LD Howard Ungerleider has designed his share of rock concerts, high-profile corporate and special events, and architectural venues, but last October, he brought his years of experience to something completely different — a competitive shooting tournament. Ungerleider and his Ontario, Canada-based Production Design International provided the conceptual show design for the Make-A-Break® tournament that was shot in high-definition as a pilot for a potential television sports series. The tournament was held at the Ozark Shooters Sports Complex outside Branson, MO.

You might ask, how does an LD like Ungerleider get into lighting a shooting tournament? Well, the answer is simple: Google. “I got a call from a gentleman named Raymond Forman from Clay-Sport International,” says Ungerleider. “He found me through the Internet; he Googled me!” Forman was trying to make recreational shooting look good for television and give it a little excitement.

“I created the Make-A-Break game, which became very successful and is in every clay target shooting country in the world,” says Forman. “But it just didn't have the elements for television, so I looked at what made other sports successful. They all had elements that we find attractive — the colors, tactics, a playing field, audience participation — those types of things.”

Forman explains the plan to bring shooting to TV. “They have tried to have televised shooting for years, and it doesn't work. It just looks hopeless on TV. I thought, ‘How do we make it look attractive? How do we make it audience-friendly?’ The next step was to put in a lot of high-energy music, a lot of lights, pyrotechnics, lasers, and smoke — the whole works. My business partner was doing an event [with] Howard, and so I flew over and met with one of Howard's engineers, and they came up with an idea of what to do. Four years later, when we had the funding together, I called Howard again, and I think he just about dropped the phone. He had thought that I had disappeared off the face of the earth. I said, ‘No, we are still determined to make this work.’ The rest, as they say, is history.”

The basics of Make-A-Break are these: there is a field that is 150'× 210' with boundaries, and there are referees at the boundaries. There are seven launchers and two number-one beam launchers stage right and stage left, so there are nine in total. The shooters pick a numbered launcher for each round. In order to shoot one of the numbers that they pick, they have to hit one of the number-one targets first. Ungerleider explains the shooter's process. “The shooter gets up on the platform and goes ‘number four,’ but what happens is that, before number four launches, one of the number-ones launches, but he doesn't know which will go first. So it may be the one to the right. The one to right goes, and he has to blow that out of the air successfully in order for the number four to launch. Then, they score this, and they have a competition going.” Even though he isn't a shooter, this all seemed pretty straightforward to Ungerleider. “Then he threw a curveball at me and said, ‘I want to do it at night.’” So, Ungerleider took eight weeks to create a concept to make the tournament a reality that could be televised.

“I sat down and figured out that I have to treat it a certain way to see it at night. I came up with a concept of how to light it,” he says. “Then, I had to figure out how to light the atmosphere and then, how to light the field and keep it interesting. They are going to turn this into the WWF of skeet shooting and make an event out of it. We wound up turning this into a multimedia presentation where we put in high-def projectors to project the scoreboard and do IMAG to get close-ups of the shooters. It became a really wild event, and an amazing amount of people came out to see it. It sparked a lot of interest.”


Because you have a total of nine launchers, you really need to identify each individual one. Ungerleider chose to go with Wildfire and its UV sensitive paint. “Every launcher had a different color. We kept everything unique and different. Each target was painted the same color as the launcher. Inside of the target was some Wildfire paint powder with glitter, so that when they hit it, it would explode, and the powder would go through the air. That was really cool.” Forman loved the visual aspects that Ungerleider's team brought to the game. “We wanted a Star Wars element to it, so we used tracer ammunition to great effect,” says Forman. “The audience was just wowed by the whole thing.”


For the field wash and to make the targets glow, Ungerleider chose to use Martin MAC 2000 luminaires because he found that they have a very good UV filter in them. “We actually rolled them toward cyan because it is better for the camera, especially shooting in high-def, and also the Wildfire reacts because there is a certain amount of UV in the cyan. It made it a lot more pleasing for the video content. We did keylighting, mixing some tungsten fixtures that were corrected to blend in so I could get some uplighting and some facial lighting on the shooters that looked kind of warm. We really needed that because everything else was basically daylight. I left the tungsten a little warmer, so it would read well.”

