The truss structure is one of many innovative design and lighting concepts developed by ISD to add excitement to this 42-year-old competition. An Emmy Award-winning design firm, ISD specializes in scenic and lighting services for television productions, corporate events and live theater, having become known for its custom designs and one-of-a-kind environments.
Not your father's poker tourney, the 2011 WSOP is a glossy production with over 700 lights on an all-new stage. Starting with Grudge Matches in June, the event returns at the beginning of July with the granddaddy of all poker tournaments, the world championship WSOP Main Event. Once the tournament field is narrowed down to nine players, competition stops before resuming in November for the final table. ESPN is televising the WSOP for the eighth straight year. Since some of the action takes place when ISD is off the set, many of the lights must continue to perform even when Garrone and his team aren't there to run them.
To achieve this combination of spectacular visual style, performance and reliability, Garrone's WSOP Gear List consists in large part of LED products from Elation Professional. Among the Elation gear being used: 16 x Platinum Wash LED Zoom; 40 x Design Wash LED 60; 44 x ELAR 108 Par RGBW; 14 x ELED DW Par 56; 85 x EVLED 1024 20mm LED Video Panel; 160' Flex LED Tape RGB; and 160' Flex LED Tape WW.
“When you're shooting TV, not only is the light output obviously important, but the look of the fixture is extremely important too,” said Garrone. “Sometimes you see the lights on camera, so you don't want to have an unattractive-looking fixture. To me, all the Elation stuff is very good-looking. Not only do they do the job, they're also very sleek and camera-friendly.”
Camera-friendliness was a big reason why Garrone chose Elation's new Platinum Wash LED Zoom, which has a very compact profile and features an 11°-36.5° built-in zoom. Eight Platinum Wash LED Zooms are used upstage coming off wave trusses to act as backlights for the audience and also to provide “beauty shots” for the camera. The remaining 8 units are scattered throughout the set for color washing. “I needed a low-profile fixture and something that mixed the color before it was outputted,” explained Garrone. “If you fly the light out and it's playing the camera, I didn't want to see the actual RGB LEDs doing the work. I wanted to see the color coming out – which is what you get with the Platinum Zooms.
“Another huge factor was the zoom,” he added. “It gives you a super-tight beam, then it blows out incredibly wide to give a nice, even spread of backlight on the audience.”
Elation's Design Wash LED 60s are being used as a background element in the player's entrance area. In addition to having “incredible brightness for their size,” Garrone liked the fact that they contain a white LED. “The white LED is what sold me,” he said. “It's gorgeous on camera.” When the players are announced and walk onto the stage, the Design Wash LED 60s are used to “do some cool wobble effects or a big chase of color. Then when they're playing poker, the 60s are shooting straight out with just the white LED. Everyone says it makes the poker table have an almost â€˜angelic' background. And those lights are so bright that when we're shooting the regular game, we have the white LEDs at 2%.”
Reliability and long-running performance were other reasons for choosing Elation LEDs. The show's production company wanted the audience to “be lit in color, very evenly,” said Garrone, who is using Elation ELAR 108 Par RGBWs for this function. In addition to providing a smooth, even color wash, the 108s were chosen for their day-in, day-out performance, since they were required to run consistently during the non-televised segments of the event. “I needed to have a light I could rely on even when we're not there,” explained Garrone. “I needed to be certain that the light was never going to burn out, even after being run for 30 days, because they don't have time to change a light bulb!”
For similar reasons the Elation ELED DW Par 56, a compact WW/CW LED par can, is being used to light the tournament's two main feature tables, which remain in use throughout the month-long period. “I needed something reliable, and also something bright enough so that people could see their cards. Having the ability to change colors from warm to cool white is also a great option,” said Garrone.
Along with Elation lights, the WSOP set features the company's EVLED 1024 LED Video Panels. In addition to being wrapped around the central circular truss structure, the panels are used in the lower audience wall to provide interesting backgrounds behind the players sitting at the poker tables. “On every camera shot, the players' background is either a sponsor logo, name or colorful moving background,” said Garrone. “The panels themselves are extremely light and easy to install. The fact that they are transparent also allowed the lighting team to do multiple effects. We could make the panels seem opaque just by having them on. We cold also add a later of depth to them by backlighting the panels, so the color of the backlight would blow through them.”
What type of reaction has the WSOP's new set drawn? Here are some impressions from the players themselves upon seeing it for the first time, as reported on the WSOP website.
“I think the whole setup is off the chart . . . it's unbelievable . . I can only imagine what the energy is going to be like in that room .” – Mike “The Mouth” Matusow.
“It looks like one of the greatest places you can ever be. It looks like some kind of extra-terrestrial final table.” – Max Pescatori, a.k.a. “The Italian Pirate”.
“I'm tingling. I'm very excited. I just saw the main stage and I was really impressed.” – Christopher “Wrecking Ball” Tryba.
Said Mori Eskandani, President, POKER PROductions, producer of the WSOP, “Poker PROductions has been fortunate to use ISD's services to design, build and light nearly all of our major productions. ISD has always converted our dreams to reality, and their final design of the WSOP â€˜ThunderDome' speaks for itself.”
Garrone credits his lighting vendor CYM Lighting Services and lighting crew with making it all come together to create a truly spectacular environment for the 2011 WSOP. “I couldn't have done it without them all, and I'd like to thank them for their help and support,” the lighting designer said. Others on his team included: Scenic Designer Chris Runnels; Associate Scenic Designer/Project Manager Mark Dowling; Graphic Designer Nate Mitchell; Lighting Manager/Media Programmer Kevin Swank; Lighting Director/Lighting Programmer John Lotz; Master Electrician Sandy Kittisit; Logistics Manager Trucker Tom Fountain; and Electricians Chris Wagner, Chris Good, Greg Hayes, Juan Salguero, Pat Grooms, Jeff Albers, Mark Glenn and Ian Eaton. Garrone also wishes to thank his rigging team: “Without the support of the rigging ream provided by Encore Productions through Anthony Riccardelli, lead by Joey Frigault, we would have never gotten the rig up within the two days we were given!”
For more information, contact:
Elation Professional at 866-245-6726 or visit www.elationlighting.com
Innovative Show Design at 407-951-8975 or visit www.ishowdesign.com