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Umphrey’s McGee at House of Blues Dallas – Crappy Cell Phone Pic Tease

So, while I’m writing this article about my experience hanging out with outstanding lighting artist Jeff Waful of Umphrey’s McGee last night at House of Blues in Dallas, I want to tease your vision with some crappy iPhone pics I tweeted frequently throughout the show last night.  Lots, lots more images, video, and other stuff on the show last night to come, but while I’m sorting 1943 images and compiling 14 video clips, here’s a sample of what went down all day yesterday.

For those who care – the setlist:

Set One
Sociable Jimmy, 2nd Self, Example 1 > Passing, Prowler > Can’t Find My Way Home, Utopian Fir

Set Two
Miss Tinkle’s Overture, Cold Gold^, Graceland^, Dump City, Spires > End of the Road > Thin Air*

Encore:
The Bottom Half

Brock Butler opened
^ with Brock Butler on dobro and vocals
* with Pink Panther theme teases

Enjoy!  More to come, so stay tuned!

Patrick Woodroffe’s WYNN Hotel Lighting Design Photos

Peeps, I have so much content from LightFair 2010 that I am now getting to for your visual excitement – show floor, product reviews, interviews, photography, and general awesomesauce that’s up and coming in the next few days.  Las Vegas provides SO much good content!  Wait, is that an oxymoron?

This afternoon I have an excellent eye opener for you – hopefully that will blast you off into the day artistically! While in Las Vegas, everyone’s favorite luxess and JimOnLight.com’s official photog Amanda Lynne Ballard took some photos of the Wynn outdoor lighting garden attraction designed by Patrick Woodroffe and his team.  I really have nothing that I can possibly type that compares to the work she took, so here goes my shut mouth.  Enjoy!

A few favorites first, then an image gallery.  We got the image gallery set up so that you can comment on individual pictures now!

Thanks, Amanda Lynne!

All photos on this page are protected under an Attribution-NonCommercial-No-Derivitives license.  You can repost the photos and content as long as you give attribution to JimOnLight.com.  Photographer credit, unless otherwise noted, is Amanda Lynne Ballard.

An Alternative to Production Photo Display

I have taught students how to format photos and put together portfolios of their work for several years, and one thing that has always gotten me about the way the industry views the work is the weird lack of creativity that comes with production photo exhibition.  You have your portfolio with your name, and all that stuff, your resume, some photos, and maybe some references.  Right?

I think that the advent of things like the iPad and web-based apps is changing the way that students will be able to display their portfolios.  You also have to understand that there will always be those sticklers who will literally just toss out portfolios that come on DVDs, CDs, or other media just because they don’t follow “the standard.”  I’m here right now to call BS on “the standard.”

I got bored this weekend (which is amazing with the amount of work on my plate right now) and I wanted to write about this very subject, so I put together this quick little minute-plus video of some Alive Lighting production shots in a little video.  I just tried to show an alternative method of displaying the work.  Quite frankly, I want to see someone show some creativity when displaying their work – remember, the production photos don’t talk.  If you can do anything to help enhance the display of the work, you’re doing yourself a favor.

Just remember – and this is important – do not alter your work in Photoshop!  Don’t change colors, adjust intensities, or generally alter the capture of the work.  None of these photos were altered beyond size adjustments.  That’s just not cool!  If you didn’t light it right the first time, don’t lie!  All you have to do is get caught doing that once, and you’re done.

Check out this quick little video – I did block out the logo of the client in this video to meet non-disclosure:

Production Photos Don’t Have To Be Just Photos! from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

Patrick Woodroffe’s Unbelievably Amazing Lighting Installation at The Wynn, Las Vegas

I was with Jefferson Waful and TJ Gerckens for the NAB Show 2010 in Vegas this year, and after a fantastic meal at the Bellagio we decided to go check out the patio bar at the Wynn.  For those of you who have never seen the exhibit, it’s something that you probably need to make a point to see if you’re any kind of a designer or lighting artist.

Actually, any kind of an artist whatsoever should see the exhibit.  It is absolutely beautiful.

Imagine a hillside covered with lush pines, a lake with figure silhouettes standing, and a large water screen in the middle rear of the view.  Add a ton of moving beams of light within the trees, playing on their every angle, line, and color, and dancing with the water and the atmosphere around the lake.  If that wasn’t excellent enough, the lake itself has a large LED field underneath the water, which turns the water’s surface into a running-screaming-dancing-singing body of amazing.

Check out this video – I took some typical Spaz Cam footage of a few parts of the revolviong show that plays while you drink on the patio – I hope it gives you some sense of how beautiful this installation is – great work, Patrick Woodruffe!

(and yes, I know that this is not necessarily a “new” story, as this thing was conceived several years ago.  However, new to me, so I gotta believe others have not seen it too!)

Patrick Woodroffe’s Lighting Installation at The Wynn, Las Vegas from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

There is also an unbelievably great article (very in-depth) on the process, work, and installation with Patrick and his team.  Bob and Colleen Bonniol wrote the article for Live Design, and it is outstanding.

