For the third year running, Light Action Inc., a full-service staging company based in Wilmington, DE, helped the city of Philadelphia offer a star-spangled salute to the Fourth of July. This year's Welcome America concert, staged at Benjamin Franklin Parkway at the Philadelphia Art Museum, drew a crowd of 500,000 to the streets around the museum and attracted more than one million TV viewers.
It was the home audience that this year's lighting design played to, says Scott Humphrey, who operated the color changers and conventionals for Light Action at the 1997 event, televised live on Philadelphia's Channel 6. "Channel 6 wanted to do more lighting of the art museum itself, which has always been the backdrop to the stage. We'd never really done that before, but this year, with Channel 6's LD Larry Haynes, we really focused on lighting the entire area for TV."
Assisting their efforts were six Clay Paky Golden Scan 3s to light the museum's facade and steps, and 10 Golden Scan 3s to illuminate the stage's flanking scrims. Humphrey says the units have bright beams that track well on TV. "We did some projections, and to accommodate this we used no color on the Clay Paky units, because that tracked best on TV," Humphrey says, adding that Mike Finocchiaro was Welcome America's moving-light operator. "The steps and the building are a light beige, and if you throw color on it, it just doesn't read."
Color was abundant elsewhere, however. Humphrey says "Larry mixed in a lot of things--all the Molefay 8-lights we used had color changing, and all the towers on the roofing system had color changers underneath, creating pastel effects."
Work on the staging and Jumbotron video systems began in March, with the month of June consumed by planning for the event lighting. The load-in took seven days. "This year, because of the TV demands, we used more Clay Paky than in the past," Humphrey says.
Other equipment included 1k PAR-64s with A.C. Lighting Chroma-Q color scrollers, Altman Shakespeares, and Strong Super Trouper 2k xenon spotlights. A Jands Hog 250 controlled the Golden Scan 3s and the tower color changers, with a Celco Navigator used to run the Molefays and FOH lighting for TV, and a Leprecon LP-2000 handling the onstage conventionals. Light Action staffers included Joe McFadden on dimmers and James Smith on staging and roofing.
For 1998, "Channel 6 wants to double the amount of automated fixtures we use--there's so much more we can do with them," Humphrey says.