When full service lighting company Squeek Lights converted part of a new facility in Middlesex, New Jersey, into the Ruby Stage last July, the space, which featured Elation Dartz 360 and Artiste Picasso lights under NX2 control, quickly attracted music clients for livestreams and video productions. Ruby Stage has now been updated with a new design that offers clients an enhanced professional setup for even better on-camera looks.
“The stage had been up for a while and had served our clients well but we wanted to mix it up with a new design,” stated Victor Zeiser, founder and managing partner at Squeek Lights. “We were able to come up with a more compact floor package and move the drape back which gives us more stage depth for a wider shot and better camera angles. It’s a sleeker design which makes the space bigger and works really well for the camera.”
Dartz and Picasso fixtures are again key elements of the design, this time arrayed in lines that deliver more of an impact and make the rig look bigger. For inspiration, Zeiser referred back to a November August Burns Red livestream that Squeek Lights provided fixtures for. “After I saw what the Dartz looked like on that show, all in a big line, I thought we have to go double in the shop.”
Consequently, a big focus of the redesign is a line of a dozen Dartz overhung off the truss with a matching line of fixtures across the floor for a total of 24. “Having a clean line of a dozen Dartz uninterrupted in the truss is a great look and they are small enough we could get 12 of them on a 24ft wide span,” he said. “They put out a beautiful beam of light that cuts all the way through the shot.”
The Artiste Picasso LED moving heads function as the main spots with eight units in the upstage truss and 5 in a mid stage position, including one fixture positioned dead center. “So many of the music videos we do have a solo artist and a centrepiece for me was placing one Picasso as a dead centre backlight. The difference between having the clean look of a bright beam of light versus two fixtures splitting the centre is better in my opinion.”
Zeiser reflected on a music video they recently shot in the space where they used the ring gobo in the Picasso together with the prism to beautifully fill out the camera shots. “The big front lens of the Picasso looks even bigger when you throw that prism in. It was such a great visual effect out of the front of the fixture that just filled up the whole space with light.”
Ruby Stage also includes 16 ADJ 32 Hex Panels from Elation’s sister-company used for eye candy and pixel-mapped looks, as well as blinders or side light.
Ruby Stage is used for full live PPV concerts, taped musical performances and music video shoots and bands often bring in their own LD, which Zeiser said he loves as it gives him the chance to see how others use the rig. Sometimes though he and his partners at Squeek Lights, Ben Jarrett and Steve Kosiba, will do the programming themselves.
Lighting control options include a compact NX2 controller from Obsidian Control Systems or a hefty larger console. “Steve Kosiba is a pretty big proponent of the Obsidian platform and programs his shows on the NX2 and is also getting into Dylos pixel mapping,” Zeiser said. “Our little NX2 has enough Universes that we can fully program all of the lights in the rig in full pixel mode, something our larger console has trouble doing. The NX2 handles it with ease and flows really nicely.”
Bands such as Motionless in White, The Wonder Years, June Divided and ManDancing have used the space, as well as the band AJR for a Biden Presidential Inauguration performance and a performance for a late night TV show. “It’s a great way for bands to reconnect with their fans and gives clients a full setup show very cost effectively. For us, it’s a way to keep our skills sharp and cover some of the bills.”
Another reason for the redesign, said Zeiser, is to get some of the bands that used the space last summer to come back and use it again with a setup that looks different.
Ruby Stage has been a welcome surrogate for Zeiser and his team, but he admits it’s a temporary solution and he looks forward to having the lights out on tour again, hopefully this summer. “I’m always open to setting the space back up for a client though. In fact, we’ll probably have more bands doing full production rehearsals in our shop now that some of our clients have seen that we can really host something like this, which isn’t something we were able to do with our old shop. It’s been a nice way to see what our new shop is really capable of.”