Designing and programming the lighting for McDonald's biennial worldwide convention is no small task but Lightswitch lighting designer John Featherstone knew that partnering with Prelite Studios would enable him to maximize his creative time in an offline environment and get a big head start on programming hundreds of automated and conventional fixtures.
Featherstone has been a client of Prelite, which helps lighting designers and programmers use emerging technologies to previsualize lighting and video elements for productions, since its founding. He teamed with them on the last McDonald's convention two years ago. The event, which returned to Orlando's Orange County Convention Center, brought together over 15,000 McDonald's owner-operators, vendors and corporate staff.
"The convention was large in its technical components and logistics - everything scaled significantly because of the size of the show," Featherstone notes. "With a limited timeline, as soon as the load in was complete everyone wanted to get into rehearsals. Prelite gave us a quantum-leap head start and eliminated the feeling of constantly being behind the curve and working to catch up."
Prelite's Tom Thompson was onsite with Featherstone for five days using Vision software and Autodesk 3ds Max to previsualize the lighting for all global sessions.
Prelite also used simple mapping techniques to previsualize the convention's large projection rig, saving the production time and money. Martin's Maxedia served up images to an Encore system that distributed them, with different masks to create positive and negative surfaces, to a series of projectors for display on screens onstage.
"The McDonald's convention was another example of how Prelite can contribute to creating a better-looking show," says Thompson. "Ideas brought to the previsualization typically generate new ideas once preprogramming starts and enhance the production."
"Shows I've done where we didn't use Prelite have resulted in us spending a lot of time out of sync with the production. There's a certain sense of production disconnect," Featherstone observes. "When we use Prelite, we're able to keep in sync with what's going on from a production standpoint, and everyone has a clear understanding of what the show will look like. Prelite is a benefit to the entire production."
At Lightswitch Dennis Connors was the lighting programmer and Troy Fujimura the media-server programmer for the event.
Prelite was founded in San Francisco February 2000 by Tom Thompson and Norm Schwab as a place for lighting designers and programmers to use technologies to previsualize lighting projects. The company provides a studio where previsualization and creativity take center stage away from the distractions and interruptions of a chaotic work environment and where clients save time and money and minimize stress. Prelite also offers on-site previsualization services for those who prefer the convenience of working at the venue. For more information, visit www.prelite.com or contact Thomas Thompson at 415-883-7727.