After Glow: Rachel Miller Designs American Idol After-Party

Twenty-one year-old Southern rocker and heartthrob Phillip Phillips was crowned the winner, and American Idol segued into its season finale after-party on May 22 at the L.A. Live Event Deck in downtown Los Angeles. Working with event designer YourBASH and event producer Fox Creative Services, lighting designer Rachel Miller of LA-based Kinetic Lighting incorporated LED fixtures into her rig to light the club-like environment with what she calls “a saturated look with ‘pops’ of white and color, starting with the dark, iconic Idol blue. The LEDs are great looking in red, blue, and purple, or any combination,” she says. “Working with LED is different, especially in terms of color mixing, RGB versus CMY, but the LEDs are working toward better color mixing. I really love them with the palette I was using.”

The 106,000sq-ft. white party tent spanned 225'x140', with an intricate truss structure created by event producer Brian Worley from YourBASH and Kinetic’s principal designer James Schipper. A series of angled, trapezoidal truss sections with dark blue fabric on the top created a false ceiling, rather than trying to light the large white tent. “The biggest challenge was finding the right angles to hit the panels, with an even wash of white or blue without hot spots from the LEDs if shooting off target,” explains Miller, whose crew from Kinetic Lighting included programmer Eric Barth, master electrician Asher Nelson, and project manager David Jacobi.

Kinetic Lighting provided the rig, with 200+ fixtures comprising four Philips Vari-Lite VL880 Spots, 10 VL3500 Wash units, four VL3000 Spots, 24 Philips Color Kinetics ColorBlaze units, eight Martin Professional MAC 301s, eight Martin MAC 250s, and four Elation Professional Platinum Beam 5Rs, ACL moving heads that use the MSD Platinum 5R lamp from Philips. The party was programmed on a High End Systems Road Hog console. “Many of the fixtures were placed into the Road Hog’s faders set up to ‘tap sync’ for an instant color BPM [beats per minute] match. It really set the party off,” says Barth.

A special look was created with two Platinum Beam 5Rs at the entrance and two at the rear, shooting lengthwise across the entire tent. “Once I saw the power these little guys had, I decided to fly them. I hung them at the entrance trapezoid and the rear trapezoid,” says Miller. Used in white, these fixtures added a bright, isolated beam look to the club-like environment.

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