What JimOnLight Has Been Doing Lately – Moonlighting as Alive Lighting

I’m finally getting to a week break of a long few months of production work and being on the road.  We’ve all seen each other at USITT, I’ve been working on a few shows, and coming up in a week and a half I’ll be in Las Vegas for LightFair 2010 and in NYC for the Broadway Lighting Master Classes.  After that I’m lighting a convention in Phoenix for a week – “living the dream,” as we say!  No wait – we say that at 4am after a double long day of shows and a load out with a matinee load-in in three hours.

I had plans to get out and see the Toms, and Phil from Ocean Optics/SeaChanger, but we had a brutal schedule and I didn’t get over there.  I am sad about that – I’ll take a raincheck, yeah?

Check out a few shots of the show that I just got back from in Tampa.  I met some cool people down there – Orlando techs are a lot of fun!  Rooms with no rigging (minus the ten fixtures in the airwall) are always a challenge!

CAST Software Slams R25 Down Onto the Design and Visualization Software Table

Writing reviews of products is a hard thing.  It is one of the hardest things about being a writer, contrary to popular opinion.

It’s no secret that I am a fan of the wysiwyg Lighting Design suite, I’ve been using it for years.  Pretty much every show I’ve designed over the last five years has been done in a version of wysiwyg.  I design them, print out the plot and paperwork, make pretty renderings for the client of what the show’s gonna look like down to the texture on the carpet on the camera riser if they want, and spend some time in virtual reality programming my palettes and positions to write the show totally offline.

I got to beta test R25 when it was being run through the paces.  I designed a show in R25 beta that I executed this last week in Tampa – corporate show, medium sized rig in 3 ballrooms, maybe 2500 people.  I was behind the Hog III driving my lighting spaceship to give the client a good show.  Everything was programmed offline with updates on site, all through wysiwyg Perform Unlimited.  Epic success prevailed.  Looks are accurate, as are the photometrics.  I’ll put my renders up against renders from Dialux, AutoCAD, or VectorWorks any day, any time.  When I walk on site, I have confidence that the hard work I put into designing each show comes with me in that little purple dongle.

To first be critical – for my experience as a user, wysiwyg R25 solved my issues in the CAD department.  The addition of a toolbar to deal with text solved a long time personal annoyance with the product.  Such a simple addition, but so important.  It’s a fine detail point – R25 has a lot of very fine detail hones, and some major implementation of other new features.  One such feature is the ability to export fixture point-of-view images to the third party lighting control app we all love, Luminair for iPhone and iPod.  On a side note, Ryan Hisey from Synthe FX (the Luminair people) is also working on the interface for the iPad.  I can’t WAIT for that!  I would buy an iPad JUST for that purpose – to take around with me on shows.

Let’s get into R25 a bit and look at the individual components – R25 has a lot of enhancements.  In addition to not needing to render live shots (because the shaded view is so damned good that you can just screengrab), the enhancements and improvements in some of the basar functions of the suite make it faster to use.  Why is this important?  It’s important because if you’re a working designer with plots flying around the office like hotcakes, you need to be able to use your design suite with the speed of a ninja and still have the artistic stroke of Rembrandt.  R25 made it happen.

CAD Mode – had lots of enhancements here, by no means an exhaustive list, I’m just capturing some of my faves:

  • Font Styles – they’re all over the place now, I love it.  Love it, love it, love it.  Seriously, such a simple little addition and it made a huge difference in the way that you interact with the program.  The text toolbar makes such an improvement over the interface.  I wonder how many more times I can mention it, get the point?
  • Positioning tools – send to back, bring to front, and tools for alignment.  Big deals here – speeds up the interaction time within CAD.
  • Visual Truss Assembly Indicators that show you how your truss is assembled (you know, “M”s and “W”s and all) with the foresight to know what’s happening before you add a bunch of lights and realize you screwed up the truss when you were putting it together.  In addition, the right click menu options for truss assembly are much more robust.
  • Cycle – for those of you who might not know what this is, it is an invaluable CAD tool.  When you have objects stacked on top of one another in 2D space, you can click one time and “cycle” through all objects in that space without having to switch views and all of that other stuff.
  • A quick Polygon tool for making exact polygons

Text and Alignment toolbars!

Truss positioning tools in action:

DESIGN Mode – more cool enhancements and features:

  • Pan and Tilt Locking in the Focus Designer Tool – when you’re just building looks without a console in the Design mode, you can lock pan, tilt, or pan AND tilt to get those looks you want, easier.
  • Library items all appear smooth, which is extremely great
  • There are some new Camera features too that have been added – I tend to group these in with the Design and Live modes, since this is what I use most often to make client renderings.  Camera views are now lockable, which is great, along with being able to save a new shaded view as a new camera.  Hotkeys to switch between cameras is in place, which makes bouncing around during pre-viz a snap – and not like just a finger snap, like a real-time Blaine and Antoine from In Living Color “Around the World and Back” Snap.  Yeah, that’s right.

