In 2002, I had the pleasure of designing and producing the lighting for the Exhibit Hall and Hospitality Room of the Ernst & Young, LLP Partner Meeting. The meeting is held every three years and therefore is considered a very special event. Although Liteworks had worked with E&Y for some time, it was the largest event they had asked us to be a part of. In July, I realized that was about to change. I had just been asked to design and produce the lighting for both the General Session and the Exhibit Hall. The event was again to be held at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, and there were going to be changes made with regard to concept and creative elements. July and August already held a busy show schedule for everyone involved, and the creative aspects were constantly evolving. Fortunately, Ken MacDonald (producer) and Amy Weber (event manager), both of Ernst & Young, made sure the production team had as much information as possible.

TEK Productions of Orlando handled all production of the Exhibit Hall, while Ken focused on the General Session. After several meetings, conference calls, and emails, the show began to take shape, and the lighting aspect became clear. First, illuminate over 75,000sq.ft. of convention space for the Exhibit Hall, which was to be split into five main areas and 12 sub areas. Second, design a rig for the General Session to complement both HD video and IMAG along with Element Labs' Versa TILE and Versa TUBE built into the set designed by Colin Murphy and Mark Gentry of All Staging Unlimited.

With these tasks at hand, it was time to put the right team of people together for the job(s). I knew that with all the areas of concern, it was crucial to have the right people in the right places. For the Exhibit Hall, I was joined by Liteworks' Fraser Kerrigan, John “Woody” Keddy, and Bryan Naegele. A simple plan: Woody needed to plug everything in, and Fraser and Bryan had to read my mind during the programming. For the General Session, we were fortunate to retain the services of Dave Cohen — who, with a little arm twisting, hopped a flight from Vegas to work his magic — and Jayne Walsh to put together the rig meticulously.

Putting the whole show on paper happened quickly. For the General Session, we used 2kW Fresnels everywhere, Martin MAC 600s and 500s, and VARI*LITE VL2000s for the cyc, MAC 2000 Washes, Performances, and Profiles for the hard set, and ETC Source Four® ellipsoidals for specials. The lighting rig itself needed to make room for front projection, so we rigged the video trusses through the lighting truss due to certain point limitations in the areas we needed to get to. There were almost 70 motors with roughly 1,300' of truss. As mentioned earlier, it was important Dave had as much at his disposal as possible with the layout of the set and stage as it was. In all, we had about 250 fixtures. With Dave complementing and contrasting the media and color from the LEDs, the set really made an impression.

The Exhibit Hall was a slightly different picture. The five main areas that then split into subsections needed to be accessible from a central location described to me as a sort of Hollywood Squares-type set or coliseum. That set, eventually nicknamed “The Hub” became the initial focus, and from the onset, I was convinced it should be truss; five main walls (24'H×28'W) and two connector walls (24'H×11'W), the five main walls having nine openings and the connector walls having three. Each of the vertical and horizontal levels of the structure had Source Four PAR truss toners, and after a number of talks with Amy, we decided we would stick to the primaries as opposed to getting into half colors with changers or going to LED. The areas and subsections were varied and allowed for quite a bit of creative lighting, such as an airport, racetrack, mountains, cruise ships, a casino, and the list goes on. Suffice it to say, the intent was to have the participants feel like they were in those specific environments and not just to see it on the walls. Ready, set, go!

Not so fast. About a week from load-in, while in what many, if not all, of us believed was the last tie down meeting, the bomb dropped. The initial plan was for rolling crews, as we only had three days to install 165 motors, roughly 4,000' of truss and 1,000 fixtures. There had been a slight miscalculation in room availability, and now we had two options: push back the setup by 36 hours or move halls and redesign to allow us to stick with the initial schedule. After a few moments of awkward silence, we all agreed the move was the only option. I excused myself from the table, knowing I only had a finite number of hours to figure out whether it could actually work in the new space, change the equipment list, and make sure any additional gear was available. With a little advice from our production rigger, Tony “Rigatony” Carmelo, Dave Eveson of Liteworks in Toronto, and a sleepless night in front of the computer, we were back on track.

The key to the setup had to be efficiency. Utilizing as many moving lights as possible to shorten focus time really helped matters. Using a mixture of MAC 600 NTs and MAC 2000 Washes eliminated the need for PAR bars in many areas, and MAC 2000 Profiles and 500s for breakups and custom gobos certainly sped up the process. We split the hall into four areas for programming using three MA Lighting grandMA Light consoles and one grandMA for “The Hub.” As wireless really isn't where I wish it were at this point, we ran 300' data snakes to rolling consoles for the focus and programming.

