High End Systems lighting shines at Detroit Jazz Festival

Photo: Detroit Jazz Foundation and The Display Group

The 2023 Detroit Jazz, now a division of The Display Group, Fantasee Lighting has been providing lights and design to the festival for over twenty years.

Celebrating his tenth year as Jazz Fest Lighting Director, Jon Weaver specified High End Systems SolaPix and Lonestar fixtures for this year’s event.

Jazz Fest returned to a live event after COVID-19, Weaver insisted that the event be lit as a broadcast show outdoors. The lighting rigs were designed to be able to overtake the sun, and still be impactful on television from noon until the headliners came on after dark.

Weaver says as more events have become film studios with a live audience, Fantasee Lighting was quick to invest in the SolaPix 7 and SolaPix 19 XT fixtures. “The SolaPix are very versatile fixtures that give a beautiful smooth wash for the stage in a small package. From the front, they provide a beautiful balanced wash for cameras at any temperature. In colours, they have the output to saturate the entire set without having to turn down the front wash required for the cameras.”

36 SolaPix 19 XTs were the primary lighting on both main stages for both camera and colour. 20 SolaPix 7s were used on the smaller stage for the same looks and effects in a smaller package.

“The fully mappable face adds dynamic effects and looks, without having to add a bunch of effects fixtures. They can be driven by both the lighting console and the media servers independently, which simplifies complex system designs and allows these features to be utilised in much smaller shows for large impact,” explained Weaver.

Over the past year, Fantasee also invested in a fleet of Lonestar fixtures. Weaver commented: “The Lonestar has become the workhorse of our corporate lighting systems. For years, we’ve needed a framed luminaire for use in smaller venues, and most manufacturers were only putting framing shutters in their largest fixtures. Frankly, these were overkill for many of the events, and usually meant that we would only put in a few fixtures to accomplish the specific needs for shutters. The Lonestar is the perfect physical size with tons of output to fulfill this need. The price point of these means that we can use more fixtures for less cost. Fantasee will use these to fill out the entire rig, which allows the designer onsite ultimate flexibility to make consistent looks across the system. At the Detroit Jazz Festival, Fantasee used Lonestar on the small stage to give the impact of the large format fixtures, scaled down to the appropriate size for this small stage.”

Weaver added that the two main stage consoles were dictated by the respective lighting designers, while the other two spaces were controlled by Hog 4 because of its versatility and stability for the broadcast. The Absopure Waterfront Stage was run with a Full Boar, while the Anchor Desk Studio setup was run on a Roadhog.

Fantasee utilised ETC’s Studio HD Fresnel and D40 Daylights to fill out the Anchor Desk Studio set hidden in the festival complex. Artists gave interviews from the set for uninterrupted content for the stream during set changes.

Account rep was Nicole Morris; Weaver served as Lighting Director and handled the Amphitheatre Stage, with LD Zach Schneider covering the main stage, Travis Kajewski serving as LD for the Waterfront Stage, and Kasey Lynne handling the site lighting. Joining them on the crew were master electrician Holly Lloyd-Dunk and E2 Jordyn Meyers.

Weaver concluded: “I have always especially enjoyed lighting for Jazz. There are many styles of jazz, and it exudes the cultures from with it originates. The most important element is designing a versatile rig that looks just as good at noon as at 10 pm. And with over 300,000 people attending in person, it is sometimes easy to forget that the larger audience sees this show through the lens of the camera!”