When country music band Old Dominion approached Travis Shirley about upping the production value of their new touring show, he conceived an industrial-style structure whose custom truss towers serve as set pieces. Morris, A.C.T Lighting, Inc. and Eurotruss partnered to craft the towers, which are designed to suit a range of venues from clubs and theaters to arenas and stadiums.
"Old Dominion wanted a new, bigger, fresh show," says Shirley who heads Houston-based Travis Shirley Live Design and serves as production lighting designer for the band. "The first part of the tour was in support of Miranda Lambert; they're also doing their own headlining tour in a multitude of venues, including some smaller rooms."
"I devised the idea of several custom towers, taller than the average truss tower, that would create an industrial-looking set. They'd have a 20º angle on them to form a sort of angled back wall and roof over the band."
Shirley also had to take "flexibility, accessibility and maneuverability" into account as the band transported the towers from venue to venue. The system had to set up and strike rapidly with a minimum of labor as well as fit within a simple package that allowed the units to ride self-contained.
"Morris is the band's vendor for lighting, sound and video equipment," Shirley said. "Their president David Haskell was instrumental in achieving the design of the towers."
"The truss system needed to be versatile and relevant to make every show fit the band's style," says David Haskell. "In collaborating with Travis, Eurotruss and A.C.T Lighting we assisted in coming up with a design that would be safe, efficient and innovative for Old Dominion." A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of Eurotruss in North America.
"The biggest crunch was the timeline," Haskell said. "Morris had the responsibility to connect with vendors and engineers with only a two-week turnaround."
According to Shirley, "It was exciting to see Eurotruss take on this project with open arms. They regarded it as a challenge not a problem; it was their intention to make the towers as cool as they could be."
At Eurotruss Tray Allen and his team came up with a design for an inclined tower that hinged and folded into a stowed position and could be operated with an electric winch instead of traditional hand cranks.
Eurotruss built six towers, two each with dimensions of 12, 13 and 14 feet when raised into position. The structures break in the middle on a pivot and retract on themselves for easy transport. They are built onto an angled corner block on a base plate with wheels. "They roll into place, you lock them down and they're erected in about 30 seconds," Shirley reports. "The stagehands have been super-impressed by the towers' engineering. When Old Dominion supported Miranda Lambert they asked us if we could get off the stage in ten minutes. We did it in eight due to the maneuverability of the towers."
The truss towers are "hollowed out so they can accommodate blinder fixtures inside the truss" for effects lighting, he explains. The towers also feature channels down their offstage sides for LED strips. "The band risers and overhead truss are also lined with Sceptron strip lighting for a cohesive industrial look," says Shirley.
The onstage sides of the towers support Robe Spiider fixtures, which remain on the towers as they are raised and lowered into position.
"The lighting showcases how beautiful the truss is," says Shirley. "This isn't a huge show, but it delivers a big punch. A lot of that has to do with how the towers are constructed."
Tony Fransen programmed and runs the lights and media on a grandMA2 full size console. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of MA Lighting products in North America.
Kevin Lichty is Old Dominion's longtime lighting director.
Morris is a full-service production and integration company with more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry providing professional audio, video and lighting services for live events, tours and the fixed installation marketplace throughout North America. Morris also owns and operates one of Nashville's largest and most-storied recording studios, The Tracking Room, located on Music Row. For more information, visit experiencemorris.com.
About A.C.T Lighting
A leading importer and distributor of lighting products, A.C.T Lighting, Inc. strives to identify future trends and cutting-edge products, and stock, sell and support their inventory. The company provides superior customer service and value for money to all of its clients.
For more information, visit www.actlighting.com .