As the lighting designer for the Professional Bull Riders Tour (PBR), Meeks means this quite literally. With 2,000-pound bucking bulls kicking up clouds of dust and dirt as they race around the arena trying to throw off their riders, Meeks faces some big challenges keeping his gear running smoothly during the PBR's intense 10-month national touring schedule.
Not only do the lighting products used on the PBR tour have to be tough enough withstand flying soil and debris, they have a wide range of other demands placed on them too, says Meeks. The lighting must be “studio-friendly” enough to provide illumination for the sport's weekly televised events, as well as for photo and video shoots. Additionally, it must be able to light up live musical performances and guest artists that are part of the entertainment at PBR shows.
So when he expanded his rig for the 2011 tour, Meeks wanted lighting products that were both tough and versatile. He went with a company that he knew firsthand could provide this combination -- Elation Professional.
The PBR had used Elation light fixtures in the past, including the Power Spot 700 II CMY color mixing 700-watt moving head and the Design LED 12 Brick RGB color mixing brick, and Meeks had been extremely pleased with their durability and roadworthiness. “The 700s were my first Elation fixtures. I have 10 of them, and they have been solid from the start,” said Meeks. “They have been through hell and back and just keep on going. I think I have sent only one back to get looked at in three years. Considering what they go through on this tour, I think that's remarkable.”
Based on this proven track record, Meeks added some new Elation fixtures this year. He now uses an all-Elation rig, supplied by LB Lightswest (Lodi, CA), consisting of: 20 x Platinum Beam 5R; 8 x Design Spot 1200 Compact; 10 x Power Spot 700II CMY; 16 x Protron Color Strobe; 80 x Design LED 12 Brick; and EWDMX wireless DMX systems.
One new addition, the Platinum Beam 5R moving head, utilizes breakthrough MSD Platinum 5R discharge lamp technology from Philips, which makes it possible to create fixtures that are brighter and more powerful with superior light quality, yet are also faster, smaller, lighter weight, draw much less energy, and have longer-lasting lamps. The Platinum Beam 5R has an output comparable to a 575-watt fixture, yet is half the size, uses less than half the energy and, amazingly, weighs half as much as a typical 250-watt fixture.
Meeks recalls that he was immediately impressed with the Platinum Beam 5R when it was shown to him by his dealer Pete Siegel of LB Lightswest, “I fell in love with the Platinum Beam 5Rs the first time I saw them. I knew this was what I wanted on my upstage truss. After the opening, most of my show is with house lights at full, so I needed a beam that could punch through. The Platinum Beam 5R does this perfectly, from one end of the arena to the other.”
Another Elation fixture added to the PBR's permanent rig this year was the Design Spot 1200 Compact, a versatile 1,200-watt compact moving head hybrid spot/wash effect with CMY color mixing, 8 colors, 12 gobos and an Animation Effects wheel. “I had used the 1200s the last few years at our finals in Vegas,” said Meeks. “I love the stock gobos they came with, so when I got the chance to add them to my rig, I did.”
Meeks continues to rely on his Power Spot 700II CMY and Design LED 12 Brick fixtures to handle the diverse range of functions his lighting is required to perform. “Besides the bull-riding, I light everything from photo shoots for boot sponsors, to video shoots like the Gary Allan Get Off On The Pain video, which was shot after an event in Pueblo. The 700s and LED bricks were used there.”
The lighting designer adds that, in addition to the lighting products themselves, the excellent customer service he receives from Elation has influenced his supplier choice. “With our schedule, maintenance time is hard to come by – a quick wipe down and blowout is all the time I get. With the PBR my world is dirt, that's just part of life, so I want to be sure that support is there if I need it. This is another of the main reasons I went with Elation,” said Meeks. “Their support is the best that I have had. One phone call and it's handled. They treat me like I'm somebody, they care, and that's pretty cool.”
For more information, contact Elation Professional toll-free at 866-245-6726 or visit www.elationlighting.com.
LB Lightswest can be reached at 209-367-3715 or visit www.lbproductioncenter.com.