Elite Multimedia Helps Expand the LED Video Design for the Dove Awards

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DeLux Productions’ Scott DeVos utilizes award-winning PixelFLEX LED from the Nashville-based live event provider to create four integrated LED video walls

Nashville, 12/5/2016 – Since 1970, the GMA Dove Awards has honored excellence in the Christian Music industry while celebrating its rich musical diversity. At the 47th Annual GMA Dove Awards, event producer and production designer Scott DeVos of DeLux Productions was brought on board to help accentuate that diversity by creating an exciting atmosphere for both the live audience and the television viewers at home. Wanting LED video to play an integral role in the design, DeVos needed a provider with a myriad of technologies to fill the design, so he reached out to Nashville-based Elite Multimedia who supplied him with PixelFLEX LED video walls for the production design.

“We’ve had the pleasure of working with the GMA Dove Awards for the past four years now and each year we are always trying to make the design the best it can be,” began DeVos. “The biggest difference this year was that we added a second performance stage so the video design would need to be much more distinct and more integrated. I really needed the right technology in each location and Elite Multimedia had that wide range of proven LED video technologies to make the overall design a success.”

Working with Elite Multimedia, DeVos began breaking down each LED video location needed for the production design. With the expanded stage set-up for this year’s event, he created a design that would utilize FLEXLite Plus 3.9mm and FLEXCurtain HD 12.5mm LED video technology controlled by SU-401 control units in the four locations on stage.

He continued, “First we decided to use LED video walls on each of the side performance stages for dynamic content and custom visuals behind each artist performing. We then used the FLEXCurtain HD LED video as a master header above the presenter stage for additional visual content and branding, and in addition to that, we needed LED video behind the presenter for the broadcast video packages. Since this presenter video wall would be seen in all the television close-ups, it had to be a very high quality with a small pixel pitch so we chose to once again utilize the FLEXLite Plus 3.9mm LED technology for this application.”

As the team turned their attention to the load-in phase of the production, the challenge of producing a televised awards ceremony in a basketball arena now became a factor. With a lot of work to be completed in a short amount of time, DeVos needed all the production elements to perform as designed, especially the LED video which was fully integrated into the production design.

“Since the GMA Dove Awards is held inside the university basketball arena there is no actual house production gear or grid in place,” explained DeVos. “We basically come into an empty arena and then build-out everything needed including a mother grid for rigging. With so much going on, it’s best when all the production elements perform as they are designed so it was great to be able to mock up the curved header truss and the FLEXCurtain HD LED in the Elite Multimedia shop.  Their staff was very helpful in coming up with creative solutions and I loved working with Tom Wilson, Peter Streiff, and all the guys at Elite Multimedia.”

With all the elements now in place, the 47th Annual GMA Dove Awards aired on Sunday, October 16th on TBN and included performances by artists such as Matthew West, Big Daddy Weave, Greater Vision, TobyMac, Steven Curtis Chapman, Anthony Brown, Bethel Music, Hillsong United and many more.

“As we all sat and watched the show, it became clear that the production design for this event was a significant step forward,” concluded DeVos. “It was sort of electric because the entire room became filled with so much energy and passion. As producers of the show we were extremely pleased with the PixelFLEX LED video supplied by Elite Multimedia and this design will certainly be the framework for all of our future designs of the event.”

Elite Multimedia is a privately-owned, leading supplier of the most up-to-date audio, video and lighting technologies today. With a combined 85 years of industry experience, our team of dedicated professionals knows how to pair the right technology with your vision whether partnering with you in a rental, systems installation, or sales relationship. Through an unconditional desire to make your production or project a complete success, our passion and knowledge to innovate knows no bounds. For more information on how Elite Multimedia is the right partner for you, visit www.elitemultimedia.com, follow us on Twitter at @EliteMultimedia or find us on Facebook or Instagram.

Elite Multimedia Helps Make A Statement For Clare Dunn

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Production designer Mike Marcario creates a complete lighting and LED video touring design with the ability to the triggered via the artists backing tracks

Nashville, 11/2/2016 – As one of the most highly regarded songwriters today, MCA Nashville recording artist Clare Dunn is now making a name for herself as one of the hottest touring artists as well. Having already opened for many of country music’s biggest stars, the Colorado native has embarked on her first solo tour and production designer Mike Marcario was brought on to create a high-energy design that could accentuate the artist.  To bring the full design together, Marcario worked with Nashville-based tour provider Elite Multimedia who supplied him with a complete lighting and LED video system that has the ability to be self-triggered through the artists backing tracks.

“Clare’s live show is a super high-energy and a fun experience even without touring production,” began Marcario. “I’m very happy to have gotten the call to help take the show to the next level with some visual aspects.  When we started production meetings, our biggest goals for the design were that it would be bright and vibrant to make a statement for multiple sized rooms, compact to fit in a bus trailer with existing backline/merch/etc., and possess a low power draw to fit on only a few circuits of wall power. Additionally, she would not be traveling with an LD or tech, so it would need to fire from her backing tracks. With all this in mind, I got together with Elite Multimedia to find the ideal system that could work within all the design parameters, and we ended up with a fantastic production design that gave us everything we needed.”

During the design process, Marcario made a visit to Elite Multimedia and together they began to discuss the products that would best overcome the design challenges for the tour. In the end, Marcario decided upon a production design that included Clay Paky A.Leda Wash K5 LED luminaires, Chauvet SlimPAR LED luminaires, and PixelFLEX FLEXLite 12.5mm LED video technology, along with grandMA on PC and an ArKaos Media Server for control.

“Her design has four truss towers that are about five feet tall, each containing two SlimPAR Hex-7 LED pars, an A.Leda K5, and a FLEXLite LED panel,” continued Marcario. “In this configuration, I’m using the FLEXLite panels for blinder effects and eye-candy. We went with the FLEXLite 12.5mm product because it’s a way to cover a lot of surface area on stage for a low-cost. The K5’s are in full extended mode allowing for some low-resolution pixel mapping and neat aerial effects. Finally, the workhorses of the rig are the SlimPAR fixtures. I wanted to have multiple ways to accent the music, so at any point I can use them as a blinder, a strobe, a wash, or a big accent fixture. They really help me create a wonderful wall of light behind the band.”

