When national philanthropist Marguerite Casey Foundation (MCF) decided to hold its first national outreach event for 15,000 families across the country all in one day, it selected the Los Angeles Convention Center, Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center, and Chicago Navy Pier as venues for this simultaneous town hall event. Although a great idea, this posed a major challenge as they had never done this type of event before and had only six weeks to make it happen. MCF hired Ignite Production Group, a marketing and branding division of The Allstar Group based in San Diego California, to pull off this feat and bring families together to create a Single Voice For Change.

To bring this vision of unity to life, MCF show producer Maria Bures wanted a visually impactful stage design fabricated to look identical in all three cities. Ignite's creative director, Randy Prendergast, designed a contemporary stage set to deliver large-scale punch, allow multiple transitions, a moving multimedia backdrop, and changing stage elements flown out to reveal big name acts. With only four weeks to build each 18'×72' stage set, we worked tirelessly to complete them on time and on budget.

Logistics manager Chris Eller worked closely with Debbie Hollis and Michael McCafferty to overcome many obstacles. Faced with as little as a one-day load-in schedule in Birmingham, this tight time line threatened to create overtime and affect the production budget. Three days before the event, hurricanes set down in New Orleans, and the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center was declared the official evacuation center, forcing us to work around evacuees while staying respectful of the situation. Ignite's logistics team also faced the technical challenges of ensuring all satellite feeds, webcasting, managing 300 table top computers for guests, and live broadcasting during the event.

Once onsite, each identical stage was set up according to design, allowing LDs to design show lighting with textures, color washes, and scene changes produced by over 50 conventional and 10 moving fixtures simultaneously showing the same colors in each city. Large venues created audio issues in each city but were accommodated with high quality line-array systems featuring eight to 10 flown sound clusters, full backline, back stage mix gear and support.

Video production included multiple screens, long lens cameras, and a handheld camera for multiple shots of speakers and audience. Master switching was done in Birmingham and sent via satellite between all three cities, allowing each location to see each other's presentations.

Three weeks before the event, 900 laptop computers and 10,000 audience response remotes were added, so Ignite coordinated a safe power distribution plan to over 300 tables in each city. Realtime data was supported between the cities throughout the meeting and live web cast from Birmingham.

The end result was a highly successful, well-executed event using modern technology to connect thousands of people and show everyone has a voice to be heard!



Randy Prendergast and Maria Bures: Production Designers

Bob Kraus: Creative Director

Chris Eller, Michael McCaffery, and Debbie Hollis: Logistics Managers

Matt Chevalier and Adam Ebert: Video Content and Screen Design

Jonathan Lieurance, Marc Martenetti, Gary Sharp, Preston Parsons, Tom Miller: Audio

Mitch Grant, Jonathan Claar, Tim Shust: Engineers

John Albertson, Mark Lovelace, Knute Obrien: Show Call Directors

Bob Gordon, Logan Shunmugam, Chuck Mason: Tech. Directors

Chris Rose, Michael Harris, Ian Fellows: Video Engineers

Chris Merriman, Alex Noland: Electricians

Clifford Williams, James Wagner, Dennis McGrew: Lighting Design

Tim Nachtmann: PowerPoint Operator


Folsom 1604 Switcher

9 Barco R12+ DLP Projector

1 Sony DFS-700A Switcher

2 Folsom Pro-Scan Converter

1 GVG Kayak Dd1 Digital System

4 Barco Encore Control/Processing

3 Sony D-50 Digital Camera

40 EV-XLC Line-Array

1 Yamaha PM5D-RH Console

9 Dolby Lake Processor

1 Midas Verona 560 Console

1 Presonus ACP88 Compressor/Gate

2 Yamaha SPX90 II Processor

2 Klark Teknik DN360 Stereo EQ

8 MacPherson M15x Monitors

4 Vari-Lite VL3500 Spot

8 Martin Professional Stagebar 54-L

46 ETC Source Four Ellipsoidal 750w

2 High End Systems Wholehog 3

1 ETC Sensor+ Dimmer Rack L6-20