The MACs were spread out to uplight the shooting area. “I had 150' truss going across the ground. I had the MACs laid out along the truss on three-foot centers. They were used to uplight the air. The MAC 2000s would light the air, and they would definitely go well over a mile. It was pretty amazing. I actually had to aim them away because I was lighting a tower that was in the distance. We measured it, and it was totally even across the field. The shooters said that it was a lot easier than they thought it would be.”

Ungerleider lined the side boundary lines with MAC 600s. “I used them along the baseline on seven-foot centers along the 210' length. On the 48' towers, I hung VARI*LITE VL1000 Arcs. Those were used to actually isolate each one of the launchers in its own color because you can shutter them down. Then, I used more MAC 2000s to downlight the field for a wash. When we did the grand finale — as well as when we used music in between shooters — we would put on a little show where the lights would move; we would create sort of a rock show.”

Electric Fence

For the competition, the shooters had to shoot the target before it left the field. For the boundaries, Ungerleider used 60W outdoor YAG laser systems. “We created the boundaries almost like an electric fence with lasers. They put a judge at the end of each one of those, so we terminated on black metal, preventing them from going into the audience.”

And if this wasn't enough, Ungerleider and his PDI partner, Brian Beggs, put pyrotechnics across the whole field as well. “When it got down to the finals, and the last shooters were competing, as well as when the winners were announced, we used pyrotechnics. At the finale, we ended the show to a musical soundtrack with a full-blown laser and pyrotechnics spectacular.”

The event took a week from set-up through the shoot. “We went in and set the steel, the towers, and the stage,” says Ungerleider. “Then we had to lay out all the equipment, and we had programming time. The shoot was two days. We did some pre-shots a day early — some isolation shots — so they would have something to cut away to, and then, there was a one day shoot, which was the show day.”

Ungerleider and PDI worked with some key partners to pull it all off. “We did a deal with Premiere Global Production, and they provided whatever we didn't have. It was a team effort between Premiere Global and Production Design International.” Ungerleider assembled many of his usual crew for the event. “I try to keep all of my guys that I work with together. It works out so much smoother.”

Forman really sees the benefits of the design that Ungerleider and his team came up with. “This is very much ‘MTV meets ESPN.’ That is how we edited it. We are really aiming this entire series to an age group of 18 to 30. They have a lot of spending power. They have a lot of influence, and they understand the music and the energy of the shows — the lasers, the smoke, and the lighting — and you just had a marvelous effect. In fact, it was a better effect than I thought that it would have been.”

For his part, Ungerleider felt that the whole event “was kind of cool, different, and refreshing. The audience was into it and interacting with the shooters. It was actually a lot of fun, because you do a lot of projects in the course of your career. A lot of them are fun, and some of them are mundane. But the enthusiasm from the people that I was working with from Clay-Sport were great, and the actual shooters were just amazed at this whole thing, because you are bringing it to light.”


Conceptual Show Design: Production Design International - Howard Ungerleider, Brian Beggs, and Louis Chu

Lighting Designer: Howard Ungerleider, Production Design International

Lighting Vendor: Premier Global Production - Steve Anderson

Lighting Crew: Rich Vinyard, John Clark, Kerrie Elliot, and Robbie Sheen

Lasers provided by: Production Design International

Laser Operators: John Popowycz, Scott Wilson

Pyrotechnic Designer: Brian Beggs, Production Design International

Pyrotechnic Vendor: HiTechFX - Brian Panther, W. Judd

Staging provided by: Premier Global Production - Scott Chamryk, Les Moore

Video Vendor: Imag Inc. - Scott Bishop, D. Tyler, and B. Parisian

Lighting Equipment:

44 Martin Mac 2000 Wash Fixture
26 Martin Mac 600 Wash Fixture
18 VARI*LITE VL1000 Arc
1 Flying Pig Systems Wholehog® 3 (includes backup console)
1 Flying Pig Systems Wholehog 3 Expansion Wing
1 24-Way Dimmer Pack
1 24-Way 208V Distro
1 300' DMX Remote with Multiple XLR Lines
10 High End Systems F-100 Fog Machine with DMX High-Velocity Fan
1 20'×16'×3' Stage Deck
1 20'×20'×20" Roof
4 Free-Standing 48' Tower
120' Supertruss 20"×30"
64' 20"×20" Truss

Laser Equipment:

2 High-Power Laserscope YAG Outdoor Systems



Clay-Sport International Inc.

Production Design Int'l

Premier Global Production