Now that the lighting and LED video elements were put in place, Marcario needed to focus his attention on the programming for the design. Knowing they would not have a touring technician to run a traditional lighting console or control the video, he had to develop a system that could run the show as planned, but also provide the artist with the freedom to take the show in an improvisational direction as well.

“The idea that there would be no touring LD or video programmer was probably the biggest obstacle we had to overcome in creating the design,” explained Marcario. “It had to be easy for the existing crew to set up, so everything is pre-wired and the whole rig only takes a few circuits with the data living in a center rack and programming triggered by the bands backing tracks.”

With the complete tour design now in place, Clare Dunn is currently on the road and making stops across the United States giving country music fans across the nation the opportunity to experience the artist that Billboard Magazine, Rolling Stone, and USA Today all call “One to Watch”.

“With Clare being such a great performer and a killer guitarist, I really needed to create a production design that gave her the platform to be showcased nationwide,” concluded Marcario. “Working with Elite Multimedia they understood exactly what it was we were trying to accomplish, and they took the time to help us to create a show that both audiences and promoters will definitely want to see again making a powerful statement for Clare as an artist.”

Elite Multimedia is a privately-owned, leading supplier of the most up-to-date audio, video and lighting technologies today. With a combined 85 years of industry experience, our team of dedicated professionals knows how to pair the right technology with your vision whether partnering with you in a rental, systems installation, or sales relationship. Through an unconditional desire to make your production or project a complete success, our passion and knowledge to innovate knows no bounds. For more information on how Elite Multimedia is the right partner for you, visit www.elitemultimedia.com, follow us on Twitter at @EliteMultimedia or find us on Facebook or Instagram.

Elite Multimedia Sets The Stage for Worship and Praise at Student Life Camps

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Nashville-based tour provider works with Director of Production Jake Brantley to create a modular lighting, audio, video and LED rig for the 2016 summer tour

Nashville, 8/30/2016 – Since its introduction in 1993, Student Life has been transforming the lives of young people through inter-denominational Christian summer camps and conferences. With a focus on developing lasting and meaningful relationships with Christ, the camps travel with a production team striving to set the stage which will foster an environment of worship and praise. To create these worship environments, Director of Production Jake Brantley understands that the gear chosen must have the ability to adapt to several locations across the country, so he once again turned to Nashville-based tour provider Elite Multimedia to help him create a cohesive and modular lighting, audio and video production design.

“Each Student Life Camp lasts one week with both morning and evening worship services, so at a typical camp our production crew will run eight services,” began Brantley. “One of the most challenging aspects about putting the designs together is that we have to be modular because while we do specify a minimum stage size, we may go to a venue that could be off on the width, height or depth. Therefore all of our production rigs have to be able to adapt to each environment and Elite Multimedia really helps us find the best mixture of lighting, audio, projection, IMAG and even LED video to make our designs work no matter what venue we are in.”

With a modular concept in place, Brantley began working with Elite Multimedia to finalize the touring production layout which would allow him to fully accentuate each location with the most expansive design possible.

He continued, “Generally speaking we travel with an upstage truss for back light and a scenic element, a downstage truss for front light, and then ground lighting as well which includes our automated and LED fixtures for aerials and special effects. For audio, we travel with eight XLD boxes per side with six subs, and every week we have to find the best angle for the array which our audio engineers do really well. Then on the video side, we have a four-camera IMAG shoot with two 8K projectors off stage left and right, and we even added a PixelFLEX LED video wall into one of our camp designs. Through our long-standing relationship with Elite Multimedia, we really have the ability send out the ideal production package for each venue making each camp the best it can be.”

Traveling across the country in three 24-foot trucks, the production team behind the Student Life Camps rarely has an opportunity to rest between locations. With a load-out on Friday, the team will be loading-in at their next location on Sunday with camp set to start on Monday. Under such a tight production schedule, the gear provided must operate consistently and efficiently with a tour provider who is always ready to assist if needed.

“Elite Multimedia is really great at the relationship side of the business,” admitted Brantley. “As a touring production designer, I know that if I ever need them, they are ready to respond quickly whether it’s lighting, audio or video. They always seem to do whatever they can to make our tour happen, and their service and dependability is a big part of our success.”

At the conclusion of the 2016 summer tour, the Student Life Camps saw approximately 45,000 attendees at 60 individual locations, and although the design of each may have been slightly different, the worship environment remained the same.

“On the production side, the goal we have for each camp is to create an environment where the Holy Spirit is free to move and people feel comfortable to meet with God and hear his word,” concluded Brantley. “That doesn’t mean simply creating a non-distracting environment, but more so creating an environment of excellence that visually accentuates the story of the gospel and where people feel comfortable and safe. When working with Elite Multimedia, they really understand what it is that we are after, and they take the time to provide us with not only the gear needed, but also the support as well to complete our environment of faith and worship.”

Elite Multimedia is a privately-owned, leading supplier of the most up-to-date audio, video and lighting technologies today. With a combined 85 years of industry experience, our team of dedicated professionals knows how to pair the right technology with your vision whether partnering with you in a rental, systems installation, or sales relationship. Through an unconditional desire to make your production or project a complete success, our passion and knowledge to innovate knows no bounds. For more information on how Elite Multimedia is the right partner for you, visit www.elitemultimedia.com, follow us on Twitter at @EliteMultimedia or find us on Facebook or Instagram.

Elite Multimedia and Cour Design Are Setting “Nights On Fire” With David Nail

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Nashville-based tour provider works with designer Gordon Droitcour to help create the ideal lighting tour package for the MCA Nashville recording artist

Nashville, 8/8/2016 – MCA Nashville recording artist David Nail is known for his powerful lyrics with emotionally-charged vocals that have garnered him both Grammy and ACM Award nominations. Currently on tour in support of his fourth album Fighter, Nail and his production team are making their way across the United States bringing his music to fans in packed houses and festivals across the country. With a lighting design and unique playback system created by Cour Design, the production team needed a tour provider who understands the value of quality gear and support so they once again turned to Nashville-based Elite Multimedia.

