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Winter Wonderland Wedding
Winter Wedding

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Winter Wonderland Wedding of Carmen Tulia and Phillip

Winter Wonderland Wedding
Lighting and Special Effects for the Wedding of Carmen-Tulia and Phillip
Design Dialogue by Jack Kelly | Photography by Jack Kelly
The Sands Restaurant at the Oasis | December 29, 2007 | University City, NC

Winner of Charlotte ISES Evie Award in 2008: Best Use of Lighting
Featured in Lighting & Sound America in June 2008

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46- Color Kinetics Colorcast 14s
8- Chauvet Colorado 1s
8- Chauvet Colorado 3s
8- Chauvet Q-Spot 300s
1- Elation EWDMX Trasmitter
4- Elation EWDMX Recievers
8- Global Truss 12” Box Truss with 2’ Base Plates
4- Antari S-200 Snow Machines
1- ETC Source 4 Leko

Winter Wonderland Wedding

16- SnowFlake Gobos by Apollo
1- Custom Gobo by Rosco
3- Altman 50lb Base Plates
16- 9’ Flocked Garland by A&B Floral
Martin Light Jockey

Lighting Designer: Jack Kelly
Technicians: Steve Rodgers & Jesse Poreca

Maria Summers, Mother of the Bride, called me about the $30 snow machine we rent on our website. Naturally I ask her what she was trying to do, thus beginning the design dialogue. Her daughter Carmen Tulia was to be married in December and she wanted snow. I told her I wouldn’t charge her to meet her to discuss options at the Sands Restaurant at the Oasis in Charlotte. I have seen the building a hundred times because it is right next to my Sam’s Club, but I had never been inside. Walking through the doors, my brain exploded with ideas. The place was huge with unique architectural features and a massive 60’ stage. I started rattling off different ideas that could achieve her Winter Wonderland theme. Normally my clients love most of my ideas but immediately start critiquing them one by one, attempting to identify only their favorite effects. Maria loved everything. So I itemized each idea to help her choose her favorite ideas.

Winter Wonderland WeddingAll the concepts were bold. Because the space is so large, I designed a lighting scheme that would impact not only the guest near the stage but the guest as far as 200’ on the other side of the room. First we needed to make the stage snow and impact the audience. I thought the effect would look silly if only the space where they would be dancing their first dance was snowing. I needed natural looking boundaries. Because the stage was completely curtained off, I opted to make the entire stage snow. Expanding to the natural confinement of the stage suspends the reality of the guest enough to make them believe it’s snowing. Four Antari S-200 Quiet Snow machines can cover 15-20 feet of stage and runs at approximately 63 db. Quietly whispering in the rigging mounts above the stage, these machines covered every inch of stage framed by the curtains. Believable but I wanted a bigger impact.

Winter Wonderland WeddingTo create the proper backdrop for the stage I used 46 color changing LED cove lights to up light the back curtain. With 16.7 million color possibilities, LED fixtures have provided me design options that convention lighting cannot achieve. The gauzy white fabric lining the back of stage exploded with color. Every fold and drape was accented with shades and shadows, emphasizing the natural textures of the curtain design. To create a wintery scheme, we went with the color blue. Blue’s association with things that are cold make it an easy choice. However, I needed the stage to come to life. So I programmed a flick effect introducing Cyan into the mix. Each individual fixture would randomly and instantaneously become cyan 3 times every 2.5 seconds. After holding for a tenth of a second, the fixture would fade back to blue during the next half of a second occasionally interrupted by a sudden change back to cyan. The sparkling stage was subtle yet enchanting. Much like looking at water with its endless refractions of light. The lazy eye could make the image seem like a solid color but the detailed eye saw a dance of light on a sea of water, snow, and ice.

