Being the only Designer, Programmer and Operator at Cream Weekender’s main Skyline Pavilion Stage, Simon Horn kicked off the 2018 holiday season with a sleep-deprived weekend.
Between 7 December and 9 December 2018 he ran the light show for a large and diverse mix of DJ stars on his ChamSys MagicQ MQ500 Stadium console with a Stadium Wing. Other than a laser operator who came with Pete Tong, none of the artists other brought their own LDs so it was all down to Horn.
“It was a labour of love,” said Horn, the owner of Purple Lighting. “Apart from the one laser person, none of the acts brought their own designers or operators. This was pretty much my baby all the way.”
Being the only LD, Horn had many things to consider when creating his designs. Horn said: “Budget is always a consideration, and that forces you to make decisions about the relative importance of things, so, I discounted any use of screen and visuals, since we didn’t have a dedicated VJ, and I am not a fan of generic busked video content. This decision allowed me to focus my complete attention on creating an impressive well-populated lighting design, rather than a standard light show with a standard screen setup.”
The result of Horn’s decision was a 180-fixture and seven universes light show that sent a palpable surge of energy and excitement through the 7,000-capacity pavilion. Rather than have his fixtures move as disparate entities, each following its own course, Horn choreographed his powerful rig to create broad, often subtle movements, while retaining the general contour of his design.
“How the fixtures are moved or not moved is one of the keys to creating an immersive design, in my view,” said Horn. “With this rig and many of my other shows, I passionately avoid simply resorting to movement just for the sake of movement. Just because a moving light can move does not mean it has to move. I tried to have enough scope to create exciting drama without moving the fixtures. But when I did move them I was sensitive to keeping the shape of the design projecting into the audience.”
Horn also created compelling looks by manipulating focus positions. For example, he focused 30 of his spots on the middle of the dance floor over the crowd. This manipulation of focus positions, alongside the entire 3-daylight show, was busked. “I would not have wanted any console other than my ChamSys for this extensive busking,” said Horn. “The combination of large screens, plenty of buttons and such fast software is a complete winner here. Lighting DJ sets are all about creating big changes when the music drops or breaks into a big hand in the air rave moment. My panic buttons were set so I could hit them and grab a sequence that overrides everything else, while I then set up to move into something else after I release that button. So, having lots of executing buttons on the MQ500 is very friendly.”
However, the thing that Horn valued most about the ChamSys MagicQ MQ500 was its easy offset patch features, which saves him time when updating positions from previous shows. He also appreciates being able to apply effects to groups of fixtures simultaneously.
Horn’s light show was so memorable, that dancers often paused to take photos of it with their cell phones. He described seeing them do this as a “humbling experience.”