IN AUGUST THE FAMED PEBBLE Beach Golf Links was turned into an elegant auto showroom for the 55th Annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, a world-class celebration of automotive design, craftsmanship, and history. Event specialists DaVinci Fusion handled the complex logistics for the premier multi-day event — dubbed “The Kentucky Derby” of classic car shows — and 2005 marked the 16th year of DaVinci Fusion's participation in the Concours d'Elegance.
“The fact that we handle video, audio, lighting, large-screen projection, custom scenery, props and period decor is unique,” notes DaVinci Fusion president Solomon Rosenzweig who served as show director. DaVinci also has to make sure it keeps the myriad clients happy, including Ferrari, Maserati Blackhawk, Retro Auto, Alfa Romeo, and more, which is always a challenge.
“This event is so diverse and we serve so many clients,” he explains, adding that Ferrari asked DaVinci Fusion to create a very sinuous display of fluid curves of canvas; no straight lines allowed. “We've worked with them for many years. Lighting their cars is always such a treat because the results are always so dramatic.” To control the lighting for the Ferrari tent, Rosenzweig chose to use the Jands Vista console from AC Lighting for the first time, which he found to be “very intuitive and fast. We like the software and the layout of that board a lot. It made our lives easier.”
Making its debut at the Concours was the Retro Auto Tent, a 100'×140' space featuring a full range of exhibitors of automotive collectibles and memorabilia from elegant hood ornaments to colorful vintage road-rally posters. DaVinci Fusion was inspired by 1920s Paris in designing the Retro Auto Tent's atmosphere, interspersing signage suspended on boards with chandeliers based on antique fixtures of the era adapted to modern metal halide lamps. According to Rosenzweig, this tent was one of the biggest challenges of the entire event. “We had to bring this tent all the way back to 1920,” he explains. “So we did significant research in finding pictures of how they put on exhibits in the 20s. It had to encompass everything from the electric light bulb to gaslight, signage, and style. We wanted to have that 20s/early 30s look and capture it visually in a modern way. So we had to design our own light fixtures. Nothing in existence today was going to turn the corner for us.”
The goal was to make the Retro Auto Tent different because, as Rosenzweig says, “so much that happens in the exhibit world is you put up a barn and it looks like a barn with fabric and steel ribs. Our challenge was to overcome that.” The easiest way for DaVinci to overcome this challenge was to create graphic design and signage that perfectly mimicked the ads of the day. Signs of old car companies — many of which do not exist anymore — were recreated and displayed. Rosenzweig added that he and his team were charged with not only being skillful, but cost-conscious as well. “I think we were successful because we created a tent with a great look for not a lot of money. Of course, I would like to have done more, but sometimes when you try to create a metaphor that describes both a generation and emotional content, you need to have every tool at your disposal. When you look at an environment, you feel something when you see it. Your experience is often diminished if the nuances aren't there.”
Early Friday evening DaVinci Fusion provided all the production services for the Concours d'Elegance Fashion Show jointly sponsored by Hearst Magazines and Lexus USA. Staged in a huge tent on the grounds of The Lodge at Pebble Beach Equestrian Center, the event, emceed by Nancy O'Dell of Access Hollywood, fused fashion and automotive styling. DaVinci Fusion captured a live broadcast mix of the action on the catwalk on large rear-projection screens fed by Eiki 10K video projectors. Martin MAC 2000, 600, and 500s, controlled by a Wholehog® 2, were combined with 70,000K Lightning Strikes and low-lying fog to create the show's electric atmosphere. “We do a tremendous amount of work using the MACs,” Rosenzweig says. “We use them as uplights, downlights, static, and automated. In some venues we hang a rig that will encompass three different clients in three different days. We find great flexibility in those MACs.” The evening culminated with Lexus showcasing its Pebble Beach convertible on DaVinci Fusion's 24' diameter rotating turntable covered in black, high-gloss Marley flooring.
DaVinci Fusion's quick-change artistry was again called upon to turn the tent around overnight for a gala sit-down dinner for 650 VIPs, participants, and judges. The Saturday night dinner, with a gangsters and molls theme, offered the last opportunity for guests, sponsors, and benefactors to mix and mingle before the 5am start of the Concours d'Elegance on Sunday when the serious business of judging the classic autos got underway.
DaVinci Fusion transformed the tent into an evocative Art Deco nightclub for the dinner, accenting the black-and-white decor with colored MAC lights, custom gobos, period columns, and white canvas palm trees highlighted in deep purple and magenta. Glowing stairs lead up to the stage where the band was framed by a crescent moon hanging against a starlight backdrop.
DaVinci Fusion turned the tent around one more time after the dinner to prepare for Sunday's ultra-sophisticated Club d'Elegance, a private brunch, lunch and snack spot for invitees attending the Concours' main event. On Sunday Rosenzweig, as ramp show director, called all cars to the ramp and directed their participation in the judging. DaVinci Fusion also orchestrated the 35' Jumbotron which televised the activities so all those in attendance had the best seat in the house.
In addition to supplying video, lighting, décor, and props for the Concours, DaVinci Fusion designed and supplied the sound system supporting the entire event. As the Concours itself takes place on the 18th Fairway at the Lodge at Pebble Beach, presenting sound for the assembled participants and spectators is no small feat. Custom aluminum scaffolds were created to support Meyer cabinets on six delays. “We really depend on Meyer's equipment,” Rosenzweig says. “We've been doing sound there for 14 years and it's been a great experience. You get great delivery when you're using a system with fixed delays in it. It's important not to compress that sound too much and you have a full spectrum audio that balances across the huge span of that fairway.”
The entire event's technical production was coordinated under the skillful hand of E. Ernie Ernstrom and the DaVinci Fusion team. Rosenzweig adds that he looks forward into using more LED technology in the coming years and that HDTV “is going to be the video of choice as we go forward,” he says. “It's expensive but it's like comparing diamonds to cubic zirconia. Do you want it to look really great or just good?”