In March 2007, we [Jeff Ravitz and the design/management team] had our first design meetings for this concert tour, opening that October. The requirements: Keep it simple, don't upstage Bruce and his nine-member band's performance, and visually express an emotionality commensurate with that inherent in the music and lyrics. Beam patterns in the air — not necessary. Carving the performers from darkness to reveal them appropriately for any moment was more important than seeing beam patterns in the air.
My self-imposed criteria: maintain neutrality and flexibility. Each song is a three-act play with a theme, location, and story arc. Without the benefit of scenic changes, lighting must go anywhere and do anything.
Finally, the show had to be properly lit — albeit dramatically — for I-Mag video. Perfect angles appeared to be the key to meeting all these collective specifications.
The truss grid needed mass and scale to fill an arena, visually. An arrangement of arc-shaped and straight trusses provided useful, interesting angles and positions. These extended beyond the stage on all sides to achieve dramatic side angles for heightened visual emotion. Everyone had coverage from both sides, a strong backlight, and a more frontal keylight, for flexibility in sculpting the band. Keylight and side cross-keys were achieved with Vari-Lite VL1000 tungsten fixtures with shutters. Tungsten imparted warmth to evoke the fire conveyed in the material and contrasted the arc-sourced backlight from VL2500 spots. The VL1000s allowed for gobo textures on the players when they needed to recede into the fabric of the darkness.
For base ambience in the air and on the deck were Morpheus FaderBeam tungsten washes with cross-fading color. To texture the deck were Martin Professional MAC 2000 Profiles with custom gobos.
To compensate for the lack of backdrops or scenery, the band platforms had curves and irregular façades to catch light interestingly. This emphasized foreground versus background. Morpheus PanaBeam XR2+ washes raked across the fascia surfaces and shot directly out from the insides of the perforated upstage set, creating more low-angle backlight options.
Unorthodox angles are very effective. Everyone had an uplight to change the perspective and invert the lighting statement. I used ETC Source Four PARs with Morpheus ColorFaders plus R102 diffusion.
To paint with a broader brush, I chose Morpheus BriteBurst searchlights and Zap Technology LittleBig Lites. Six could cover the stage with strong color or catch Bruce from completely across the stage with a powerful beam that searingly edged him out.
For a band in perpetual motion, followspots are invaluable. A bridge 30' downstage held six Robert Juliat Topaze spots color-corrected to 3,200K. These have a beautifully flat field and are balanced for accurate operation. For consistent backlight were three Robert Juliat Manons, a smaller version of the Topaze.
The audience figures significantly into the show's balance of nature. We lit them to be either a brightly lit component, allowing them to feel the heat of the lights and respond accordingly, or we simply colored and patterned them as an extension of the stage statement. I used 9-lights with Morpheus XLFader color-changers for base color, more FaderBeams for area-specific coverage, and MAC 2000 Profiles for texturing.
The show was programmed and operated on two consoles: the MA Lighting grandMA for automation and an Avolites Diamond II for manual, hands-on conventional control. This division of labor makes much sense for a show prone to being unpredictable and that requires a finger on the pulse of the beat for accurate musical accents. Every cue and angle was carefully conceived with good video capture in mind.
These solutions provided the tools to create drama, flexibility, variety, and power for a visual experience that kept pace with the many different moods, rhythms, and storylines inherent in this show.
Jeff Ravitz: Lighting Designer
Kristie Roldan and Dave Mann: Assistants
Todd Ricci: Lighting Director
Jason Badger: Programmer
John Hoffman: Automated Lighting Operator
83 Morpheus PanaBeam™ XR2+ wash
80 Morpheus FaderBeam™ wash
20 Vari-Lite VL2500™ spot
13 Vari-Lite VL1000™ ERS-TSD
16 Martin Professional MAC 2000 Profile
16 Morpheus BriteBurst™ 2000E
35 Morpheus ColorFader3™, XLFader3™, and MFader3™
6 ZapTechnologies LittleBig™ 3.5-Xenon
32 Philips Solid State Lighting Solutions/Color Kinetics ColorBurst® 6
19 ETC Source Four® PAR
6 ETC Source Four® 19° Ellipsoidal
2 ARRI 300W+ Fresnel
6 Robert Juliat Topaze
3 Robert Juliat Manon
Avolites Diamond II Console
MA Lighting grandMA Console
MA Lighting grandMA light Console
Morpheus 30“ FlipBox™ Truss
Total Structures 12" Truss
27 CM® Chainhoists