Wrestling fans, newlyweds, duffers, and supermodels: what do these disparate groups have in common, aside from maybe an appearance on daytime talk shows? They've all been lured by the sights and sounds of entertainment technology. From corporate meetings to bar mitzvahs, designers, consultants, distributors, and manufacturers continue to find unusual projects to ply their wares, which is why we bring you this followup to last year'sroundup of the weird, the wonderful, and most important, the lucrative.
Last year we offered you a more professional lineup: an auction, two trade show exhibits, and a corporate party, with a wedding thrown in for good measure. This year, we decided to loosen our ties, kick off our shoes, and have some fun: a pro wrestling match, a golf museum, a fashion shoot, and another wedding (sorry, but we're suckers for romance). But keep in mind that these projects, however lighthearted the subject matter, are still as challenging and rewarding as a theatre, film, theme park, or other mainstream project. It's just that they might make for more interesting topics at dinner parties.
When I was a senior in high school, my newspaper advisor proposed an experiment in the interests of making us more well-rounded journalists. All of the editors would pair up and then switch responsibilities for one week. So, sports editor Steve Fish took over as features editor and I got his job. And, oh, lucky me, wrestling season was just about to start. After a bit of eye-rolling, the team's coach agreed to let me observe practices, so I spent five days after school watching sweaty guys in different weight classes practice half-nelsons and cross-face cradles. Apart from the fact that there were indeed a few cute boys grappling with the rest of the behemoths, I don't remember being particularly entertained by the experience.
Of course, my classmates didn't have names like Ric Flair, Lex Luger, or Disco Inferno, and Spandex, feather boas, and kilts were not their required uniforms. The amateur sport bears only the faintest resemblance to today's world of professional wrestling--which of course exists primarily to entertain. No one knows this truth better than David Crockett, vice president of production for World Championship Wrestling (WCW). "My late father started The National Wrestling Alliance, or Jim Crockett Productions, which was based in Charlotte, NC, over 80 years ago," Crockett explains. "He started off with the big bands--Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller--and he did boxing matches with Joe Louis and Jack Dempsey. Plus, we had 75 dates a year with the Harlem Globetrotters.
"We used to have a hockey team, the Winston-Salem Polar Twins, and a double-A baseball Franchise in Charlotte, the Charlotte O's," Crockett continues. "But wrestling has always been the area that generated the dollars. And it has evolved. We changed from a wrestling company producing television to a TV company producing wrestling. It's a big difference. The entertainment value has increased an awful lot."
So has the sport's popularity. Professional wrestling has always been a staple of television, from Gorgeous George in the 50s to Hulk Hogan and the WWF in the 80s to Goldberg and WCW in the 90s. But the advent of cable has enabled the sport to reach an even wider audience; the WCW can be seen on an average of three nights a week (WCW Monday Nitro on TNT, Thursday Thunder and WCW Saturday Night on WTBS), as well as on a plethora of local stations and pay-per-view events. As a result, wrestling stars like Goldberg and Raven are household names, and can be seen on everything from Donny and Marie to Mad TV.
Crockett has been with WCW since it was formed 10 years ago. "My job as vice president of television production is to put the physical event and television equipment lighting together," he says. "I bring it up to 'On Air.' After that, the television director and executive producer take over, and through camera work, show people what we've done."
During the show, Crockett will monitor the production elements by making sure all the equipment works. "I'll go in the truck and make sure that certain areas are lit or not lit, and that the sound being sent to the truck and to the building is correct," he says. "Because if your sound is weak, the people will sit on their hands. It's just like a rock concert. I've got subwoofers placed throughout the building that will vibrate each seat. That helps each individual feel more a part of the wrestling event. When that wrestler comes out to music, it's just like a rock star entrance."
