175 CHAUVET Professional fixtures and tiles illuminate Big Nite DC

Animating the Big Nite DC this year was a lighting and video design from Evan Kirkendall and the team at Harford Sound LLC.

“Every year we challenge ourselves to create a fresh, new design in the primary ballroom,” said Kirkendall. “We get to design this large rig from the ground up, so we really like to push ourselves each year.”

Big Nite DC is not without its challenges, aside from the usual issues of lighting entertainment in a ballroom, such as fixed ceiling height, and limited rigging options, Kirkendall and his team also had to contend with a big room, next to the size of its stage.

“The overall stage size is quite small, compared to the size of the room,“ said Kirkendall. “A key goal of ours was to make the stage look as big as possible, while working within the limitations imposed by its size, and the ceiling height. We wanted to put the largest video wall possible on stage this year, but we also needed to make room for lights. So, we ended up building the widest possible video wall we could do but kept it on the shorter side so we could essentially frame it with lights and then build ‘wings’ from the top to make it look massive. I think the overall layout worked really well!”

Helping Kirkendall, crew chief Steve Wozniak, and their team meet this challenge was a collection of over 100 CHAUVET Professional fixtures, plus 72 F4XIP video panels taken from Harford Sound’s own inventory.

“Our in-house video head, Sam Choiniere, ran the entire show,” said Kirkendall. “We had a mix of sponsor content, client logos, DJ logos, live camera feeds, and the most importantly the midnight countdown on the wall. Sam ran everything through our media server with Resolume to create a very exciting show using a mix of in-house created content and stock content overlayed with the live camera feeds and logos. We also had an ArtNet merge the lighting console and video world so Sam could control the on-stage Color STRIKE M and COLORado Solo Batten fixtures for seamless colors between video and lighting.”

There were 28 Color STRIKE M motorized strobe-washes in the Big Nite DC rig, as well as 16 COLORado Solo Battens. The design team positioned five Color STRIKE M units on each side of the video wall, and arranged all of the batten units below it. The remaining Color STRIKE Ms were flown in blocks of blinders and strobes, providing LD Zack Slater with a limitless opportunity to create compelling looks.

Slater also used the rig’s 34 Maverick Storm 4 Profile fixtures, “We had eight Storm 4 units on deck, and six per truss in the air,” said Kirkendall. “The incredible output of these fixtures was the star of the show. They could easily throw massive beams 300-plus feet to the rear of the ballroom and had no issues overcoming the video wall’s brightness.”

“A lot of smaller fixtures have gotten lost in the video wall in previous years when we did Big Nite, but the Storm 4s had no issues keeping up,” he continued. “Our team loved being able to focus gobos so precisely to create incredibly sharp, massive looks with any colour combination. Even the darkest colours still cut through everything else going on in the air.”

“Oftentimes, we spend a bunch of 10-hour days building these cool rigs, run them a little in the daylight, and them watch somebody else create all these awesome looks in the dark,” said Kirkendall. “At this event our team actually gets to run the show they built. It was quite the rewarding experience”