My company, Chameleon Productions, designed the lasers for the 3 Doors Down/Nickelback tour. We wanted to recreate the kind of large laser shows we did back in the 80s and 90s. There haven't been a lot of lasers in concerts over the past ten years — pretty much just scan patterns overhead. But in the 80s, before everything was computerized, there were more complicated matrix patterns, or beam patterns with multiple mirrors over the audience and over the band, not just off on the side. We wanted to make a big impact, like in the heyday of lasers with Prince, George Michael, Yes, Pink Floyd, and Def Leppard. I went back out on tour this time because they were looking for the “big looks,” and the band and crew are a great bunch of guys.

Part of the Nickelback lighting rig was a truss wall about 24' high, where we placed two Spectra-Physics 171 white light high-powered laser systems. We used these because we wanted to bring more color to the show. These have the entire spectrum including yellow, white, and deep saturated colors that create a nice match between lighting and laser effects for an integrated atmosphere.

Lighting is much more aggressive now, with less of a star approach with followspots. The automated lights bump on the downbeat just like the lasers would. We have to use the lasers precisely, so sometimes the LD adjusted the levels or we pulled back, working together to create the best effects. These laser effects are all atmospheric, with no graphic images or logos, but lots of beam patterns, fans, and cones of different colors in the air, using Reel EFX DF50 diffusion foggers for extra atmosphere. At the end of the song “Kryptonite,” the lasers projected a diffraction grating through a pyro blast, and the larger particulate created a “diamonds in the air” effect.

One of the biggest challenges was integrating the gear for both bands and all the needs for lighting, sounds, lasers, pyro and two sets. Both were built for big acts and had to be modified to get on and off the stage quickly. Everyday, each department looked at the venue to see how everything will fit in, so everyday the production was slightly different, but the audience always saw a great show. And even though a lot of shows didn't do so well this summer, this tour went gangbusters.