that this hasn’t happened before if this is the rig they are using outside for events.  Genie towers should never be used like this.

I took some screenshots from the video posted from the local NBC affiliate, WCNC — watch the video, then look through the screenshots gallery below it.  Notice the spansets holding the roof structure onto the Genie towers, then ask yourself — WHERE are the outriggers on those towers?  Then maybe ask yourself — WHERE ARE THE OUTRIGGERS ON THOSE GENIE TOWERS?!!  Are those SPANSETS holding the roof to the towers?!  Are those ratchet straps holding the roof down?  If you’re inquisitive like me, ask yourself one more question — were those ratchet straps holding those audio cabinets down on top of the scaffolding?


UPDATE, Monday, August 12, 2013:
The production company who believed this rig was safe was L&N Productions out of Hickory, NC – their website, http://www.landninc.com/, does not work.  Here’s their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/landninc


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That’s right, sports fans, there’s news of another structure collapse in the JimOnLight headlines this morning. No one was hurt at this religious concert festival at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in North Carolina, but this just goes to show you that not even God can help your production company when you use genie towers and ratchet straps outside to support the rig. If anyone knows who the production company was for this event, please let us know so that I can make sure that people know of their work.

From an article at WSOCTV:

CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. —

A stage collapsed at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds on Saturday night.

No one was hurt in the collapse at the fairgrounds, but the accident is forcing organizers to make some big changes.

Just hours before a concert was set to start at the Cleveland County Fairground, a gust of wind ripped through, toppling a stage.

An organizer said it happened when the stands were still empty, and no one was hurt.

More than 10,000 people were expected to show up for the American Legion World Series concerts. Saturday’s lineup featured Christian artists, Mercy Me, Aaron Shust and the Afters. The show was cancelled Saturday.

Organizers said they did not want to take any chances with safety.

The wind ripped down part of the stage that held the overhead lighting and there was too much damage to fix before showtime.

The Afters tweeted a picture of the stage saying, “Scary moment today. The stage collapsed as we were sound checking. Thankful to God that we are all ok.”

Holy moly. From WISTV, a video of the newscast:

wistv.com – Columbia, South Carolina |

Looks like it’s painfully obvious that the production company (still unknown at this point) didn’t read the first frigging page of the Genie Tower Safety Manual, I underlined the key components for you:

Do not operate the machine in strong or gusty winds. Increasing the load surface area will decrease machine stability in windy conditions. Do not leave a load raised when windy conditions may occur unless the machine(s) are properly guy-wired.

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WHY OH WHY do people not understand BASIC PHYSICS?! When you add A SAIL to an already not strong structure, said structure IS COMING DOWN. More reason why we need to strengthen the rules in this industry — if for no other reason than to STOP the shitty companies from doing things that make us all look bad. This looks bad.

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More on this if and when it develops. No one was hurt, THIS time. The event was the American Legion World Series, featuring a bunch of Christian acts. So much for that. I guess not even God can keep up improperly installed equipment.

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Lego Lighting Design: Foster the People

Sometimes people laugh and tease, “Daphne what have you NOT thought about lighting?” Well, I admit, I there is something… It never occurred to me I could be a concert lighting designer for Legos before. And having seen this video, I have no idea why not!  Dylan Woodley, the 17-year-old creator of this video made a spectacular concert lighting design for this stop motion lego phenomenon:

I especially love all of the references to the original music video’s lighting design. Dylan used lighting fixtures as visible set pieces like in the original video, starting from the first moment when drum hits and back light bumps align. He also references more subtle uses of lighting in the film below, particularly color. In the band’s music video, when the performance faces an audience for the first time, blues and purples are added to the lighting palette. Dylan also added a similar color scheme to the band’s lighting around 1 minute 30 seconds.  Check out the original music video below:

Analyzing the Design: Jeff Waful, LD for Umphrey’s McGee

I made a new friend this week at NAB in Las Vegas after having three days to wax poetic about lighting and Phish with Jefferson Waful from Umphrey’s McGee.  You get to know somebody better over drinks, and after all, we were in Vegas.  By the way, Patrick Woodruff’s lighting installation at the Wynn is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.  Ever.

