Satterfield and Cain Team Up For Two Different Yet Distinctive Shows
Marilyn Manson and Slayer tour with the VL2500 Spot luminaire
Published Tuesday, September 25, 2007
by Bryan Matthews

What are the odds that two close friends, who work in the same lighting shop, would end up on tour together as lighting designers for two separate artists? Well that's what happened with lighting designers Sonny Satterfield and Jason Cain. As long-time friends, both Satterfield and Cain are full-time employees of Gemini Stage Lighting, and both are currently on tour as the lead lighting designers for the Marilyn Manson and Slayer world tour. And for this powerful and high-energy tour, both are utilizing 26 VL2500™ Spot luminaires.

"The managers for Marilyn Manson and Slayer are also close friends and they are the ones that put the groups together for this tour," began Cain. "Sonny and I both got our gigs with the bands separately outside of Gemini, and it just so happened that we have been given the chance to tour together."

As lighting designer for Marilyn Manson, Satterfield has been with the enigmatic artist since 2003, when he joined on during Oz Fest. On the other hand, Cain has been working with the thrash-metal band Slayer since 2002 when the group rented lights from Gemini and were in need of an LD. As they both continued on their respective paths, neither imagined that they would one day tour together, but that day has come.

"This is the first time we worked together as the lead designers for the tours," said Satterfield. "This has been a really cool thing for us. We are more like brothers than friends, and we are having a blast."

So how do two distinct musical acts share the same lighting rig? This was the challenge that Satterfield and Cain would have to overcome as Marilyn Manson and Slayer have definite differences in what they like to use during their shows.

Stterfield continued, "Manson is very up-to-date on lighting gear. He can definitely tell the difference between the various lighting instruments, and he likes to see a mixture of conventional fixtures and moving lights. So I start with mostly PAR's, because Marilyn Manson doesn't like a lot of movement, but he does like gobos and color."

Cain's lighting needs seemed almost opposite, "Slayer likes a rig consisting mainly of automated fixtures. The music for Slayer is powerful and fast, so moving light is essential. We use a lot of iris chases, gobos, and strobe chases. Their shows are programmed with nothing but moving lights."

Knowing what each artist liked to see in their lighting rigs, Satterfield and Cain came together to develop their solution. They would need to find a commonality in the fixtures chosen that would be advantageous to both productions.

Cain added, "First we sat down and said ‘okay here is what I need and here is what you need; now how can we bring it all together.' So we started by drawing up the rig using Wysiwyg Production Design Software. Then once we had the fixture locations mapped out, we were able to decide upon which exact fixtures would give us what we needed."

"I use more colors and textures to make the lighting more of an accent to the music and the artist," said Satterfield. "With Manson it's hard for the audience to take their eyes off of him as a performer. He is literally doing something new during every song, so the audience is watching wondering what he'll do next."

"I look for a lot of intensity and power coming from the lighting rig," said Cain. "Slayer does not have a lot of physical movement on stage, so this gives me the chance to play with more automated lighting effects; including strobing and chases."

As it was becoming somewhat difficult to find a similar design need, they looked outside the actual lighting rig and found the one commonality that tied their solutions together; video.

Satterfield continued, "Slayer consistently uses both lighting and video elements, whereas with Manson we only have two specific parts in the show where the video takes over. But since video was common in both productions, we needed lighting fixtures that would allow the video effects to take place, without being washed out."

As employees of Gemini Stage Lighting, it was natural that they approached the Dallas-based dealer to supply the gear to fit the criteria for their productions. Cain needed fast automated lighting effects, Satterfield needed saturated colors, and they both needed the lighting to complement the video. The fixture they chose to fill all their automated needs was the VARI*LITE® VL2500 Spot luminaire.

"While exploring the fixtures we would use during the show, we looked at the entire Gemini stock," explained Cain. "We needed to be in the 700W platform to find the medium in between bright lights and video, but then we also had to have great automated lighting effects, such as colors, strobe, and rapid movement. And when you put it all that together, we found the VL2500 Spot."

Now that the lighting designers had found the automated fixture that would allow them to effectively share one lighting rig, it was time to put the VL2500 Spot to work.

"The Marilyn Manson portion of the tour has a great theatrical element to it. I love using the rich saturated colors and a combination of the stock and custom gobos," added Satterfield. "It's funny that the main problem I have had with the light is deciding which stock gobos to take out so that I can put in the custom gobos. They are all great."

Cain agreed "I too like using the saturated colors, but with this show, I am also having a great time with the ramp step in between gobos, the great position recall, the focus, and the lightning fast strobe. This show is fast and furious and these lights have been really solid."

As the tour continues to travel across the globe, both lighting designers have been pleased with not only the performance but the dependability of their chosen automated luminaire. Both shows create their own unique obstacles to luminaire performance and the VL2500 Spot has overcome all obstacles placed in its path.

"The dependability is amazing," surmised Satterfield. "We shoot about 20-30 lbs of confetti in the air every night, and they have had no issues. The fixtures keep on performing and we couldn't be happier."

Cain concluded, "Slayer puts out a lot of haze every night in order to really capture the beam output and the effects that are happening all over the stage and in the house. The VL2500 Spot has had no problems keeping up. These fixtures are perfect for this tour."


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