Prelite From Coast To Coast

Prelite NY and Prelite SF were each recently involved with two large-scale productions where time and budget were big factors. Prelite NY’s studio space was used to support LD Philip Rosenberg’s design for the Broadway Bares fundraising event for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA), while Prelite SF helped LD John Featherstone realize his design for the Opening Ceremonies of the Gay Games VII in Chicago.

For the second year in a row, LD Philip Rosenberg lit Broadway Bares, which took place at Roseland Ballroom in June. This year’s theme was “New York Strip.” Rosenberg explains, “The show was a dance concert of 200 actor/dancers that came together under several different choreographers, each number was its own short story that this year centered around some NYC theme and always involved nakedness, in some form.”

One of Rosenberg’s main concerns was time, he notes. “Prelite was great for this project because our time in the venue was limited. We could get some very accurate focus points laid out and some rough cueing done. By being able to have two days in the studio, we virtually tripled our programming time. Without Prelite, we would have been much more behind schedule than we already were. It was also a great time to get familiar with the rig, so we were already warmed up by the time we got to Roseland. We hit the ground running.”

Rosenberg found the atmosphere of the Prelite studio offered the right balance to get some focused work done, “I really enjoy how helpful Prelite is. We never feel as though we can't ask a question or get a problem solved. It is amazing to have someone with Rodd's [McLaughlin] skills a few paces away though they are also great at giving the perfect amount of creative space. Every designer needs privacy to experiment and make mistakes, so it’s nice not to feel like we are being watched over. I was pleased with the results of our time in the studio. We learned last year to not spend a lot of the time with color and gobo; this year we focused on preset focuses and cue structure and it paid off.” Rosenberg’s design was well received and the entire event paid off for the charity, Broadway Bares 16: New York Strip was a roaring success with a record-breaking $659,500 raised to benefit BC/EFA.

In SF, LD John Featherstone took his services to the venue using a Prelite Onsite system when he recently lit the opening ceremonies at Soldier Field in Chicago, for the seventh quadrennial Gay Games Sports and Cultural Festival. The games, which ran from July 15th through the 22nd, featured world-class athletes competing in 30 sports from more than 70 countries.

Featherstone, principal with Lightswitch, says, “It was a fairly traditional opening ceremony, a parade of athletes, a number of good-sized production numbers to support the overall themes of the events, a couple of solo performers, lighting of the flame — all the requisite requirements for an opening ceremony. One of the advantages of using a Prelite system with a project of this scale is that in a stadium event, there are so many different perspectives that by using previsualization, it gives you a really good opportunity to get an understanding how the lighting system is working from other vantage points.”

Featherstone explained why he likes to have the system onsite, “I am a big aficionado of the onsite approach more than the studio, even in the cities where Prelite has a studio. The closer to the actual show that you get, the more accurate and fleshed out the information is. It is sometimes challenging making a fiscally compelling argument with the producer to have the full design team there for the load-in, but by doing a Prelite Onsite set-up you get a double value. Not only do you have the design team onsite for questions and to give information, but you also are doing valuable work and the rest of the production team has the advantage of having you there. Increasingly, I also see other disciplines are finding the previsualization tools very useful. For example, a couple of shows we have done recently the video director has taken advantage of the system to make sure that his camera positions were going to work. We have also had audio guys say ‘we want to re-hang part of the line array, but we want to make absolutely certain that we are going to be out of sightlines of the screen,’ so we put it in the software and they see it.”

However, one of Featherstone’s favorite advantages of using the Onsite system was to do with Soldier Field’s open-air environment. “With an outdoor event,and this might seem kind of like ‘duh,’ but certainly in our minds, for an outdoor event, Prelite adds the major advantage that you can bring your own darkness. And particularly in a facility, which is a union facility, minimizing the number of hours you can be working through the night and still keeping people off of short turnarounds is obviously very important. It gave us the ability to hit the ground running when we had the opportunity to start programming for real with a lot of stuff under our belts, because we were able to accurately model what it would look like.”

Featherstone’s design hit the right notes to open the Games, but he credits the support he was given, “I was very pleased with the results for the Gay Games event, our approach to lighting it was somewhat dictated by logistics and budget challenges. I have to say that Upstaging, Syncrolite, and Prelite really contributed significantly to our success.”

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