Christie Lites Contributes Lighting, Rigging for Oklahoma Tornado Telethon

(ORLANDO - June 5, 2013) - Just six days. That’s how long it took Blake Shelton’s benefit concert for Oklahoma tornado victims to go from idea to live televised event.

North American rental company Christie Lites had even less time when they got the call to help. And it was during a holiday weekend. But thanks to Christie Lites’ business model, they were able to quickly prep equipment and do their part in pulling off the show.

Shelton’s “Healing in the Heartland: Relief Benefit Concert” featured a coming together of performers and concert production vendors to help raise money for those affected by the recent storms. The telethon aired live May 29 on NBC from the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.

Christie Lites provided the complete lighting and rigging package for the concert. Christie Lites Rental Rep Robert Roth said, “When we were asked to step up and help in this humanitarian event, given what the event was for, how could we not?”

Television LD Tom Beck was in charge of the lighting design. Christie Lites supplied him with a wide range of Martin Professional automated and LED products, MA Lighting grandMA2 consoles, and a full range of CL truss and rigging gear.

Said Roth, “The tight time deadline - putting it together over a Memorial Day holiday weekend - and having the equipment available in multiple locations is a testament to what Christie Lites CEO Huntly Christie has put into play as standard practice across our company. The CL business model of standardizing equipment and packaging and the networking of offices around North America allowed us to pull this off so quickly.”

Christie Lites has 13 office/rental warehouse locations across North America, mostly hubbed in the entertainment-centric cities. Roth explains that lighting and rigging equipment was pulled from Christie Lites’ Orlando, Las Vegas and Dallas office/warehouse locations. It was packed into four trucks in all  three locations and and then sent to Oklahoma City for a seamless integrated load-in.  Staff from many regional and national Christie Lites teams got involved, he said.

“This is where the Christie Lites network makes a qualitative difference - and allows us to respond in a big way at a moment’s notice,” Roth said.

Shelton’s Production Manager Art Rich took on the PM role for the TV event. He described the timeline: “The show was put together in six days - including the three-day Memorial weekend. Lighting design came in midday Friday and trucks loaded [from various vendors] Saturday in Lititz, PA, Orlando, Dallas, Los Angeles and Nashville. Load-in started at 6 p.m. on Monday with rehearsals starting Tuesday afternoon and the show went live on Wednesday night.”

Blake Shelton organized and headlined the event, bringing onto the stage Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Usher, Vince Gill, Luke Bryan, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker and One Republic’s Ryan Tedder. During all performances, the TV screens aired phone numbers for texting or phoning in donations to United Way to help communities affected by the tornadoes.

With a tight lead time, LD Tom Beck’s design focused on “making nice images” for the 10 camera angles. Beck explained, “With only 24 hours between the rigging call and the first look on camera, there was no time to get too clever with a complicated truss configuration or lamp choices.  The design had to be simple to get the system up and programmed. I had worked with Blake before on his ‘It’s All About Tonight’ DVD shoot so I knew what Blake and his manager Narvel Blackstock were looking for, but with this shoot I didn’t think it required too much flash and trash due to the nature of the show.”

Beck said he was “extremely lucky” that a few of his favorite, talented programmers were available at the last minute: Lighting Director Kevin Lawson on the main desk, Tyler Roach controlling the audience and key lights, and Kevin Cauley as media server programmer. “The trio of programmers did an awesome job and I could not be happier,” he said.
Executive producer was R.A. Clark, director was Gregg Gelfand. Other vendors contributing equipment and services were Vision Visuals (video), Clair Bros. (audio), Tait (staging), Arc Light Efx (spotlights) and PRG (media servers, consoles).

Said Beck, “Christie Lites did a terrific job in pulling this one off. Robert Roth also put together an awesome lighting crew led by Crew Chief John Trowbridge and this made all the difference. The mostly Martin lighting system came off the truck well maintained and ready to go.”

Christie Lites CEO Huntly Christie said, “We were happy to help shed some light on this humanitarian cause. We are very pleased to have been a part of the event and that it was successful in drawing in donations for those affected by the tragic weather.”