With the familiar ring standing in for the stage, other rock show trappings abound. Wrestlers enter the arena behind an curtained entranceway sporting the WCW logo; moving lights, sound effects, pyro, lasers, and elaborate sets are standard for every show. "For lasers, we work with Jim Martin at Peachtree Laser, Inc. We work with Randy Bast at Pyrotek Special Effects, Inc. in Memphis. We were looking at the propane flame charges Kiss uses the other day--we may add them to a show soon," Crockett says. "One of my guys is getting ready to go out with the Kiss tour, and he says we do just as much pyro as Kiss per show--it's just that they do this every day."
Crockett and his crew usually do two shows per week, and each show is televised from a different city. "We have so many people who are watching on television that we have to pay a lot of attention to that medium," Crockett says. "The arena audience helps make the TV program exciting, so our audio person in the truck takes the audio high and low to accentuate the crowd. We have as many mics around the ring as there are at football games, just because we want to pick up every sound we can. It helps you feel. I want you to feel that you're sitting ringside--that that wrestler's sweat could hit you in the face."
Al Smith of Rock Hill, SC-based Paragon Productions supplies the audio equipment for the WCW events. "Al has worked with me for the past 17 years," Crockett says. "He'll bring in different speakers and mics and we'll listen to them all, just to get the best sound possible. It's always fun to try to match the in-house arena sound to what we need for the television levels. Audio requirements for a typical show include: 24 Meyer MSL4TPL powered loudspeakers, 10 Meyer UPA1P powered loudspeakers, one Meyer LD1A Line Driver, four Meyer MSL4 powered speakers, six OAP PX1560 PA cabinets, three OAP PX1090 PA cabinets, six SR1596 15" speakers, six SR1080 10" speakers, one Soundcraft K2 24-channel console with 24 mono inputs, four stereo inputs, and two power supply units with auto switches, two ATA shock-mount racks with drive effects (stereo DBX EQ, two DBX 160A compressors, six DBX 166 insert compressor/limiters, Teac CD/cassette combo, Goldline RTA, Behringer De-esser, and Tripplite LCR 2400 power conditioner), an d one 360 Systems Digicart II Plus with remote.
For lighting, Crockett works with lighting designer Jeff Bornstein. Frank Santoro of Orlando-based lighting company FLA Productions supplies lighting technicians. "We use a lot of High End Systems products," Crockett says. "I own the majority of the lighting myself, but if I have a show in Tampa and another show two days later in Salt Lake City, I'll rent a lighting system from Robert Roth at Lighting Technologies. Robert actually used to design a lot of sets for me. Also, when I want to try a new piece of lighting gear out, I'll usually go there to check it out."
Equipment for a typical WCW televised event includes: 12 High End Systems Litho Cyberlight(R) automated luminaires, four High End Systems Trackspots(R), 24 High End Systems Studio Spot 250s, 12 High End Systems Studio Spots, 180 Tomcat PAR-64s, 120 PAR-46s, 300 PAR-64 1ks, 24 ETC Source Fours, 25 racks of PAR-64 ACLs, 16 2k zip soft lights, 24 Wybron Colorams, six three-cell cyc lights, 48 High End Systems AF1000 Dataflash strobe units, two Lycian xenon followspots, one ETC Expression console, and one High End Systems Status Cue(R) controller, and 10 High End Systems F-100(TM) fog machines.
"We use basically the same lighting rig for all the television events--we just move it from place to place," Crockett says. "The entrance is what changes, depending on the program. It's about a 60 by 60 box truss. We fly dimmer beach and, of course, the stage entrance dimmers are behind the curtain and the lasers are also stationed behind the curtain. The lighting and sound boards are near the cameras that are centered on the ring. We put the lighting and sound on either side, down below, where they can't be seen. We can't mix center house, like a concert, because it's a television event."
Running all of this gear obviously requires a lot of power. "We pull one tractor trailer with two huge, 1,600A, three-phase generators," Crockett says. "We also have two smaller generators that are assigned to the television trucks and uplinks. We rent them from Motion Picture and Events out of Wilmington, NC."
Atlanta-based Rick Morganelli and New York-based Irene Koffman design most of the scenic elements. "I travel to each one of these events with about 115 people, and that's just who I bring in--that doesn't count the number of people that I employ while we're there," Crockett explains. "I have two production managers for each event: arena production manager, Diane Keith, who is in charge of the physical setup, the equipment, the ring, the lights. Then I have a television production manager, Joyce Atkinson, who is in charge of the TV crew, the TV truck, and the uplinks."
