For Luke Bryan’s What Makes You Country Tour 2018, lead designer Justin Kitchenman created a more free-flowing visual experience, by calling on the Nashville-based production provider Elite Multimedia Productions who supplied the lighting, LED video and IMAG video technology behind the design.
“During our tour design discussions, we are always cognizant of what we have done in the past and we really try to give each tour a different visual representation,” began Kitchenman.
“Over the past few years, one of our biggest production elements has been moving LED video in one configuration or another, so this year we decided to look at different kinds of automation. In the end, we decided on small, lightweight automated lighting pods that can travel up and down during the show to create a lot of different configurations and effects.”
Kitchenman continued: “When we started tossing around this idea with Elite Multimedia early on, they did a mock-up of what it could look like in their Nashville shop. Each pod is basically a single piece of truss with Elation 360i, Chauvet Epix Strip Tour, and a 5-watt audience scanning laser as well. We still have a large LED video wall in the design, but this set-up would allow us to have more free-flowing automated lighting and effects capabilities. We knew this would give us the design we wanted, and it’s something that we are all very happy with the outcome.”
Bringing in the engineering and design specialists at SGPS, Kitchenman and Elite Multimedia made a site visit to the Las Vegas headquarters for ShowRig which led to the tour rigging solution.
“All of our rigging is handled through SGPS ShowRig, so Tom Wilson and Jason “Cannonball” Jenkins from Elite Multimedia went with me to visit them during LDI last year,” explained Kitchenman.
“Together we all took a tour of their warehouse to look at the potential rigging elements that could create our automated pod design, and their mini-winch system really stood out to us. With the lightweight truss pieces and the high-speed mini-winch system, the two married perfectly. We then brought in our tour rigger John Kehoe and our lighting crew chief Chris Hummel who were able to oversee the rigging logistics for the tour.”
Ready to begin populating the refreshed lighting design with the fixtures that would allow the new design to make the largest impact, Kitchenman had a clear idea of the technology needed for the design. Wanting to create a wide array of looks and effects, he relied upon the performance characteristics of two particular lighting solutions.
“In the lighting package we use a lot of the Elation 360i luminaires because it’s a low-profile, lightweight, high-output lighting tool that we can place 180 in the rig and they look great in large quantities,” admitted Kitchenman.
“With the Clay Paky Scenius Unico fixtures, we had used 24 of them last year to replace our spot fixtures, but once we started seeing their output and their optics on tour, we realised this was a true hybrid fixture that we could hang our hat on. We determined that instead of having groups of wash lights and groups of beam lights, we would just populate the rig with a single hybrid fixture. By using this lighting rig, we can pretty much give every song its own look, and it gives our toolbox a new level of creativity.