When audiences spontaneously applaud for a lighting effect, you know you've come up with a winning design. LD Ian Peacock had that pleasant experience while running the lights for Chicago's recent tour, his sixth with the band. The moment came when the LD activated the UV lighting on the special backdrop (pictured) he designed with Kent Mathieu at UV/FX Scenic Productions. "When people saw the UV for the first time there was a collective gasp and then often applause," Peacock says. "Also, whatever color I pointed at it, it was impossible to make it look bad."
Having seen photos of the UV backdrop that was part of LD Cary Richter's design for John Fogerty's tour last year, Peacock decided to check it out for himself. "It seemed like an interesting gag, so before I did my presentation for the band in March I had a couple of meetings with Richard Green and Kent at UV/FX and they did some demos for me," Peacock says.
He presented the band with two different designs. "I use a program called Stratovision 3D to do renderings. I just chose textures at random and then mentioned in the proposal that these were just examples of what we could do, but they chose one of them and said they liked it just the way it was. They trust my judgment; it's a good working relationship."
Peacock then took the rendering over to UV/FX for another meeting. "I was looking for a bit of guidance from them," he says. "And after much trial and error, we came up with an idea for the backdrop--we did about five or six renderings. I then went to the band in the studio and showed them the designs under normal ambient light and then under the UV lights. They were really impressed with the latter. So they selected the best of the six, then Kent and I went back and changed some of the color combinations until we were happy. Because apart from the UV effects we were trying to make it change under ambient lighting conditions, no matter what color it was."
The lighting equipment, supplied by A-1 Lighting, included 19 High End Systems Cyberlights(R), 16 High End Systems Studio Colors(R), eight ZC&R 400W 60-degree UV floodlights, two Wildfire 400W 90-degree UV floodlights, 10 Wybron color changers with UV filter scrolls, and one Avolites Diamond III console. Lighting crew members were Doug Eder, Martin Peel, and Tom Best.
"It's mainly a moving lights package," Peacock says. "I love the colors on the Studio Colors, and I like the Cyberlights for the effects, especially the color crossfading--although I still have mixed feelings about a moving mirror as opposed to a moving head. Still, there are so many looks you can get with them, and I was able to do some stunning gobo effects on the backdrop. Every time I pointed something at the backdrop, I found something new to do with it."