Site coordinator Kerri Calloway and Crockett set up the seating in the building and arrange how tickets are to be sold, when they should be sold, and the overall look of the building. "I'm serving two masters at that point," Crockett explains. "I have to maximize seating, yet I cannot affect the production quality of the show by putting so many seats in there that the cameramen cannot move--because this is a television event. It's both a huge TV and arena event. People who could watch it for free pay to come to the show. That means we're doing our job, because the people want to be part of this event."
The WCW's Road to Spring Break began at the end of February. The events all took place at arenas on or near university campuses, such as UNC-Chapel Hill, Winthrop College, Lawrence/Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, NC, Worcester, MA, Cincinnati, Toledo, and finally, Lexington, KY. "We end the college tour part in Panama City Beach for Spring Break," Crockett says. "We're doing it at a club that will only seat about 2,500 to 3,500 people. I realized that the only way we could do it was to put the ring right in the middle of the swimming pool. So that's what we did. We got a commercial pontoon system and a huge crane and lifted these pontoon sections over the building and into the pool. Then we erected the wrestling ring there. We do a lot of wacky, crazy stunts."
High on that list is the annual Harley-Davidson rally. "This August will be our third year in Sturges, SD, for that," Crockett says. "It's a pay-per-view wrestling event every year that takes a whole different set of lights because we use outdoor HMIs for that. But we have the stage show as well, so I bring Cyberlights and Studio Colors and a lot of outdoor pyrotechnics. We have to bring two and three tractor-trailers full of generators because they don't have any power. And you've got 100,000 bikers there, which is an event to behold on its own."
Throughout the year, the WCW travels all over the US and even to Canada. "The only stage I've yet to do this in is Alaska," Crockett says. "It's really exciting. I've been called a beach commander, who is the person before a military battle who is given the plans by the generals. It's his job to manage everything to form a beachhead. All the vendors that work with me, it's our job to win the battle, which is to put on a great TV show. And everybody works together--it's a big team."
Depending on the scale of a particular event, Crockett will also hire outside stagehands. "We bring freelancers in from everywhere," Crockett says. "I have 10 tractor trailers, plus three straight trucks that can transport our equipment for most shows. WCW is a total company--we have our own merchandising, ad sales, and syndication. We also have our own in-house post-production company, our own training center, telemarketing, and, of course, legal department!"
As of February, the WCW event schedule had been scheduled through June. "I generally fly out on Sunday night or Monday morning," Crockett explains. "I have a production manager whosupervises the load-ins. They'll start loading in about three o'clock Sunday afternoon for Nitro. Thunder has to load in the day before, on Wednesday, because it's so set-intensive. Pay-per-views we usually have the day before--Saturday, and the show is on Sunday. Each pay-per-view is different, so we need time to make sure everything is all right. We then set cameras and do camera checks while the TV people create moves for the camera. And it's 52 weeks a year. We don't stop."
Check out the resume of set designer George Xenos and you'll find a pretty diverse lineup of projects. It's a typical mix of theatre, plus other disciplines: In the last two seasons, for example, he's designed such productions as the Off Broadway sleeper Killer Joe; Danny Hoch's Jails, Hospitals, and Hip Hop; and the well-reviewed Men on the Verge of an His-panic Breakdown. He's also the resident designer at the very hip Naked Angels Theatre Company. Just for variety, he serves as designer for the annual Halloween horrorfest Madison Scare Garden and, this past December, he designed scenery for the live holiday show Kenny Rogers--Christmas From the Heart. He works in other media, too, including a couple of low-budget films and the Bravo TV chatfest Inside the Actors Studio.
What's not so typical is Xenos' work designing for print--fashion layouts and advertisements for such magazines as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Out. These projects range from serving as a kind of stylist for fashion shoots to building large-scale sets to fulfill the elaborate fantasies of editors and photographers.