When you get to know a designer, it’s interesting to meld the conversations you have before you meet them to the conversations after.  I talked to Jeff back in January about his exploits as lighting designer for moe. and Umphrey’s McGee and a host of other musings, and I just had the chance to talk geek again with him this week.

I was sitting here going over my notes from NAB, and I glanced at Jeff’s blog to check out a video I hadn’t seen of the band playing “Nothing Too Fancy” on February 28 of 2010.  Take a moment to check out this video – it’s actually ten moments, but it’s well worth your time:

I always think of a good LD as a pilot of an intangible, fast spaceship – the more in tune that person is to the music at hand, the faster and harder they’re going to fly you in and around all that is awesome.  My favorite LDs are the ones who know when to use a slow move in a period where most LDs would bang on the audience abusers to emphasize their point.  I think I am also one of the few LDs left that actually kinda link the audience abusers for what they represent.  But that moment when you’re at a show, the lighting designer is flying hard and fast in their lighting spaceship, and all of the sudden some actual art hits your eyes – those are the moments I live for, when you have to remind yourself that you’re standing at a show and not flying around the universe.

Lighting designers like Jeff Waful make it hard to remember that yes, your stinky Tevas are actually still planted to the sticky floor of the venue that is being rocked.  Thanks for kicking some serious ass while doing what you do best, Jeff!

The JimOnLight.com Podcast – Episode 4: An Interview with Jeff Waful of Umphrey’s McGee

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Another episode of the JimOnLight.com podcast hits the airwaves!

I was fortunate enough to interview Jeff Waful – a lighting designer who’s been out with moe. and is currently lighting the excellent jam band, Umphrey’s McGee.  I got to talk to Jeff right before New Years’ Eve 2010 as he was programming Umphrey’s New Years run in Chicago.  We talked about his switch from moe. to Umphrey’s, the grandMA, the Mac III, what young lighting designers should know, and a lot more.

Check it out below – I’ve also included a link for download, and it should be hitting the RSS feed right away!

Phish and Red Rocks: An Excellent Way to Spend the Evening

It’s no secret that I am a Phish fan.  I love the innovative and creative grooves that “the boys” lay down every night, and as a lighting designer, I am always a huge fan of what Chris Kuroda is doing behind the lighting desk.  I was at the Hampton Run and interviewed Phish lighting designer Chris Kuroda, but I’ve missed everything else.  When I’m at LDI, they’ll be playing in Cincinnati.  Foiled again!

I read this blog called Hidden Track, from Glide Magazine – a Youtube user named gdoucette78 has uploaded some amazing multicamera videos of the Red Rocks run from Phish at the end of July.  I love having videos of live shows because of the ability to see how certain songs were treated with respect to light and orchestration of the cues – it’s like having the ability to research that moment in lighting time!

I have attached a video below from gdoucette78’s list – he has a ton of videos from that weekend.  If you enjoy the music and want to see some cool lighting, check out the rest of his videos.  Thanks for posting these!

(this video is of the song “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” or 2001.  This might be one of my favorite “lighting songs” of all time)

BAD BOY Goes Out With CMT Music Awards

I just got a press release from Anne over at PRG about the Country Music Television Music Awards show, and Allen Branton’s lighting design for the show – using my current favorite fixture, the BAD BOY from PRG.  Check out the press release:

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PRG’s Bad Boy goes country on the CMT Music Awards

New Windsor, NY-June 29, 2009-When viewers tuned into this year’s CMT Music Awards, televised live on June 16th from the Sommet Center in Nashville, they were treated to more than thank you speeches and some of the hottest acts in country music. Production Designer Anne Brahic and Lighting Designer Allen Branton, whose team also handled the video content, provided a video and lighting driven alternative to traditional scenery while embracing the idea of negative space. Branton turned to the PRG Bad BoyTM luminaire for strong beam effects and to delineate the performers in this unique visual environment.