“This will be our 2nd tour with David and his shows are really focused on the music and the storytelling of his life,” began lighting designer Gordon Droitcour. “To make sure we are supporting him best as an artist, the lighting design has to be dynamic for both high and low impact moments, but it also has to be more about being ‘felt’ rather than ‘seen’ so the audience can focus on the lyrical content. Working with Elite Multimedia, they have not only provided us with the proper tools needed, but they have also provided the touring support needed to make the design a success.”

With the design parameters in place, Droitcour got work with Elite Multimedia to select the lighting fixtures needed to create the comprehensive lighting design, which includes Clay Paky Sharpy, Elation CuePix and Chauvet COLORdash luminaires, while also keeping the logistical challenges of the tour in mind.

“To make the tour a success on all levels the show not only has to be has to be appealing to the artist and the fans, but the gear itself needs to easily load-in and out and have the ability to play a wide variety of venues,” added Droitcour. “By using our custom set carts we are able to achieve a wide variety of heights to play any size room and the rig itself sets up in a matter of minutes with a minimal crew. Since we also knew the tour would be out for a long time, we had to have durable, high-quality fixtures that could withstand the rigors of road. In the end we decided on Clay Paky Sharpy luminaires to look big in any size room, then we use the COLORdash LED Pars for our stage wash, and the CuePix blinders for a dynamic visual accompaniment on the big moments.”

Now that the fixtures were chosen, Droitcour began the programming phase of the lighting design. Knowing the tour would not be traveling with a large production crew, he used the unique Cour Design lighting control system to give both the production and the fans a breadth of options at each tour stop.

“Most the bands we support travel with our automated lighting control technology and we pride ourselves in designing rigs that are self-contained for bands to carry great visuals on a budget,” explained Droitcour. “Once we have the design in place, we will pre-program all of the songs the artist might like to play on tour so that at any time they have the design for that specific song ready to go.  Then we provide an intuitive lighting cue sheet for the house lighting engineers to follow along with the programming to make sure the show is the best it can be each night.”

With the full design now complete, the David Nail “Nights on Fire Tour” is in the midst of the fall production schedule playing to ecstatic fans throughout the United States. Understanding the challenges a tour faces on the road, Droitcour rests comfortably knowing that Elite Multimedia was not only there at the beginning, but they will be there in the end as well.

“As a tour provider Elite Multimedia really takes a lot of burdens off of designers,” concluded Droitcour. “In our world where lighting techs are not typically on the road with the tour, we have to have a provider who can not only provide quality gear, but who is also dedicated to providing the touring support needed for any issues that may arise, and that’s Elite Multimedia.”

Elite Multimedia is a privately-owned, leading supplier of the most up-to-date audio, video and lighting technologies today. With a combined 85 years of industry experience, our team of dedicated professionals knows how to pair the right technology with your vision whether partnering with you in a rental, systems installation, or sales relationship. Through an unconditional desire to make your production or project a complete success, our passion and knowledge to innovate knows no bounds. For more information on how Elite Multimedia is the right partner for you, visit www.elitemultimedia.com, follow us on Twitter at @EliteMultimedia or find us on Facebook or Instagram.

For more information on Cour Design visit www.courdesign.com.

For complete information on the David Nail “Nights on Fire Tout” visit www.davidnail.com.

Elite Multimedia Helps Gary Allan Fans See, Hear and Feel The Music

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Nashville-based tour provider supplies a full lighting and LED video package for production manager Brandon Quisberg to create the ideal fan experience

Nashville, 7/20/2016  – With five number one singles, fourteen top ten hits and over 270 million streams to his name, multi-platinum EMI Nashville recording artist Gary Allan has long been admired by fans and music industry insiders for his unwavering uniqueness in country music today. Currently on tour supporting his new single, “Do You Wish It Was Me?,” Allan remains dedicated to bringing the most heart-felt live performance to each of his shows. Production manager Brandon Quisberg understands the commitment needed to make sure every fan walks away knowing they experienced the best show possible, and they are doing so with a lighting and LED video rig supplied by Nashville-based tour provider Elite Multimedia.

“I am currently in the middle of my third year with Gary Allan where I started out as the lighting director and then also took on the role as production manager last year,” began Quisberg. “I’ve been blessed with a great relationship with Gary and we often speak about how we can make the live experience the best it can be for the fans. Understanding what we technically need to bring the vision to life, we then have to find a trusted tour provider, and this is our third year working with Elite Multimedia because they have the latest and greatest gear to help us accomplish exactly what we need.”

Getting started on the production design, Quisberg knew right away that LED video, along with a series of versatile luminaires, would be needed to highlight the musicality of Allan which speaks directly to his fans.

Quisberg explained further, “In our previous design we went without LED video and we felt like the audience was missing out on that visual experience and we wanted it back into the mix, but we still had to keep the focus on the music. To help bring it all together, the lighting needed to provide us with deep, beautiful looks, but with less special effects so that the focus stays on the music.”

Now, knowing exactly how the design will work to accentuate the music, Quisberg must also keep in mind how the production rig will travel. To make sure he is not overlooking any logistical challenges, he next consults with stage manager Alex Stegall to finalize the tour design.

“After I complete the production design drawings, I get with Alex, who is one of the best in the business, to go over any logistical concerns he might have so that we are all on the same page from day one. From being a headliner and making sure we can accommodate multiple opening acts, to being one of many acts on a festival day, we don’t necessarily have the luxury of multiple trucks, but we have to be able to fill all types of venues no matter which stop on the tour might be next.”

With everyone on board with the new tour design, Quisberg got work identifying the ideal lighting and LED video solutions from the extensive Elite Multimedia inventory.

He continued, “For the physical layout of the tour, we are using 40’ sticks of GT Tyler truss with an overhead rig that includes Vari-Lite VL3000 and Clay Paky Sharpy automated luminaires, Philips LED NITRO strobes, a PixelFLEX LED FLEXCurtain HD video wall, and eight custom LED tubes. We then have three risers for our band, so we placed Elation CuePix panels in front of and behind each riser, with more NITRO strobes and some additional LED fixtures scattered around the stage floor to give the tour a unique feel. When looking at the whole design, I really like the combined capabilities of the living fixtures. It gives me the opportunity to think outside the box and I get to use the fixtures in ways that I may never have thought before.”

