Boogie Wonderland


Visitors to Vanguard, a happening new venue/nightclub on Hollywood Boulevard, are pleasantly wowed by the club's unique design, not to mention the number of options available to patrons once past the velvet ropes. In one night, you can turn loose at a rave, ponder the musings of a breaking artist in the art gallery, or just sit in one of the many intimate spaces for one-on-one intimacy. Those wishing to dance the night away can do so until four in the morning with a few refueling stops at the many bars or the in-house café. And what hotspot would be complete without a performance space? Vanguard has a 110'×70' concert venue that has hosted such acts as The Crystal Method, Timmy Regisford, and Paul van Dyk.

Sporting the latest club technology available, Vanguard lives up to its name. Charged with bringing the club to life was Stephen Lieberman of SJ Lighting Inc. in Agoura Hills, CA, who designed the lighting and video system, as well as the aesthetic placement of the sound system. Prior to its current incarnation, the space did not have a liquor license so it hosted a lot of booze-free raves and was also home to a recording studio, a small film studio, and even a school for trapeze artists. However, once the space got its liquor license, it was time for a different kind of swinging.

“It looked very ‘Dr. Seuss’ when I got in there,” Lieberman explains. “It was a big open warehouse, but it had very snake-like HVAC all over the place with big vents that came down.” The goal for the space was for it to be more than just a nightclub, but a venue where special events could take place including corporate events, weddings, and even bar mitzvahs, not to mention the live acts and DJs. “So we tried to create something that would give life to a big box and be diverse enough to accommodate all these different types of events,” he says. “I think everyone who designs the lighting for a nightclub wants to accomplish that, but in this case, it was more on the surface, and flexibility for the lighting system was key.”

The first step in creating a flexible lighting rig for the dance floor/venue area was the custom-built Pro Span truss from TMB which helped make the room more engaging for various events. “It was a big rectangle, so right off the bat, it's not the most attractive room. You have to give it some dimension to soften it up, so when I started my sketching process prior to AutoCAD, I created this truss system that had a very subtle radius, between 8° and 12°,” he explains. One side of the truss is a little over 50', while the other side is a little over 40', which was just enough to round out the room. “We have some sort of linearity from one side of the room to the other to create a flow, but it also softens out the hard 90° that comes with a rectangle. The [truss] system embraces the crowd with a little hug.” Lieberman added 2' and 3' legs reaching down from the rig — but still high enough not to be grabbed by even the tallest patron — to make the space more intimate.

The truss itself is not just to hold the lighting equipment, but it also becomes part of the ambiance of the room, thanks to strategically placed LED fixtures. “We lined each linear stick with Color Kinetics 1' iColor® Cove QL LED fixtures. There's a strip of iColor Cove going from one side to the next,” he explains, adding that “everything is run on DMX, so you can create a lot of dynamic effects. What's nice is you can turn all the other lights off and turn on the LEDs, and it just details the shape of the truss system.” Lieberman chose the iColor Cove QL because of the LED's lower intensity and since he was not attempting to wash the dance floor but to highlight the detail of the truss. He also used Color Blast® 6s, 6" flat washlights, as “truss toners.” Another custom truss creates a more dynamic element for the stage and resembles a pair of sunglasses or a bullhorn.

Lieberman says that despite it being such a high-profile club, it was a very budget-conscious project. “Initially, for what we needed to accomplish, we went way over [budget],” he explains. “We ended up doubling the budget for lighting, sound, and video. I try not to do that to a client, but the space is 25,000sq.ft.” The rig includes a mix of Robe ColorSpot and ColorWash units, Atomic Strobes, ETC Source Fours®, and, of course, Lieberman's “cherry on the sundae,” a 3' mirror ball. The rig is controlled by an MA Lighting grandMA Light console.

