Production designer Anthony Bishop of AWB created a stunning performance environment, while maintaining the camera-friendliness of the set, through the innovative use of Elation Professional’s EPV762 MH moving head LED video panels, supplied by LMG (Nashville). Although the show had a look and feel of “bigness,” the studio actually proved to be a very challenging space to work with due to its small size. Its grid height was a mere 11’6”.
“When you stick six cameras in that studio and shoot it, it becomes all about the grid, and less about looking at where we would traditionally put scenery,” said Bishop. The main issue was “how do I have something scenically there that’s there when I need it, then goes away and doesn’t interfere (with camera shots in the cramped space).”
Wanting to solve this issue and also create a spectacular club-themed design, Bishop called LMG’s Technology Artist Ken Gay, with whom he had collaborated on MTV shows and other projects in the past. “I have always brought LMG to the table because of the respect I have for them. They’re a how-can-we-get-the-job-done type of company. They’ve been around for awhile and have a vast amount of resources and product available to designers that gives us so much freedom.”
LMG recommended the Elation EPV76 MH, a 7.62mm high-resolution rotating LED video panel that has the capability to pan 540° and tilt 265° just like a moving head light fixture. Measuring a square 19.2” x 19.2” and very lightweight (53 lbs.), the panels contain 3-in-1 RGB SMD LEDs, which produce 2,000-nit brightness. Each unit features Ethercon in/out for video signal, Powercon in/out for power linkage, and 3-pin and 5-pin DMX inputs for pan/tilt control.
The EPV762 MH panels’ full rotating pan/tilt ability gave Bishop just what he was looking for, from both a spatial and design perspective. “When I’ve got a grid that’s hanging down in camera shot or even polluting the upstage LED wall, I’ve got to be able either to complement it or not compete with it. That’s where the Elation panels came in as really viable option for us – because of the rotating heads,” he explained. When not contributing to the scenic design, the panels could be flattened and essentially “rotated out of view.”
Equally important, the Elation moving head units also provided the a whole range of creative design options for both Bishop and Lighting Designer Chris Landy – a “must” for a show that featured five major acts. “Of course every band had to have own look. The panels gave us this mobility. For most part we provided content as way to change the set. But we designed it in a way so that we could shoot it differently too.”
Bishop used a total of 22 EPV762 MH panels on the MTV set, and says he would have used more if he hadn’t “run out of room.” The panels were rigged as individual units in two basic configurations. “One we created a proscenium arch over the ceiling that could then flatten out and go away. The other way was as vertical columns, which is how I framed for camera the offshoot shots– the diagonal shots, when you’re looking at the band on the stage. So when you get those really cool side shots of Ne-Yo singing, the Elation units are right there surrounding his head, used basically as a wing unit.”
With the panels in the proscenium arch, Bishop added, “I didn’t put them in straight row -- there’s two left and right of center. I worked with the director Brian Campbell who was shooting the show. We had these dancer pods – the dancers were on underlit decks, and I said, ‘You gotta get in there with a steady camera and get those upper shots. I’m giving you all this candy.’ Not only could we shoot the Elation units out in a wide shot, we could also make them go like a ceiling panel and get these nice tight upper shots of the dancers with content behind, and that makes good TV. We could have a nice soft palette going on – we could make it hard, or make it soft.”
In addition to the proscenium arch and vertical columns, there was one more way the EPV762 MH panels were used, which proved a real enhancement to the New Years Eve broadcast. On the studio’s east side is a wall of windows that faces Times Square, explained Bishop. “We positioned one of the Elation units back side, where we were able to spin it out to the MTV platform in the middle of Times Square and have our show content and the MTV logo in it. This allowed us to get throwbacks from the middle of Times Square back up to the studio window.
“So there were actually three different things we were able to do with the panels. They were definitely a conversation piece,” said Bishop. “I can’t speak enough about the Elation units. Look what we were able to do with them in a small TV studio set. Then think about what you could do with these moving head units on a tour. From a touring standpoint, I’m definitely going to promote using these units. I haven’t even touched what I think I can do with them.”
For more information, contact Elation Professional at 866-245-6726 or visit www.elationlighting.com
AWB DESIGN LLC can be contacted at 917-501-4855 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For information about LMG, visit www.lmg.net