When the Shell Oil Company announced “A Wave of Change,” at its themed meeting of worldwide executives last November, it called upon Houston-based production company LD Systems to create special lighting that would stimulate creativity among the 2,000 attendees. Brought onboard by event production company Rebels & Nickels, the firm developed lighting in two parts, the first for a theatre-style “General Assembly” conference room at Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center, and the second for a closing ceremony held in Hall C, which is part of the convention center's George Bush Ballroom.

“The general assembly was, at first, an informal coffeehouse, a meeting-of-the-minds between presidents of the different divisions and the attendees,” says Brent Sanders, lighting director and programmer. “Then, it morphed into a kind of cybercafé, with a lot of transformant pieces put up and around the stage area. These transformants were made from a white Spandex material that was pulled in various directions to create three-dimensional shapes like cones and icicles that were flown from the ceiling and had fixtures placed inside to light them up. I used a lot of High End Systems automated lights to give their exteriors depth and definition. I brought in 12 High End Systems Studio Color® 575s, six on the ground and six flown from a truss, which were up there with six x.Spots®.

“The Studio Colors washed the transformants, which were uplit from the ground with ETC Source Four® PARs. We used the fixtures for static looks for each time a different division head came up to speak and did about 18-20 looks altogether. I think we used every LithoPattern® in the x.Spot to create the looks, which had an ocean theme as much as possible; for example, if they had a video roll showing waves, we would get a bubble look going on the transformants.”

LD Systems has worked with Shell on numerous large events, says Sanders. “This was different in that it incorporated Shell's international staff. We had to translate what they're used to seeing in their overseas shows with what we provided; they tend to use Coemar and Clay Paky fixtures, and we have High End, but it was easy to achieve once we understood what they wanted visually.”

While Sanders and his crew took on the general assembly during the intensive four-day load-in and programming period, LD Phil Gilbert and his team developed Hall C. The project manager of the total event was Matt Ramsey. The hall was set up in the round, with stadium-styled chairs installed, and a large, custom-painted globe was used to reinforce the global message. “The second day was more inclusive and informal, with no breakout sessions, which had been part of the general assembly day,” Gilbert says. “It was designed for everyone to connect with each other; everyone had video tablets on which they could punch out answers to questions which would then show up on 20' video screens in the room. Shell let us control the houselights from our truss, using Source Four PARs, so we could really create a unique space without anyone seeing the conference room walls.”

The automated horsepower of Gilbert's rig (eight x.Spots and 24 Studio Color 575s) was used to focus audience attention on the video screens when they came into play, he says. “This wasn't a canned gig but something very cutting-edge in terms of lighting. The big cueing was between the IMAG and non-IMAG sequences, as there was a lot of video roll used throughout. We could bathe a speaker in blue then dramatically shift the light to emphasize the screens. Twenty Studio Colors on the ground lit the screens; the other four and the x.Spots were hung in the air and used for the transitions and to put a bit of texture on the painted portions of the globe and for some movement over the crowd where appropriate. And because of the amount of IMAG, we had to put a decent amount of light from the Source Fours onto the audience and get it even.”

To better previsualize his in-the-round design, Gilbert used a Flying Pig Systems Wholehog® 3, which is integrated with the WYSIWYG Console Edition and allows for interfacing between the console and the software. Sanders stuck with a Wholehog 2 with Expansion Wing. Sanders says the trend in corporate events “is to see more of the industrials and not to keep them hidden. The planners and their audiences want to see the transformants, the trusses, and the automated fixtures, and they want to see them move.”


Project manager:
Matt Ramsey

Lighting design:
John Dickson Brent Sanders and Phil Gilbert

Video director:
Duane Wright

Rigging director:
Richard Evans

Programmer, Hall C:
Phil Gilbert

Programmer, General Assembly:
Brent Sanders

Lighting technicians:
Evan Ruwe Dean Williams

Account rep:
Andy Diraddo