For an Anne Klein shoot that featured such notable actresses as Patti LuPone, Ann Reinking and Camryn Manheim, Xenos designed a Paris loft in New York's Day for Night Studios. For a layout in Italian Vogue dedicated to the Romantic look, he dressed locations in a New York-area nursery and the National Academy of Art (he brought a painted backdrop to the nursery), to create that appropriately dreamy 19th century look. For another clothing line, Simultaneous, he designed a vertiginous backdrop, a fuchsia, forced-perspective hallway, which was guaranteed to give the merchandise that ultra-hip quality. For most of these projects, he had two or three days of prep time, followed by a one- or two-day shoot.
Some of Xenos' projects involve elaborate planning and construction. For one commercial client, The Interface Companies, which sells carpeting, Xenos designed a giant tree house, in which carpeting in various forms stood in for several key parts of the building (carpet rolls served as pillars, the hammock was an unrolled piece of carpet, carpet tiles were used as roof shingles). The house was built on the Averill Harriman estate (in upstate Harriman, NY), then populated with a squadron of attractive adolescent models. "It was built by Tom Carroll Scenery," says Xenos. "Carpenters built the deck and leggings onsite. The walls were built at Tom Carroll's, then brought in and laid on the deck. The windows came from a salvage house. It took 12 hours to build it onsite." Xenos adds that he often uses Centerline Studios of Cornwall, NY, for these and some of this theatrical projects.
Perhaps the mostly overtly theatrical of Xenos' recent projects was a fashion layout for Harper's Bazaar based on the 1977 film John Cassavetes film Opening Night, which starred Gena Rowlands as a troubled Broadway star. For the layout, titled "Drama Queen," Xenos built a stage set, a posh apartment interior, on the stage of the Off Broadway Cherry Lane Theatre. The model Amber Valletta, dressed and coiffed like Rowlands, wore the latest in evening wear while striking attitudes of chic despair. Xenos brought in theatrical lighting, which was designed by James Carmen; he also dressed one of the theatre's dressing rooms for additional shots. The designer even made his way into print, modeling as a suave but surly John Cassavetes type. (Modeling runs in the family, Xenos' pet Weimaraner, Flash, has been featured in several Perry Ellis ads; you can also find Flash in the treehouse photos).
Xenos brings to these projects the ability to quickly design and build evocative, camera-friendly environments. For an advertising insert in Out magazine, sponsored by Dockers pants and featuring a number of prominent gay figures including Olympics gold medalist Bruce Ha, Will & Grace co-creator Max Mutchins, and Eagle Scout James Dale, he built a tiny apartment setting with textured wallpaper that looks good when photographed in black and white. The result was gritty and intimate, as if each model was caught by the camera sitting at his or her own kitchen table. He did similar work for an Out cover shoot, also in black and white, depicting Julianne Moore, for an article tied to her recent appearance in the remake of Psycho. Projects like these, says the designer, occupy "the middle ground between theatre and film."
Xenos insists that such projects are not that different from theatre design. "The photographer or the creative director has a concept. Some of them know exactly what they want; with others, you have to interpret a little bit." The time frame for these projects is almost always short to nonexistent: "Sometimes, I find out about them two days in advance. With the treehouse shoot, I had one week, but that one had to be reconfigured a bit when they changed the location." Sometimes he works off very basic sketches; with other projects, such as the Out shoots, he says, "I design it like a set, with elevations and all that."
Xenos maintains that he enjoys the hectic time frames on these shoots; the work, he says, "is as satisfying as doing a play." Meanwhile, his fashion horizons continue to expand. Recently, he designed a shoot for, of all things, Russian Vogue, featuring a model, dressed in fur, surrounded by a pair of topiary sculptures, along with plenty of snow. As the designer says, "It's an opportunity to do cool stuff." Smile for the camera when you say that.
In case you hadn't noticed, golf isn't just your grandad's game anymore. It's hip to play it again (if indeed it ever really went out of style): Michael Jordan is wild for it; as are film and TV stars like Tea Leoni and Sharon Stone, alternarockers REM, and, of course, a young sensation named Tiger Woods.