Out on the road with the show, Quisberg is now getting to see first-hand how the new tour design is being enjoyed by energetic fans across North America. Working from the front-of-house, he knows that while the music is the most important part of the night, nothing would be possible without the production support behind it.

“In speaking with Gary, he has heard stories of people listening to his music to cope with difficult times in their lives, but then also to celebrate some of their happiest times as well,” concluded Quisberg. “With his tour designs, our main focus is always to make sure that each fan has the full experience to hear, see and feel the music. We have to have the right gear and support to make this happen and Elite Multimedia is a company that can take a smaller tour and grow with you until you are a 30-truck stadium show. But then on the other side, if you’re already a stadium headliner, they also have the gear and knowledge to match your budget and production design, and that is exactly the type of tour provider we need.”

Elite Multimedia is a privately-owned, leading supplier of the most up-to-date audio, video and lighting technologies today. With a combined 85 years of industry experience, our team of dedicated professionals knows how to pair the right technology with your vision whether partnering with you in a rental, systems installation, or sales relationship. Through an unconditional desire to make your production or project a complete success, our passion and knowledge to innovate knows no bounds. For more information on how Elite Multimedia is the right partner for you, visit www.elitemultimedia.com, follow us on Twitter at @EliteMultimedia or find us on Facebook or Instagram.

For more information on Gary Allan or to get a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit www.garyallan.com.  You can follow Gary on Twitter at @GaryAllan and also find him on Facebook and Instagram.

Elite Multimedia and Big Events create a “New Spain” feel for the Frist Gala

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Nashville-based live event production partner provides a full lighting, audio and projection package for the Frist Center for the Visual Arts annual fundraiser

Nashville, 6/20/2016  – For over 20 years, Big Events, Inc. has been designing and creating unique, customized events that guests will remember for years to come. So when they were approached by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts to help them create a contemporary “New Spain” club atmosphere for their Annual Gala, President Malcolm Greenwood leapt at the opportunity to showcase the design firm’s creativity. Wanting to implement the highest production-value the event had ever seen, Greenwood then called upon Nashville-based Elite Multimedia who provided him with a complete lighting, audio and projection package for the black-tie dinner and cocktail reception.

“The Frist Gala has always been one of those events that we wanted to be a part of and this was our first time getting that opportunity,” began Greenwood. “When the event organizers told us they were looking for a ‘New Spain’ feel, we were comfortable with what they wanted because we had a designer who actually lived in Spain for a while. Wanting to go heavy on the multimedia for a contemporary club atmosphere, we knew this would also be the largest production package the event had ever seen. To bring it all together we would need a partner who could provide quality gear and service, and after meeting with them to discuss the full production package, we decided that partner was Elite Multimedia.”

Now getting to work creating the full production package to support the Frist Gala, Greenwood and the design team wanted to make a bold statement that would encompass the entirety of the venue. Needing to include the main lobby, hallway and an exterior tent structure throughout the evening, Greenwood and his team laid out a production design that would catch the guests off-guard and make the night a truly memorable event.

“In the main lobby which was the first point of entry for the guests, we utilized an extensive lighting and audio system that welcomed them to the event with a lively and colorful experience,” explained Greenwood. “The guests were then led down the hallway which continued the feel from the lobby, to the tent where the black-tie dinner would be held. After dinner, the guests then came back into the lobby where we transformed the venue into a contemporary Spanish nightclub with UV black light and tile mosaics with UV paint. The waiters had white gloves and ties that glowed in the light, and the dancers on elevated platforms were also dressed in ultra-violet material as well. It was really like the room flipped because when the guests arrived we were using the tungsten and LED sources light sources to illuminate the room, but when they came back and we hit everything with the UV light and it became a completely new design that took everyone by surprise.”

With the main lobby design in place, Greenwood and the team turned their attention to the production design for the 50’ x 100’ tent structure set up behind the Frist Center. It was inside the tent where the main portion of the event would be held, and it was also here that Greenwood had yet another surprise to reveal.

“For the black-tie dinner in the tent, we really wanted video mapping to be the main visual element in the design,” added Greenwood. “We knew this type of technology had never been implemented at this event before so we wanted to approach it as truly creating visual art. To do this we created a series of cubed-boxes that were connected together at 45 degree angles and then this ‘cloud’ structure was flown from the roof of the tent. At the beginning of the evening we wanted the guests to think it was a color-changing chandelier, but then we slowly started hitting it with custom video mapping content. We started slowly and minimalistic, but then over the course of the evening we gradually ramped up the video mapping and intensity of the content, and it worked fantastic, once again catching everyone completely off guard.”

As with any live event, not all the aspects of the production design went as smooth as hoped. During the set-up for the event, a strong weather pattern struck Nashville which did some damage to the outdoor structure, but it was then that Elite Multimedia once again showed Greenwood that he had chosen the right partner.

“During the set-up we had 50-60 mph wind sheers in Nashville that did some damage to the tent so we had to come back in and redo a lot of what we had done,” admitted Greenwood. “Regardless, Elite Multimedia had a phenomenal attitude and they really went the extra mile for us. To have a partner so willing to provide such incredible service allowed us to really push right on through, and their gear was second to none delivering on every count. In working with Elite Multimedia, I really enjoyed their combination of service, equipment and creative design ideas.”

With the full design now in place, it was time for the 2016 Frist Gala to open its doors in an effort to raise money for the Frist Center education and outreach programs. Watching as the night unfolded, Greenwood was excited to hear the comments from both guests and organizers alike and he knew that they had represented both Big Events, Elite Multimedia and Nashville in the best light possible.

“We really wanted to take the guests at the Frist Gala on a journey with us throughout the evening and by the time the journey was drawing to a close they were commenting that they had never seen anything like it before and were completely amazed,” concluded Greenwood. “We also heard numerous comments from the Frist Gala organizers that they had never experienced anything like this and they were absolutely blown away. With our background in production, we really wanted to show the guests at the event that Nashville was an incredible market for the production arts, and Elite Multimedia certainly helped us do that.”

