ARRINGTON, VA – (For Immediate Release) – “Magic is what we do, Music is how we do it,” Jerry Garcia once told an interviewer. Had the Grateful Dead frontman been around to see the fantastical transformation of his namesake forest at the recent LOCKN’ Festival, he undoubtedly would have agreed that there can be quite a bit of magic involved in lighting too.
S. Jeremy Peters turned the thickly wooded “Garcia’s Forest” around LOCKN’s Terrapin Station Stage (named after the Grateful Dead’s mystical 1977 album) into a transcendental canopy of color with 150 pixel-mapped IP65 par fixtures that he controlled with his ChamSys PC Wing and Playback Wing.
Peters, the owner of SJP Productions, hung between three and five lights on over 30 trees in the forest. The glow from these fixtures radiated throughout the woods, colorizing other trees and creating a wonderland around the stage. Using modified hunting stands to set up his rig without harming the trees, he positioned his pars high over the ground. This not only aided in spreading the light, it also kept the fixtures safely out of the reach of festival goers.
The glowing forest provided a colorful backdrop for the music on the stage, which featured a life-sized replica of the Terrapin Station Porch that graced the cover of the Grateful Dead album. Peters lit the stage using only six par fixtures.
“We wanted very minimal stage lighting to keep the ‘porch’ vibe, so we just used a basic front wash and a colored wash on the tent ceiling,” he explained. “The idea was to make sure the porch façade was well lit, and that the Terrapin theme was easily identifiable, so we stuck mostly to the white front wash and let the trees take the forefront in our lightshow. However, when the music built up and called for something more exciting, we executed effects lighting on stage that was synched with the trees.”
Peters also executed some exciting color changing sweeps throughout the forest with his pixel-mapped pars. “We programmed every light in the forest to be a single pixel on the map, so that we could do large scale color wipes in any direction,” he detailed. “Because it was such a large space and because the trees are not in a perfect straight line, we spent many hours making sketches of the forest and analyzing them to determine the best grid pattern.
“We also had to take into account which direction the lights were facing and in which order the addresses were assigned on each individual tree,” continued Peters. “The ChamSys built-in pixel mapper and pixel-mapping effects helped us achieve a variety of looks, all beautifully coordinated with each other.”
Given the irregular pattern of the trees in Garcia’s Forest, Peters did not use a visualizer to design his show. Instead, he took multiple walks through the woods prior to the four-day festival to plan the design.
“I envisioned this in my head,” he explained. “Following this vision, we mounted the lights and programmed them over a five-day period. My ChamSys made it easy to do the programming. The pixel mapping feature is intuitive and it makes it very easy to add heads to the grid. To help us determine our grid for the pixel map, we used the highlight feature in our ChamSys to track each light and determine the position it faced. With such a big area to pixel map, it was important that we easily identify the heads. We also used the remote application on our iPad to help us troubleshoot when we had to go into the forest to investigate, which by the way, was usually quite a hike from the lighting console.”
Whenever he took a break and walked around the festival, Peters had no doubt that setting up and programming a forest of lights was worth the effort. “Coming up to the forest from a distance and seeing the entire forest glow with light was an absolute delight,” he said. “There was a lot of satisfaction seeing how people reacted to our work. We gave them a surreal experience. Plus, it was a lot of fun to get up on an aerial lift in the middle of the woods and set lights on trees.”
Transforming a forest with light and riding around high among the trees… Sounds like the kind of magical experience that Jerry Garcia himself would have enjoyed.
Based in the UK, ChamSys Ltd. was founded in 2003 by a group of designers and product developers seeking to create a lighting console that offered greater flexibility. The company’s MagicQ range has set an industry standard used in some of the most prominent concert, theatre, broadcast and club applications around the world. ChamSys was acquired in 2017 by Chauvet & Sons LLC, a leading global provider of professional luminaires, trusses, controllers and related equipment headquartered in the USA. For more information, visit www.chamsysusa.com