ADJ lights COVID-secure Nights of the Jack
Thursday, 22 October 2020
drive-thruHalloween celebrations in the Santa Monica mountains
USA - Now into its third year, Nights of the Jack is a Halloween experience which sees the historic King Gillette Ranch in the Santa Monica mountains of Los Angeles filled with thousands of hand-carved jack-o’-lanterns. Arranged into themed displays, the pumpkins are further enhanced by colourful background lighting from ADJ IP65-rated LED wash fixtures as well as smoke and bubble effects from ADJ atmospheric generators.
Named after King C. Gillette, founder of the Gillette razor brand, who owned and developed the land in the 1920s, the King Gillette Ranch is a 588-acre site in the Calabasas region of Los Angeles that is now owned and operated by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
Having successfully launched in 2018 and experienced considerable growth last year, Nights of the Jack 2020 was put in jeopardy – as with so many events – by Covid-19. In past years the attraction had a walkthrough format, with crowds of visitors strolling between the displays at their own pace. However, there was no way that would be allowed to happen in 2020. Fortunately, the organisers were able to pivot the attraction to provide visitors with a fun family activity that is also fully COVID-secure.
“For a long time we weren’t sure if Nights of the Jack was going to happen or not this year, because LA county is pretty locked down,” explains lighting designer, Michael Hoffman. “Then in July we did a site visit with the owners and creators of the show - Ben Biscotti, Bobby Rossi and Tony Shubert - and they came up with the idea of transitioning the event from a walkthrough attraction to a drive-thru experience. They mapped out a new route, we drove it a couple of times, and all agreed it could work. The Nights of the Jack team then put a proposal to local authorities and one by one got the permits signed off, the last one just a few weeks before we arrived on site.”
CBC Technical – a full service audio, visual and lighting solutions company based in Temecula, CA – has been responsible for supplying the lighting equipment and power distribution for Nights of the Jack since the event’s inception. While Michael, who has over 25 years of experience designing lighting for both theatrical and corporate projects, has led the design across all three years. He has seen the scale of the project grow considerably – especially this year when it transitioned to an almost two-mile drive-through route – however, ADJ’s 12P HEX IP has remained the main workhorse of the lighting setup.
“I’ve been using the 12P HEX IP for years, both on the previous Nights of the Jack runs and for a variety of other projects and shows. Originally, I’d only use them outside for architectural lighting, as I hated the dimmer curve. But the ADJ guys listened, and fixed the issue with a firmware update, and I now use them for top and halo lighting on theatre projects also. I really love them, I think they’re great all-round fixtures that are at a good price point and are also very rugged – I haven’t had any issues at all with them and we use 200 fixtures on this one project alone.”
Because of this year’s extended route, CBC Technical had to increase the amount of lighting used for Nights of the Jack. They decided to invest in more fixtures to expand their rental inventory and this time selected the 12P HEX IP’s smaller brother, the 7P HEX IP. Offering a similarly rugged casing design, also tested to the IP65 standard, this model features 7 x 12-Watt 6-in-1 HEX LEDs.
Another popular scene from last year that has made a welcome return for 2020 is based on an under the sea theme. This is brought to life by a number of ADJ’s H20 DMX IR fixtures.
Finishing touches for a number of the displays are provided by ADJ bubble and fog machines. Four VF1600 foggers, running with offset timers, add an extra element of spooky foreboding to the graveyard scene.
“I’ve really been stoked by the outdoor gear ADJ has been producing over the last few years,” concludes Michael, “and this project has proven it to be very hard-wearing and reliable.”

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