Elite Multimedia is a privately-owned, leading supplier of the most up-to-date audio, video and lighting technologies today. With a combined 85 years of industry experience, our team of dedicated professionals knows how to pair the right technology with your vision whether partnering with you in a rental, systems installation, or sales relationship. Through an unconditional desire to make your production or project a complete success, our passion and knowledge to innovate knows no bounds. For more information on how Elite Multimedia is the right partner for you, visit www.elitemultimedia.com, follow us on Twitter at @EliteMultimedia or find us on Facebook or Instagram.

Elite Multimedia works with Cour Design on a St. Lucia visual experience

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Brooklyn-based St. Lucia utilizes the Cour Design system for automatic playback of visuals with a hard-hitting lighting rig provided by Elite Multimedia

Nashville, 6/14/2016 – Since their introduction only four short years ago, Columbia-recording artists St. Lucia have become known for their high-energy and artful music that elicits a number of emotions in their fans. Based in Brooklyn, NY, St. Lucia recently released their second studio album entitled Matter, which Rolling Stone Magazine says “bursts with light”. Now needing to embark on a nationwide tour to support the album release, the band turned to production design house Cour Design who enlisted the assistance of Nashville-based tour provider Elite Multimedia to help them create a hard-hitting visual experience.

“Before we even started Cour Design, we were working with St. Lucia and it was actually their openness to implement our system for automatic playback of visuals that got our business going,” began Gordon Droitcour, Cour Design. “The band has an evolving and different stage design aesthetic than most other artists, so we wanted to push the creative envelope on a design that also works well logistically. Using the Matter album cover as inspiration we knew wanted to include elements of black, white and gold, and with the gear and support provided by Elite Multimedia this was one of the most fun designs we have created to date.”

Getting to work, Cour Design knew that the band is well known for a unique live experience their dedicated fans have come to expect. Committed to bringing them the show they craved, the design team developed a powerhouse production that would give fans a night out they would not soon forget.

“As an electronic pop dance group, St. Lucia is known for their live shows so it has to be a night that fans will never forget,” continued Droitcour. “For this tour design, we have two large, gold chrome frames with LED neon tape running through them that are set center stage, and then we have a black, marble backdrop that is side lit. We also have risers that are peppered with four split cacti, all of which are surrounded by tight beams of light. In a lot of the cities, the fans will go to the same club throughout the week to see various artists, so we wanted this to be a hard-hitting rig that would not be forgotten, and the show looks great.”

With the design complete, Droitcour was now able to take a moment to enjoy the tour design for himself. As fans became to arrive he eagerly watched from the front-of-house to see what type of reaction they might have, and to also enjoy a few of his favorite design elements as well.

“My favorite part of the tour design is when the LED neon on the frames is revealed half-way through the set,” admitted Droitcour. “When the frames do come on, the set takes a hard turn into a full on dance party. While I may have gotten goosebumps at this part in in rehearsals, it was nothing in comparison to hearing the crowd react when they come on, and it feels pretty awesome.”

The St. Lucia tour is currently scheduled to run through October 2016 making stops throughout the United States. With each stop, Droitcour is excited that the band is demonstrating how artists of all sizes can have the touring rig they desire, but he also understands to make this a reality, it helps to have a tour provider like Elite Multimedia.

“For this tour we really wanted to prove that a band like St. Lucia could travel with a production rig that is comparable to those you would only see at larger venues, but we still had to stay within budget,” concluded Droitcour. “I really enjoy working with Elite Multimedia because they see the value in working with designers at all sizes, and are committed to providing you the best gear possible to make your design a reality. They have a great selection of products to choose from and they are continually adding the most innovative products to their existing inventory. We started working with Elite Multimedia over three years ago and every time it has been a pleasure to work with them.”

Elite Multimedia is a privately-owned, leading supplier of the most up-to-date audio, video and lighting technologies today. With a combined 85 years of industry experience, our team of dedicated professionals knows how to pair the right technology with your vision whether partnering with you in a rental, systems installation, or sales relationship. Through an unconditional desire to make your production or project a complete success, our passion and knowledge to innovate knows no bounds. For more information on how Elite Multimedia is the right partner for you, visit www.elitemultimedia.com, follow us on Twitter at @EliteMultimedia or find us on Facebook or Instagram.

Back Lounge Confessionals – Approaching video as a lighting designer

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Video is lighting.

That’s right, we’re going to dive right in. Start the article in medias res1 because that’s how we do things in the production industry. No long-winded exposition on the history of media servers, how LED technology has changed the face of lighting and video both, no comments about the Icon-M (Remember those?). We’re gonna jump right in and talk about how to think about and design with video elements when one comes from a mostly lighting background.

Designing with video

One of my very first jobs was full-time technical director at a big church in a flyover state. We had several projected screens in the auditorium, which we fed IMAG and content from a media server. This was fine, and is probably the “easiest” and most obvious use of a video surface. (Throughout this article, I’ll refer to a “surface” as the part of any object that displays the actual pixels of a video you can send it, whether that’s beamed from a projector or the pixels are contained in the source itself, like an LED wall.) Simply sending some video to a surface is a very easy way to quickly add movement to a stage, and as anyone who’s ever worked in a church, or any other corporate environment that tends to attract the intransigent can tell you, once a way of “doing things” gets established, there can be a lot of institutional momentum that discourages innovation or creativity. We never used our screens for anything other than IMAG and stock media clips; it was just the Way Things Were Done, and we missed out on a lot of opportunities to use our video system creatively. When I left the church and started touring, it was difficult not to fall into the same way of thinking about other video screens I encountered. 4:3 or 16:9, displaying video loops or IMAG and that’s it. I made the mistake of seeing video as essentially a TV that we could send clips to. Disappointingly, this is a trap I see many acts fall in to – their screens are just that: screens, and there is missed potential to use video in other creative ways. Thankfully, there are indications that this attitude is slowly turning for the better.

Just like moving lights, PARs, ellipsoidals, and every other instrument that we as lighting designers use, video elements can project light, display texture, light scenes or act as an accent or the focus of a scene. Lights can do these things, video can do these things. The line between what constitutes video and what constitutes lighting not as immutable as the two separate departments in most lighting shops would suggest. The difference is in resolution and some formatting, nothing else. I therefore submit that video is lighting, and to make our designs better, more integrative and fluid, we should start thinking of video as lighting. Not just as screens versus pixel-mapped devices versus traditional arc-or LED spot or wash fixtures, but as a (somewhat) linear continuum that includes high-resolution LED walls and projection at one end, continues to low-res video, then to pixel-mapped products like the Chauvet Epix, to LED PARs, then continues to moving head video products like the Ayrton line and ends at traditional stage lighting.

