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Rabbit in the Moon

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 Light Jockey

ReDesigning the lighting system for Rabbit in the Moon

Adapting the Touring Rider for Nightclubs
Reworking the Lighting and Video Specs for Rabbit in the Moon
Lighting Dialogue by Jack Kelly of Eye Dialogue Lighting and Sound
Photography by Justin Akard
Amos’ Southend | Charlotte NC

Nominated for Charlotte ISES Evie Award in 2008: Best Use of Lighting
Feature Article in PLSN on April 2008

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24 Colorcast 14
12 Opti RGB
2 Elation Power Wash 250
2 Elation Vision Scan 575
2 Elation Vision Scan 575e
2 Elation Vision Scan 250
4 American DJ Accu Scan
2 Global Truss System 1
3 View Sonic 2000 Lumen Projector
1 Da Lite 6x8 Dual Vision Fast Fold Screen
2 5.3x4 Custom Screens
2 Antari Z-1020
1 Le Maitre Neutron XS
2 Martin Light Jockey + Laptop
1 Sony VX2000 Camcorder

Rabbit in the MoonKevin Mitchell of Sugar Society booked the legendary Rabbit in the Moon at Amos’s Southend. Knowing I have had four years of doing shows at Amos’s, He handed me their touring rider and ask if I could do it for 4K. The rider was very detailed with cad drawings and an equipment list exceeding the budget and size of the stage. The plot had truss towers, moving lights, strobes, blinders, LED Up Lights, Down Lights, 5 LCD TVs, 3 Projector Screens; all covering a 40’x 30’ Stage. Whoa! My brain went into overload. First, the club has only 17’ across the front of stage. Second, Amos’s has lower ceilings than their lighting plot specified. So I had to really rack my brain for this one.

Kevin and I have worked countless events together, creating some of Charlotte’s most memorable parties. I just had to wrap my mind around the budget, the stage, and the rider. Welcome to the club touring circuit. I don’t know if any music venue/ night club can completely satisfy a rider. A lot like business plans, riders look good on paper. When it comes to application, they have to be flexible or they will fail. A lot like drawing a map based on the descriptions of explorers, the real landscape seldom looks like the dreamscape of a touring rider. However don’t be distracted by large stage plots, massive towers, and myriad of fixtures. Although flawed, the rider provides important information such as artistic direction for layering, elevations, and effects. The lighting/video designer can scale the performer’s vision with a little imagination, creating a dynamic performance on any stage.

Rabbit in the MoonPlease know that bands typically are not trying to establish a dictatorship. Most bands understand that every space is different and they want help from those who are familiar with a space. However, they are understandably upset if their rider and their vision are completely ignored. The job of the lighting/video company is to try to understand the purpose of the stage design and create the same energy in the venue with the promoter’s budget in mind.

The first step was to squeeze everything into a 10’ by 17’ picture frame. Lots of lights on a big stage is easy; power packed shows on a small stage is not. We used two custom 5.4’ x 4’ projector screens framed in a goalie post trussing system on each side of a stage riser. Behind the riser we used a 6x8 fast fold screen. For the smaller screens we used back projection for the middle screen we had to use front projection. The foot print of the screens came to 24 feet. Although the whole stage setup could only be viewed from the middle of the room, the expanding journey to the back of stage created a nice visual from all angles.

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Do not be deceived, in dark rooms a 2000 lumina projector can look amazing. In order to stay within budget, I had to control the ambient light on the stage and in the room. I had to avoid any direct lighting on the screens aRabbit in the Moonnd keep the stage lumens under wraps. Three 5000 lumina projectors would have taken most of the budget before we even started. However with the right lighting three 2000 lumina projectors pulled off one of the biggest visual presentations in Charlotte this year.

To fill in the gaps and cover the cables, two 42” TV’s were placed in front of David, the keyboard/effects/musical guy. The LCD TV’s hid all of the cabling and stands as well as provided yet another layer of visual presentation. I love using prime numbers with screens. The 5 screen visual packed onto stage created a very balanced yet focused look. A single centered screen followed by two pairs of screens shrinking in size as they move towards the floor, subconsciously distorts depth perception and keeps the eye traveling up and down stage.

For stage blinders, the PixelLine was both out of budget and too big for our stage. We decided to use Colorcast 14s instead. For each truss leg we ran 4 Colorcasts. With a small waterproof casing and dynamic output, the unit was perfect for our stage size. As the color changing coves flashed, strobed, and swept through ranges of colors, anticipation continued to build through the opening acts until Bunny entered the stage.

Rabbit in the MoonTo light our moon bunny, we used two 250 watt moving heads to chase him wherever he journeyed. For the general stage wash, I used 6 color changing pars to down light the stage and 6 color changing pars to uplight his performance platform. Oh yeah, to help control the stage, we used an 8x8 platform for Bunny control. The platform helped control roaming so we could place more fixtures on the floor, which would be hidden by the 12” lip covering the entire stage. The placement was ideal providing nearly 360 degrees of light allowing me to create interesting shadows and suspenseful up lighting when called upon. For David we tucked 8 more Colorcast behind the truss. Unfortunately he had a projector in his face the entire night. Thankfully he is a seasoned performer and graciously accepted his fate.

Dealing with the mover lights took a little more creative initiative. In order to create crowd energy, lights have to sweep through the air, especially at an electronic event. However any fixtures six feet above the stage cannot project onto the ceiling above the crowd at Amos’s because the light is blocked Rabbit in the Moonby the in-house speakers and conventional par can system that is on the edge of stage. By putting Bunny on the platform, we were able to use the space on the floor around him for both the LEDs and scanners. By mounting the scanners on the floor at 45 degrees, we were able to encompass Bunny with beams all around him. Those beams could be used to scan both bunny and out into the crowd. Set 6’ off the ground, four more scanners were inverted on the truss to create cross beams with the floor scans. Rays of light seemed to come from every corner of the stage.

For the final touches, we worked with a solid state laser, haze, fire, glow tubes, hand held lasers, cryo systems and lots of fun interactive effects. The entire show was programmed with transparent cues so colors, positions, and effects could be changed on the fly. Due to the complexity of the show we used two lighting consoles and two operators; one for the moving lights and one for the LEDs. We rented a Clear-Com system and the VJ called out light cues all night long. Although this was my first time working with Rabbit in the Moon, their communication was clear and allowed for creative interpretation. After three intense hours of the best live show I have ever seen, I have never been prouder of my team and the finished product. Tired and exhausted, I curled into bed dreaming of carrots and rocket ships

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Rabbit in the Moon shows are legendary. Visuals, lasers, giant beach balls with people in them, a million laser beams; if you don’t know what I am talking about, you obviously missed the rave era. I never imagined that one day I would be the designer for their show. Taking the budget, the stage, and the artist into account; I had to recreate their stage show. By bringing the band up, taking the lights down, and creating multiple overlapping levels of video; I was able to keep the artist vision for the show, and the promoter’s vision for the budget.