Branton had previously used the Bad Boys in his design for the MTV Movie Awards. There they played the role of Hollywood searchlights on the glamorous film-inspired set. “The Bad Boys worked really nicely on the MTV awards because of their smaller size but great intensity,” said Branton. “We used five of them on the floor to emulate movie premiere searchlights. They needed to be in scale with the set and there aren’t many smaller lights that have enough intensity to do that job.”

For the CMT Music Awards, Branton worked closely with Brahic on the ‘no set’ design consisting of video tile ribbons and a visual forest of Versa® Tubes floating in dark space. “We really tried to place the lights in a very surgical, restrained manner so as not to have the lighting and the video elements in competition with each other,” noted Branton. “The Bad Boys were a great tool because they had enough brightness to compete with the video even in vivid colors. We only needed three fixtures as backlight to define the performers against the video background.”

Felix Peralta, Lighting Director/Programmer for the CMT awards, agreed, saying, “They provided a big, hard-edge light that could cut through the video. Allen and I really like the 8″ aperture of the Bad Boy, it is a nice fat beam that comes out of the light; the output is tremendous. It really provides what Allen likes to call the ‘shock and awe’.”

PRG also provided the large quantity of VersaTubes, a primary feature of the design, along with five Mbox ExtremeTM media servers, which were programmed by Jason Rudolph. Rudolph used two servers for the Versa Tubes and three for the XL Video F-LED video tiles. “I have used the Mbox many times in the past and there are a lot of things I like about it,” said Rudolph. “The new version 3 hardware is a vast improvement. It is a good server with a lot of nice functions and it is pretty damn reliable.”

Branton, who worked closely with PRG well in advance of the event commented, “Everything came in and was ready to go, which was great because our time was limited. Everything was handled beautifully. It is really one of the most important things to me, getting people in the boat with you that you can trust and I trust PRG.”

Visual Music – The Art of Liquid Projection

A while ago I wrote an article about Peter Wynne-Willson and his psychedelic projections in the time of liquid projections and relatively low-tech (comparatively) lighting design for concert production.  I was searching for some liquid projection content for a project I’m doing, and I came across some really interesting stuff.  No matter what the genre of music, this stuff seems to fit!  Now this is of course my opinion only…

Check these out – two of thousands on YouTube:

i-Pix Pix

I’ve written a few articles about the i-Pix LED wash and spot fixtures in the last several months – I got an email response to an inquiry made to i-Pix recently with some great photographs of the fixtures in action.  Check them out!

Bloc Party and i-Pix BB-7:

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Radiohead and the i-Pix BB-4 (as well as the BB-7):

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You have to check out these fixtures.  The output is amazing.

The Disco Biscuits at The Ogden Theatre – February 13 and 14, 2009

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I had the pleasure of attending both nights of The Disco Biscuits at the Ogden Theatre in Denver this weekend.  The Biscuits were absolutely amazing, putting on a great show the first night that was only rivaled by the second night performance.  New tunes, standard  grooves, sheer skill, and extraordinary talent dominated the nights.  Besides feeling a bit old after night one, I had an amazing time with the show – and with the stellar lighting, the weekend was an immense success.

With the amount of production that’s going on right now in the business, I really feel that some designers don’t get much credit – and there are plenty of hard-working designer/director/programmers out there who are rocking the faces of people in cities all over the world.  With a band like The Disco Biscuits that provides a fast paced and constantly evolving score to be lit, the LD is working his or her butt off behind the desk.

Lighting designer Johnny R. Goode is the man behind the desk for the Biscuits; I’ve put in a request to speak with him regarding the show and design – I counted twelve Mac 2K spots and four StudioPix – with the normal compliment of house colors and ACL-ish cans.  For a band that played three long sets a night for us in Denver on Friday and Saturday, Goode provided an exciting, interesting, ever-changing, and unique design the whole night for both nights.  Johnny, great work – please email me so I can set up an interview!

I’ve got an email into the production manager to confirm the list of gear – I have lots of good things to say about Johnny’s use of the StudioPix, and his command of his onstage spots – as soon as I hear back, I’ll post more about the shows.  Again, thanks for the great nights!

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The official Disco Biscuits website:  http://www.discobiscuits.com/