The elements of set design: a crusade against rectangles

The first consideration when designing with video elements is the physical placement and form factor within the stage space, and avoiding the trap of visual clichés and lazy design. This is a very roundabout way of saying: please, please think carefully before using a straight rectangle in your design. There are a multitude of historical and technical reasons why formatting every video signal in existence as a rectangle makes sense and is done, but this doesn’t mean that the output must always follow that same form factor. I’m going to adopt what a perhaps controversial opinion, and assert that unthinkingly throwing up a 4:3 or 16:9 rectangular screen will never look good. It will look adequate. It will look like a movie theater. As I’ve stated elsewhere, we as lighting designers are purveyors of just one thing: looks. And when a look has been used too often or reflects something that the audience can regularly see in their everyday life, it becomes boring. Movie theaters are a visual medium we’re all familiar with. Most people have a television in their homes. A simple rectangle displaying a simple video file or IMAG presents no novelty, and novelty is what makes a look interesting. To boil it down to something you could fit on a fortune cookie, people get bored with seeing the same things over and over. Give them something different. A rectangular video wall has been overdone almost to the point of parody – certainly we’re to an era where it’s no longer a show of technical achievement to have even the largest rectangular or square walls. It’s almost a requirement these days for there to be a rectangular side screen at concerts for IMAG. We don’t need more squares dominating the stage. Do something with your video besides just a straight square: make it wider, make it taller, break it up into pieces, make the corners round, something other than a TV-looking thing sitting upstage because management wanted to be able to “show the music videos”. Nothing could be more boring than a rectangle, unless you’re designing for a corporate presentation for insurance actuaries. (Disclaimer: I don’t actually know what an insurance actuary does, and I’m sure they’re a fine group of people who contribute to society.) You can have a rectangular virtual surface “within” a larger irregular shape, but just having a regular 4:3 or 16:9 wall as the sole video display surface is almost always boring.

This is not to say that all rectangles are always bad. In fact, they can look very good. The right content can turn a humdrum screen into something that actually pulls a set together. The key word to take away from my assertion is “unthinkingly”. For a straight rectangle – or, really, any other shape you could conceive of – to look good, there must be thought put into the placement, design, content, and of course shape. The takeaway here is not that rectangles are bad, but thinking that a rectangle will somehow magically look amazing just thrown upstage center to “have some video” is folly. Maybe that would have amazed someone in the 70s, but a huge percentage of our intended audience walks around with a tiny video rectangle in their pocket, literally every day. When they come to a show, we should present them with something different.

Other surfaces and shapes are where one can really start the blur the lines between lighting and video. Products light the Ayrton Magic Panel (Most of the products in the Ayrton range, actually, as well as things like the B-Eye from Clay Paky) contain matrices of LED sources that can work to either wash a surface or an actor, but also have included in them pixel-mapping abilities that a designer can use to send actual video signals to the product. Many of these products have very narrow culminating lenses on them, further enhancing their pixel-like look and allowing for some truly creative visuals to be produced. Designing with these sorts of products requires deep attention to detail, and – in my opinion – a well-developed budget. Having one or two of these devices around the stage will simply not realize their full potential; they look the best when they’re in a matrix or group of some sort.

Content is King

Once you decide on a physical layout for the lighting and video elements, the next most important question is what they will be showing. A blog post about video design could (and has) filled volumes of books, and is outside the scope of this article. Instead, I want to hit on some of the basics that we should understand and have in mind when we think about lighting, the relevant issues being color temperature, brightness, pixel mapping, color, and texture.

The content that gets played back on whatever video surfaces are part of the set design can make or break that video element’s contribution to the overall show. We all know that one can get a bunch of stock content from the internet, or get it in large batches from any of the many content houses around the world, but again, the key here is not to just go “This song is red, and kinda fast, so I’ll find a fast red clip and play it back here.” I see this mistake most often on productions that are just starting out with a media server and excited about the possibilities that having tech like that affords them. Having video affords a lot of power from a visual standpoint, but requires thought to get the most out of the potential it represents. To return again to the similarities between lighting and video, remember that video surfaces can display both color and texture; it’s not necessary that they do both at the same time. Think about the interplay between what the lights are doing and what your video surfaces are displaying. Do they complement each other? Or are they fighting for the same “visual space”? This might be desirable at times, other times it can be distracting. Have a clear vision for what a design needs to accomplish with its visual elements, both lighting and video, and don’t make the mistake of just throwing whatever the media server has in it to see what sticks. This is the wrongheaded thinking behind every instance of “visual vomit” you’ve seen.

Related to the above point is color temperature, though it’s not necessary to belabor this point: be aware of color temperature. Most (all?) LED video products use straight RGB LEDs, which tend to have a different color temperature in white than other sources on stage, so be aware of the white points of your various sources.

The final point that I wish to make is about brightness.

For a while there, it appeared as though video would completely overtake lighting on stages. A far cry from the days of three projectors that had to be manually aligned each day on the road, the technology and sophistication to create truly bright – bright enough to be seen in full-on daylight – video screens is now upon us with the force (and power) of a solar prominence. We suddenly have video walls –really, really big walls, with a photonic output quite capable of figuratively crushing any other element on stage save for the brightest and narrowest of moving light beams.

There are many examples of video walls taken to an extreme. Giant squares conveying an almost Soviet-esque oppressiveness on the stage. Too big, too bright, and being run as little more than giant overpowered television monitors. We’ve all seen them.

And this is a shame because, when balanced and working in harmony, video and lighting together can – if one will allow the author the indulgence of overstatement – sublime. As an example, I offer up the design for the Nine Inch Nails Hesitation Marks tour. Here, video and lighting worked so perfectly together that the lines between what was video and what was lighting were beautifully and masterfully blurred, a testament to the prodigious skill of designers LeRoy Bennett and Rob Sheridan.

