ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA – Bandit Lites recently wrapped up another incredible Warren Hayne’s Xmas Jam with a two day event that kicked off December 13th and featured performances from Gregg Allman, Widespread Panic, Michael Franti, OAR, Gov’t Mule, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.
Preston Hoffman, who has designed the lighting for the event for three years now, was tasked by producer Joe Dindas to create something spectacular for the 25th anniversary.
“The idea behind the show was to do something that we had never done and that would push the show over the top,” explained Hoffman. “This is always a tricky subject because every dollar I spend for this show is one less dollar that goes to Habitat for Humanity, so I tend to want to simplify and get the best bang for my buck.”
While the US Cellular Center has what Hoffman refers to as “special eccentricities” (in regards to the rigging and visibility to the people seated behind the stage), he was aiming to have a video element using Bandits Mirage video panels and hanging the wall at 45 degrees so it would not block the stage.
“To accomplish this we hung a circle truss with a matrix of pipe protruding from the back of the circle which we then hung the video mesh off of,” Hoffman said. “This not only helped us with trim height, but it created a video ceiling of sorts over the band that looked as good from the back of the room as it did from the front row. We ran the content off of a Maxedia server which has a very easy to use "on the fly" interface which guest LDs were comfortable triggering at FOH.”
Hoffman also hung a star in the middle of the room as a stunning focal point. “Many people told me that they thought it was so beautiful and added that little sparkle during the most beautiful moments of the show. I remember specifically Warren and Greg Allman's acoustic set had many of those moments.”
Another of Hoffman’s favorite aspects of the event was using the wide range of new equipment Bandit has added to its inventory including the GLP X4S, Robe Pointe and Coemar StageLite LED FX.
“It didn't take me long to realize the versatility of these fixtures,” Hoffman said of the X4S’s, which he used as front wash, front key lighting as well as US wash lights. “I put 20 of them on the DS truss, using 14 of them for wash and 6 as key light. My reasoning for this is it gave me so much versatility to take wash lights and turn them into key lights depending on how many band members I had to deal with in any given band. I am very grateful that I did that because some of the bands turned into 12 - 16 musicians as more and more guests would pile on stage. I picked up musicians joining in the fun at will with this set up which was invaluable given the spur of the moment nature of this show.”
Upstage, Hoffman had X4S’s in groups of four in addition to a dozen of them around the circle truss, a design decision he said he knew within minutes added a fullness and complexity to the show that was “truly stunning.”
“I was able to create full looks before turning anything else on and I knew this show was going to look great!” expounded Hoffman. “The X4S has the ability to look like a hard edge fixture if you get the focus and zoom just right so not only did I have nice looks, but they looked really crisp.”
Hoffman also found both the Robe Pointes and the Coemar StageLite LED FX to be incredible additions to the design, as the Pointes offered a super bright, wide look that could cut through everything when needed, while the StageLite LED FX allowed for Hoffman to fill in the Austrian Backdrop with full color and no streaks. Since StageLite LED FX is a CYC light that has LED battens in them that can be focused independently, he was able to “to run some interesting tilt effects and get some waviness out of them. Little did I know that there would be times when these fixtures were the star of the show, especially in Moody Blues moments.”
“As always, this show is for cost only, so every single penny counts,” said Bandit’s production director Dizzy Gosnell. “As Preston said earlier, making every fixture be useful is key. The system itself, when the houselights were on, didn’t look very dramatic at all. The magic happens when the haze kicks in and the houselights go off, the rig looked fantastic. The GLP X4S fixtures keep amazing me with their abilities to be a very capable key light, an awesome ACL effect, small footprint floor light or general wash light, all in something about the size of a Par56 can. The Coemar Stagelite units are just unique in what they can do for scenery washes and can create some really impressive head scratching effects with these heads. Both Preston and his Brother Paul (of Widespread Panic fame) got stuck into this rig and created some memorable looks over the long 2 x day show. We are grateful to Jon Dindas and Kurt Steelman for the ability to be involved in this show; Habitat for Humanity is a very worthy cause indeed.”
“It is such a pleasure to work with Bandit on this show every year,” Hoffman said, “from the design phase with Dizzy Gosnell to the onsite execution of Wayne Lotoza, Shawn Beaulieu, Andy French and Chas Albea. They really help me out more than anyone really knows and make the system a success. I couldn't do it without these guys. They deserve a lot of credit.”
About Bandit Lites, Inc.
Bandit Lites is a global leader in the entertainment lighting marketplace. From touring productions to fixed installations, Bandit Lites has a full staff of highly trained professionals to deal with all types of lighting needs. Bandit’s global presence will insure seamless transitions no matter where your next show takes you.