In response to this resurgence of interest, various international golf organizations, including the PGA and PGA Tours, LPGA, the US Golf Association, and the Masters Tournament, got together and built a village--The World Golf Village, that is, in St. Augustine, FL. The 6,300-acre complex boasts condos, the Slammer and the Squire golf course, an Imax(R) theatre, a hotel and convention center, and, at the center, the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum.
Architect E. Verner Johnson and Associates of Boston worked with New York-based exhibit design firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) to build the Hall of Fame, a glass tower set amid an 18-hole themed exhibit space. Ralph Appelbaum, principal in charge of the project, says they used a "vocabulary of crystal, steel, stained wood, suede, and glass drawn from the world of golf rather than the world of exhibit making" throughout.
In the exhibition space, the front nine holes take visitors through the historical game; the back nine concentrate on the modern game (starting in 1950). Appelbaum says, "Each hole combines artifacts and images and DVD programs and interactives, all mixed to appeal to all ages. Each hole has a distinctive design with its own colors and materials. Some of the things that people can do is go onto a historical village putting green and use hickory shafter clubs and gutta percha balls; they can also participate in a Hall of Fame Open, which is an outdoor-like golf competition; at another hole, you can revisit Shell's The Wonderful World of Golf. It's a world-class facility where the soul of golf is meant to be experienced. It's kind of like the World of Golf's clubhouse."
The 18 holes and Hall of Fame are anchored by the introductory experience of the museum, a nine minute-long videowall presentation called "Passion to Play," produced by New York-based Mediaworks. Andrew Clayman of Mediaworks assembled a series of still and moving images, including footage and photos of golf greats such as Nancy Lopez, Sam Snead, and Arnold Palmer; classic courses, like Pebble Beach and the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland; and celebrity golfers, including Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Gerald Ford. The images are shown on an 8'-high by 22'-wide videowall installed and engineered by A/V supplier Electrosonic.
RAA brought the Minneapolis-based Electrosonic on board the project, having worked with the company on over 100 projects, including the Holocaust Museum, the Newseum, and various exhibits at the American Museum. Tim Large, the Golf Hall of Fame exhibit technical manager, had also worked with Electrosonic, on a project for the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland. Electrosonic installed 32 Pioneer RM-V24000NAC 40" video cubes, arranged in three panels--a four-screen by four-screen central wall and two flanking towers, four screens high and two screens wide, which stand a few inches behind and to the side of the center array. The eight video signals are distributed by an Electrosonic Video Server(TM), and their onscreen placement is controlled by a pair of synchronized Electrosonic PicBloc(TM) videowall processors, which also generate video transition effects and govern the audio and custom lighting effects.
Electrosonic also built an eight-second "window" into the show to allow recent video footage to be plugged into "Passion to Play." Video footage of PGA Tour highlights are sent to IBM's Interactive Media Studio in Atlanta, where it is digitized and compressed, then sent over the Internet to the Hall of Fame for insertion. "Electrosonic's C-Through for Windows software, and the techniques Electrosonic's engineers used in programming the videowall, make it possible for us to keep the show fresh," Large says.
"A couple of minutes into the show, things really start happening with the environmental effects, and that grabs people," Large says. Effects include a gradual lighting of the darkened theatre during a fairway sunrise, and startling thunderclaps and lightning effects that augment an onscreen rain delay. These lighting effects, created and sequenced by another New York consultant, lighting designer Ira Levy, are triggered by Electrosonic videowall processors that synchronize them with the rest of the program.
Levy says Mediaworks brought him into the project. "They came to me and said, 'We really want a feeling of interaction, we want the video to come off the screen. We don't just want people sitting in a room looking at a two-dimensional wall.' So I designed a curved truss that would mimic the same angle as the videowall. It's like a direct mirror of it.
