The 2016 annual high school graduation ceremony for the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) –an online public community school– was staged at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio, where around 12,000 people watched more than 1,300 students graduate.
Lighting the event was Zachary Durban, who used 80 x Robe BMFL WashBeams and 28 Pointes supplied by Cincinnati area based Loud and Clear which delivered the event’s technical production.
Zach regularly works with Loud and Clear as an LD and programmer, bringing his vast experience working on rock shows, theatre productions and corporates to a crossover event like ECOT. Shane Fisher, production and sales manager from Loud and Clear pitched an initial concept for the ECOT event, which he and Zach jointly developed into the production design for the show.
Loud and Clear produced the show for the first time last year, so this year Shane decided that the most practical and spectacular way of moving forward was to make it in-the-round. For movement, ingress, egress and the general flow of the event as well as involving the audience much more … it seemed like a logical move.
They imagined a ‘sunburst’ style look for the trussing above the stage, so 12 trusses radiating out from a central point in the celling were all toned, creating an architectural feature in the center of the venue.
This design involved some very long throw distances for any moving lights down to the stage below and out into the audience, so Zach and Shane thought this would also be an ideal opportunity to try the 80 x BMFL WashBeams.
One Pointe was positioned on the inside of these 12 sunburst trusses and used for toning the metalwork, while the other 14 were positioned on the stage with some on the arena floor. These were all used for aerial effects and as eye / camera candy effects.
The BMFLs had three primary tasks. They were used to wash the stage and the audience and also to texture both areas on demand.
Loud and Clear’s head of lighting, Shawn Bernstein had also been looking at the BMFL specs and this seemed like an ideal show for them.
Eighty to a hundred feet throws had to be covered, and they were also required to zoom out and light entire sections of the arena in deep colors like Congo blue … “The BMFL series specs seemed to be a perfect solution,” commented Zach.
It was also during an extremely busy period for Loud and Clear with all their gear tied up on various projects and they would have had to cross hire anyway. (The BMFLs came from Beame Lighting in Pennsylvania).
Zach really enjoyed integrating the WashBeams into the design. The very high output fixture with a good selection of features, a 5 – 54 degree zoom, three distinctive and different variable frosts, full framing shutters and six gobos in the slots ... “ticked all my boxes for this show.”
As for the Pointes, he said “they are THE most versatile beam fixture on the market and can double as Spots / Profiles on many scenarios. They are my favorite air-effects light.”
Lighting in the round with multiple camera angles required some skill and thought to ensure that people and objects were lit evenly from all sides, and the BMFLs helped with their very flat, even light path.
When it came to lighting specific areas with minimal spill, the shutters worked for pin-pointing trophies, podiums and other props utilized during speeches and presentations.
The framing with wide rotation on each blade and the whole system worked ideally on a stage with multiple edges said Zach adding, “It’s nice when a graduation can have a bit of pizzazz. It’s a special day for all involved.”
Working alongside Zach and Shane on the lighting crew were Chris Sutton (master electrician) and technicians Daniel Baxter and Andy Hillman, with head rigger Gary Radomenski.
Zach, a freelance LD based in Ohio, first started using Robe a few years ago while on a European tour with guitar legend Steve Vai, and he now uses Pointes whenever possible, a trend he now hopes to follow up with BMFLs.
He is particularly interested in how Robe is using LED technology right now. “A lot of consideration goes in the internal mechanics of Robe’s products, and they are built for the road. I think they are reading the market well and producing products that both designers and technicians appreciate.”
Photo: Kacy Standohar