Just about every creative element can have a place in the right part of a production, even the oversized video wall. There’s something to be said about spectacle as art, and having a massive video screen is no exception. But the key factor that is required is balance. Today’s LED-based video walls are capable of truly stunning amounts of light output. The brightest are practically impossible to look at in open white at full output in a dark venue like an arena. This is neither pleasant to look at or artistic in any reasonable definition of the word. Artistry requires balance, requires a skillful blending of two modalities of visual conveyance so that sometimes one is emphasized, sometimes the other, sometimes both, but one or the other never fighting for dominance. To use an analogy from the world of sound, think of video and lighting as two different channels of a song track. Mixing is the process of not only adjusting the various channels that make up the song so that the listener can hear everything, but emphasizing some instruments in some areas and de-emphasizing them in others. Throughout it all, however, the listener can still pick out the individual components of the whole (if the track is mixed well) and never has to strain to hear one thing over another. In the same way, the brightness of the various elements is of paramount importance when mixing disparate products on a stage. They must be harmonious, or one will stick out like a sore thumb while the other is invisible.

Thankfully, while we as lighting designers often have less control over the brightness of our lights than we would like, we almost universally have more light coming out of video elements than we know what to do with. And in their wisdom, manufacturers almost always provide a way to reduce the overall brightness of a video screen uniformly without changing any other aspect of the signal. My personal preference is for the video – in the sense of real “video”, that is, displaying content that contains recognizable stuff  like humans and music videos – to be dynamically controlled throughout the show. Don’t just set it on eighty percent and forget it. There are times when the video is supposed to add to the set without being a distraction. Other times it should blend completely into the background, being just some subtle movement. Still other times, it should pop on and really draw the audience’s eyes to it.

Although it’s easy to focus on the most obvious use of video we see in the world of touring musical acts today – modular LED video screens – projection can also a big part of the scene when it comes to video design of a set. Some of the coolest designs I’ve seen in recent years – I’m thinking specifically of Bon Jovi’s “Because We Can” tour and their projection-mapped Tait-built hexagonal towers of awesome. Video need not be relegated to the world of LED-only fixtures. A proper write-up on projection design, however, could (will?) be its own multi-page post.

Overall, the approach to video that I take is to view it as another facet of lighting. LED surfaces project light, and lighting devices can be pixel-mapped to display video. What we’re talking about when we discuss video and lighting as two separate entities is really just a difference of form factors. A successful combining of the two sources will take into account not just color and content, but a thorough understanding of what one is trying to accomplish.

 

Blog By Craig Rutherford – Blue Shift Design – weet us @elitemultimedia and @blueshiftontour and tell us what’s in your daily workbox.

Elite Multimedia provides compelling dimensionality for the Alan Jackson tour

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Production designer Craig Rutherford works with the Nashville-based tour provider on a new design that draws everyone together on the Still Keepin’ It Country Tour”

Nashville, 5/17/2016 – As a freelance lighting designer Craig Rutherford, Blueshift Design, enjoys finding new and creative ways to draw both the audience and the musicians on stage into the design experience. In his latest creation, he was asked by the team behind country music icon Alan Jackson to develop a dynamic production design for the “Still Keepin’ It Country Tour”. Wanting to use a full complement of lighting and video, Rutherford turned to Nashville-based Elite Multimedia to provide the touring support that could help him highlight one of country music’s most decorated artists.

“This is my second tour with Alan and in this design I really wanted to spread the lighting rig out to most advantageously utilize the complete lighting and video production package,” began Rutherford. “We also needed to be cognizant of arranging the physical layout of the rig to best give the show a compelling dimensionality from both the audience and the artist perspectives. When looking at a tour provider to help make this happen, there was really no question we were going to go with Elite Multimedia because we knew they had the right gear and expertise to make our design a success.”

As Rutherford began working with Elite Multimedia on the lighting elements, he wanted to make sure they could create a big, bold look, while also maintaining an eye-catching visual perspective for the IMAG video as well. To do this, he chose a lighting package that included Elation Platinum FLX, Chauvet COLORdash Par-Hex 7s, Martin MAC 700 and 301 Washes, Vari-Lite VL3000 Spots, Procan 4 Lite Blinders, and Chauvet Ovation E-190WW LED ellipsoidals; along with an ETC 24-Channel Sensor Rack and a GrandMA Lighting Console for control.

“To get the maximum impact of a bold country show, I placed the majority of the VL3000 Spot fixtures in the air to give us the big rock-n-roll beams and fans,” continued Rutherford. “In trying to obtain the maximum spread of the rig, we have Elation Platinum FLX luminaires both in the air and on the floor, and then we have four towers for side and back light on the band which I lined with Chauvet ColorDash Pars that give us our great looks from behind the band on the IMAG video.”

Turning his attention to the video portion of the production design, Rutherford knew that Elite Multimedia had an extensive inventory of LED video and projection technology, plus IMAG video camera capabilities. Wanting to incorporate all of these together, Elite Multimedia provided the tour with a video package that included PixelFLEX FLEXCurtain 20mm Panels, a Toshiba POV Camera, a Sony HDX Long Lens FOH Camera, two Sony HDX Handheld Cameras, plus Barco FLM-HD 20 Projectors, and a Panasonic 410 Director’s Rack.

“On tour, we have our main front-of-house camera with a long-throw lens, then a mobile IMAG camera on stage right, plus three additional cameras that cover the band members,” explained Rutherford. “We then have two side screens that are fed through rear-projections, and our main visual element center stage is the 20mm LED FLEXCurtain LED Wall. For the content, we use a combination of Alan’s music videos and live IMAG with a capture card installed on the media server that allows us to place it anywhere on the FLEXCurtain to really keep the show visually engaging. At any time, I can take the FLEXCurtain to full screen IMAG, or I can duplicate the IMAG anywhere across the screen, and the show never gets stale.”

With tour dates scheduled through November, the Alan Jackson “Still Keepin’ It Country Tour” will continue to pack houses nationwide with fans seeking to enjoy an evening with the multi Grammy, ACM and CMA Award-winner. Behind the scenes, Rutherford takes pride in knowing that when they do, the audience will have a unique experience that draws everyone together through the dynamic new tour design.

