On April 11, the World Travel and Tourism Conference came to a close with the Global Travel and Tourism Summit Gala Dinner at the Great Hall of the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. This year marked the first time this event has been held in the United States. Hosted by Jay Rasulo, honorary chairman of the Travel Industry Association and chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, the event included an extravagant five-course meal and addresses by VIPs from the World Travel and Tourism Conference, The Walt Disney Company, UNICEF, and Julie Andrews, honorary ambassador for Disneyland's 50th Anniversary.
Lighting designer for the dinner was KC Wilkerson of Disney. Collaborating with show director John Addis, the design featured a warm, welcoming walk-in look, followed by five saturated dinner looks, numerous looks for VIPs, and finally, a wide variety of Disney looks for the performance portion of the evening, drawing on the Disneyland 50th Anniversary color palette of royal blue, cranberry, and gold. “All of the looks were to read not only to the live audience but on camera as well, since the performance portion of the evening was sent out over the Verizon V-Cast network,” says Wilkerson.
The National Building Museum, formerly known as the Pension Building, was completed in the late 1800s and includes four levels of offices surrounding an atrium, which is 300' long, 100' wide, and 122' high. Dividing the Great Hall into thirds are two sets of four massive columns, each 23' in circumference and 75' high.
“Each level of the building has a balcony that runs around the interior of the building,” notes Wilkerson. “The steel ribs that support the ceiling have numerous rigging points, making the installation fairly easy to plan and design. However, hanging the truss at a desirable height of 40' to 45' would mean that the truss would appear to visually cut the huge columns in half. Given that the set and the immense backdrop incorporated the architectural columns into their design, visually de-emphasizing them was not an option. We initially decided to trim our four truss runs — each 85' in length — at 65' but adjusted each of them slightly lower once on site. We had some discussions about using fixed lighting from the balconies but ultimately decided that we wouldn't be able to get the angles we needed for the performance.”
With the main front light truss 60' from the stage and 65' in the air, Wilkerson and his team decided that the Martin MAC 2000 Wash would be the workhorse for the gig. A total of 24 fixtures were used for frontlight, toplight, and backlight. They also used 18 MAC 2000 Profiles with standard gobos for high sidelight and effects, including effects on a large fountain in the middle of the Hall. A large backdrop of three long banners was lit by MAC 2000 Performance fixtures. Six of the fixtures were positioned on the front trusses, and the remaining two were used on the upstage truss to provide strong backlight for the main stage entrance.
“One of the more inspired design decisions we made was to place 12 MAC 2000 Profiles on the top of the trusses,” says Wilkerson. “This allowed us an optimal position from which to hit the ceiling of the venue, which is white and takes light really well. We specified the Woodroffe Gobo Collection for these, and they looked spectacular.” Turning attention to the columns, each column behind the stage got two MAC 2000 Washes for modeling and one MAC 2000 Profile for pattern and movement.
The moving light rig was complemented by 24 Color Kinetics ColorBlast® 12s for uplight for the backdrop, eight ETC Source Four® Narrow PARs as uplights on the columns opposite the stage, 60 ACL Pinspots for each of the guest tables, 24 PAR38s on each of the smaller columns surrounding the room, and two Reel EFX DF-50 Hazers. All of the truss was manufactured by James Thomas Engineering.
“We initially were going to use the ColorBlast 12s for uplighting our VIPs,” says Wilkerson. “Julie Andrews' management had also requested that we give her an appropriate amount of fill for her eyes. Ultimately, those didn't work out, so Benji Tschudin, our rep from Atmosphere, Inc., suggested using four ETC Source Four 10° at a low angle fairly far back in the house. Walking that fine line between looking good on the camera and to the live audience can be tough, but I think we managed to please both audiences.”
Control was provided by a Martin Maxxyz console with a slaved backup via the Maxxyz Ethernet node as well as a Maxxyz Wing. “One of the features I love [about the Maxxyz] is being able to plug a standard CD player into it and play a reference CD — with one channel of audio and one channel of timecode — and have the console execute the show,” says Wilkerson. “I can sit there, stop the CD, start it again, reprogram a look, stop and start again, anywhere in the track, and the console keeps up, freewheeling until it sees the next SMPTE cue, then picks up the show in exactly the right spot.”
The evening was capped off by a performance of “It's A Small World” and “One” (a song written for the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland). In addition to Julie Andrews, performers included four vocalists, seven Disney characters, and 70 children from an international children's choir.
Producer: Greg Smith
Production manager: Kristin Todd
Show director: John Addis
Art director: Dan Torres
Lighting designer: KC Wilkerson
Technical director: James Brown
Programmer: Ed Motts
Crew Lead: Joe Peters
Atmosphere, Inc; Benji Tschudin Atmosphere Crew: Andy Horodowicz