Winter Wonderland Wedding

Winter Wonderland WeddingSome people need a little more. Subtlety is lost on much of the population. To help create a more theatrical appeal we lined the front of stage with flame retardant buffalo snow. The stage rose three and a half feet in the air lined with cotton, suggesting a fresh layer of snow. On each side of stage, four truss towers were wrapped with flocked pine garland stepping every 1.5 feet up to 6 feet tall. Snowflake gobos were put in eight moving heads. Each fixture was placed on top of the garland towers. For most of the evening the fixtures were programmed to slowly spin the white snowflake gobo slowly to the ground. Once the gobo was on the floor, the light would subtly turn off and quickly point upward. In the dark ceiling the light would subtly turn back on and fall down the curtain again. I used a CTB gel (Color Temperature Blue) on the white to create a colder more wintery white, complementing the blue back drop. The effect was larger than life and tickled the fancy of even the dimmest of eyes.

Finally we had two problems. First the snow wasn’t visible from very far away. The white curtain and white snow made for an invisible snow fall. Also large plastic snowflakes lined the front of stage also disappearing into the backdrop. The solution was easy enough but required some creative placement. Four large LED lighting fixtures were placed on each side of stage pointing up into the ceiling. For the plastic snowflakes I programmed a baby blue into the LED’s, immediately separating them from the bold blue curtain behind. For the snow fall, I had to make sure the entire space just below the curtain was brightly lit in white or the snow would not be visible breaking the suspension of belief. By lighting the bottom of the snow, I made the flakes more visible to the crowd below. No one would light a beautiful scene from the back, but add light coming from the direction of the viewer. I placed side lights between the crowd and the snow to create depth. Quick note: to create a deep stage, use layers of light getting deeper and darker colors as one journeys away from the audience.

Winter Wonderland Wedding

Winter Wonderland WeddingDuring the first dance, I began the snow fall. The response was monumental. After about 5 seconds a large gasp came from crowd as each one realized what was happening. The audience roared. Distracted guest stopped what they were doing to see what was going on. For nearly five minutes the cheers continued. With the magic unbroken the impact of the moment is sure to last a lifetime.

Winter Wonderland WeddingHowever we have only begun. I didn’t confine the energy to the stage. To carry the energy into the room I used 8 more LED pars to accent the unusual corners scooping around the stage into the room. The energy from the stage is carried out into the audience. I feel a dominate stage without a transition into the audience isn’t appropriate for social events. A dominate focal point seems staged, impersonal, and turns the event into a performance. The setup is great for theatre and bad for weddings.

Another Quick note: Maria provided several Mr. Christmas Panoramic Motion Projectors. The effect is an awesome snowflake effect with 50 or more spinning and falling snowflake images. However unless no lighting is used in the room, its small 50 watt bulb can’t project an effective image. Not very effective for parties, but if they come out with a 250 watt version I will race you to the store.

For the room lighting, Extravaganza, one of Charlottes premiere event planning organizations, was already setting up tall fabric columns throughout the room. They also provided the fabric back drop for the back of stage and covered all the red décor in the room with white. Each fabric column was lit with a simple white par can suggesting large ice towers throughout the dining area. Stretching between each column, white string lights and fabric created a flow and unity. The stage lighting reflecting from the back drop projected a cold blue glow into the room. The winter wonderland wedding transcended traditional dimensionality through the lighting and special effects.

Winter Wonderland WeddingWinter Wonderland WeddingI didn’t want an anti climatic event peaking only once at the first dance. I needed an angle. For the cake cutting, I designed a modern paisley style gobo to project in an ETC source 4 leko. Because the space is so large I needed to bring attention to the cake cutting corner. To further enhance the moment I slowly changed the color scheme to red and yellows. Bringing into light the gobo projection simultaneously, the atmosphere of the room went from an elegant winter evening to a hot Latin night. By the way, Santiago Gallo, one of Charlotte’s premiere Latin DJs, was about to kick off his set. The Falling snowflakes turned yellow, and the back drop sparkled orange over red. The Side light for the clear plastic snowflakes and the up lit corners of the room turned yellowish orange. As the DJ kicked off his set, with a grand sweeping motion, the falling stage gobos spread out across the room, creating new energy and excitement.

Nearly 500 people crowded onto the dance floor for one of the most exciting weddings I have ever designed. Projecting yellow snow flake images onto over 50 inverted pyramids the entire room came to life with a new energy. The red hot lighting excited the subconscious coxing everyone to dance.

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More Pictures. . . Just click on the picture for a larger image
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