LD Rachel Miller and Kinetic Lighting go dark and intimate with VARI-LITE luminaires
Published Thursday, July 26, 2012
by Philips Vari-Lite

Photo credit: 2meStudios

American Idol has quickly become a staple in the United States and over the past several years, its production values have grown into some of the most elaborate on TV today. So as the production closed its 2012 season, it was time to host the Season Finale After-Party, and this year producers of the event wanted it to be a night unlike any before. Tasked with creating an elaborate VIP club scene on the Event Deck at LA Live, lighting designer Rachel Miller with Kinetic Lighting chose to utilize VARI-LITE VL880 Spot, VL3500 Wash, and VL3000 Spot luminaires to bring the after-party to life.

“This is the 3rd year for Kinetic Lighting on the event and the past two years were very different from this one,” started Miller. “The first year, the event was very open with bright reds and blues for the sponsor colors of Coca-Cola. The second year, event producer Brian Worley from YourBASH went a little more décor heavy using our truss circles draped to create VIP sections within the event and the colors were silver with bright pink. This year, they wanted to once again go completely different, so it was decided to create a high-energy, yet dark and intimate, club scene.”

With a white tent spanning 225’ x 140’, Miller and her crew from Kinetic Lighting (Eric Barth, programmer; Asher Nelson, master electrician; David Jacobi, project manager) designed and executed the event based on the intricate truss structures created by Worley and Kinetic’s Principal Designer James Schipper. These structures were a series of angled, trapezoidal truss to hang in the tent with dark blue fabric on the top which create a false ceiling. They chose the false ceiling over lighting the tent itself because the white tent would bounce too much light, and they needed the evening to be dark and intimate.

Miller explained, “In the past it was a fixture-heavy show to get the brightness for such a large space and a white tent. This year they draped the walls in dark blue, the carpet was black, the furniture was black, and everything was very dark. There were small platform sections for VIP areas and because of this we needed a way to bring the light down into the room to keep the intimate feel.”

By creating the false ceiling, Miller now had to find fixtures that were lightweight with a lot of punch. With hang points at different angles, she needed fixtures that were about 50 lbs but could still deliver the club-scene, moving light attributes needed. So she chose the new VL880 Spot luminaire.

“We could not use white light, so all our light had to have color and we needed fast movement as well,” continued Miller. “The VL880 Spots were perfect for this application because of their wide color palette and quick gobo movements. They really gave the room the pop it needed. Considering the weight restrictions on the tent, we needed great output from small fixtures, and the VL880 Spots were more than up to the task.”

As part of the dark and intimate mood of the evening, Miller needed to create a general wash for the event as well. Finding stronger support areas in the tent that could handle a heavier fixture, Miller now began searching for the ideal wash light which led her to the VL3500 Wash luminaire.

“In other areas, such as the Lounge area, I was able to hang a little more weight based on the location in the tent. To give the room a visual club feel, I used the VL3500 Wash luminaires to provide large beam effects using the deep, congo blue and dark, saturated reds. The photographer Sean Twomey with 2me Studios, also used the VL3500 Wash to highlight his photos because he loved the color output so much.”

As the final part of her design with VARI-LITE luminaires, Miller wanted to go one step further and intensify the fast movement of the VL880 Spot and the large beam effects of the VL3500 Wash with a staple in the automated lighting industry, the VL3000 Spot luminaire.

“I used the VL3000 Spot for my primary spot fixture and they were effective in giving us an over-the-top, club element with their combination of powerful beams, beautiful color and sharp gobo effects throughout the party.”

At the end of any event, it is not only the production crew who must stand proud of the work they have done, but the event organizers should also be pleased as well.

Miller concluded, “Because I had different heights of truss and weight restrictions from mounting points to work with, I was able to use a perfect complement of VARI-LITE fixtures to create what we feel was a great design. The VL880 Spot, VL3000 Spot, and VL3500 Wash were all invaluable. With their quick response time and great reliability, each fixture provided its own advantages and the producers of the event were absolutely thrilled. It was exactly what they wanted, and at the end of the day everyone loved it.”

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