Jon Kusner Lights Nick Jonas At The VMAs

Jon Kusner Lights Nick Jonas At The VMAs

“The Nick Jonas performance was a fantastic exercise in guerilla lighting,” says lighting designer Jon Kusner of 22 Degrees. “We had no time, limited equipment, a fluid plan, and working in a completely unfriendly/borderline hostile environment. We had two locations that melded into his performance: a diner—Tick Tock Diner, many of us have had lunch or dinner there while working in NYC—and the middle of a major intersection in NYC.” 8th Avenue and 33rd Street, to be exact…

“Tick Tock was actually a pre-tape that we did a few nights before the VMAs working around Nick’s touring schedule,” says Kusner. “But the trick was to make it look as if it was a seamless ‘live’ performance, so the integration into the street performance on 8th and 33rd had to look continuous. In Tick Tock, we survived the performance by the luck of the restaurant’s track lighting system—we must have moved every light in the place—then we added additional base lighting to raise the ambient level of light in the room with everything from Cineo Lighting Matchstix and TruColor LS to birdies, 300kW Fresnels, and ETC Source Four Minus 50°. In the last moments of the performance in the diner before spilling onto the street, it turned into a rock fest with everyone dancing, so we hid Philips Color Kinetics ColorBlast TRX, TMB Solaris Flares, and a last minute ingredient: Will Gossett, who helped me on the project, actually manually flicking on and off all of the light switches of the venue. It was survival party lighting at its best,” Kusner adds.

Then to the street:

“Since we were working in the middle of an intersection that was only closed down for a short blast of time, it was hectic at best,” admits Kusner. “We used scissor lifts as our found lighting locations, and actually never saw talent or fully rehearsed until about 20 minutes before we were live to the show, so it was some quick decisions and fast programming by Harrison Lippman, who was on the MA Lighting grandMA2 Lite console in Tick Tock land in the middle of 8th Ave. We made some good guesses and then adjusted as fast as we could. All of us owe Eric Norris, who was our gaffer for both locations, a huge thank you for setting up what I guessed, but changing it to the last moment as it turned into truth.”

The street fixture list comprised Philips Vari-Lite 3500 wash and wash FX units, Clay Paky Sharpys, Philips Color Kinetics ColorBlast fixtures, TMB Solaris Flares, TMB Solaris Mozart units, and GLP impression X4 Bar 20s. Generators were used for power, and gear was provided by PRG.

“It was a fantastic job that was more about organization and logistics with some quick lighting thoughts along the way. I owe the crew a thank you for patience in the insanity,” Kusner concludes.

Watch Nick Jonas' performance of "Bacon" in the video below:

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