Industrial Light and Magic

Every production has specific needs. Some shows have projection, some have water, and some even have animals among a long list of requirements. While a recent corporate meeting that I lit did not have any exotic animals, it did have its own set of challenges.

As is typical in corporate theatre, there was a large ballroom to service 400 to 500 clients and employees with a stage for presentations. In addition, there were seven breakout rooms that contained meetings for approximately 50 employees and clients throughout each day.

The client required that each breakout room display the show logo — an image of an ear bud — on a black spandex background. Technical director for Jack Morton Worldwide, Duncan Watwood, required a 1,200W unit to make sure that the image had enough punch on the black material. The easiest way for us to accomplish this was with a custom gobo in an automated luminaire. The Martin Professional MAC 2000 Performance was specified so that we had shuttering capabilities on the light. Each room would also have four ETC Source Four ellipsoidals for the podium and chairs, as well as three Philips Solid-State Lighting Solutions ColorBlast 12s. The ballroom already had six ColorBlast 12s.

Now, for the fun part: Watwood didn't want a console in every room, as the budget didn't allow for eight consoles. As the lighting designer for the event, I specified a Strand Light Palette Classic and SN110 Network Nodes to distribute DMX over Ethernet.

Here's how I laid out the system: Four of the breakout rooms were directly behind the main ballroom, separated by an air wall. No problem there, as we ran DMX for those and daisy-chained everything back to the console. The main ballroom was on straight DMX as well, but three of the breakout rooms were on a different level, and there was also an automated luminaire that needed to project a gobo in the hotel lobby. These rooms were hundreds or thousands of feet apart, in some cases, and not easy to connect together.

This would have required nine consoles total. Since the industrial took over the entire hotel for this show, I worked with the client and the hotel's IT department to dedicate a range of IP addresses for our use. This way, we could just use the hotel's wired network that was used for web-casting, since that network had to broadcast to every breakout room. This gave us direct access to the lobby level, one floor up from the ballroom level. I dropped one Strand SN110 into one of the breakout rooms and then daisy-chained the other rooms via DMX.

After that, I plugged in my wireless access point and programmed all of the rooms using the Remote Palette software, connecting wirelessly from my laptop. The only thing that we had to do was turn off the DHCP server on my wireless access point, as DHCP was used for other areas.

“Knowing that we can effectively control an event over a wide area by leveraging our existing network allows me to consistently brand our entire event without a big hit to our budget,” says the client's VP of meetings and events about the setup.

The lobby luminaire was a different story, as there were no network taps within reach, but we did have power, so I had the hotel set up two wireless access points doing a point-to-point bridge from the nearest tap across the lobby to the fixture. I dropped another SN110 node and programmed wirelessly here, as well.

The client would require subtle changes in the looks in the breakout rooms from time to time, and we found an added benefit to this setup. With the entire system on one console, I could instantly edit the show from one location using cell phones or radios to communicate with the client, saving us hours of running around.

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