Jimmy Olausson shines for Avatar winter tour

Lighting Designer-Programmer Jimmy Olausson was with his client, Avatar, on their European tour, when they released a new song, “Make It Rain,” and asked him to program looks for it.

“Normally, I prefer to do my programming in my office where I can focus on the details, so creating the lighting for ‘Make It Rain’ during the tour was a unique challenge,” said Olausson. “But it turned out to be a fantastic addition to our set and gave me the opportunity to think outside the box, crafting a visual style for this song that stands out from the rest.”

Turning up the intensity level on his 12 CHAUVET Professional COLORado Panel Q40 rectangular washes, Olausson created pixel mapped sequences that evoked the turbulent mood of an approaching storm. He coupled this with a “waterfall” effect that he created with house lights to immerse audiences in the moment.

“When programming this song, I focused on highlighting the pixel effects of the Q40 fixtures. I wanted to make it clear to the audience that these are multi-functional fixtures. Normally, I prefer a more subtle approach, using the unique features of a fixture to enhance the overall look without overwhelming it. But this particular song is intense and demands a lot, so I pushed the Q40s to their limits. They really delivered, adding a dynamic layer to the performance that aligns perfectly with the song’s energy. The result was just gnarly,” he added.

The effect created for this song wasn’t the only “surprise” on this tour. Olausson also served up some unexpected visual delights of his own during the two-hour (17-song) set.

“What sets this show apart from our previous tours is its element of surprise and its theatrical nature,” said Olausson. “I’m constantly looking for new ways to surprise the crowd and keep the light show dynamic and engaging. We’ve incorporated more drama and unexpected moments, which is something we’re considering developing even further in our future designs and tours.”

Helping Olausson create his looks was a CHAUVET Professional floor package, which, in addition to the COLORado Panel Q40, featured 16 Rogue R2X Wash and 10 Rogue R2 Beam fixtures, as well as four Cloud 9 foggers.

“For this show, we kicked things off with an ‘everything at once’ approach,” he said. “It’s a bit of a shift from our last album cycle for ‘Hunter Gatherer,’ where we started with a minimal setup and gradually added more elements. I really enjoy the immediate impact we created when the band played the first note. But not to worry, it’s not full-on intensity all the time. I carefully choose which fixtures to use and when, ensuring there’s a nice flow and balance throughout the set, so each song and moment feels just right.”

Olausson kept the mood going all show long, moving from monochromatic washes, to dark, shadowy looks punctuated by sharp, side-angled light.

“When it comes to atmospherics, my key approach is to have a solid reason for using them in each part of the show,” he said. “For a piano ballad, it feels almost natural. I aim to let the low fog dominate the stage, using minimal lighting to spotlight the singer. Essentially, I’m crafting an ambient, enveloping environment – and hopefully one that is full of surprises.”