Scharff Weisberg Lights Up Times Square On New Year's Eve

Scharff Weisberg Lighting spent New Year’s Eve in New York’s Times Square, supporting the world-famous Ball Drop, live performances on the Mayor’s Stages, Mariah Carey’s appearance on ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, and at MTV.

Ball Drop
For the stroke-of-midnight Ball Drop produced by Countdown Entertainment, Scharff Weisberg provided Vari-Lite VL3000™ wash luminaires to accent and add punch to the shining orb, ETC Sensor™ Dimmers for the engineering room, and a custom interface to turn the ball’s strobe lights on and off. The event’s crew consisted of executive producer Jeffrey Straus of Countdown, associate executive Charlie Prideaux, principal of Paladin Entertainment, and project manager and head electrician John Trowbridge.

Times Square
This New Year’s Eve saw not one but three stages in the packed Times Square. The Countdown Stage hosted performances by The Troggs, Regis Philbin leading a karaoke-style sing-along, and Nick Cannon. The Chevy Stage featured Mary J. Blige and the USO Troupe, while the Pontiac Garage Stage showcased Puddle of Mudd, P.O.D., and OK Go! Scharff Weisberg furnished all three stages with Vari-Lite VL2500™ spot and wash luminaries, plus ETC Source Fours® and Altman Spectra PARs to light the spaces. Strip lights provided upward illumination.

Three fully-networked MA Lighting grandMA consoles “enabled the stages to be controlled from a single trailer,” notes Scharff Weisberg Lighting general manager Ben Saltzman. The networked grandMA also “allowed lighting designer Paul Miller to demonstrate more artistry across the three stages,” adds Charlie Prideaux. “He could do ballyhoos, fans and strobes on all of the stages at once thanks to them being tied together.”

Countdown Entertainment (Jeff Straus) and Times Square Alliance (Tim Tompkins) were co-executive producers. Charlie Prideaux was associate executive producer with Paul Sonnleitner handling programming.

New Year’s Rockin’ Eve
For ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, hosted by Dick Clark, Ryan Seacrest, and Hilary Duff, Scharff Weisberg provided a package, which included the new Vari-Lite 500™ tungsten wash luminaries to create moving-light effects, for Mariah Carey’s performance on a specially-built stage outside the Good Morning, America studios.

The large equipment complement from Scharff Weisberg also included assorted High End Studio Color® fixtures, High End Studio Spots®, Wybron CXI scrollers, ETC Source Four PARs and ellipsoidals, and a Flying Pig Systems Wholehog® 2 console. Terry Jackson coordinated the project for Scharff Weisberg. Dennis Size was lighting designer for Carey’s performance; the event was managed by ABC’s Ivan Sobolov.

MTV’s New Year
MTV’s New Year’s Eve programming, originated from several interior and exterior venues at Times Square. Scharff Weisberg furnished L&E dimmable fluorescents for the exterior Cabbage Patch stage and numerous Vari-Lite VL2000s, VL3000s and VL500s moving lights for all performances and interviews.

Color Kinetics’ ColorBlaze® high-performance LED strips were supplied to the large stage in MTV’s Uptown Studio, which hosts MTV’s hit program, Total Request Live, and a second interior stage. Set designer Tom Lenz of Tom Lenz Designs built ColorBlaze columns for the new sets, which served both as lighting elements and low-resolution video displays in support of the custom 12’x8’ LED wall, which takes centerstage in the Uptown Studio. A complement of Color Kinetics’ ColorBlasts® illuminated the architecture of the LED columns.

“The show was all about high energy,” says Tom Lenz. “Before, we had to look out the window to Times Square to get that extra push but the music and the LED columns’ dancing lights and video, customized for each performer, brought real power to the space.”

Lighting designer Brad Nelson of The Lighting Design Group gelled L&E strip lights at the edge of a big window facing out on Times Square to match the RGB palette of the LED columns and tie them in visually with the columns and the big LED screen’s pixel-style graphics. Scharff Weisberg also supplied a Green Hippo Hippotizer Express media server, which consolidated control of the big screen and the LED columns, plus a Wholehog controller for the additional indoor performance stage.

Jackie Kamhaji was video designer for the MTV programming with Amy Starr production manager for MTV and Marie Lynn Wagner art director for Tom Lenz Designs. Chris McMeen and John Healy coordinated the project for Scharff Wesiberg and Sean Cagney acted as technology specialist for the Hippotizer.

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