North American Debut of Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash
Back in the saddle for his fifth outing with country superstar Toby Keith, lighting/production designer Seth Jackson went for a big, stacked lighting look on the current Big Dog Daddy Tour, which concludes in late September. “This is very much a hard-hitting bump-and-flash rock show approach,” says Jackson. Or “flash and trash,” as lighting director Eddie “Bones” Connell would say. Connell programs on a Flying Pig Systems Wholehog 2 console, but as Jackson notes, “We may have reached our max with it; next year, we may have to move on.” Ford Motor Company has sponsored the Big Dog Daddy Tour, with a Ford truck grille as part of the scenic design and a film about Toby Keith and a Ford truck as the intro to the show.
The lighting, supplied by Bandit Lites in Nashville, includes 14 Syncrolites (10 MX3000s and four B52s) placed all over the rig for big power washes. “They cut through everything,” Jackson says. “Toby's big on them.” The rig also includes a variety of automated fixtures from Vari-Lite — 18 VL2500™ Spot luminaires, 12 VL3000™ Spot luminaires, and 16 VL3500™ Wash luminaires, in the North American debut of this new fixture — as well as 25 MAC 2000 Wash and 22 MAC 300 fixtures. ETC 72-way 2.4kW Sensor+ dimmers and Doug Fleenor Design DMX opto-splitters are also in Jackson's road cases. His color palette uses heavy, saturated colors. “It's like a rock show with a country feel,” says Jackson, who has some of the Martin 2000 Wash units on the front truss as band specials. “They're easier to reposition than ellipsoidals and PARs to cover the band with front light,” he notes. “This is a big, automated rig with the exception of the Molefays. And it's easier not to deal with focus calls.”
While this show has less video than Keith's last few concert tours, there is one central 16'-diameter circle truss with a Barco DLite 7 LED display behind the truss, masked to the exact size of the circle for image magnification and custom images. “I worked with Gene Brian and Elizabeth O'Keefe of St. Louis-based Technical Productions to work out the engineering of the design, and it was Liz that first suggested using the circle,” says Jackson. I-Mag Video in Tucson, AZ, provided the video gear for the tour, including Barco R18 projectors (stacked to project the Ford film on a scrim) and Barco MiPix on the fronts of the side band risers, with Grass Valley Turbo hard disk recorders for content playback/recording and a Green Hippo Hippotizer media processor for effects. A Hitachi Z4000 three-camera pack is switching through an SDI Ross 1 Synergy system.
With layers and stacks of James Thomas truss, Jackson's goal was to give the lighting as much flexibility as possible in a variety of venues, from arenas to amphitheatres. “We wanted the show to look as big as possible in as little space as possible,” he says. “The shapes open outward to force the perspective back.”