“From a design standpoint, I am very proud of the fact that we have so many elements working together beautifully and we have continued to evolve as a touring production,” concluded Rutherford. “With the full lighting and video package provided by Elite Multimedia, along with their outstanding crew, we are able to put on a really great show. Night after night everyone is really enjoying themselves, and in the end that’s all that truly matters.”

Elite Multimedia is a privately-owned, leading supplier of the most up-to-date audio, video and lighting technologies today. With a combined 85 years of industry experience, our team of dedicated professionals knows how to pair the right technology with your vision whether partnering with you in a rental, systems installation, or sales relationship. Through an unconditional desire to make your production or project a complete success, our passion and knowledge to innovate knows no bounds. For more information on how Elite Multimedia is the right partner for you, visit www.elitemultimedia.com, follow us on Twitter at @EliteMultimedia or find us on Facebook or Instagram.

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Elite Multimedia helps bring “Shock and Awe” to Cole Swindell tour

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 One of country music’s hottest acts embarks on his first headlining arena tour with his largest production package to date to accentuate the experience of the music

Nashville, 3/22/2016 – As many fans are getting their first look at one of country music’s hottest performers, Cole Swindell is quickly winning over crowds nationwide on his first headlining tour. With his undeniable abilities as both a performer and songwriter, the production team needed to create an impactful tour design that would best accentuate the experience of the music. Wanting an expansive gear list that also included HD LED video, the production turned to Nashville-based Elite Multimedia who provided quality lighting and video solutions, along with a custom set cart design as well, all fitting in a single truck for travel.

“On this tour, it really all starts with the music and the artist behind it,” began production manager James “Mo” Butts. “As a passionate songwriter, Cole is also a high-energy performer so we wanted to incorporate quality HD video into the tour design to heighten the experience for this headlining tour. When looking for a tour provider, I knew Elite Multimedia has an extensive inventory of lighting and video, plus they have a custom set cart operation too, so they could really provide everything we needed.”

With a tour design that would rely heavily on the performance of the HD LED video, the production began reviewing the extensive stock of award-winning PixelFLEX LED video technologies at Elite Multimedia. With content, technical and logistical criteria in place, the team chose a video package that included 32 FLEXLite 6.9mm LED Panels and two PixelFLEX SU-401 master controllers.

“As an artist, Cole tends to like real-world video content so whichever video product was chosen, it had to look good with flesh tones on screen,” added Butts. “I’ve been using PixelFLEX video products for a while now and I really feel they are better than others on the market. Therefore since we will be playing mostly indoor venues, we decided to go with the 6.9mm FLEXLite LED video panels for their high-definition display, ease of set-up and tear down, and their robust nature which is perfect in a touring environment.”

Now turning their attention to the lighting rig which would be controlled by a GrandMA2 light console and hang on Tyler GT Truss, Elite Multimedia also provided the tour with a full lighting package that included Clay Paky Sharpy and A.Leda K10 Wash luminaires, Ayrton Magic Panel R luminaires, Showline SL NITRO 510 strobes, and G13 LED PAR fixtures.

“Cole has really grown as an artist and this is the largest production package we’ve had to date, so we had to make sure everything was working in complete unison,” said lighting designer Justin Kitchenman. “To do this, we chose fixtures that offered pixel-mapping capabilities, plus had an effects engine for an extra layer of creativity. The Ayrton Magic Panels worked great because we could run them through our media server to really coordinate their looks with the video, and our lighting director Ben Shockley is doing an awesome job making it all come to life on the road.”

“I really just try to make sure the show is one cohesive event night-after-night,” added Shockley. “I don’t want the lighting or the video to be overpowering because it has to be the support behind what Cole is doing onstage. While we have to match the intensity and the emotion behind his music, all the production elements have to be working with the one vision to support Cole as an artist.”

Now that the video and lighting elements were all in place, the production needed to find a creative way for the complete touring package to travel safely across the United States. Also keeping in mind that the crew would need to load-in and out as quickly as possible, Elite Multimedia worked with Accurate Staging to create a custom set cart design that made it all possible.

“As our first headlining arena tour, we would not be traveling with a large number of crew members and truck space is at a premium,” continued Butts. “We had to have a convenient and safe solution for the gear to travel, so Elite Multimedia and Accurate Staging worked to develop custom cranking set carts that allow us to quickly deploy the LED video walls. While we typically trim at 13 feet, the carts allow us to really scale up and down dependent upon the venue, and since the LED walls are prebuilt, we can roll them in each night, wire them together, and they are ready to go.”

Shockley added, “Since we are a smaller crew everyone is involved with the daily load-in and load-out, and we don’t have a lot of time for onsite maintenance issues. The sets carts are working great and they make it very easy to load-in and load-out, and we haven’t had any issues with the lighting or video which is usually up and running in only a few minutes.”

With current tour dates that stretch until October 2016, the Cole Swindell tour is now in full swing solidifying his stature as one of country’s most compelling performers, and through their backstage perspective, the production team is enjoying the moment every step of the way.

“The audience really doesn’t think about how the tour rig travels or how it loads-in and out, they just want to see a good show and really immerse themselves in Cole as an artist,” said Kitchenman. “We’ve been working with the team at Elite Multimedia for a few years now and they do a great job of helping us design custom elements specifically to fit the needs of our tour. In this design, there is depth and layers and it makes for a genuine environment for Cole to entertain and interact with his fans.”

“We have a saying on this tour that we want the ‘shock and awe’,” concluded Butts. “As fans leave the venue, we want to see wide eyes and dropped jaws, and we really want them to have the feeling that this was one of the best shows they have ever seen. As a tour provider, Elite Multimedia always seems to be the most willing to really help make our expectations a reality, and this show looks great.”

Elite Multimedia is a privately-owned, leading supplier of the most up-to-date audio, video and lighting technologies today. With a combined 85 years of industry experience, our team of dedicated professionals knows how to pair the right technology with your vision whether partnering with you in a rental, systems installation, or sales relationship. Through an unconditional desire to make your production or project a complete success, our passion and knowledge to innovate knows no bounds. For more information on how Elite Multimedia is the right partner for you, visit www.elitemultimedia.com, follow us on Twitter at @EliteMultimedia or find us on Facebook or Instagram.