Camera lock – when you’re trying to move around a locked camera view, you get this to remind you it’s locked:

Turning a new shaded view into a new camera, lickity split:

Presentation Mode Features and Enhancements:

  • Objects in Layouts can be locked into place
  • Text Toolbar and Alignment Tools – WOOHOO!
  • Modifiable corners on rounded rectangles in Presentation Mode
  • We can now make perfect circles, 45 degree angles, and rectangles in Presentation Mode.  Simple?  Yes.  Awesome?  Yes.
  • The New Plots feature has been optimized for speed and stability
  • Worksheets are now SO MUCH EASIER to work with – column and row options, alignment options.

LED Walls and Video got a lot more awesome in R25 too – Gil Densham told me that people were calling R25 “video WYG” at ProLight+Sound in Germany this year!

  • Video can now be displayed on LED Walls and split into sub sources!  WTH!  That is awesome.
  • LED Walls now have a tab in their properties that allows modification of image/video sources and intensity
  • LED Walls are now selectable in Design Mode, which is a huge time saver
  • A generic video projector was added to the library
  • LED Walls are up to four times brighter in shaded view

Here’s a quick video of R25 in action – pre-viz and design:

Another pretty great feature of R25 is the connectivity with Synthe FX’s Luminair 2.0 app for iPhone and iPod Touch.  The wysiwyg/Luminair connectivity allows you to export fixture point-of-view images into the program.  I have been getting some questions about this and why it is useful, and frankly the best explanation I can come up with is an example.  Let’s say that your electricians are up in lifts trying to focus a large array of fixtures to specific shutter cuts, which can be a very difficult thing to call from the deck.  Instead of trying to give them pieces of paper or focus charts, wysiwyg can export selected fixture points of view to iPhones or iPod Touch handhelds with Luminair installed, allowing your electricians to have an exact image of what their cuts and focus are supposed to be.

In my opinion, this is a revolutionary idea.  wysiwyg and Luminair are essentially and potentially changing the way that we work, for both speed, accuracy, and general lack of confusion.  I think that is pretty cool.

When I design, I use wysiwyg.  In my head, lighting design is spatial, intangible, and ethereal in most cases.  I use it to design scenery, too.  If you’re using something else, at least try R25. I think your creative lighting muscles are begging for it.

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!

Lady GaGa’s Brit Awards Performance

Okay, to be honest, I’ve not really heard much of her music until I saw this video.  Lady GaGa performed her tunes “Telephone” and “Dance in the Dark” at the Brit Awards recently.  It’s the one where she gave thanks to Alexander McQueen, the fashion designer who just passed away.

Al Gurdon (Super Bowl LD) designed the lighting for that performance, and Miguel Ribiero from PRG created the wysiwyg for the performance.  Gentlemen, what a kick-ass job you did.  Congratulations on that work.

Check this out:

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)

ATTENTION LIGHTING STUDENTS: WYSIWYG Now Has A Student “Perform” Version

random-wysiwyg-jimonlight

I had a great conversation with Gil Densham from Cast Lighting yesterday.  We’ve been talking about the upcoming release of WYSIWYG R25 and some of the new features that will be implemented in R25, as well as all kinds of developments that the Black Box system is having.  Gil also informed me about a new Cast Software offering – a limited time WYSIWYG student version.  Normally the student versions of software are fairly limited, whether it is in features or a big watermark somewhere on the drawing or something equally as pervasive.  However, the student versions usually have a reduced price tag too, so the balance finds its way in there somehow.

The student pricing, also called Cast’s “Perform SSE,” is a full version of the Perform suite with visualization.  You will get a dongle which is your property – the dongle will come authorized for the student version of the suite, which includes everything but tech support and updates.  What I understand the details to be is as follows:

  • it’s the full version of Perform.  Viz, console connectivity, the works.
  • the student WYSIWYG suite is $499
  • the $499 that you pay as a student is fully applicable to a full version when you’ve graduated – essentially you’re getting the program for nothing if you plan on upgrading at the end of school.
  • you get a dongle that you can travel with, and you’re not limited to using a student version in the computer lab.
  • you do have to prove that you’re a student currently enrolled and taking classes.
  • It’s essentially a full version of R22, which has all of the great viz and beam stuff.
  • the student WYSIWYG will have a 1000 channel limit.

I love my WYSIWYG.  After my eyes, it is my number one lighting design tool.  If you’re a student, and you want to get in on this, email [email protected] and give them the hey-what’s-up.  If you ever have questions about WYSIWYG, please don’t hesitate to contact me through the JimOnLight contact form, just put WYSIWYG somewhere in the subject.

Cast also has some cool student pricing on a specially packaged student version of WYSIWYG Design, and their Event Planning and conceptual design package, Vivien.  I haven’t ever talked about Vivien much, but it is a cool product.  I’ll talk a bit more about this in the near future, but for $199 and a $30 “initiation fee” you get one year of the software as long as you’re a student.  The cool part of that money is that if you were to buy four years at $199 a year, at your graduation they will credit you every dime of that money towards upgrading to the full version.

You’re going to use a lot of software in your lives to design lighting – some of it is cool, some of it is a waste of your time.  WYSIWYG has taught me more, saved me more time, and saved my rear end more times than I can count.  That’s why I write these posts.

Have a great weekend, everyone!