Zachary Matusow's lighting design for Foster The People's Torches tour consists of Clay Paky Sharpy units and Martin Professional MAC Auras, which Matusow calls “one of my new favorites,” populating the balcony trusses/screens, but he admits it was difficult to get a proper hanging arrangement. “My goal was to have alternating Auras and Sharpys but to hide the bases as much as possible behind the LED screens themselves, again as a means of supporting the theatrical look to our world on stage,” he says. “In the end, it took some piping out and creatively finding solutions with clamps, but it looks just the way I intended.”

Matusow notes his choice of the Sharpy units and MAC Auras in these positions for their compact size and “visually pleasing profile when mounted within a piece of scenery,” he says. “I always stress the importance of fixtures that look elegant and sleek physically, because in concert lighting, the fixtures themselves so often become the scenery. This is exactly the case on this tour, and both fit beautifully. The MAC Aura’s actual ‘aura,’ or LED glow to the lens, also looks great, given our aesthetic. I found myself not only utilizing the light because it’s insanely bright, or for the great zoom ratio, but because of the wonderful speed. When zoomed in tightly, it is nice to see the Aura swing around and pop into position just as fast as a Sharpy. The Sharpy units were employed for aerials and stage effects.”

Matusow adds that the MAC Auras serve a dual purpose, as he “relies on them as a workhorse wash light coming from a key unique back and stage-left position in the rig; remember, asymmetry is big in this design,” he says. “I love being able to flood the fixtures all the way out and use them for big, flat backlight silhouettes.”

Martin Professional MAC III Profiles also serve multiple purposes. “One is as a low backlight coming from stage-right, but I use them to create large gobo aerials,” Matusow says. “Very little movement here, but I just love filling the open-air void with shafts of light. At the moment, MAC III is my favorite profile because of the high-intensity, fat lens, and gobo load. Looking straight into the fixture while blending two rotating gobos or scrolling provides some dramatic and trippy effects.” Matusow also uses them on the downstage truss for aerials and for stage washes and specials, such as for effects on the sun and on other set pieces. “At one point, we animate the sun to go to sleep, and I use the MAC IIIs to project gobos and turn it into a moon,” the designer adds.

Because of the style in which the backdrop was illustrated—white line art on a black background, actually inverted to become a massive white cyc—the white parts of the fabric have to be appropriately lit. “It is imperative that the cyc lights are able to mix RGBAW, so that I can shift into subtle hues, which I otherwise wouldn’t be able to get with a traditional RGB strip,” says Matusow. “I often light the white lines as a light CTO color and sometimes shift in the bluer hues.”

Matusow uses Chauvet Professional COLORado Batten 144 Tour fixtures for the cyc—“super small, super punchy wall washers, which have an RGBAW,” he says. “We didn’t want any lavender-esque color for the white values that we were going define on stage. It was so important to have different hues from amber to white and everything in between in order to light it beautifully. They serve a really great purpose, because at 1m long, I can use the fixture to wrap around the built-in curves of our backdrop. It also has two different lenses, one narrower than the other, which helps provide even coverage when lighting a tall, flat surface.” He also uses a complement of COLORado™ 1 VW Tour units, COLORado™ Zoom Tour WWs, and COLORado™ Zoom Tour CWs for tune-able white foot lights and other effects.

Lighting also comprises six Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash VX units, which Matusow says are his primary wash light. “With each band member on his own 10'x10' riser, I can zoom the fixtures all the way to their collimated focus and use them more as top-light specials, pointing them precisely where I want,” Matusow says. “They are also a nice juxtaposition next to the Sharpy units.” Six more VL3500 Wash FX units serve as sidelight, also fanning out over the audience for some aerial moments. “They are just so bright, with such a great color-rendering index,” the designer adds. “Lighting from the side, I can get great poppy shadows, using super dark saturated colors.”

Additional lighting includes iPix BB7 units, Martin Professional Atomic 3000 Colors, an Arri 2kW Fresnel, ETC Source Four Ellipsoidals, and Mole-Richardson 4-lite strips for audience lighting. Effects are via Reel EFX DF-50 Hazers, High End Systems F-100s, Antari Bubble Machines, and confetti cannons. Matusow programmed and runs the show using an Avolites Pearl Expert Titan and Touch Wing.

Read about the set and video here.

LIGHTING GEAR
2 Avolites Pearl Expert Titan
15 Martin Professional MAC Aura
11 Martin Professional MAC III Profile
12 Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash FX
13 Clay Paky Sharpy
5 iPix BB7
16 Chauvet Professional COLORado™ Batten 144 Tour
14 Chauvet Professional COLORado™ 1 VW Tour
4 Chauvet Professional COLORado™ Zoom Tour WW
4 Chauvet Professional COLORado™ Zoom Tour CW
8 Martin Professional Atomic 3000 Colors
1 Arri 2kW Fresnel
15 ETC Source Four Ellipsoidal
9 Mole Richardson 4-lite Strip
6 Reel EFX DF-50 Hazer
2 High End Systems F-100
6 Confetti Cannon
16 Antari Bubble Machine