"I decided to put the money where it would really have the most impact," Levy continues. "I felt that color was important, so we put in ETC Source Fours and Source Four PARs for color. The Source Fours were used in the front part for color projection, and we cut soft lines on the floor between the monitors. When the video is showing a rolling green, there's a green light coming into the room." For the sunrise effect, Levy used a bright orange. All the light fixtures used AC Lighting Chroma-Q scrollers with very long time fades on the gel strings to lessen the noise. "One of the issues was making sure there wasn't any noise of gel strings rolling to colors when it was dark," Levy says.
For the thunderstorm, Levy used Diversitronics strobes with thunderblast effects and custom-made a rain effect. The thunderclaps and other sounds were provided by a Bose Surround System, including a Wave Cannon, 502A and 203 speakers, and Crown CT-210 stereo amps and PIP BEQ modules, all installed and supplied by Ace Audio of St. Augustine.
Appelbaum says of the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum experience, "It's a great day, a way for people to get immersed in golf. You can connect to the reasons why Dad isn't around for four hours every Sunday, or Grandpa, or Grandma. It's a shared social game, and so the whole exhibit, rather than being like a typical museum, is really an experience for visitors."
"'Passion to Play' inspires interest in the museum, for golf lovers and for others who are less familiar with the game and its traditions," says Large. "Sometimes, when it's over, people break into applause."
On September 19, El Capitan Ranch in Santa Barbara, CA, was transformed with production values fit for a rock concert. Approximately 450 moving lights lit up the night. Set pieces borrowed from the Daytime Emmy Awards, including an oversized martini glass, dressed the scene. Celebrity emcees and legendary musicians provided the entertainment. But the evening's star attractions weren't rockers or celebrities but a newlywed couple, Chris and Maryann Edgecomb, who orchestrated a wedding reception that they (and 1,000 or so invited guests) would never forget. "The theme was 'Swept Away,'" says lighting director Richard Lord Jr. of Santa Barbara-based Luners Pro Sound & Lighting. "Chris wanted his guests to be 'swept away.'"
And swept away they were. With a $7 million budget, Edgecomb, who is CEO of telecommunications provider Star Telecommunications, threw a post-nuptial party for the record books, enlisting Luners and lighting designer Lawrence Oberman for the lighting, Designs by Douglas for the scenic elements, and San Diego-based Boom Boom for the pyrotechnics. Lord, who has helped light a number of parties and events for Edgecomb, says he is a dream client whose credo is "More is more" when it comes to specifying lighting. "For every event we've done for him, we go in and set up an initial lighting situation and then he adds to it," says Lord. "He wants everything to be the best."
Naturally, this was the case for Edgecomb's wedding, which Luners approached accordingly in the groom's lavish style. "For the initial design, we incorporated as much equipment as we could rationalize," he says. "There were approximately 450 moving lights on this job. We used five Wholehog IIs, each 75% full, to control the lights. There were about 500 dimmers, and we used a whole Wholehog universe for just dimmers. That was the first time the programmer [Joe Allegro] had ever seen somebody use a whole universe for just dimmers."
Luners provided some of the equipment with additional lighting and trussing supplied by Light & Sound Design. Peter Alexander managed the project from LSD's end. AC Lighting provided support for the Wholehog programming and software to run a variety of lighting fixtures, which included everything from High End Systems Studio Colors(R) to Martin MAC 500s to Clay Paky Golden Scans. "We still get complaints from companies around the country that nobody could get anything out of Los Angeles during this wedding," laughs Lord. "We had everybody's fixtures."
The entire preproduction setup unfolded on a fast track of 16 days and required building a mess hall for 40 crew members, installing 16 phone lines, bringing in trailers for offices, providing equipment storage, and even building a road to transport the equipment from the highway to the event site.
With preproduction complete, the stage was set for the party, which unfolded on the 3,000-acre El Capitan Ranch. Guests arrived around 7pm and gathered between two canopies in a V-shaped entrance/cocktail area adorned with a fountain and granite rock carved with the name of the ranch. Off to one side there was a stage with a ground-supported 20' x 20' lighting rig with PAR cans where David Crosby and his band played to accompany the guests' arrival.