“The Robe fixtures have been extremely reliable for the money. They're very bright and very fast,” Lieberman says. “We have 24 channels of dimming for stage lighting via a Leprecon dimmer pack in a wall-mount rack in the electric room.” There are 16 ETC Source Four PARs, four Source Four ellipsoidals, and two TMB ProCan 4-Lite Audience Blinder because Lieberman typically tries to balance his lighting system out with a 30/70 mix of intelligent lighting to conventionals in order to achieve a balance. “We're using 10 Robe ColorSpot 250 ATs, eight ColorWash 250 XTs, four Scan 250 XTs, and six ColorSpot 170s, which are 150W fixtures we put around the circle [in the truss]. The majority of fixtures are 250W MSD lamps. We only used three lamp types to stock for this club to make changeovers easier; there's the HPL 575 for all the conventional fixtures, MSD 250s, and HDI 150s for the little lights.”

Despite the array of fixtures, Lieberman gives credit to the grandMA lighting console for making life easier for visiting LDs. “The nice thing about the grandMA is you can make every layout unique to the user. I spend an hour with new guys to show what keys change colors, patterns, control the speed of effects, and movement, and these guys are banging out shows the first night,” he explains. “They're not necessarily programming, but the way I've set it up is you can run transparencies so it looks like they're creating their own show, which is the whole point.” Lieberman says he encourages most club owners to use MA Lighting consoles in their clubs. “Whenever I can get an owner to spend the money, I always get them to put in a grandMA or some type of MA Lighting console. I've always found that the operators — even if they're hesitant at first — are loving the desks by the time the first night of operation is over because they're able to create a dynamic show with little or no experience on the desk.”

The video system at Vanguard is a four-screen Edirol system controlled by an Edirol V4 four-channel Vision Mixer and a DV7 Video Canvas incorporating a DV-7PR video presenter (with an Edirol PCR-50 MIDI controller) and a Marshall VJ 563P monitor unit linked to two Toshiba SD-K750 DVD players. Projection is provided by four BenQ PB 7210 2200 lumen video projectors and one fixed camera for IMAG. Lieberman went with the Edirol system after picking the brains of some friends who design the video on various rock shows. “So when an act does bring in a video jockey for a night, these guys can bring in their own stuff and can plug in their hard drives,” Lieberman says. “If you're a video guy, you're familiar with this system.”

And if you're on the strip, you'll soon be familiar with Vanguard



Dance Floor Lighting

10 Robe ColorSpot 250 AT
8 Robe ColorWash 250 XT
6 Robe ColorSpot 170 AT
4 Robe Scan 250 XT
13 Martin Atomic 3000 Strobe
124 Color Kinetics iColor
Cove QL
30 Color Kinetics ColorBlast 6
175' TMB Custom Truss
(8° Curve)
13' OD Pro Span Circular
Center Truss
2 CITC Haze-Max DMX Hazer
4' Mirror Ball with Motor
1 Middle Atlantic Wallmount
Rack for Dimming
2 ETA Power Conditioner

Stage Lighting

28 ETC Source Four® PAR
4 ETC Source Four 26°
2 TMB ProCan 4-Lite
Audience Blinder
2 Leprecon MX-2400
Dimmer Pack
30' Front Truss
40' Curved Two-Tier Rear Truss


1 MA Lighting grandMA Light Console

Video / Visuals:

Edirol Four Screen Video System


1 Edirol V4 4-Channel Vision Mixer
1 Edirol DV7 Video Canvas
1 Edirol MIDI Keyboard
1 ELO 15" Touchscreen
1 DV-7PR Video Presenter
(w/Edirol PCR-50 MIDI Controller)
1 Marshall VJ-563P
(3×5" Monitor Unit)
2 Toshiba SD K750 DVD Player
3 Doug Fleenor Design Optical Isolator


4 BenQ PB 7210 2200 Lumen
Video Projector
2 Draper Luma Video Screen
2 Rose Brand Poly Cyc
1 Edirol Fixed Camera for I-Mag