“The Hub” really was the key to the whole setup. With the largest concentration of both truss and fixtures in one area, it took a lot of patience and a lot of truss pins. Building it level-by-level was the only option. Picking up the whole structure by spanner trusses, we were able to add the truss legs as it went up, having placed all of the cable to drop down once it was in place. The spanner trusses also acted as lighting positions for scenic panels placed in the openings of the truss structure. Once “The Hub” was finally on its feet, a 24' circular truss was rigged in the center to surround a 16' Airstar covered with a globe. With Woody sleeping soundly getting ready for a new day and the beginning of the third consecutive shift, Tony and I decided we could now sleep too. “The Hub” was in place, and as we went to sleep after 23 hours, we realized that more than two-thirds of the show was now at trim. It was a sound sleep! Once the lighting was up, the mayhem began. Set pieces, banners, furniture, props, audio, and video all came streaming in. All we could hope for now was that everything on the floor plan was where it was supposed to be. It was.

Apart from “The Hub,” another one of my favorite areas was the “airport.” Simple, but with the help of SuperRes clouds and aircraft gobos, we were able to turn the gray drape into a flight path. Using varying shades of blue, we were able to give the area an airport feel without making it uncomfortable. Another area of interest was the casino area of the cruise ship. Lined with burgundy drape, it was perfect for red and amber highlights. A center console with a painting of a cruise ship behind it really took light well. The racetrack was probably the most brightly lit with color due to the number of scenic elements and the fact that the theme allowed for a broader range of color and texture.

In addition to the scenic elements throughout, there were also a number of live performances including a trampoline act and an acrobatic aerial show. For these, we combined both conventional and moving lights from flat angles in order to allow the performers to keep their bearings with open views of floor and ceiling. Before each live performance, we programmed full room sweeps to call attention to each performance area.

The room concept really worked well. How do you put 4,000 people into a room and get them to explore? Make it interesting. In the corporate lighting world, all too often we spend so much time planning and building, and before we know it, the event has started, and then it's over. This is one event I wish I could have seen stay up for a little while longer. Within 48 hours of the first call for doors, it was gone. Working on a complete event like this one, although extremely stressful, really emphasized to me why I love this job so much. To finish an event and have the key lighting personnel say, “I can't believe we did that,” is something that doesn't happen that often (to me anyway).

Ernst & Young Equipment:

General Session

26 Martin MAC 2000
6 Martin MAC 2000 Wash
16 Martin MAC 2000 Performance
43 Martin MAC 600 NT Wash
24 Martin MAC 500
8 VARI*LITE VL2000 Spot
46 Strand 2,000W 7"Bambino Fresnel
24 Strand 1,000W 7"Bambino Fresnel
4 ETC Source Four® 19° Ellipsoidal
10 ETC Source Four 26° Ellipsoidal
18 ETC Source Four 36° Ellipsoidal
2 6 Lamp Bar with ETC Source Four PAR WFL
24 ETC Source Four PAR WFL
1 96×2.4kW ETC Sensor® Dimmer Rack
1 24×2kW ETC Sensor Dimmer Pack
1 8-Way DMX Distro
2 Reel EFX DF-50 Hazer
2 Le Maitre Twister II Wind Machine
2 Chroma-Q CL-3 5.75" Scroller
2 Christie Lites 8' 12"A Type Black Truss
2 Christie Lites 6' 12"A Type Black Truss
4 Christie Lites 8' 16" B-Type Black Truss
2 Christie Lites 6' 16"B-Type Black Truss
2 Christie Lites 4' 16"B-Type Black Truss
2 Christie Lites 2' 16"B-Type Black Truss

Exhibit Hall Americas Partners Dinner

20 Martin MAC 2000 Profile
40 Martin MAC 2000 Wash
40 Martin MAC 600 NT Wash
40 Martin MAC 500
12 Martin MAC 250+
120 ETC Source Four Ellipsoidal
60 ETC Source Four PAR 6-Lamp Bar
10 PAR64 6-Lamp Bar
100 ETC Source Four PAR
40 PAR46 Fixture 200W
3 MA Lighting grandMA Lite Console
1 MA Lighting grandMA Console
7 96×2.4kW ETC Sensor Dimmer Rack
4 Large Police Beacon
2 Wildfire 400W Blacklight
4 Reel EFX DF-50 Hazer
60 Chroma-Q Scroller
168 CM 1/2 Ton Motor
390 Christie Lites 8' 16" B-Type Black Truss
10 Christie Lites 6' 16" B-Type Black Truss
18 Christie Lites 4' 16" B-Type Black Truss
1 Christie Lites Curved Truss

E&Y Partner 2005 Lighting & Support:

Exhibit Hall

Lighting Designer: Andrew Douglas

Production Electrician: John “Woody” Keddy

Programmer/Op: Fraser Kerrigan

Programmer/Op: Bryan Naegele

Production Rigger: Tony “Rigatoni” Carmelo

Thanks to Amy Weber (Ernst & Young LLP) and Tom Kervitsky (TEK Productions, LLC)

General Session

Lighting Designer: Andrew Douglas

Asst Lighting Designer/Programmer: Dave Cohen

Master Electrician: Jayne Walsh

Production Rigger: Chris Sterman

Thanks to Ken MacDonald (Ernst & Young LLP)

Priority Session:

Lighting Designer: Andrew Douglas

Programmer/Op: Stephen Barringer

Thanks to Ken MacDonald (Ernst & Young LLP)

Equipment Supplied by Christie Lites Orlando