Under one canopy, there was a cigar bar where stogies were rolled by hand, a 30' martini bar, and couch areas, all lit by Oberman for a "warm nightclub feel." The other canopy housed fortunetellers and caricaturists. Both canopies were clear-topped and lined with twinkle lights, which were also placed in the branches of surrounding trees. On either side of the V-shaped entrance area there were three 20' truck truss towers, each wrapped in fabric and installed with two Martin MAC 500 moving-head fixtures to create movement, patterns, and provide 360-degree coverage during the pyro show.
The main venue, a 200'-long by 200'-wide by 50'-high, free-standing clamshell structure behind the canopies, was unveiled at 8:30pm, when the draped entrance was opened. Twenty High End Systems Studio Colors created a rainbow effect on the front of the structure, while 16 Martin MAC 500s with Apollo patterns created movement and projected a water effect at the top of the rainbow. The sides of the structure were lit with 32 High End Systems Cyberlights(R) and eight LSD Mega Mags on 40' scissor lifts.
Inside the main tent, some of the scenic pieces by Designs By Douglas may have looked familiar: they were part of the set for the 1998 Daytime Emmy Awards. The entire ceiling was draped with a gold-colored scrim to obscure the framework of the structure. A huge martini glass hung over a four-sided main bar, which was the centerpiece of the room. Buffets lined each side of the room and there were different-sized tables and sitting areas, including both couches and booths, configured throughout the space. The main table was a four-sided booth with a huge cylinder column that stretched from the ground to the ceiling. For the entertainment, which included a star-studded lineup of hosts and musicians, two stages were placed at 30-degree angles in a V-shaped configuration. "There was a lighting designer for each band who called the lights for each show," Lord explains. "The lighting designers laid out the initial design for each stage and we augmented each stage with different equipment."
Both stages were lit with 24 High End Studio Colors and 40 Light & Sound Design Icons and Icon washlights. Four High End Systems DF50s bathed the entire room in a light haze. Above the fabric ceiling, the lighting team placed 112 High End Systems Studio Colors for color changes, and 75 MAC 500s with Apollo breakup patterns below the fabric for projections. PAR cans created a three-color ambient wash underneath the fabric at the peak. The dance floor was lit with six Clay Paky Golden Scans and 20 High End Systems Technobeams. Sixty ETC Source Fours illuminated the bars and buffets. While it was a very warm lighting look for the initial walk-in with the primary look in amber and ambient washes in three different blues, Lord said the lighting looks changed dramatically and chromatically throughout the evening.
At 11:30pm, more drama unfolded when a celebrity host directed all 1,000 guests outside the tent. "The entire property went pitch black," says Lord. "Then there was cannon fire from the bluff just in front of the people that signaled a synchronized fireworks show to recorded music."
The 15-minute fireworks show, launched from two barges a quarter-mile offshore, was by San Diego-based pyro company Boom Boom and federally licensed pyrotechnician Rick Helgason. Lord was duly impressed by his colleagues' work. "It ended with larger cannon fire, the whole bluff in front of the guests went up in sparks, and then the six towers that had the MACs on them in the entryway burst into flame with 2'- diameter x 12'-high torches on the top of each column," he says. "That fire effect was the only thing that was a surprise to the client," Lord continues. "He poked his nose around so much in the two weeks it took us to build the event site that he knew about everything except that flame. He left his bride and walked over to tell us how much he loved it."
After the pyrotechnics, guests returned to the main venue for an explosive headline act, and then partied until 2am, when the festivities finally wound down. Now that the Edgecombs have swept away friends and family with their wedding spectacular, they are looking to plan future parties with the team at Luners Pro Sound & Lighting. In fact, Edgecomb recently formed Star Power, a generator company for which Luners serves as a manager. Powered up and armed with top-of-the-line lighting, Luners is digging through its bag of tricks for the next Edgecomb extravaganza. "For the wedding, we were going to use a 6'-diameter mirrorball and have it motored down during one of the acts," says Lord. "But we wanted a more elegant feel, plus we had to save something for the Millennium New Year's."